Before I begin, I must add that everyone’s situations may differ. When it comes to co-parenting it’s best to let the court systems intervene if you aren’t 100% sure that you are putting yourself as well as your child(ren) in a safe place.
Now let’s begin…
One question I began to ask myself over and over throughout my pregnancy was,
“Will I ever let him see our child?”
Not only did I ask that, lots of people would ask me as well. I never knew exactly what to say so I would just answer with an “I don’t know” and hope they’d change the subject.
From personal experience, I grew up without my biological father. He was in and out of my life and there wasn’t any Father-Daughter connection between the two of us which definitely affected me negatively. Growing up without my real dad, I didn’t know what to expect from a man therefore I would make poor decisions as I began to explore into the world of dating and being intimate with men.
In the back of my mind I feared for my daughter.
“I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I made since I didn’t have a father.”
Or I even make excuses like:
“Well maybe by the time she’s old enough he will change and then they can build a relationship together.”
Boy was I wrong.
I decided to give the co-parenting thing a try. For those of you who may not know what co-parenting is, it is when two parents try to raise their child even though they aren’t in a relationship together.
Fast-Forward to two and a half years after my daughter was born. After months of contemplating, healing from everything I had been through, and trying to decide what would be best for her I decided to reach out and see if he would be open to video chatting with her.
Not only do we live about three hours away from each other I also didn’t want to do the traditional “meet up” or the “hey here’s your child” and drop her off for a few hours. So, in this day and age, Face Timing was a great start… Well, so I thought.
During the Face Timing call I put the camera strictly on my daughter. She began to talk to him, he shed a few tears, and then his entire family began to talk to her on the phone. They ended the call after she began to become a little restless. (I mean she’s 2.5 what else could you expect?)
They video chatted one more time after that before things began to turn sour. The way I contacted him was through Instagram DM. I specifically let him know to contact me when he wanted to video chat with her yet, here he was days later… messaging me over and over and over again.
First, he began sending me his music videos, “Have I gotten better?” “Do you like this song” “Can you give me feedback?” “Can you tell me if I have gotten better?”
Of course, I didn’t respond. I specifically told him in the beginning that I was only messaging him so that he can interact with our child.
When I didn’t respond he began sending more messages, this time with photos. A picture of his hand X-Ray with “I hurt my hand and had to get stitches” “ksdjef It was kseff on my skdj birthday” “I can’t type correctly because of my hand”
Although he typed that sentence perfectly?
I guess he expected me to “feel sorry for him” which wasn’t going to happen so once again I didn’t respond.
Then a few days went by and he sent his final message, “Can I FaceTime her?”
At that point I became frustrated, I knew that once I stopped responding to his desperate attempts to talk to me that he would finally ask to FaceTime just to see if I respond back.
Which I decided not to!
Months went by, my daughter turned three in June. A few months afterwards I decided
“Let me give it a go again”
This is when it literally took a turn for the worst.
In the video call he began by talking with our daughter for about thirty seconds or so then he tried TALKING TO ME. Asking me all these questions about our past,
“Do you remember when we did this, that, X Y and Z”
“I remember when you would say this to me and that to me and do this for me and do that for me”
“I remember your favorite this and your favorite that”
He didn’t even TRY to talk to our daughter, instead he would say things like
“Your Mommy used to this”
“Your mom used to that”
It was the creepiest thing to hear a man who tried to turn my life into a living hell remember the smallest things about me from nail polishes I would wear to things I used to say.
The craziest part is my mind is so traumatized that I don’t even remember what I was like back then. All these things he described about me I didn’t even recognize about myself.
It blew my mind.
It made me remember my old self, the Me before the hurt, before the stress, before the trauma. It reminded me of the person I lost and now am stuck trying to pick up the pieces and repair into a new and improved version of.
That’s when I knew the whole “build a relationship with her father” thing was a lost cause.
He completely disregarded her and continued to try and talk to me, reminisce with me, “woo” me. Throughout the call I remained silent, I knew there was no point in trying to tell him to leave me out of it. He completely ignored the fact that I told him I was NOT interested in talking with him. I knew that no matter what, he saw our MY daughter as a pawn. A pawn in his games of manipulation. He didn’t see her as the beautiful piece of life that she is. He didn’t see the bond they could be creating between the two of them. He didn’t see her as a start of something new, he saw her as an opportunity.
That infuriated me! It’s quite rare that I get genuinely angry, yet I was pissed! I love my daughter and for anyone to try and mess with her, brings out the Mama Bear in me. I felt so angry at myself for even trying to attempt to create a relationship between the two. I had to remind myself that he feels no empathy, he doesn’t care about my child nor does he care about anyone else besides himself.
For some strange reason it brought back a random memory. When we were together, he had found a dog on the street and sold it that same day for $10 to some lady who loved chihuahuas a few houses down. Literally minutes later a woman and her husband came knocking door to door to see if anyone had seen their dog. He lied straight to their faces and said no, used the $10 he made to buy drugs for himself, and slept like a baby that night without even thinking twice about what he had done.
I have no idea why, but it was that little memory that reminded me that he can’t be trusted, that I can’t keep trying to see the good in people who have none. He is still the same abusive, narcissist, psychopath that will literally use anything and everything to get what he wants.
Now for those of you who try to co-parent with an abusive ex, it’s not going to be easy.
In some cases you have no choice and are stuck with court mandated visitation. Courts assign visitation for the purpose of encouraging non-custodial parents to maintain regular contact with their children. However, what looks reasonable on paper doesn’t always work in real life. My best piece of advice is to make sure to educate your child about the situation as well as do anything and everything to make the co-parenting as safe as possible.
Let your child know that they can contact you if needed, talk to you about anything and everything that may happen when you aren’t there. If they are too young to speak request for supervised visits and make sure to explain to the judge your situation, your fears due to the nature of your ex’s behavior, and concerns for your child’s safety.
If you aren’t court mandated to co-parent, think twice hell even three times. Make sure you are 100% safe, supported by others, and have someone there throughout the process to make sure things go as planned. Document everything, keep emails/texts/written proof, and make sure that this is something you want versus something you feel pressured by the other parent to do. If you aren’t sure, try getting the courts and authorities involved for added protection. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
As for me, will I ever try the co-parenting thing again? To be honest, no. I feel like fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. My daughter doesn’t deserve to be looped into his trap of mess. I rather educate her that a person can raise a child as a single parent.
I plan to show her that every “family” is different. Some have one mom or even one dad. Two Moms, two dads, one aunt, one grandparent to raise them, every “family” is different.
As far as “father figures” go I will make sure she has multiple male figures in her life to look up to who will show her how a man is supposed to treat you. I feel it doesn’t take a “mother and a father” it takes a village, a community, a support system made up of different types of people, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, coaches, mentors, professors, pastors, neighbors, co-workers, etc. from different backgrounds to raise a healthy and happy child.
Co-parenting may be difficult, and in my case nearly impossible, but just know that you and your child can and will get through it!