Featured in Thrive Global November 16, 2018
This is an excerpt from Anna’s bestselling Co-Parenting in Harmony series.
When couples separate, they have determined that they no longer can or want to stay in an intimate relationship. In the heat of frustration, anger, resentment or other negative feelings, many focus on who’s right and who’s wrong, foregoing their kids’ emotional well-being.
Children are usually the first victims in these scenarios as parents’ battles can get ugly and damaging decisions can be made.
The first time I was confronted with divorce, my brother and I were the kids in our parents’ separation. In the name of love for us and hatred for each other, my parents let things reach a point of no return and my father lost total custody. My brother and I were denied any visits with him for 14 years.
I was four years old when they divorced. The next time I saw my dad was when I invited him to my high school graduation. I was 18. During those years, to punish my mom, he never gave us a dime. My mother raised us alone on her sole paycheck.
I grew up with a lot of resentment towards my dad. Despite attempts on his part to connect, I never got over him not helping out financially.
About four years ago, my father passed away.
As I grow deeper into life and spiritual coaching, I’ve realized that he was, after all, a great man, with whom I have more in common than I thought. I would love to be able to tell him this.
My parents, brother and I were all victims of this dramatic situation. No one was right, no one was wrong. All this suffering could have been avoided.
Because of my situation, I must have made an unconscious promise to myself that my kids would never experience this. I married at 21, my husband was 23. Two years later, we had our first daughter. Four years later, our second. Like most parents, our kids meant the world to us.
But, over time, we grew apart. One night, after a huge argument, he left. It was the end of our 10 year marriage and 15 year relationship. Things had stopped working, but we pretended all was well, until it exploded.
Like most couples, including my parents, my former spouse and I were upset and full of frustration. We were resentful and blamed each other for everything.
Yet, my daughters were never involved in custody or alimony battles.
They continued to be raised by both parents and were with us almost daily. Their dad would pick them up at my house, bring them to school, then bring them back in the afternoon. He was free to keep them at his house, travel with them, have them for weekends, holidays, whenever suitable or necessary.
Even when things were rough, I never said “You cannot see my kids”, and he never said “You cannot have my daughters”. We raised OUR girls together.
They never had two birthday parties, schools never had to send two reports, we would participate in parent meetings together, or decide who would attend and report back to the other.
Every decision involving the kids was made together. We opened Christmas gifts together. He gave them money to buy me birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day presents and I did the same for him. When he met his new partner, I accepted her because she was great with our children. We continued to parent together and eventually welcomed my new partner as well.
For graduations, we sat together with our spouses to honor our daughters.
At all times, our daughters’ well-being and happiness were our top priority. They are now young adults and we continue to attend their life events together.
Was it easy? No.
But when we, as co-parents, choose to bring kids into this world, they should NEVER have to pay for our failures, frustrations, anger or resentment resulting from us falling out of love.
I wish every parent could learn to control their emotions, for the sake of their children. When an identity shift is made as co-parents, co-parenting together becomes harmonious.
Anna is an online Co-Parenting coach and a first-person advocate for Co-Parenting in Harmony. She is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner in Co-Parenting and a two-time international bestselling author of the Co-Parenting in Harmony© series. To learn more about Anna’s work, check out her e-book, 6 Tips to Co-parenting in Harmony: https://www.annagiannone.com/e-book/.