My work in progress strategy to good co-parenting
"My daughter spends her time between two households, and her mother and I have the challenge of trying to make sure she has a somewhat consistent experience no matter where she is".
NEW POST: @FXLabiran talks growth, fatherhood and co-parenting.
— Music.Football.Fatherhood. (@MFFonline_) June 7, 2018
Nothing can prepare you for fatherhood. Especially when it catches you unexpectedly as a 22-year old boy-man still trying to figure out his way in the world. That was over 5 years ago, and we are both still alive, so I guess I must be doing something right. Jokes apart, sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. To think that I’ve been entrusted with the life of another human being is surreal. It has been a thrilling and sometimes exhausting journey.
For the vast majority of my time as a father I have been co-parenting, which comes with its own challenges. My daughter spends her time between two households, and her mother and me have the challenge of trying to make sure she has a somewhat consistent experience no matter where she is. (As I write this I am thinking of all the ways that I could do better.)
The truth with co-parenting is that both parents have to be focused on making life better for their child while pushing their differences to the side. I have a 9-5 and I’m also building a business on the side so often I’m very short on time, especially during the week. I often get asked how I manage to raise a child and have a life outside of it all. My usual response is something along the lines of “it’s because I have a child that I am so determined to work hard”, and there is truth in this, however it only tells half the story. The foundation of it is that her mother plays a part in my ability to do what I need to. She does the school runs, and endures a lot of tantrums so that I can focus. While I do have my daughter on weekends, go to teacher meetings and make sacrifices to share time with her, I am not unaware of how fortunate I am.
While I am still learning how to parent, I do feel that it is important to share my experience with other fathers who are also co-parenting. Here are some things that I do to help balance co-parenting with the rest of my life:
Expose my daughter to my work
My daughter always used to ask me “Daddy what do you do for work?” so recently I have started to bring her into that side of my life. We have gone out together to create content for my businesses social media (she now knows how to handle a DSLR) and recently I took her into my office during half term where she sat in on my meetings and spent time with my colleagues.
Whenever I have my daughter I do what I can so that it doesn’t feel like she is going into a different world. This is something I struggled with initially as I thought it was my role to be the ‘fun’ parent. She is a smart girl and would say things like “my mummy lets me do…” to try and get her way. Now the focus is firmly on sharing similar principles of love and discipline, which has helped to keep our daughter grounded.
Taking her education seriously
Sometimes when helping with your little one’s homework it can seem very tedious, and I know personally I have tried to push the task onto other family members in the past. Now I embrace it and make sure I sit with her and help her get through it. Outside of academia I have found that the weekends are an ideal opportunity to expose her to the world around her by doing things like taking her to museums, bringing her closer to nature, and cooking with her. All of which gives her more to talk about in school.
Create Great Memories
At the end of it all you want to make sure that you are creating memories with your little one. If you are in a similar situation to me where your child spends most of their time with the other parent, you want to do what you can to make sure that the moments spent together are good one’s. Try and do things that they are interested in, add some variety, take photos and videos, make sure the memories are worth keeping.
I remember going to a teachers meeting at my daughters school recently and her teacher showed me a drawing she had done about one of our weekends together. I was surprised that she had remembered it in such detail, but also humbled that she had chosen this as something worth drawing. In moments like those I know that I am doing something right.
By Francis Xavier Labiran