The Truth About Co-Parenting

I’m in a lot of groups on co-parenting, taking co-parenting classes and reading everything under the sun to learn how to co-parent. Is it working? Umm, not yet. But, that is not to say that I’ve given up. I’m prayerful that God is working it out.

I understand that most co-parenting situations take 5 to 7 years to work out and that will put Munch between 13 to 15. Okay, whatever! It takes a village and I’m okay with that. However, one of the things that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot lately is the concern that step moms have that the birth mom’s hate them.

Let me pause and offer my two cents on this belief. This is not true in all cases. If you broke up a home through infidelity, then the birth mother may hate you. But, you should know that. If you didn’t and you both just moved on with your lives and met and married new people then I’m sure that the birth mother doesn’t hate you.

Neither do the kids. They just need to get to know you. The thing is that you fall in love with the man not knowing the history of what he did to that woman or vice versa.  As much as everyone would like to place the foolishness on the birth mom’s shoulder I invite you to take a step back and look at it from another point of view.

As a birth mom to only one child, I only want the best for my child. I believe that his dad wants the best for him. If I don’t know you then how can I know what you want with our son? Does that make you a bad person? Nope, not at all. But, that doesn’t meant that I like you or hate you. I don’t know you.

Does that mean that I’m jealous of you? Not at all. Again, I don’t know you. I don’t trust people I don’t know. Do you trust people that you don’t know? Probably not. It means that we are starting at a point of figuring each other out. We are not sitting here creating voodoo dolls of you and wishing bad things on you. We have a life. We have a child or children. We may have careers.

Every relationship whether friend or intimate has boundaries. When you are getting to know someone intimately they are learning your boundaries and you are learning theirs. When do you learn the birth mother’s boundaries? Do you believe there are boundaries? Do you care?

If not, then think about the relationship that you are creating with those boundaries. When we don’t respect boundaries from the birth parents and do what they heck we want in the name of love, then you will be met with resistance and anger. Probably both. Issues from the marriage or relationship carry over into co-parenting when boundaries aren’t respected. Both men and women are guilty of this.  This doesn’t mean that the woman is bitter or jealous of you. You just crossed her boundary.

Let me give you an example, maybe the ex gave her a sexually transmitted disease (STD), was violent to her, stole from her, etc. Maybe the man didn’t want the child to begin with and now wants to be father of the year with you on his arms. Who knows? You only know his side of the story.  The one that your new partner told you. Maybe the issues are deeper than you want to admit. There are many reasons relationships fail.

And when they do fail, what remains is that there are two parents that have a child to care for. Two. Mom and dad. The parents who created the child, carried the child and the mother who birthed the child left to figure out how to raise this little human being without emotionally stunting him/her. Their children will be raised in two homes, with two different parenting styles and two people who love them immensely. Does that mean that you can’t be a partner in the child’s life with your new man or woman? Not at all.

It just means that you have to recognize that their are other participants in this co-parenting relationship. The parents. Both parents. They need to work together for their child. It may be a lot of residual issues, but your job is not get involved in the BS. To respect the boundaries and love and be a supporting partner to your significant other and a supporter of the child.

Children need the love and support of their parents. If more parents are added to the mix, that’s more love to go around. Their village will expand. Birth mothers don’t go around hating their exe’s new partner. If you’re feeling hated, ask yourself whether or not you did anything to overstep your boundaries. Talk it out.

This is not a birth mother vs. step mother reality. Women have to stop being pitted against each other. We are our sister keeper’s. We are all part of the village.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Advertisements

Parenting: First Day of School

Yesterday was Munch’s first day back at school. It was an exhausting day because our flight was delayed by 3 hours and we didn’t get in the house until 12:15 a.m. the next morning. Ugh! But, we took it in stride and were thankful that we arrived even after all those hours.

I felt so unprepared. I didn’t get a chance to pack his backpack with all the school supplies before heading out of town. That was a bummer. I grabbed some notebook paper and pencils and shoved them in his bag and thought we’ll do it this evening.

Munch woke up in a bad mood. Can you blame him? He was explaining to me that he didn’t want to go back to the same school because the kids were mean to him. I stopped. I breathed and replied “Munch, we are in a new school year with a new teacher and new classmates. No one can make you feel less than you are. Only you have the power to do so. I want you to have an amazing day because you are blessed. We woke up this morning. You have new clothes and shoes and supplies. You are ready to learn.” He sighed.

We drove to school and he said to me “Mommy, I’m sorry about earlier. I was in a bad mood. I’m going to have a good day.” I smiled and replied “Yep, you are and I can’t wait to hear all about it.” We walked into the building.

He saw a couple of children from his old school. Remember that I told you that there are only two French Immersion schools in the county? That was comforting. They spoke in the hallways. His smile was huge.

We met his teacher who is another male (Yay!) this year. I introduced myself and Munch and told him that I will see him at back to school night next week. I left.

This year there was no huge good-bye and lingering around. I felt better. I felt comforted. We weren’t in a foreign territory anymore. I know some parents, the principal and administrators. I made the school smaller by volunteering and I’ll do the same this year.

Here’s to my awesome and amazingly talented fourth grader. He’s ornery, brilliant and changing every day to look like his mommy. He will have a wonderful time in the 4th grade this year and I’ll be right there to make sure that he does.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Child Support: My Story

The issue of child support is a touchy one. This will be a three part issue. The first part will be my story, the second will be a man’s story and the third will be a woman’s story. I’m going to explore multiple sides about the importance of child support and give you truth here. This may be a trigger post for some of you. So, if it is, please stay off my page with your drama. I am all about trying to equalize the argument for the benefits for financially supporting your children.

Many people see child support as a bad thing. It’s deemed the devil because many states require a man to pay 1/3 or more of his salary supporting a “lazy momma” while being denied visitation or being forced to work multiple jobs to even live.  Others see it as the only way to make a man financially responsible for his child while checking out emotionally. It is a vicious cycle and in reality there are some truths to both sides. Let’s discuss the reality.

In reality, children require more than just love to grow into healthy adults. It takes money. Can your child live without clothes, medical, dental, food or shelter? Nope.

Okay, good. Now, before you start saying that I’m pro the destruction of the man, stop it. I’m not. Women who don’t raise their children should also pay child support. I believe that everyone has a financial responsibility for their children.

For the record, I don’t get nor have I ever filed child support against my ex-husband. He doesn’t get it either. In fact, we agreed that we would equally split expenses for our son. So, I have no “skin” in the game to protect any financial support you think I may be getting.

Now, the difference between me and some other women is that I can afford to take care of my son without his father’s help. It’s not a bad thing. It’s reality. I’ve been blessed to have a great career that allows me both the financial and emotional means to be present for my son. However, I recognize that not everyone can say that they are as fortunate. Some women and men actually need the financial support of the other parent.

 

When I was growing up, my dad was ordered to pay $200 a month in child support for three kids. Yes, I said that right – three kids. Ask me how many checks we received?

Zero.

Not one.

My dad lived his life getting paid under the table. He avoided paying child support like it was a contagious disease. He refused to catch it.

Did he feel bad? In my opinion no. Anyone that avoids the financial support of their child doesn’t have a conscious. Therefore, they can’t feel bad for not doing for their child. Combine that with the fact that he lived in another state and didn’t see us and you have the trifecta of a poor example as a father.

He was not present. Financially, emotionally, spiritually or any form or fashion. We were a non-factor in his life. The life he lived in avoidance.

So, I watched my mother struggle. Struggle to put clothes on our back and food on our table. Struggle to work multiple jobs and go to school so she could provide a better life for us.

I imagined that the better life she was working on would provide better clothes, better shoes and more of an opportunity to have her present. See, when a person doesn’t take care of their children, it leaves the other parent to take care of the slack. But, it took two people to create that child. How come one person gets to slack on their responsibility?

 

Because of that hard life of learning to survive in spite of my circumstances, I worked hard. I didn’t want children. I wouldn’t bring a child into this world without being able to support them on my own. I would never give anyone that power to determine the fate of my child/children.

I would be better than that.

And I did. I worked hard to get my career off the ground. Even when my marriage ended and I had to re-shift my focus, it became about the most important asset in my life. My Munch. He was more important than any job or my career. I needed him to know that.

So, I spoke up. I told my employers during the interview stage that I am a mom first. That it is just me and that I will always be there for my son. I won’t miss school plays, programs or games. I will be present on the first day of school and every day thereafter. I only have him for a short time before he is released into the world, hopefully making it a better place.

My responsibilities were to my son first.  My employers understood. They respected my decision. So, I continued to rise in my career without sacrificing because I was a mother. I have been very fortunate to have that.

Even this summer when I had to adjust my schedule to get my son to and from camp. I called on my village and they helped out. My supervisor understood that I had camp that started at 9 am and there was no before care. I didn’t get to work until 9:45 am. My mother went in early and took off to pick up Munch from camp at 3pm.

I take off to take him to doctor’s appointments, to volunteer in his school, attend his programs (like the art camp) or if he’s sick. My supervisor allows flexibility because it’s just me. I need it. My mother didn’t have that. She had me.

I missed school if my siblings were sick. She had to work. We had to take care of each other.

I’m not ignorant to the fact that Munch has the best of both worlds…a mother that can afford to provide and a mother that is present. This is in direct contrast with what I experienced, but experience taught me. I chose to be a mother and I chose to have a career and thankfully I am able to have them both.

The lack of child support or financial means pushed me to work harder and become more determined to not be another statistic. We needed the financial support from my dad, but we lived and thrived in spite of. No one should ever have to be in that position.

-Part 2: His View On Child Support is Next-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Mommy Moments – 8.22.17

Munch and I have been enjoying our summer. School starts next month and I am preparing him slowly. His favorite color is blue (like his mommy) and he’s asked for blue tennis shoes again and a blue back pack.

Got it.

I’ve been buying school supplies and making sure that he’s enjoying camp. He started art camp this week and it goes through next week so I am excited about him learning and playing. This was the one request he had for a camp for summer. He wanted to go to art camp.

He’s gone swimming, skating, go-kart racing, to the fair and to an amusement park. He’s had a ball. We’re headed home to Tennessee in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait. I need the break.

Some funny news about Munch and his health…Last December Munch got a silver cap placed on his tooth. They call it a crown and his dad happened to take him to the dentist when they suggested it. I called the dentist upset because a crown requires a root canal and he still has baby teeth in his mouth. The hygienist was very helpful and just told me in essence it is a crown that his crown was to prevent the spread of decay of the two surrounding tooth. Okay.

After a $225.00 doctor visit for this crown and convincing Munch that it was okay as it was in the back of his mouth to the side, we got used to it. They explained that when his permanent tooth came in then the baby tooth with the crown on it will fall out.

Well, after only 8 months it fell out. Nope, I didn’t get my $225.00 worth of use. Munch was so cute because he thought that he should get more money from the tooth fairy because it was not just a regular tooth, but a silver tooth. Really?

He got a beautiful $1.00 from the tooth fairy. He then said the next morning “I wish it were a gold tooth. I probably would have gotten more.” LMAO.

The last few weeks in August will be spent attending BBQ’s, parties and appointments to get him ready for school. He has a vision appointment this Saturday to make sure he’s all set. School starts on the 6th of September.

How are you enjoying summer so far? Are your kids back in school? Any tips for getting ready to start the new school year?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Broke and Blending

Last week in one of my parenting groups I saw this post from the Daily Mail asking Would you pay your stepchild’s education fees? I was intrigued. What fees? Mr. C and I want to marry in the future and college tuition will be a part of our budget so I wanted to read the post.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected. The woman posted in a group chat how she’s moving in with her boyfriend and they have 3 children among them. She has two girls and he has one daughter. She asked him prior to even the thought of them moving in would his daughter be okay with going to public school while her girls attended private school. He said yes.

Well, lo and behold his daughter is not. Now, her boyfriend wants his daughter to go to private school like her girls or both her girls should go to public school. Yeah right. So, he felt that it was fair and some other people on the post believed the same thing.

Here are my 5 thoughts on this issue:

  1. Heck, no. First off, the man makes equivalent to $18,000 in U.S. money annually. Didn’t I tell you women to stop dating broke men. Are you kidding me? How is he financially supporting his child on this low salary? That is the bigger issue.
  2. The woman stated that she makes substantially more than him and will be absorbing the majority of the costs in the home. Why? Why are you dating someone who will be a financial drain on you and you have children? Your goal is to provide for them and not take care of a broke man.
  3. This is going to shock some of you all, but life’s not fair. There. I said it. That is the lesson that you have to teach your children. His daughter needs to learn that life is not fair and if she wants to go to private school, her parents need to pay for it. If not, suck it up and enjoy a public school education. I did. I turned out fine.
  4. Money should be separate unless you’re married. Why would we combine funds if we are not married? Your money is your money and my money is my money while we are dating. No cohabitation or confusion on this issue. But, let me be clear. It is a man’s job to put a roof over his family’s head. I’ll say it again….I’m not paying for a roof over my head. That doesn’t mean that I won’t pay any bills, but a man should be able to swing the mortgage or rent.
  5. Are you financially compatible? Nope. If you were, you wouldn’t be having this issue. You can’t be with a grown man who has a child that believes earning less than $20k a year is a good look. It’s not. Don’t put yourself in financial straights by dating and living with this broke man.

Now, I know some of you may be saying “T, you’re being too hard.” Nope, I’m not. If I am dating someone (not married) and I can afford private school and you can’t then why should my child(ren) suffer? A man is supposed to provide. If he can’t provide for me he should at the very least be able to provide for his child(ren). If he can’t do that then why would you be with him? Throw him back in the ineligible dating pool. He’s not ready.

This is why I’m an advocate of making sure that you are equally yoked prior to moving in and definitely before marriage. Not just in religion, but in all things including financial. You need to level set about all things and expectations. This whole ordeal could have been avoided had she stayed away from this broke man.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe that all children should be treated equally? Would you pull your children out of private school and send them to public school for your partner?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Co-Parenting: I Never Thought

I never thought that it mattered to Munch that his dad and I weren’t together. He had turned 5 and we waited until he graduated from day care and had his birthday party. We didn’t want his 5th birthday to be scarred in any way. However, looking back on it…he probably was scarred in spite of our best intentions.

Munch’s life has always been a life where he’s experienced being an only child with two parents that love him tremendously. When we explained that we were divorcing and that he would live in two homes with two rooms, he said “But, you two are my parents.” We explained that we would always be his parents and that we love him more than life itself.

We probably should have put him in therapy. We probably should have gone to family counseling. We probably shouldn’t have done a lot of things. But, we did. None of which Munch had a choice in.

Life has a way of getting you to reflect on your choices when you’re divorced and try to co-parent. That moment came for me a few weeks ago. Munch was crying after a conversation with his dad. I asked him to come here and sit down and talk. He did. We talked. My heart broke.

My son felt like he was in the middle of his parent’s mess. Truthfully, he was. He sat with me and talked to me openly and honestly about what he was feeling. My little man child was expressing how he felt about everything. I just listened. I cried.

I asked him “Munch, what is it that you want?” We spend so much time telling Munch what he has to do that we probably don’t ask him how he feels about things. Forgetting that he’s the one that has to adapt to it. Do you know what my little boy said? He looked at me with tears falling down his face and said “I want you and Daddy to get back together.” 

This hit me like a ton of bricks. What? Why? I had so many questions. I couldn’t bombard this little boy. I asked him “Why?” He said “Because I’m the only kid in after care with divorced parents.” I explained that he’s probably not and some kids may have parents that never married. But, I had to go deeper.

I explained to him that I knew that he felt caught in the middle and I apologized for my part in it. I told him that his dad and I hadn’t been together in over four years and that we love him immensely. I explained that I know that he didn’t ask for any of this and he’s having to adjust to our choices.

We prayed. I kissed his tears. I held my son until he wanted to get up and go play.

His words stuck with me. In my mind and in my spirit. So much of what you do when you divorce and try to rebuild your life after the divorce affects your kids but do you ever stop to think how they’re coping? Probably not. There are a lot of things that Munch had no control over: his parents divorcing, his shared custody arrangement, his dad’s significant other, his dad getting engaged, his dad sharing spaces with someone else outside of him, me moving, his schools changing, me sharing my space with my mom, my dating Mr. C. and probably a whole heck of a lot more things. He’s had significant change.

We adults made the decision to move forward with our lives and he had no choice. We didn’t stop to think how our choices are affecting him not just in a once in a while conversation, but on a consistent basis. We didn’t stop to ask him what things he needs from us to make sure the transitions are working well for him. We just lived our lives believing that our choices were best for Munch.

Are they? I’m going to say in many ways yes. We are good at mapping out our lives and adulting, but we’re not good at co-parenting. We are good at telling him this is going to happen, but not at giving him a vote on our choices. We may not have a choice in what we do, but be cognizant of the fact that he’ll be the one to suffer the consequences.

Our married life is over. Whatever messes we created we have to remember that the most beautiful thing in all of this was Munch. He is our lifeline no matter how much fire I have to walk through I have to keep telling myself this. No greater joy than motherhood. Than what God has granted.

Next stop is to get Munch paired up with a therapist. Let him talk about what is affecting him. Let him sort through the mess we adults created with a professional. Get the tools and techniques on helping him adjust and be the best kid ever. We don’t have all the answers, but we can start by making the right choices to help Munch.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Munch Moments – 7.14

Munch has been with me this week and it has been so wonderful. I miss the scent and sound of my son when he’s away from me. Lots of hugs and lots of kisses and discipline too because my man child has gotten a little grown. He is talking back.

I will tell him something and then he’ll respond with a comment on what I’ve said. I had to tell him politely “Munch, not everything requires a response.” He still didn’t get it. He did it again. I responded “Baby, when mommy tells you to do something, your only response needs to be yes ma’m. No other comment is needed.”

Whew! It’s hard work being a parent. We try to lead by example and correct negative behaviors, but that sassy mouth has me wanting to apologize to my mother about my behavior when I was a child. I get it now God!

This week we had a ball at the church picnic, swimming and eating with some friends, attending the circus and of course doctor’s appointments were in the mix. First, the picnic at my church is an annual thing and we always have a good time chatting with the members, eating the good food and the kids have a ball dancing. Munch didn’t leave the moon bounce. AT ALL. I had to go and get him because he didn’t eat and it was time to go.

Sunday was a relaxing day by the pool. My girlfriend has a pool in her development and Munch got to swim and eat pool side. He loves that part. We order pizza and we can eat and relax and get back in the pool. Never missing a beat. He wanted to go on the slides, but he needed to pass the swim test first. I asked him did he want to do it. He agreed and of course passed. My baby can swim.

He’s been climbing in the bed with me more often. About 3 or 4 am he will awake and ask to get in the bed with me. I agree. I don’t ever want my son to not feel welcome in my bed. You may be asking “What happens when you marry Mr. C?” Munch will still be welcome or I’ll climb in the bed with him to soothe away any fears he’s having. LOL. Mr. C knows.

Munch had a dentist and doctor’s appointment earlier this week. We were in and out of the dentist office in no time and off to the doctor’s for his annual check-up. He’s in great health and doing just fine. But, it was weird this year at his annual check-up. The pediatrician had to check his genitals and Munch was laying down crying hard. I asked held his hands and asked him “What’s wrong?” He was crying and said “Mommy, I feel so embarrassed.” My heart hurt. My son is now embarrassed by being naked. The doctor was done in less than one minute and I told him that he doesn’t have to be embarrassed. I explained to him that the doctor is only allowed to view his penis with mommy or daddy present. Your body is a gift from God so you should never be embarrassed. But, it hurt me that my baby was embarrassed.

Finally, my week ended with us going to the circus last night. This is the Universoul Circus. Munch loves it. They play hip-hop, have cool clowns and great acts. It is becoming our annual date night to the circus. I have to pay for tickets, face painting, food and a toy. However, the look on his face as he tells me “This is the best day ever” is so priceless.

That’s my Munch update. He is going back to his dad today and I will miss the little one. Tomorrow I’m attending an event in the morning that I’ll blog about next week and my girlfriend’s birthday dinner. Have an amazing Friday and know that you are loved and appreciated!

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.