Co-parenting is a complex path for parents to walk as they are raising children between two households. We are currently in the final part of a five-part series on co-parenting and in this post, we will be covering the topic of dating, remarriage, and beyond. If you missed the first four parts, click here to visit our blog page.
Dating after Divorce. If you decide to date and remarry, you need to be very conscious of how it will affect your children. Often, without a voice, the kids feel like they are taking second place in a parent’s life when another person walks on the scene. On the other hand, if you decide not to date or remarry, your older children may become concerned because they don’t want you alone or sad when they finally leave home. You need to make sure, whether you’re dating or whether you don’t date, that you are very, very sensitive to where your children’s feelings are about that and what specific emotions are involved. Regarding dating after a divorce, there are two important things to remember:
- Let Yourself Heal. Spend some time taking care of yourself so that you’re a better person as you enter into a new season of life. Don’t start dating right off the bat as soon as you’re a single parent. Give yourself some time to heal and settle into being a stable, secure, and single person.
- Co-parents and support. If you are actively trying to co-parent, then you will never truly be alone in your parenting. Being a co-parent means that you’ve got somebody to help support you in this process. If your co-parent decides to get married and bring someone into your co-parenting relationship, there’s now another person that you can rely on for support. Instead of being upset or hurt, focus on what’s best for your child. The way you treat that new person will contribute to the tone of their relationship with your child. Embrace the additional people into your child’s life by staying positive.
Life after 18. Co-parenting doesn’t end when your child turns 18. There will be holidays, weddings, grandbabies, and many other life events that you’ll have to navigate. No matter your feelings, the main focus needs to always be your child. Don’t be tempted to dictate how it’s supposed to be. Let your adult child figure things out, but don’t check out either. Engage in ways that create opportunities for conversation but don’t impose. Find ways to engage by opening up a conversation and if they don’t wanna talk, that’s okay, you opened it up.
- Holidays. Your children will probably still want to spend holidays with both parents. At some point, they may want to include both parents and that decision is entirely theirs. There’s no longer a document that says, “You will be at your dad’s from this time to this time.” When your adult children get to this point, give them the freedom to decide how they want to spend their holidays and don’t use any kind of guilt. Let them have that freedom to make their own choices and support them in their choices.
You Never Quit Being a Parent. To wrap up our series on co-parenting, we want to emphasize the main point throughout the 5 parts: At all stages, put the differences aside and focus on the kids. Children don’t always understand what happens between adults and the emotional complexities therewithin. You still have the greatest opportunity to make the biggest impact on the ones that are most important — the children. So don’t give up on life. And don’t give up on your children. Most of all, don’t give up on yourself. Your life didn’t end with a broken relationship. It may sound cliche, but it’s true… Every ending is simply just a new beginning!
At Options Health, we have a wonderful program to help women as they navigate motherhood and parenting. Earn While You Learn (EWYL) is a free program that provides education, emotional support, and material resources to expectant mothers through the toddler years of their baby’s life. Once enrolled in EWYL, you will be connected with a mentor to guide you through an amazing curriculum of parenting classes where you earn credits to be spent in our Care Closet; where you can get diapers, wipes, baby clothes, baby furniture, and more!
Are you a father? If so, we have an awesome program for you too! FIT (Fathers In Training) is a free program that will challenge you to be the best father you can be by walking alongside you through our skill-building fatherhood classes and mentorship.
If you are interested in either of these free programs, please contact us today!
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