“I don’t care- go ask your dad”… this is a phrase we heard commonly growing up with four siblings. It is easy for one parent to be the “cool parent” and the other to be the “disciplinarian” when a family is all under the same roof. The whole- good cop, bad cop routine.
Parenting is hard even when two parents live in the same home. Will the kids have a curfew? Will they get an allowance? Which chores will be assigned to who? How will we raise our children with values? How will we manage work schedules with soccer, softball and dance recitals? How will we just ensure they don’t grow up to be serial killers?
There is no magic formula or cheat sheet for parenting. Parenting. Is. Hard. It becomes even harder when you are trying to raise children from two separate households. It is easy for one parent to become the lenient, cool parent, while the other becomes the parent with rules and structure. It may be more difficult to give your children things they “want” while trying to make sure you can afford their basic needs.
And then come the co-parenting issues. Making daily decisions jointly is tough, nearly impossible, from two homes, however, our courts are still generally granting "joint" legal custody. Sharing decision making will take work, it will involve effective communication, managing schedules even more closely to ensure that the child’s life is least disrupted. This may mean that the parents have to make sacrifices, they have to co-exist at the soccer games so their kids can still enjoy the sport, they have to put their feelings aside, and remember that co-parenting is the best thing for the kids.
This gets even further complicated when you introduce a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and step-parents to the equation. There are numerous classes and books out there to help you navigate the co-parenting journey. I highlight many of these on my site. Local Courts are even requiring co-parenting classes as part of a custody lawsuit. It won’t be easy, but effectively co-parenting will help your children grow up with a healthy view of relationships, and that will be worth it.