There’s no question that co-parenting with your ex can be filled with challenges. I haven’t had that particular experience myself, but my partner has and I’ve been on the journey with him for much of that time so I've witnessed all the ways co-parenting can be difficult, to say the least. Thankfully, I'm also acutely aware of the ways having more than two parents in a family makes everything better, too. Like anything involving parenting (or life, really) you have to take the good with the bad.
I remember how wary I was when I approached my partner’s ex, and I recall (vividly, actually) some of the things she said that indicated that she was wary of me, too. I mean, I don’t blame her or I; it’s a challenging relationship to enter into and foster and maintain in a healthy and communicative way. We quickly got over ourselves, though, and have shared some great moments together, celebrating the main thing we have in common: her daughter, my step-daughter.
There are endless articles and books and forums about the challenges of co-parenting, all valid, but rarely is co-parenting celebrated. I think it's more than worth it to take the time to celebrate the good parts about co-parenting, because, believe it or not, there are some serious advantages.
Shared Medical Appointment Duties
Let me tell you how sweet it is to never have to take my step-daughter to an optometrist or family doctor. That’s her mom’s job! We take her for dental and orthodontic appointments. Cool? Cool. It means far less work missed for all of us, which is a huge bonus.
...And Shared Medical Expenses
We live in Canada, so medical costs are pretty low compared to the United States, but a set of braces split between two families is far more reasonable than when it’s being covered by only one. Furthermore, if one parent doesn’t have insurance coverage for certain medical services, chances are fairly good that the other parent will have coverage.
Shared Extracurricular Duties
We’ve always been the parents to foster my step-daughter’s love of horses, so she has gone to a horseback riding camp several summers in a row and while she visiting us. On the other hand, during the school year she is enrolled in a community theatre group near her mom’s, so that's her mother's responsibility. It's great to have every extracurricular activity covered, and not always by one set of parents.
Double The Presents
Seriously. Two sets of parents, and potentially up to four sets of grandparents? This child is laughing all the way to present heaven when it comes to Christmas and her birthday. I actually remember my step-daughter getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gifts during Christmas. I’ll admit that she’s slightly unusual in that regard, but it may be due to how many she received from all of her many family members.
Shared Laundry Responsibilities
Anything to have a little bit less laundry to deal with! We wash what ends up here, and her mom washes what ends up there. Sometimes we have more, sometimes her mom has more, but neither of us ever has all of it. Which is kind of amazing, because laundry.
The Important Conversations Are Always Covered
There have been things that my step-daughter has opened up to her dad and I about that she hasn’t necessarily shared with her mother, and vice versa. I have had a few heart-to-heart talks about certain womanly things that I’m not sure ever got covered, especially on the feminist front. As long as she’s talking with someone in our family about the things she needs to talk about, I’m happy.
Exposure To Different Points Of View
I happen to be of the belief that our opinions are good ones, however I also think it’s pretty important for my step-daughter to learn to formulate her own opinions based on all information presented. I have already noticed that she has incredible discernment and a very independent way of thinking, and I feel like that can, at least partially, be attributed to her having to take in multiple points of view that assist her in coming to her own conclusions about various matters.
More Love, Which Is Never A Bad Thing
More people loving and caring for and watching out for your children? Yeah, that's not a bad thing. At all.