I am remarried, and I have two daughters, 10 and 14, from my previous marriage. My ex-husband is remarried, and they have two children under two. All four parents collaborate as co-parents, and we operate as an extended blended family.
One of the most frustrating parts of our blended family life is how negatively we are judged by others. I thought that people would appreciate how well we get along, and that they would recognize how hard we try to put our own needs aside for the well-being of the children. I am still surprised when someone comments about our arrangement with statements like, “That’s weird,” “That’s strange,” or “Good for you, but I can’t do that.”
The first couple of years, I was reluctant to mention our co-parenting to other people, even friends and family. They seemed “judgy” about our family dynamic. We don’t hide it anymore, and are very open about the co-parenting, but the judgment has not stopped. What’s changed is us: we’re stronger and willing to deal with the scrutiny. How sad that we are a society that considers it strange for divorced parents to get along. The norm is bitterness and anger.
Here are some of the assumptions we encounter:
It’s easy. People assume since we all four co-parent, that it we must be some anomaly and that this comes naturally to us. The fact: We work our butts off to achieve this. We’ve deal with the same struggles other families of divorce face, but we are determined to work together. Nothing worth having is easy to obtain. Any relationship takes a continuous amount of energy, communication and compromise, to keep it healthy. Our co-parenting relationships are no different.
Our divorce was amicable. Wrong! At first, things were not easy. My ex and I fought. There was some infidelity, some jealousy, and lots of anger. We made the decision to put all of that aside to co-parent.
The kids are exceptionally easy-going. Wrong again! Parenting a teen is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, hands down, and we are just at the beginning. Unfortunately, moody teens often target stepmothers, and our family is no exception. As parents, if we don’t discuss and compromise with one another, and remain a united front, our teenager will be the one to suffer.
What do you think about co-parenting? Have you found that people judge your methods? If so, how do you handle?
Author Info: Trish Eklund has lived in Nebraska for almost fifteen years, raising her two daughters of ten and thirteen with her husband, ex-husband and his wife. Taking a nontraditional approach to raising children after divorce and remarriage, all four adults co-parent their daughters. Trish is a feature writer for Big Blended Family, and also for Her View From Home in the family category, touching on divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting issues. Visit her personal blog by clicking HERE.