Co-parenting, The Balancing Act

 Good Parent Vs  Bad Parent : The Unfair Comparison 

     Divorce has away of making people choose a side of who’s the better parent in the equation.We spend thousands of dollars on attorneys and court fees in custody battles to prove which parent is more fit in being the primary guardian for the child (ren). I’ve always felt torn in split expectations, judgments, and assumptions regarding my son than that of my daughters. I felt defeated at times. I felt as if I was a bad mother in raising my son than that of my daughters due to many expectations, opinions, and responses that were unsolicited. The dynamics of divorce after the dissolving of a marriage can last years which manifest especially in high conflict and tense Co-parenting arrangements. 

The Big Difference 

    My son is from a previous marriage, and my daughters are with my husband. Before our marriage ended and especially through the long enduring divorce / custody battles ( Yes, more than 1) I felt that there was always a magnifying glass over whatever I did or didn’t do in raising with my son. The parenting relationship with my husband has always felt comfortable with no tension with equally shared responsibility. It wasn’t that my ex didn’t provide child support or get our son on his visitation days. It always felt like a battle or a fight even for the simplest of modifications. There was always a one up, or fear that was placed on me in being extra careful to not have to be in court again. Sitting in court proving that you’re a good parent and having to remain calm in hearing an attorney dramatically prove other would be emotional draining for all parties involved, and most parents would have a level of discomfort following such intense settings. His father may have felt the same way unknowingly to me at the time in some ways. It was just a ugly time period in my life that I am grateful that everyone has overcame in working at best in a collaborative effort in raising our son.

  A Love Beyond the Struggle 

    My son since his early years struggled at times with  behavior, focus, and hyperactivity. It begin when he was a toddler. He’s always been a sweet, charming, talented, and intelligent boy. He had my heart from day one when I saw his eyes, and his full lips shaking from making such a fuss in the delivery room. However, we’ve had such a long road since beginning school age with behavior at school and occasionally at home. I began counseling services with him at the age of 3. Following academic challenges, behavioral troubles, and a few suspensions at school I decided homeschooling would be a great option. We homeschooled for about 3 years. There were some positive changes of self discipline, social connecting with the ability in establishing and maintaining healthy friendships, and academic improvements. We also recently got him tested were we discovered he had not only ADHD but ODD. It took awhile but his father and I became more on the same page without the tension. I still felt that despite the effort and scarfices I made many of those alone in handling any of his issues or the problems that may arose from those issues the focus of attention came down to pointing the finger at mom. “What did she do wrong?” My ability to handle, discipline, and my role as being a “fit” mother was always in question during and I felt afterwards in our high conflict divorce. Teachers saw no one but you, so the finger to blame was usually mom. The person to call to come off their job was mom. When you divorce you see a different side to those family members and friends that you thought you were close with. Despite what happened or the extremes of what may have transpired their loyalty was never with you. Sadly, in most cases or even a custody battle they won’t be supportive of you, they will believe whatever your ex says, and in some way sides will be chosen of who was the “bad guy” or ” bad parent” in the senerio.

Better Late Than Never 

  What I’ve learned although it took years is to not take anything personal. Also, despite the chatter and talk following a separation it was important for me to be secure in my role as a mother. Time has away of healing the deepest of wounds, it may not get perfect, but it gets better. Maybe in some way I just got better. I stop feeling the need to prove myself. I trusted my intuition and actions as a parent. I knew all that I did to invest in providing a safe, healthy, warm, and loving environment for all of my children. I knew the major scarfices that I made and my husband made to ensure the best for our son. I had to let go and heal from old wounds that were left prior and following my divorce from my ex. I couldn’t worry about what anybody said or thought outside of the the two of us in reference to the overall well being for our child. I also knew that my son loved me just like I loved him to the moon and back. We have always been close, and there was nothing that could change that forever bond.  There was nothing that anyone could have said that made him look at me as his mother in a different light. I knew I was a good mother to my son, and I rested in that assurance in finally peace of mind.

Words Of Advice 

   I know it may seem unfair that the lines have been drawn in the sand following a separation in raising children. It’s something that we can’t control, nor do we try to prove. It’s important to know your worth equally outside of parenting. Words hurt, but we have to train our minds to not take things to heart. The opinions of others hold more weight when we allow them to have power. Our children may feel the need to pick a side or be more protective of one parent verses the other. Give them time to see things for themselves without trying to prove yourself to your child or being in a secret competition with your ex. Know that despite our best efforts kids make bad decisions, have their issues, and have their “moments”of acting out that we can’t hold the burden of always taking the blame ourselves. Know that the better the two of you get alone the children feel no need to pick sides, and you’ll see the better the overall being and behavior of the children. Be comfortable in your role as a parent, and block out the noise of unmerited opinions. Keep people out of the conflicts and Co-parenting arrangements of your family.  It’s not their business to know the arrangements or engagements the two of you share. Know your limitations as to whatever they are and don’t feel ashamed. Yes, being able to  support our children financially is important. However, the best things that we can give that they truly need are priceless. Be comfortable in your role as a parent taking each step day by day. Give yourself grace, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Take your power back by removing the label of good parent/bad parent. In truth there are no perfect parents period, but their are many parents like you giving it their all in doing the best that they can.

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