As the co-founder of co-parenting101.org and the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce (both in collaboration with my ex-husband), I was particularly struck by a 2012 photo accompanying the article. The photo was of Fulton and Martin holding hands as they listened to the charges being filed against Zimmerman.
It occurred to me that this moving image stood in stark contrast to the image of co-parents that tends to dominate the cultural conversation about parents of children who live between two households: Combative, not conciliatory. Difficult, not cooperative, and certainly not comforting.
The larger culture generally expects co-parents to be disagreeable with each other. Fights over child support or one parent’s (usually the father’s) lack of parental participation are familiar reality TV show fodder.
A few years ago, I cringed while watching a scene from Basketball Wives LA in which two divorced African-American co-parents screamed at each other in a therapy session, airing all of their dirty laundry as their teenaged daughters, also in the session, looked on.
This expectation of conflict and animosity between co-parents is so great, that congenial co-parents are sometimes viewed with suspicion; surely one of them must still be carrying a torch for the other.
I consider this kind of presumption to be a failure of imagination–and a failure to recognize that congeniality between exes can simply be a reflection of two people choosing to love their child more than they dislike or mistrust each other.
And it doesn’t–or shouldn’t–take a situation as tragic and extreme as what Trayvon’s parents are going through to bring co-parents to the point of civility. For some parents, it’s simply an outgrowth of the love they have for their children, and a desire to spare them exposure to on-going adult drama that pulls them in opposite directions.
Some co-parents get along (even if it’s just going through the motions) to reassure their children that they still belong to a loving family – albeit across two separate households…
Read More: Deesha Philyaw, mybrownbaby.com