If you’re a stepmom, or in a co-parenting relationship, I’m sure that you’ve seen the posts online about the hearts and sparkles co-parenting relationships….where the moms and dads, and their new spouses are the best of friends.
Not only do they co-parent well, but they sit together at all extracurricular activities, share holidays together, heck some of them even have matching jerseys.
I think these stories are great. I really do.
Really, really beautiful.
I think it’s so big of everyone to be able to put the tricky emotional stuff that comes with divorce and co-parenting aside, and truly be friends with each other.
The words mature, grounded and secure all come to mind when I think of these situations. They’re absolutely aspirational.
But to be honest, words like unrelatable, unattainable, unrealistic also come to mind because, for some.... no scratch that, FOR MANY co-parenting relationships, it’s just not in the cards.
And while sharing these stories online IS heartwarming and like I said, aspirational for many... for others, for so many different reasons, it’s makes them feel like crap.
There are scenarios where one party wants a healthy relationship and the other does not.
There are feelings of hurt, betrayal and deceit.
There are dynamics where people are consumed by anger.
Scenarios where one parent is suffering and wants to see their other suffer just as much.
Scenarios where greed, entitlement and anger drive behavior.
There is mental health.
A history of abuse.
and where parallel parenting is the healthiest option for everyone involved… especially the kids.
Even though in a perfect world, everyone would be able to put their emotions aside, be the bigger people and focus on what truly matters… let’s be real here for a second. Our world is FAR from perfect. Emotions drive the majority of our behaviours!
… that, and some people are just jerks.
For these types of stepfamily dynamics, those aspirational and heart-warming stories can cause guilt and frustration.
So today, in this blog post, I just want to say, you do not have to be friends with your husband’s ex-wife.
You do not have to meet for wine to discuss how you’re going to be a team.
You do not need to sit together at ball games.
You do not need to communicate on a regular basis.
You do not need to have matching jerseys.
While this is the right choice for many, it is NOT the right choice for everyone.
Please know this…
It is entirely possible to have a healthy co-parenting relationship and not be friends, or even like each other for that matter.
It is entirely possible to set healthy boundaries and minimize interactions, while still raising stand up humans together.
It is totally okay to avoid interactions at all cost, for the sake of peace and sanity.
Just do you and what you feel is healthiest for your crew!
But remember, it is also entirely possible to treat someone with respect while not actually respecting them - in fact, THAT is what I think should be the universal objective in all high conflict co-parenting relationships…
No matter what your co-parenting relationship looks like, let this question drive your behaviour.
“What do I want my stepkids/kids to remember about their childhood?”
(I’ll give you a hint, the conflict between their mom and stepmom should not be on the list.)