Under the best of circumstances, it’s hard.
Under the worst? Impossible.
Getting divorced is a tough situation in and of itself. I know. I made that decision over 10 years ago.
But what I didn’t understand then was what it would be like to co-parent with my ex-husband through our kids’ teen years.
And now here we are with two teenage kids.
And parenting has gotten harder.
Just the normal teen-years stuff. Grades, mouthiness, over-use of electronics, the push for independence. Nothing I can’t handle.
But the co-parenting? It’s gotten much harder.
It’s frustrating. And that’s putting it nicely.
When you have two parents who live their lives differently and whose priorities are different, co-parenting is tough.
I mean, these differences are some of the reasons why I’m not still married to my first husband.
I’m not pointing fingers. And I try not to judge. (Though, I’ll admit, sometimes it feels good to.)
I know I’m not perfect. I’ve had a few parenting blunders. Like letting my teen download a few explicit songs from iTunes. I’ve learned from these mistakes. (And replaced those songs with “clean” versions.)
But I’m finding that, over the last year, our differences seem to have increased. And I find myself disagreeing with my ex more and getting upset more often with his parenting choices.
To the point that I’ve sought
outside counsel the advice of a therapist.
The most valuable co-parenting insight I’ve taken away from our sessions? That I can only control what goes on in my house.
I can only control what I do, how I live my life and what kind of role model I am to my kids and to my stepdaughter.
This simple concept has become my mantra. And it helps.
In just over two years, my son will be in college. And he won’t be going locally. My daughter will be just a few years behind him. And she won’t stay here either.
They’ll be off exploring their young adulthood and my work as a parent, though far from over, will be different.
As will my relationship with their dad.
In the meantime, I’ll try to be a model co-parent and help foster the kids’ relationship with him. And I’ll try to hide my frustrations from them.
It won’t be easy. But I’ll do it. For my kids’ sake.
After all, it’s not about me. Or their dad.