10 Co-Parenting Suggestions That Are For The Damn Birds

Ad failed to load

There's nothing easy about divorce or separation, especially when you have kids together. After separation, everyone from experts to armchair quarterbacks have advice for how to successfully co-parent. These pieces of advice usually fail to acknowledge your individual situation or history with this person that you divorced for very good reasons. So, honestly, some co-parenting suggestions are just for the damn birds, and even detrimental to surviving a situation like shared custody.

When I left my ex, I was so scared. Scared of being a single mom, scared of him, and scared of what people would think. I had always believed marriage was forever and that the end of our marriage meant that I had somehow "failed." I especially didn't want my decision to leave their father to ruin my kids' lives. At the same time, I knew it was the right decision and that we'd all be better off without him.

Although I have full custody of my kids, they do spend some time with their father. I hate those weekends. Hate them. And, I find myself having to give ground and give up little pieces of myself in order to get along well enough with my ex-husband so we can co-parent successfully. My husband has a completely different relationship with his ex-wife, with whom he shares 50/50 custody of their children.

Ad failed to load

I now understand that every divorce and co-parenting arrangement is a little different, and no advice is one size fits all. Quite frankly, most of it, while well-intentioned and ideal in a perfect world, is best ignored. Find what works best for you, your co-parent, and your children, and stick with it until it no longer makes sense to do so.

Ad failed to load

You Should Be Friends With Your Ex


Ha ha. Ha. Ha. There's not enough eye-roll gifs or alcohol in the world for the "be friends with your ex-partner" piece of advice. Well I admire people who can be friends, or even friendly with their exes, for me that's not only not possible, it's not advisable.

I constantly tell my kids that they don't have to be friends with everyone, as long as they are relatively polite. In this case, I need to take my own advice.

You Need To Keep The Lines Of Communication Open

This seems like great advice in theory, but in practice I realized that I really don't want my ex-husband to call or text me at all hours, or try to be my friend on Facebook.

Instead of keeping them wide open, I keep the lines of communication limited and controlled by me. I try to be a grey rock, not reacting to his messages designed to bait or insult me. Sometimes I use a trusted person to serve as a mediator. Sorry, dude, but our divorce ensured that you don't get to do that to me anymore.

You Should Forgive and Forget


You don't have to forgive your ex. Especially if he cheated on you, mistreated you or your kids, or was abusive in any way. You don't have to, and you certainly don't have to forget what he or she did, either.

Ad failed to load

You Need To Let Them Do Things Their Way

The most important part of co-parenting is consistency. I constantly remind myself (and my ex) that bedtime, general rules, and discipline strategies should be consistent. Not for me or my benefit, but for our kids. They deserve to understand what is expected of them and to never end up confused by two different set of rules and responsibilities.

You Should Let Them Call The Shots


I am not saying compromise isn't occasionally required or good for everyone involved, but especially if you had a relationship based on power and control, it's OK to assert your own desires and expectations for how your kids should be cared for.

I recommend laying all of this out in your parenting plan or custody agreement, then actually following it. Consistently. That way, you always have something to reference when disagreements inevitably happen.

You Can't Show Emotion In Front Of Your Kids

I believe that showing your kids that you are a human being with emotions is healthy. I am not saying that you should use your kids as tiny therapists or confidants, but it's OK to cry. It shows them that their feelings about the divorce, their families, or their lives in general are OK and OK to express.

Ad failed to load

You Can't Bring Up Money


While in most places, custody and co-parenting is not tied to child support, be honest with your ex about what they owe and what you will do if they don't pay up. Your kids deserve their financial support. It's not about you, it's about the best interest of your kids. Don't forget that and let it slide just because you don't want to start a fight.

You Can't Complain About Your Ex

Everyone deserves an outlet and support system. Sometimes, we let these relationships fall apart prior to divorce, because we feel shame or judgement. After going through a divorce, you may need to rebuild a support system of people (other than your kids) who get you and will listen to your vents.

Don't feel like you should only say nice things to everyone about your ex because you have kids together.

You Need To Pack Your Kids' Bags


There's no reason that both parents can't have clothes, toothbrushes, shampoo, medicine, and toys for their kids at both homes. Don't make your kids load up a suitcase every transition day or cause them to worry about forgetting items they need at dad's house or mom's house. Change is hard. Don't make these transitions harder than they have to be.

Ad failed to load

You Should Put Up With Abuse, For The Kids' Sake

When you end a relationship with your abuser, sometimes the abuse doesn't end. Abusers often use children to continue to try to control, degrade, and abuse their exes. You don't have to take it.

Your kids don't deserve to be pawn's or bargaining chips. Document everything and let your attorney know if you need help revising your custody agreement or reporting abuse to court.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik