We get a lot of raised eyebrows when we show up at events together.
We are often commended by school teachers and doctors for showing up at parent teacher conferences and medical appointments together.
We hear a lot of questions about how we can stand to be in the same room as each other, and if we're really just cringing inside.
We are just two moms, one biological and one step, trying to raise our children in a loving, blended family. We don't always see eye-to-eye and clearly we are very different. But we are united on one very important aspect of our lives: the well-being of our children. And because of that, we've long ago made a conscious decision to co-parent.
10 Do's and Don'ts to Make this Odd Relationship Successful:
- Do coordinate calendars when scheduling appointments or events relating to the children. Intentionally scheduling an appointment that you know is inconvenient is simply not nice.
- Do communicate important information about the children in a timely fashion. Learning months later that your 14-year old had a lengthy history of skipping school or abusing drugs is frustrating and makes co-parenting virtually impossible.
- Don't try to be more loved by your children by buying their affection and adulation. Love isn't a contest. More importantly, children need their parents to be parents, not their friends. If you are busy competing with the other mom to be a coolest mom in the neighborhood, you won't have time to be the best parent.
- Do show respect to each other, especially in front of the children. It's a bonus if your mutual respect and admiration is genuine. However, if you're faking it, be sure to do so consistently. Children have big ears and the walls talk.
- Do share itineraries and keep each other advised when the kids are traveling. A simple text message that reads, "The kids landed safely," will go along way.
- Don't impose. You know the unspoken boundaries. "Accidentally" crossing the line is transparent and makes you look petty and manipulative.
- Do understand that your behavior will spill-over to your children. Your actions speak much louder than your words, and your children will benefit from you as a role model.
- Do help your children recognize the importance of this woman in their lives. Whether it's remembering a birthday, celebrating Christmas or acknowledging Mother's Day, don't count on their father to take them to buy a card or present. If you are in a position to facilitate, you should.
- Do be inclusive. Invite your child's mom to your house for the 8th birthday party. Offer to trick or treat with your kid's stepmom or take turns going around the neighborhood collecting candy. Sure, it's awkward or difficult to open your home to the person who used to sleep with your husband or who is currently sleeping with your ex, but it is healthy for your children to witness these behaviors so that they don't have to feel conflicted when special occasions arise.
- Don't lament on the past. Enough said.