Monday, September 9, 2013

Co-Parenting: My One Parent Rule

Attending children's events is a stressful juggling act for all families. Parents are usually dividing their time going in different directions to ensure that children not only get to, but also are supported at their activities.  As the school season kicks off we see the calendar fill with sports practices, Back To School Nights, games, matches, rehearsals and meetings.  And this doesn't just impact the fall, looking forward to the start of the holidays we will all have performances, school holiday parties and parent-teacher conferences. 

If you are a divorced single parent, making sure that your child knows that YOU are in attendance and supporting them can be a very stressful if you have multiple children and therefore multiple places to be at any one given time.  If one of my daughters has a swim meet and the other has to get back and forth to dance class, I just cannot be in two places at once. 

And that is why, although hard, I have adopted a one parent rule.  Both parents do not need to be in attendance at every single event.  If one parent is present, even if it my co-parent and not me, that daughter feels supported, and more importantly so do my other children because I am spending time caring for them.  

My girls know that I love them.  Not only do I tell them continually, but I show them in ways big and small.  I coordinate many aspects of their lives, pay exorbitant amounts of money so they can pursue their interests in very expensive extra-curricular activities.  I drive, some nights to hell and back, making sure they attend their practices.  I encourage them to be their absolute best and take great effort to review their academic grades with them on a regular basis (and yes, when I have to take the cell phone that is as much of a punishment for me as them).

I also believe my children know I love them for the things they cannot clearly remember. They each have vague memories of the three girl scout troops I started and lead (for years on end), my time as a soccer coach (stop laughing), having fun as the helping mom at preschool, and the many volunteer hours I put into the PTO running events.  All that time way back then instilled in them my support of their lives. 

No, I cannot attend every swim meet or dance competition performance, but I have put in the time to instill in them a clear sense of my support that goes beyond me sitting in a seat.  And if their dad is in attendance for a big moment, I am confident that given the excellent co-parenting relationship we have built he represents us a parental unit. 

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