Co-parenting with someone who hurt you
Parenting is hard enough without having to worry about co-parenting. And when co-parenting is involved, people leaving long-term relationships often wonder: “How do I co-parent with someone who hurt me?”
Much like single parenting, co-parenting with someone who hurt you is no small task—but with the right co-parenting tips and steps, you’ll find that navigating the responsibility of raising children alongside your ex-partner isn’t impossible. Here are a few ways you can learn to raise your kids in a healthy environment, even if you’re still recovering from your previous relationship.
(Alternatively, check out our podcast on all sorts of life advice questions—including the episode where we talk about a single parent who’s trying to sort out whether or not her daughter should have a relationship with her father… it’s a tricky one!)
What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting involves raising a child together with another person, even if you’re not with them anymore. People co-parent for a love of reasons:
- Some people co-parent to split up the financial and emotional responsibility of caring for a child.
- Others co-parent to ensure their children still grow up in a two-parent environment.
- Almost all choose to co-parent because both parents want to play an active role in the lives of their children.
When co-parenting works, it can be wonderful. You and your ex-partner can serve as friends, mentors and role models to your children while also respecting the boundaries and distance a post-romantic relationship requires.
But sometimes, co-parenting doesn’t work. What if you don’t like the way your ex likes to parent? What if the financial burden of raising children falls solely on you? What if your past trauma from a hurtful relationship makes it impossible to work together with your ex?
Should I co-parent?
It can feel impossible to move past feelings of resentment for an old partner. Here are some situations where it might be worth putting your emotions aside and co-parenting with someone who hurt you.
It’s worth co-parenting:
- If your child has a close relationship with both you and your ex-partner
- If you can’t dedicate enough time to your child on your own due to work or other obligations
- If your child wishes to be a part of your ex’s life
- If your child has spent a considerable portion of their life around your ex-partner
- If your ex has great parenting skills
- If your ex can meaningfully provide a good life for your child
Sometimes, though, it’s not a good idea to co-parent. Here are times when it might be better off to single-parent your child.
It’s not worth co-parenting:
- If your ex was not a significant part of your child’s early life
- If your ex lives very far away, making frequent travel difficult
- If your ex has not committed to financially providing for your child
- If your child does not wish to have a relationship with your ex
- If you ever felt worried for your or your child’s safety while with your ex
How to make co-parenting work with someone who hurt you
If you’ve decided to engage in co-parenting with your partner, here are a few ways to do it responsibly:
- Keep children out of your personal conflicts. Don’t make your personal relationship problems theirs, too. Even if you have major grievances with the person you’re no longer with, it’s not your child’s responsibility to weigh in on your relationship, take sides, or provide insights as to “who the better parent” is.
- Don’t use your kids as messengers. You and your ex-partner are the adults in the room. If communication needs to occur between the two of you, it should happen that way, and not by messages sent through your children. Doing so can add undue stress on your kids and make co-parenting much harder.
- Make visits consistent. Instead of random pickups and drop-offs, give your kids a schedule by which they can plan their lives. If they’re staying with your partner for part of the week, try to make those days consistent, and give them ample time to pack. After all, we all want a measure of predictability in our lives—so, too, do your kids.
- Remember the bigger goal. It can be easy to feel hurt and betrayed by an old partner. When you’re feeling especially bitter, remember the bigger picture: what are you trying to achieve by maintaining a relationship with your ex? By remembering all the positives of a co-parenting situation, you’ll have an easier time navigating frustrating moments.
A co-parenting example
Now that you’ve got a few co-parenting tips to practice, here’s a co-parenting situation we recently discussed in our last podcast episode:
A single mother spent a decade and a half raising a child without the father’s presence. Early on the father said he did not want to be part of the child’s life—years later, however, he changed his mind. He wanted access to his child, and to start a relationship with them.
The mother wanted to know what to do: should she let the child get to know her father, knowing he wasn’t the best role model, and wasn’t there for their child’s early development? Or should she dissuade her child from ever getting to know her ex?
To know what we thought, tune into our latest episode of Am I The Bleep?!.
AITA for lying to my gf about having a child?
To be or not be the A**hole? That is the question. And the truth is that it's one that has been plaguing The Jonathans for millennia. And it's not for a lack of trying, it's truly all they think about, but it turns out to be infinitely more complex than they thought because there is more to the A**hole than meets the eye.
Today, The Jonathans do some digging, some diving deep and some analysis on the following posts:
- AITA for lying to my gf about having a child?
- AITA for saying niece can't come on vacation if she continues to have "tics"?
- AITA for telling my daughter the truth about her father?
This and more on today's episode of AM I THE BLEEP!?!