While co-parenting is supposed to be a cooperative endeavor, sometimes it feels like it’s all on one person. Sometimes this is because of an unhelpful co-parent, and sometimes it is just because of having to adjust to a new way of doing things. It isn’t unusual or wrong to feel this way, but it can certainly be difficult to deal with. Here are a few tips to help you when co-parenting feels like single parenting.
Try to become financially independent
Becoming independent financially helps to boost your self-confidence, and also gives you more freedom to spend on yourself and your kids. If you are receiving child support or alimony, work to make that only supplemental income. Spend wisely and save up so that when you have expenses you can take care of them yourself.
A good way to save money would be to cook at home or buy things second-hand. Budget your income to keep yourself mindful of what you are spending. Also, make sure that you have some money set aside for fun stuff that you and your kids like.
Build a cooperative relationship with your co-parent
The more time you spend fighting with your co-parent, the more time you waste and the more stressed out you will be. Even if your co-parent isn’t being helpful, resist saying or doing something specifically to hurt them. Try to take a moment before responding when you are angry. If conversations turn into arguments on a regular basis, try communicating over email or another messaging service. This will allow you to take time to reflect and consider what you’re saying before you respond. This makes you both much less likely to say something hurtful in the heat of the moment.
Remember that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Find other co-parents and single parents who share your struggles. Talk about it, both to express your feelings and to trade advice. Also, talk to your friends and family, and take some time to enjoy yourself. This can do wonders for your stress levels and helps with feeling lonely.
Remember that you don’t have to be the perfect parent
Just because something didn’t go very well or you messed something up doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent. Try to enjoy your time with your kids while upholding the rules you and your co-parent have agreed upon. You don’t need to prove to anyone that you’re “good enough” at parenting; you just need to take care of your children’s overall happiness and well being. Make sure than you aren’t harming them emotionally in some attempt to gain their affection by doing things like giving them a huge number of gifts or bending the rules too far.
Communicate with your children
One of the most important things in raising your children is to keep open communication. Hear their thoughts, and find out how they are doing. Let them know that you love them and that you are there for them. They want a good relationship with you and your co-parent. Try to encourage your children to also talk to their other parent. If you feel that your co-parent isn’t being sufficiently involved in building a relationship, talk to someone like a therapist or counselor to help you to learn how to cope and handle the situation.