“All in all, we all get along and my daughter has been the beneficiary of this. She is an extremely well adjusted young lady, does well in school, has great relationships with friends, and I can only attribute her adjustment to the relationships that she has been able to have with all the parents/grandparents in her life.”
Fathers & Families supporter Johanna is a mother who shares parenting. Below, she tells her story.
Co-parenting can work if both parents expect their child to have an equal relationship with both of them
My daughter from my second marriage is 15. Her father and I divorced when she was 7 and I became the residential parent. We split because we just had grown apart. We tried marriage counseling but it didn’t help. In fact, my ex was very surprised when I actually filed for divorce and was crushed when I decided to move 45 minutes away with our daughter in order to be closer to my work, which had been a 1:25 commute for the prior seven years. My daughter and her father were always close and even though we lived in separate homes, I made sure that they had regular contact.
My daughter understood that her father and I both loved her and that her father missed her when she was with me. We got a cell phone so that she could call him for free and she did call him at least twice a day and sometimes more. At first it was with my reminders and then it became part of the fabric of her day. She looked forward to her weekend visits with him and though I didn’t have to, we chose to meet halfway.
In addition, if he wanted her for a special event, I did not nickel and dime him on visitation. Instead I let him take her.
He was fully aware of how she was doing in school, invited and attended her concerts and open houses with me, and was always aware when she was ill or needed to go to the doctor or dentist. The first few years, he changed jobs and his income level dropped. I voluntarily lowered child support from $410 (which I felt was too high for his income) to $250 per month, which in my opinion was always plenty enough to support her and her needs.
For holidays, for the first few years, we chose to share them even when my current husband came along. The first year, we did Thanksgiving together at his house (the former marital home) and Christmas at my home. My daughter patiently waited for her dad and grandma to come before opening her gifts. And, after dinner, she would go with her dad for the rest of her holiday break.
Typically she spent most of her holiday weekends and holiday breaks as well as much of the summers with her dad to make up for time not spent with him during the school year. When friends would invite her for overnights that fell on her dad’s weekends, my daughter would either decline to attend or her dad and I would work out an alternative for that. She chose her extracurricular based on things that would either not interfere with visitation or those in which her dad could attend.
When our daughter was 12, my current husband, who is active duty military, was reassigned from Ohio to Maryland. My ex-husband and I were able to agree on our daughter moving with me and then splitting the cost of airfare, with visits at least once a month and our daughter spending the majority of holiday weekends, holiday breaks, and the summer with him. Again, we made this work for us and worked around the times when airfare was least expensive. Since Ohio was my home as well, we would often travel there for weekend trips and ended up staying with my ex, so that there were additional visits in between.
This past year, we agreed that the new high school to which my daughter was assigned in Maryland was not providing her the level of education that we wanted her to have even though she was a straight A student. In her best interest, we agreed to change the residential parenting agreement and have our daughter move back to Ohio with her dad to attend the high school there, and then visit with me on long weekends and vacations.
My husband (her stepdad) has the best and least expensive insurance, so he carries her on that. All in all, we all get along and my daughter has been the beneficiary of this. She is an extremely well adjusted young lady, does well in school, has great relationships with friends, and I can only attribute her adjustment to the relationships that she has been able to have with all the parents/grandparents in her life.
Co-parenting, even at a distance, can work if both parents encourage the relationships and expect their child to have an equal relationship with both of them.
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