Sometimes Co-parenting ain’t easy. We co-parent since 2017, after 11 years together we decided to go separate ways. With no fights, with no abuse, anger, unfaithfulness – Someone could say that we have been decent marriage, we had our ups and downs. We grow together, had amazing children and technically last 5 years of our lives were the best. We grew as people and at the same time, we grew apart from each other. We moved on and discussed best options for children. We spoke with children about changes happening.

Our children have 2 houses, they have been staying with me overnight usually on Tuesdays, Thursdays and at the weekends. Always from 5 pm on Saturday till 7 pm on Sunday. Sometimes since Friday. We have done this for the past two and a half years. Six months ago, after amazing summer holidays things changed, my kids refused to come and stay with me so often. I was worried, I was down, thinking that I have done something wrong or they feel uncomfortable in their bedroom. I asked many questions, tried to resolve this, to help them feel ok and wanting to be with me.

I was worried that I will lose connection with my kids that I did something bad or maybe my ex became turning them against me but I didn’t really believe myself. She is a great mum and I know she knows how important for our children is to have a positive relationship with both of us.

I was growing anxious and I was worried. I didn’t know what to do. I felt sad and I cried sometimes as I was helpless. I spoke with my kids, well with my daughter- our son is almost non-verbal due to his ASD and DD. She told me that she just feels that she want to be closer to her mum and stay over mine only at weekends and holidays. I decided to give them some space. Instead of asking them to come to mine, I was travelling to my ex-wife home after work to spend time with our children twice a week- play, go out, be with both of them. I was just taking them overnight at the weekends and school holidays.
My kids wanted me to stay longer, they didn’t want me to go home.
I sat down once and talked with their mum, she also didn’t understand why this change happened and why after two and a half years they want to change things. This made me realise that, this is ok. I cannot think about their life and their actions as constant. My children are developing, they are both different, they are 10 and 8, boy and a girl, disabled and neurotypical (not autistic), so many variables. I got used to this routine, but they might grow tired of this, of travelling, of being on the move.
I could get angry, I could demand my time but I did what’s best for our children, not for me. This is a difference between being a parent and have a child-centred approach and just thinking about agreement or about myself.
I spoke with few people with a similar issue, co-parents and they also experience this phase of children wanting to stay more with one parent. We have to think about it and thread carefully. Without focusing on children’s need – at this point- need to stay more often with mum- we could make more damage than good. We cannot force them to do so, we can’t blame ex-partners, we can’t get upset, try to buy children off with toys, blackmail them emotionally. We can’t do it.
This will destroy their system of beliefs, sense of safety and belonging. It would make them very scarred. Co-parenting is not easy, often we react emotionally instead of rationally, many times I wanted to call my kids or their mother and ask why? To tell them how I feel, but I know this would mean that I am pretty selfish.
Co-parenting is an art of compromise. It’s an art of leaving your emotions locked, to able your children feel in charge, safe, loved. It’s an art of long term goals and stability of your children. Art of talking yourself out from this depressing voice in your head and looking for light in dark places to shine it on your children.

Co-parenting it’s hard, especially at start. With all this raw emotions, unresolved matters in an old relationship, often with financial issues or your own experience of life. Sometimes it’s hard to draw a line between, new and old relationship. between being a parent and an ex but we have to do so.

Today I know that being attuned with children’s emotions and needs, is crucial. This is the answer to many issues, we have to listen, observe, ask. Treat our children as partners, regardless of their age, needs. We, as adult’s need to accommodate an adequate level of this partnership and follow their lead.
I could get angry, try to be firm and not take “No” for an answer. I could demand my 50% of the time with kids, without talking to them, blame their mum for influencing this. I could be a simply a dick, but this would mean that I care about myself, not my kids as another co-parent. Co-parenting ain’t easy, but doable if we will focus on children instead of on making your ex miserable or wanting to fight and show who’s the boss. This is pretty childish and sad.
Doesn’t matter if that a father or a mother. Parental alienation starts here, don’t be a dick, be a parent.
Listen to your children, follow their lead.