It's not always easy raising children with your ex, but these parents navigate the awkwardness for their kids. Here, they share how to make co-parenting work.
1. Make the Hard Choices
Serge and Monica Bielanko, of Millheim, Pennsylvania, live four doors down from each other for their kids’ sake.
She says: “At first, we lived 30 minutes apart. Last year, I told Serge I was moving to his town to end the commute that was taking hours out of our lives. Now I can see his car from my bedroom, but the ease for our children far outweighs the awkward moments.”
He says: “Having the kids so close and Monica being able to drop them off in the morning so I can put them on the bus is a convenience you can’t pay for. If either of us moved farther away, it would be painful.”
2. Take Time to Be Kind
Billy Flynn Gadbois, of Boston, buys flowers or presents for their two sons to give his ex-wife on birthdays and special occasions.
He says: “Little ones want to care for their parents by nature, but they can’t do it alone. So even if you think your ex has done you wrong, you need to realize your kids love this person. My kids like making their mom breakfast on her birthday and giving her flowers, so I shop for them, help make breakfast, and leave. Setting aside your differences without negativity is the point.”
3. Stand By the New Adults in Your Kids’ Lives
Brittney Johnson, of Columbia, Missouri, wrote a Facebook post praising her daughter’s “bonus mom,” Kayla Imhoff, for being a role model to her little girl as her stepmom.
Brittney says: “I am a huge believer in women supporting each other in a world that encourages us to put each other down. I’ve never seen Kayla as my competition, only as a fellow woman who is helping in every way to raise my daughter. It improves my daughter’s life immensely because she doesn’t see a broken front but a team of people who love her dearly.”
Kayla says: “I know if I were a mom and my daughter were going with someone else, I would want to know how and what she was doing. I think by bringing Brittney that comfort, we kind of bonded.”