• Co-Parenting your Child with your Ex: What It's Really Like

    These moms made co-parenting work for them and their exes, and ultimately their kids.
  • family of four

    Photo from Flickr Creative Commons.

    It’s a bit odd, you might think. Ending a relationship isn’t a happy occasion. However, the recently-trending hashtag #DivorceSelfie with photos of smiling ex-couples is a testament that there is life after a failed relationship. While ending a marriage is sad, there’s still something good that can come out of it. You and your ex are closing a chapter of your romantic life, and starting a new one—one where you are both co-parents to the children born out of your love for each other.

    Easier said than done, right? After all, co-parenting is just like marriage, in a different shape and form. It still is hard work; harder, even. However, these testimonials from two moms are proof that co-parenting can be done with as little stress as your partner would allow. Read on and learn from their stories.

     

    Mom-of-two Bernice Lazona says things just fell into place between her and her ex-husband. It was a bitter breakup, so they needed the help from their extended families to bridge the gap.

    “It was my ex’s mom who would talk to me and pick up our daughter Denise on weekends to spend time with their side of the family,” she relates. The ex-couple neither talked about co-parenting or even financial support for three years, after which her ex made the first move by opening communication lines. ”So I sent him a detailed computation of the expenses, and we started splitting it.”

    Their setup went on like that for eight years. During Denise’s graduation, they finally saw each other for the first time. “No choice, e. We talked pero civil lang. It was really awkward. Because for years, I didn’t know anything about him and I didn’t care to ask. Same with him; he didn’t know I already had another child with my current relationship. Denise knows not to dwell on those topics.”

    Bernice admits it’s not the ideal family setup, especially on the financial aspect. Her ex only contributes to their daughter’s tuition fee, and the rest she provides on her own. “I just accept what he can give. I think that’s the key: to set your expectations right. If this is all he could contribute then be thankful for it.” She is happy now that they are finally at peace, but it took time and a lot of courage. “The setup is what it is. The last thing I want is for my daughter to hate her father, or think that her dad abandoned her. And I am really thankful, wala nang guilt, wala nang what-ifs.”

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    It was tough for Patty Remigio to co-parent after leaving an abusive relationship. She knew she needed to get out for the sake of her children, who were both under age two then.

    “When trust is broken and replaced by fear, it’s really a struggle. I went from begging my ex-boyfriend to not leave us—because I was so dependent on him—to being paranoid that he had another woman, to being scared he’d hurt me physically,” she reveals. “But family, friends, and most especially God, helped me rebuild my life. It was difficult to trust my ex again, but it was the first thing I had to do.”

    It was long and tedious process for Patty and her ex, one that involved lawyers, psychologists, and counselors. “I didn’t hesitate to reach out for help,” Patty stresses. The first step was allowing her ex to visit the kids at her house -- something she insisted on so she could supervise. Currently, the kids stay with her during the school year and then are allowed to have occasional week- or month-long vacations with their dad. Her ex shoulders most of the kids’ expenses, while she covers the non-financial aspects. “We agreed on the terms in front of lawyers. He knows that if he put one toe out of line, he could lose access to his kids,” she adds.

    Patty admits, though, that none of it would have happened if her ex didn’t have a change of heart. “He found God, I guess. We both did. It was chaos at first, but if only one of us wanted to work together for the sake of our kids, then we’d be nowhere near where we are now.”

     

    Karen Abcede, mom to Ziggy, shares that co-parenting at the right time is what worked for her and her ex-husband. “Time heals all wounds. It helped us re-evaluate our relationship and mature emotionally. It was only then that we were able to start rebuilding our ties -- as friends and co-parents -- and work together and make it right for our son,” Karen says.

    “I cannot forget one of our hardest conversations: One night while praying before bedtime, he just hugged me and cried, saying he misses his dad,” she relates. “And it struck me so much because my son didn’t need to bear such pain. Whatever didn’t work well between my ex and I should just remain between us and Ziggy should have been kept out of it. I could see in his eyes how much he was hurting.” That was the wake-up call Karen needed.

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    Co-parenting started when they filed for an annulment. “We agreed to split the financial responsibilities: he would cover our son’s educational expenses, while I took care of the health, medical and recreational expenses. I think it also helped that I didn't ask for any allowance for Ziggy nor myself,” says Karen.

    When Ziggy was younger, he stayed with his mom, but on his 7th birthday, Karen gave him freedom to decide on his own, so he would sometimes stay at his dad’s house, too. Ziggy now spends weekdays with his father and weeekends with his mom, a setup Karen only agreed to recently. “He’s going to be a teenager soon and he would need his Dad more than me,” Karen explains. “But it took a lot for me to make that decision. I miss him every day, but sacrifices need to be done. In the end, it’s the best thing my ex and I could do for our son. I still get to talk to him every day and I am happy knowing he is also happy with his Dad.”

    Karen is thankful that Ziggy had adjusted well, as it was tough during his toddler years when he would ask difficult questions about the separation. “I think it helped that we empower him to make decisions, since he’s older now. We don’t want him to feel limited just because his parents are separated,” she says.

    “My ex and I are friends now. We talk to each other on a regular basis but mostly about Ziggy. We share our son’s moments and milestones. We also go together when there are school activities, and sometimes we would set family dinners or lunches as a family of three.” She believes having a strong communication ties and an open mind helped, on top of having a mature emotional stance to let go of the past.

     

    These moms and their stories of finding the rainbow after the rain are solid proof that co-parenting is not an impossible task. When you and your partner put the children on top of your priorities and have set aside the past and your own selfish conditions, you both can look forward to a bright future. It might not be ideal, but it’s only then that a broken family can truly heal.


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