Take the Mystery Out of Co-Parenting With These Do's and Don'ts

Swizz Beatz, wife Alicia Keys, Ex-wife Mashonda & Kids
By Mwabi Kaira

No one sets out thinking they will raise their kids by co-parenting, but life happens. Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Sheree Zampino have been the faces of the co-parenting and blended family for over 2 decades now. More celebrity couples have joined the ranks including Neyo, wife Crystal Smith and mother of his two oldest children Monyetta Shaw, Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys and ex-wife Mashonda, Martin Lawrence, ex-wife Pat Smith and new husband Emmitt Smith and second ex-wife Shamicka Lawrence to name a few. What these couples have shown us is that co-parenting can be done and doesn’t have to be as difficult as we are sometimes shown.

I watched a video in dismay of a mother refusing to allow the father of their child from taking their child because she wanted to put the child in the car seat. When he said he could put the child in without her assistance she said he couldn’t take the kid. He had visitation and had to make a video showing it as proof. My name is not Iyanla but I could tell from this 5-minute video that this whole exchange had nothing to do with the car seat or the child, but everything to do with unresolved issues between these two parents. The misconception about co-parenting is that it comes easy. It does not. It has to be worked at. There are feelings of disappointment, betrayal, and failure that have to be worked through. Couples that are able to work through these feelings while still keeping their kids first are couples that are successful at co-parenting. Issues arise and grow and cannot be repaired when parents can’t put their feelings aside. If there is anger and resentment then it shows up by not allowing interaction with the children and being very petty about it as evidenced by the car seat couple. Children suffer the most when it is so unnecessary, they did not ask to be here and all they asked for was to be loved.

Statistics show that one in three Americans is now some form of step-parent, stepchild, step sibling or other member of a blended family. This is our new reality. Psychology Today lists some do’s and don’ts for co-parenting. Do’s include open dialogue with the co-parent and being on the same team as far as rules and behavioral guidelines. Kids will always look for loopholes and try to play parents against each other whether they are together or not so parents have to have that united front to combat that. The biggest don’ts from Psychology Today are not speaking negatively about the other parent to the child and not allowing your child to get away with things just because of guilt.
Will Smith, wife Jada, Ex-wife Sharee, her former husband and the Kids
I have been co-parenting for 8 years now and my biggest lesson has been staying true to myself. Will and Jada put a face on something I’ve always known I’d do if ever put in that position. I didn’t allow my core to change because of circumstance. My sons have been my biggest priority since the day they were born and I did not allow divorce to change that. I always made sure to do my part regardless of what was coming from the other side when feelings were still being sorted out. Because we live in different states, I send text messages of grades, calls from teachers, videos of plays on the football field, when they get drivers licences, first jobs, and any and every milestone of importance to their father. I involve him in discipline decisions. We have made sure that we are on the same page on our decision making. Our sons are 17 and almost 19 now and we are nowhere done with parenting, we will be their parents for as long as we are alive. We will just move into this new stage of parenting with them; there’s college, adulthood, relationships, and grandbabies in our future and we will have to navigate these new waters as co-parents.

Both Mashonda Tifrere (ex-wife of Swizz Beatz) and Monyetta Shaw have upcoming books on co-parenting releasing this Fall. Mashonda’s book is called Blend: The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family with a foreword from Alicia Keys and will be released on October 2nd. Monyetta Shaw’s book is called Keep It Classy: Co-Parenting Strategies for Unstoppable Moms and Devoted Dads with a foreword by Neyo and will be released this Fall. So you see, co-parenting is very possible if you have willing parties.

Do you co-parent? Did your parents co-parent?

Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com

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