It is my opinion that you are a co-parent unless your other parent is deceased or completely uninvolved. You can be a married co-parent or a single co-parent. I know others who feel that if they are unmarried, they are a single parent. My story is that I am unmarried, but I am still a co-parent to my oldest two daughters while I am a single parent to my youngest two children. If you have someone that helps you both financially and physically (sharing time) then you are not technically a single parent. As a single parent, I don’t get every second weekend “off” and I can’t get the other parent be the disciplinarian when I’m fed up, it’s just me. Some days I find myself wishing I had someone to bounce difficult decisions off, rather than having to figure it out on my own. In addition to not having a co-parent, I do not have family in the area to help. I’m from Oklahoma and live in Dallas…so I truly am on my own. Over the years, I have developed friendships with other women and sports coaches for a support system. It helps, but it’s not the same as having actively involved parent, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Most of my single friends have parenting schedules that allow them to be child-free every other weekend, extended time in the summer and over school breaks. I have never had that option with my youngest two even while married. In co-parenting, you have help regardless of the amount of time or the percentage of finances.
On the other side, I look at some of the co-parenting arrangements and I can honestly say, I don’t envy them! I coach two clients going through nasty divorces that include physical and verbal abuse. In one situation, the woman (I use that term loosely) that he is divorcing has done everything in her power to drive a wedge between my client and their sons. In addition to the parental alienation, they are completely unable to communicate without it turning into an argument, someone speaking about hurting themselves or someone else, or her trying to guilt trip him into just putting up with the situation. While I realize that most co-parenting relationships are more respectful than this, I question if it is more difficult to co-parent than it is to be a single parent?
I must admit that I cry often for my youngest two children having to watch their older sisters have the very best relationship girls can have with their father, he is truly an amazing dad. While I would love to have a partner living in my home, and being a support in raising my kids, I am glad I don’t have to ask permission of someone else when it comes to my children. I love that I can wake up to them everyday and not have to miss them for weeks at a time or every other holiday. Still it is difficult because I feel like I have failed at my job as a parent and provided them with loving parents that serve as role models, whether in the same home or not. My kids now know that life is unfair much earlier than they should have had to. The absence of their father will be with them forever especially during birthdays, family holidays and their weddings.
Through all of this I remain humble and grateful for the children God blessed me with. I make sure to love on them all and teach them to embrace the life they are living. I believe that how you look at things, changes what you see, so choose to see the good in your situation, even if it is not the one you envisioned.