Co-parenting relationships range from vengeful gut-wrenching malice to seamlessly flowing mutual respect and everything in between. By aligning our energies away from angst and towards unity, our co-parenting journey can be traveled on the healthy side of this spectrum. The result? Children win.
Meeting Children’s Needs
When we co-parent excellently, children reap the immeasurable rewards of an optimal upbringing. When co-parenting circumstances are grim, we may feel as if we are battling against insurmountable negative forces. No matter the situation, we must remain focused on ensuring that our children’s needs are being met. In addition to providing for their educational, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well-being, one of a father’s most important jobs is to help children develop a healthy value system founded in integrity.
Both fathers and mothers are responsible for raising their children to the best of their abilities; the best can only happen when both parents are involved. As the statistics overwhelmingly suggest, by working together with mom, dad can raise children who are better equipped for life. When both parents embrace this truth, we are more inclined to do whatever it takes. To the extent this is not happening, parent(s) must remove their head(s) from their rear(s). To the extent their head(s) remain stuck, children lose.
After the breakup, if it’s possible, establish common ground rules in both homes—children tend to benefit from continuity in each household. One idea is to work together on an agreement that sets guidelines for all kinds of considerations, such as chores, routines, screen-time limits and beyond, helping mom, dad, and the children benefit from stable standards and expectations under both roofs.
Ascending through the Levels of Co-Parenting – The Bell Curve
A normally distributed representation of co-parenting relationships suggests that roughly 95% of the time, the quality of cooperation between parents ranges between mediocre and good. Immediately following a contentious break-up, poisonous feelings can influence co-parenting outliers of hatred and hostility. With time, space, and self-awareness, parents usually start making choices that serve their children’s best interests, liberating themselves from crippling emotional captivity to recognize the truth of hatred: it is vile, selfish, and impedes healthy childhood development. Eventually, negativity subsides, logic prevails, and cooperation becomes normal.
As co-parenting relationships mature, levels of cooperation tend to transition from left (negative) to right (positive); relations improve as co-parents recognize the importance of prioritizing their children’s best interests. Only with genuine forgiveness for both real and perceived sins of the past can co-parents truly begin the healing process.
Hatred & Hostility
When immature parents first break up, they often lock horns in a war of attrition, blocking the cooperation necessary for successful co-parenting. Otherwise, well-meaning parents can be blinded by hatred, hell-bent to inflict damage on a person they once loved so much. Human nature causes us to push away perceived sources of pain; hurt people hurt people. In extreme cases, retaliation for a failed romantic relationship can involve setting unreasonable limits or restrictions on parenting time, despite knowing full well that time missed with the other parent undermines the children’s best interests. Of all the trauma sustained by broken families, alienating behaviors leave children carrying the greatest burden.
The Majority (Mediocre, Low-Average, High-Average, & Good)
Most co-parenting relationships fall somewhere in this range; children have reliable confidence they’ll consistently spend time with both parents. In 95% of co-parenting relationships, pickups and drop-offs go smoothly; parents respect each other, and the best interests of the children come first.
Great & Love
Co-parents who consistently, seamlessly, and lovingly put children first exemplify the gold standard in co-parenting. Trust and flexibility are hallmarks of co-parents who give their children a well-rounded upbringing; learning and development equally supported by both the feminine yin and the masculine yang. As time goes by, one or both parents may meet someone else and start a new romantic relationship, with full support from their ex. When mutual love for children intersects with mutual respect for each other, co-parents have reached the promised land. Everyone wins, most of all, the children.
Hating the Other Parent More than Loving the Children
Are selfish motives blocking a child from the benefits of a well-rounded upbringing? While “settling a score” may well hurt one parent, the biggest victim, by far, is the innocent child. Fathers must work towards aligning with mom to form a united parenting front. Animosity should not be allowed to reign supreme, yet somehow, sometimes, it does. Ignorance, incompetence, and toxicity can betray the proud but weak human mind, refuting the truth that two parents are better than one.
Failed romantic relationships lead to broken hearts. People make mistakes. If short-sighted hatred causes a parent to shortchange their own children’s best interests, we bear witness to the work of demonic forces. Tragic situations like these cast a dark cloud over everything that is good in the world. Instead of poisoning the naïve minds of innocent children against the other parent, shouldn’t we always concentrate on doing what is best for the children? Thankfully, in the long run, parental relations rarely deteriorate to the extent that hatred has greater staying power than love.
Due to hardships such as incarceration, mental and physical illness, and safety concerns that potentially place children in harm’s way, many well-meaning parents may be temporarily (or permanently) unable to fulfill their parenting duties. While these conditions may lead to condemnation from the other parent, a caring non-judgmental ex may express support for the struggling parent, praying for them to overcome turmoil and become the parent their child deserves. Although the love of an incapacitated parent runs just as deep as the love of a parent who is equipped and available, it is best for a child’s safety to be in the custody of others until rehabilitation is achieved.
Sadly, the trend in American society is a continual breakdown of the family unit. If feasible, fathers of children from broken homes should work collaboratively with mom, minimize instability, and ensure that children receive the support and guidance they need from BOTH parents so they can live their best lives. No matter the adversity, no matter the pride we must swallow, no matter the compromise we must make, we have a sacred duty to protect and defend our children from the dangers of being raised without us.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” —Philippians 2:3-4
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.