First comes love.
Then comes marriage.
Then comes baby in a baby carriage.
Can we all admit that we are far past this narrative in our modern world? The truth is, 64% of Black children are raised in single parent households and it begs us to ask the question, what happens when we get here? While we cannot change the actions of another person, it is important to break down what we can do as mothers if we find ourselves in the situation to navigate a new normal: co-parenting.
Peaceful Co-Parenting Falls Into Two Main Categories
There is this belief that peaceful co-parenting means Kumbaya and blended family picnics. While this is ideal for some families, this is not always the reality. It would benefit a mother to first understand what “peaceful” means when it comes to co-parenting. In our reference, we are using the word peaceful to define not only the peace between the two parents but also the mental peace and stress free mindset of the mother. If you find yourself constantly being a doormat to create the illusion of peace in your co-parenting dynamic, then your situation is not peaceful. Peaceful co-parenting can be:
- You and your co-parent can communicate like mature adults and handle parenting together without the court system. You may even be friends.
2. You have to co-parent through the court ordered visitation and child support.
I want you to become comfortable with number two if you find yourself in a situation that leads here. If you are doing all that you can do to create a peaceful dynamic and it’s not there, do not hesitate to begin the court process. You will appreciate it in the long run.
Accept Your Co-Parenting Truth
We all have high hopes for kumbaya co-parenting but the reality is, this is not always the case. As women, we can live in delusions of what our situation really is. As one of our contributors stated, women create actors in their stories. We imagine our ex partner is more present than he is or fall in love with the potential that could be. We must accept the truth of what is at the moment. Having a baby will not keep two people together. This is a delusion that affects many women when it comes to co-parenting. Retrain your mind to understand that once the relationship is over, it is now time to fully focus on how to create a sustainable relationship between the parenting dynamics and not the romantic dynamics of a fargone relationship.
Release The Expectation And Control
When we lose a relationship, we can try to keep the man close by attempting to control his relationship with his children. Women are wonderful micro managers but this will fail 100% of the time when attempting to have a peaceful co-parenting relationship. Remember this – a man is not capable of mothering your child. He is capable of being a father. He is not going to parent like you. He may not do all the things that you do in your household. You cannot control what he does with his child when he is parenting. As long as your child is not in danger, work on letting your control go.
New Partners Are Inevitable.
Your ex partner is allowed to move on sis. And so are you. This is a macro aggression that can ruin a peaceful co-parenting partnership. Do not let anger, jealousy, and hurt continue to break you down. Learn to identify the real emotions that are affecting why you don’t want your child around your ex partner’s new partner. Handle that pain. In most cases, your child will be completely safe. You cannot control what happens in their household.
If seeing him with his new partner triggers the pain that he could be spending time with his kids, stop stalking her page and go to the court. Stop blaming his new relationship for his absence, especially if he were already absent. Stop expecting his new partner to be loyal to you. She is loyal to him only. Learning this will bring you your own self peace.
Bitterness Can Become A Reality
We all know the scenario of the bitter baby mama and the truth is, bitter baby mamas never know they are being bitter. Being bitter doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be back with your ex. It can mean that you become extremely upset seeing that he is happy. It can evoke feelings that he left you or that your relationship didn’t work out and now he’s happy with someone else. Bitterness can look like staying up all night stewing over the fact that he is not present in his children’s lives. Don’t let this happen. Go to therapy and learn how to release the victim mentality. It is time for you to rewrite your story.
If you have an ex-partner trying to be a dad, let him. Even if he has moved on.
If your ex-partner is not trying to be a dad, go through the courts.
If that does not work, you are now a single mom. You are going to have to parent regardless. Would you rather parent in continuous anger or happiness?
Tap Into Your Self Love
Once you have accepted your reality, you have to actively work to let the hurt go and rediscover yourself as a woman with a child. For moms who have peaceful a co-parenting dynamic, try relabeling yourself. Say this:
“I am not a single mother. I am a single woman with a child.”
Just because your relationship ended, you did not become a single mother, you became a single woman. “Single mother” automatically makes you a victim. There are women who truly are living this life. If that isn’t you, stop claiming it. Remember this, you are allowed to date. You can pursue your career goals. You can go out when your co-parent is on parenting duty. You can build your sister tribe. Sis you are free. Stop chaining yourself to a narrative that did not work out.
You’ve Got This
If you are at the beginning of your co-parenting journey, understand that it all begins with you. Recognize that this will be one of the hardest readjustments of your life. Accept that there will be days that you will relapse into sadness and anger. Be gentle with yourself by practicing self forgiveness, leaning into your community, and going to therapy if financially feasible.
You’ve got this sis.