Mother’s Day may be over, but Father’s Day is soon approaching. And all these tributes to moms, dads, and stepparents everywhere — even during or after such a trying time as divorce — are a joyful reminder that harmonious co-parenting is possible. In fact, more than ever, we are seeing this idea taking hold, among both celebrities and everyday people.
Co-Parenting in the Public Eye
In our years of working with couples, we have certainly seen the good, bad, and ugly sides of divorce, especially for those who do so in the public eye. There’s no denying that high-cost, high-profile divorces can add a layer of complication, especially when two parents are attempting to help their children adjust. That’s why it’s heartwarming to see celebrities — despite divorcing under the bright, scrutinizing lights of the paparazzi — putting their kids first.
Take, for instance, this touching Mother’s Day tribute from actor Orlando Bloom. While shopping with his six-year-old son, the boy spotted an ad featuring his mother and Bloom’s ex-wife, Miranda Kerr. When he gave the photo a giant hug, Bloom snapped a photo and posted it to Instagram with a touching caption.
Late last year, actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik took to YouTube to explain how she handles being divorced and how she does her best to make the experience as positive as she can for herself, her ex, and her children. “I’ve had three years of figuring out how to parent with my ex,” she says. And in those three years, she’s realized that creating the healthiest possible environment means celebrating holidays together, modeling good behavior, and remaining part of one anothers’ families.
“Divorce isn’t the end of a family. It’s the end of a nuclear family; it’s the end of a family living in one house,” explains Bialik. “But we still have responsibilities to each others’ families and to our children as a family.”
“Life’s not a dress rehearsal,” she continues. “My kids get one chance to be kids and this is their situation. I have to put them first because I’m their mom and he’s their dad.”
And for families a bit further from Hollywood, it’s possible to learn the all-important skill of co-parenting with grace and affording exes (and exes’ new spouses) dignity and kindness.
Take, for instance, a stepmom’s soccer-photo-gone-viral that depicted her four-year-old stepdaughter Maelyn surrounded by both sets of parents, all clad in jerseys that explained their role in the young child’s life. Her caption on the photo? “Because of us, I will never believe co-parenting can’t work! I KNOW through experience it CAN WORK! Choose to do what’s best for your child and everything will just fall into place.”
Or think of the family who made the news when both sets of parents — mom and stepdad, dad and stepmom — all took their seven-year-old daughter Maddie on a trip to Disney World.
While it took the two couples time to get to this point (Maddie’s father tells the Huffington Post there was “a lot of tension for a while”), all four parents have the same goal — to show their little girl how much they love her.
Co-Parenting During Special Occasions
For divorced couples who have remarried new spouses, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be painful reminders of the family that once was. These observances may also elicit feelings of resentment as stepparents take more of an active role in a child’s life.
But in the case of stepmom Anna Giannone, she believes it’s possible to co-parent in harmony — even at a time like Mother’s Day. “My stepson’s biological mom and I have been a team with an ongoing objective to raise our son in an emotionally healthy environment,” she says. “We shared this mission over the years, and ultimately witnessing our three-year-old boy grow into a loving man who now has a family of his own has been more than rewarding. Our focus on becoming a blended family has filled all of our lives with adventure, love, purpose and hope.”
“Whatever past pitfalls you’ve experienced on Mother’s Day as a biological mom or stepmom,” adds Giannone, “Remember that you can change it just by how you choose to think about it. We create our own reality. We all matter in our child(ren)’s life.”