Quitting an ex cold turkey is simply the best possible solution. Having procreated with that person often prohibits this. This individual holds a seat in your bus called life indefinitely. The best you can do is hope to make the best of it. Seeing as it was impossible to maintain a successful relationship, the discord is often manifested in dealing with parental issues. How do you raise your crumb snatchers together yet separately while keeping your sanity in check?
Swallow your pride. You have to let go of any residual resentment you are harboring from relationship past. You have to feng shui your disappointments about the issues you shared with the other parent. That ship has sailed. Breathe and reboot. There are some redeeming qualities you saw in that person when you started down the path of parenthood. Focus on those.
The worst thing you can possibly do is use the child as a bargaining chip. Learning to compromise is essential to turbulent free co-parenting. A child support decree or divorce order will set up a schedule of visitation, but it does not factor in a practical schedule. Things will arise that do not fit into the perimeters of the guidelines. Be considerate. When you get a call that your ex is wants to take your child on a Brady-esque Hawaiian vacation with his new blended family and your single self is looking at spending the holidays back home alone, consider what is best for your child.
This leads us to the topic of step parents. Yes, it is hard to swallow that there will be another parental figure in their lives. You must hope and pray they have the good sense to not wife up the stripper they met a work lunch meeting. Avoid your first inclination to put salt in his game. You will eventually be head over heels in love and no longer be obsessed with his dating life. You will want the same respect in return. The best you can hope for is that your kid now has one more adult to love and spoil them.
Present a united front. When this rug rat hits the tween (pre-teenager) years it will be vital to your sanity. The hormones racing through their body and out of their mouth will test your patience unlike anything else you have experienced. You will be ready to throw in the towel. You will go to bed thinking that your decision to breed was not in your best interest. This is war and the other parent will prove to be friend or foe. You do not want to spend the next 8 years in battle with the one other person who is required to love your child unconditionally. Communication was most likely an issue in your relationship, but it is vital that you learn to talk through these parenting decisions. Your ball of prepubescent hormones will play you against one another if you allow it.
You don’t want to be the single parent with the reputation for having BeBe’s kids. You think it’s hard to find a date now? If you allow your child to control your dating decisions you will be single forever. They do not want another adult in their life. They love having all of your attention. This is not healthy for you or them. You are the parent, not their best friend or life partner. Keep a line drawn in the sand. This child does not sleep with you. It is dangerous as an infant and detrimental as toddler to their coping skills. When they hit the teen years, it’s just creepy.
Being a single parent is never your goal in life unless you are an overly ambitious 40+ female headed to the sperm bank. The most you can hope for is that between the two households you are able to raise an emotionally stable child who graduates high school without ending up on “16 and Pregnant.”
One last word of advice. Having a child with someone does not guarantee you free cookie for life. Put a lid on the cookie jar. Having a convenient FWB only further complicates an already volatile situation.
“Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.” – Ray Romano