Welcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didn’t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.
Yesterday, my daughter’s father called me to talk about dental insurance. Exciting, I know. While we discussing the new policy and whether our little girl would have to find a new dentist, my ex took a moment to comment on the controversy that sprung up around my daughter and I’s appearance on Good Morning America. Obviously, he knew that the we were going to be on the show, because I called and asked his views on letting our daughter go on television. He just wanted to take a moment to give me a little support.
“Lins,” he said, “You’re an amazing mother. You do a miraculous job raising our daughter. If there were a better way to do it, you’re smart enough to figure it out, so I would never be concerned about the choices you make. You know our little girl and you know what’s best for her.”
Now, I have gotten a lot of truly heart-warming messages of inspiration and kindness in response to that little kerfuffle. They all meant so much to me. But I have to admit that this particular compliment had its own special meaning for me. It’s so important for co-parenting adults to trust one another in their childrearing choices. It’s important for us to respect the other.
And yesterday, I realized that it’s important for us to remind each other that we’re doing a good job. It’s vital that we compliment each other, that we communicate our support and praise.
That’s why I think that separated parents should still celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day.
I realize that it might feel weird to buy a present for a person that you aren’t in a committed relationship with. I know it’s easier to let your kids pick out a funny card and a bouquet of flowers and get the whole thing over with. But celebrating the other parent of your child doesn’t have to change simply because you’re no longer romantically involved. What makes Mother’s or Father’s Day about married couples? Nothing.
In fact, you could argue that because married couples spend more time together, they get more opportunity to celebrate their spouse’s parenting skills. How often do separated parents take the time to let the other know how much they appreciate them? In my own experience, not often enough.
For me, the hardest part of single parenting was lacking the support when things got difficult. If I was insecure about my decisions, I had no one to talk them over with. I had no one to reassure me that I was doing the right thing. Having that support from your partner is such a huge help.
Perhaps co-parenting couples can take these admittedly-Hallmark holidays and offer a little of that praise and reassurance that we all need as we try to be the best parents we can. Let it be the day when you remember to thank your ex for being an amazing parent to your child. No matter what else has passed between you, come together and support each other as parents. These holidays are the perfect excuse to.
(Photo: Yoga With Mitzi)