Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE
Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE

February 20, 2024

October 27, 2021

Co-Parenting and Blending Families

E:
92
with
Abbey Williams
Therapist

What You'll Learn

  • The Unique Challenges Single Moms Face
  • The Role of Co-Parenting
  • Helping A Child Navigate Co-Parenting
  • Knowing When to Separate
  • Considerations For Dating/ Blending A Family

There are many roads that lead to motherhood, and some moms even start their journey solo. But what happens when you’ve chosen a partner to start a family, and it doesn’t work out? What does ending the partnership mean for your parenting situation, and your child’s situation? When we’re thrust into single parenting unexpectedly, the custody agreements that mean time away from our child can be devastating, and co-parenting is its own can of worms. Therapist and founder of Mimosas with Moms Abbey Williams is here to unpack the challenges of co-parenting for us.

The Unique Challenges of Single Mothers

“When you’re in a partnership and something happens and it doesn’t work out, this is an extreme loss,” Abbey said. Ending the partnership itself can be hard, but you’re also only seeing your kid 50% of the time or whatever the custody agreement says.

You may not have expected to have to deal with not getting to see your kid every day.

If you chose to enter into motherhood with a partner, you may not have expected to have to deal with not getting to see your kid every day. If your custody agreement is 50/50, you may feel like you’re missing half of your kid’s life.

“It gets easier as time goes on, but I don’t think it ever gets easier at the same time,” Abbey said. She’s been co-parenting her oldest child for 10 years, and it’s still hard especially with other kids in the picture now. 

She worries her oldest son will feel excluded if they do family outings while he is at his dad’s. “I think first just feel your feels,” she said. 

The Role of Co-Parenting

There is a loss of control too. Parenting is not easy. My partner and I have different parenting styles, and even with a strong foundation can have disagreements about parenting decisions. Now imagine how much separation, divorce, and legal involvement can strain this dynamic. When your child goes somewhere else 50% of the time, as long as they’re safe, you have no control over how they spend their time or what boundaries they’re allowed.

If you’re having a hard time with this aspect, Abbey suggests maybe venting to a friend or seeking counseling. And co-parenting is on a spectrum from amicable, solid co-parenting relationships to co-parents who only communicate through an attorney.

If we find ourselves in a co-parenting situation where we can’t have a productive conversation with our co-parent, there are systems and tools that can be used to help facilitate co-parenting effectively.

When the relationship comes to a break because one person feels slighted, it’s really hard to encourage our child to prioritize their relationship with that other parent. But parental alienation can be harmful to the child. 

The child deserves a relationship with both parents.

“The child deserves a relationship with both parents,” Abbey said. “I also want to tack on there along with parent alienation is talking bad about the other parent.” 

I can speak to this. My parents were divorced, and knowing how much my parents hated each other, when my dad would say, “You’re just like your mom,” it was hurtful. But I can appreciate that them staying together and fighting all the time would have been worse.

Prioritizing our own mental health is crucial when dealing with a co-parenting situation. Otherwise, we become so fused with our own thoughts and emotions, and this doesn’t leave room for considering our child’s thoughts and emotions.

If we don’t prioritize our mental health, when a child mentions they don’t like going back and forth between two houses, or they don’t like it at Dad’s, we may become overly anxious with thoughts like “What’s going on Dad’s that you don’t like it there? What’s the problem?”

Helping A Child Navigate Co-Parenting

Moving from house to house can be hard, and your child may miss you when they’re with the other parents, but miss your co parent when they’re with you. When your child is gone half the time, it might be hard to listen to them say they miss dad the whole time they’re home. But it’s okay.

You can’t really fix that for them, but you can be present for them.

You can’t really fix that for them, but you can be present for them. Just listen. Let the child know their feelings are valid and you will support them. The temptation may be to want to solve the problem somehow, but there will be other things in life you can’t fix for them either.

This can be an opportunity to help them process their emotions and navigate problems on their own.

Knowing When To Separate

People sometimes want to stay in a relationship for the kid, or because they don’t want to lose any kind of visitation. Those are real considerations, but if you’re going to stay in a situation you want to leave, you have to consider what staying is going to be like.

Is it a healthy situation for the child? Are you going to be able to grow and thrive in that situation? “Your kids deserve to see healthy relationships,” Abbey said.

Considerations For Dating/ Blending A Family

The temperament of everyone involved affects how this will work out, and probably how you will handle it. “For me, my co-parent was respectful, and finding someone who was respectful of my co-parenting relationship was important,” Abbey said. 

Abbey’s partner and co-parent did things like donuts with dads together with her son from the beginning. From the very beginning, they agreed they would do things like birthdays and Christmas morning together, because neither of them wanted to miss that time with their son. This made for a smooth transition.

“Do you all have to be a big happy family like mine? No,” Abbey said. You can have a healthy co-parenting situation without hanging out together. But even if you don’t want to have get-togethers with everyone, it’s still important to find someone who isn’t going to ruffle the co-parenting relationship.

The most important thing is to find something that works for you and your family. “If you’re able to keep it child-focused and child-centered, that’s the most important piece,” Abbey said.

If you’re struggling with boundaries in co-parenting, or even if you’re not co-parenting but struggling with boundaries in motherhood in general, the boundaries live workshop is for you!

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Co-parenting

Stage:

Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Abbey Williams
Therapist

Abbey Williams, MSW, LSW is a behavioral health therapist, the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She has been featured by PopSugar, Parents, SheKnows, and Romper. She navigates her blended family/co parenting life in Cincinnati, OH with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
June 19, 2024
June 19, 2024
Navigating Culture and Mental Health in Motherhood: Traditions, Boundaries, and Carving Out Your Own Path
E:
230
with
Sahaj Kaur Kohli
Founder of Brown Girl Therapy and Author
June 5, 2024
April 17, 2024
How to Maintain Friendships (and Make Friends) as a Mom
E:
221
with
Danielle Bayard Jackson
Author
March 18, 2024
February 21, 2024
Understanding Postpartum Depression in Dads and Non-Birthing Partners
E:
213
with
Mark Williams
International Advocate for Perinatal Mental Health and Author
June 5, 2024
February 14, 2024
Rekindling Your Sex Life After Baby: Communication Is Key
E:
212
with
Vanessa & Xander Marin
bestselling authors & hosts of the podcast Pillow Talks
February 20, 2024
December 6, 2023
Navigating Different Sex Drives in Parenthood: What Impacts Libido and How to Reconnect
E:
202
with
Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy & Dr. Jennifer Vencill
Licensed Psychologists and Authors
February 20, 2024
November 22, 2023
Erica’s Husband Reflects on Sharing the Invisible Load
E:
200
with
Frenel Djossa
Erica’s Husband & Co-Founder of Momwell
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 1, 2023
Breaking Out of the Default Parent Role: How to Communicate with Your Partner and Change Patterns
E:
197
with
Erin & Stephen Mitchell
Founders of Couples Counseling for Parents
February 20, 2024
October 18, 2023
Rebuilding Connection and Intimacy After Baby: How Family Systems Can Help Us Navigate Relationship Challenges
E:
195
with
Aaron Steinberg
Co-Founder of Babyproofing Your Relationship
February 20, 2024
September 27, 2023
Understanding Overfunctioning in Relationships: How to Change Dynamics After Baby
E:
192
with
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Expert
February 20, 2024
August 2, 2023
Establishing Family Values: How to Identify What Matters and Avoid Comparison
E:
184
with
Mell & Joe Hashey
Founders of Strong Family Co.
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
April 26, 2023
Working Through Conflict About Growing Your Family: What to Do When Only One Partner Wants Another Baby
E:
170
with
Elizabeth Earnshaw
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
January 18, 2023
Resolving Conflict in Your Relationship After Baby
E:
156
with
Sheina Schochet
Mental Health Counselor
February 20, 2024
January 4, 2023
Reestablishing Sex After Baby: Why Communication Matters and How to Create a New Normal
E:
154
with
Travis Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
September 14, 2022
Dividing Labour Fairly in the Home: Redistributing the Mental Load of Motherhood
E:
138
with
Dr. Darcy Lockman
Author and Psychologist
February 20, 2024
December 8, 2021
Learning to Fight Fair
E:
98
with
Elizabeth Earnshaw
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
November 3, 2021
Setting Boundaries With Moms & Mothers-In-Law
E:
93
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
October 27, 2021
Co-Parenting and Blending Families
E:
92
with
Abbey Williams
Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 20, 2021
Social Justice Parenting
E:
91
with
Dr. Traci Baxley
Author
February 20, 2024
September 15, 2021
Babyproofing Our Relationships
E:
86
with
Kameela Osman
Social Worker and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
July 14, 2021
Modeling Consent in Parenthood
E:
77
with
Jess VanderWier
Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
June 30, 2021
Sex As a Mother
E:
75
with
Dr. Sara Reardon
Physical Therapist
February 20, 2024
April 28, 2021
A Deeper Look into the Mother Wound
E:
66
with
Bethany Webster
Author
February 20, 2024
April 21, 2021
Making—And Keeping—Mommy Friends
E:
65
with
Dr. Miriam Kirmayer
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
April 14, 2021
Breaking Cycles And Interdependence
E:
64
with
Sian Crossley
Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
March 17, 2021
Replay of Navigating Intimacy After Children
E:
60
with
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
March 10, 2021
Respectful Parenting as a Team
E:
59
with
Janet Lansbury
Author
February 20, 2024
March 3, 2021
Overcoming Resentment in Our Relationships
E:
58
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
February 24, 2021
Understanding the Mother Wound
E:
57
with
Bethany Webster
Author
February 20, 2024
November 25, 2020
Conscious Boundary Setting
E:
47
with
Ashleigh Warner
Family Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 16, 2020
Celebrating 1 Year - A Look Back at the Top 5 Episodes
E:
42
with
Erica Djossa
Founder of Momwell
February 20, 2024
November 20, 2019
Navigating Intimacy After Children
E:
14
with
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 27, 2019
Loneliness and Isolation In Motherhood
E:
15
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
October 30, 2019
Navigating Boundaries in Motherhood
E:
11
with
Nedra Tawwab
Therapist