I share the responsibility of caring and raising an amazing 10-year-old son.  Today, we get along great because we finally get it.  We have been through a lot to get to where we are now.  I will spare the details of the backstory because at this point we recognize the trials and tribulations we went through are no longer important.  What’s important is the best interest of our son.

Here is what I had to do to become a better co-parent with my child’s mother.

Understand and Accept My Role as a Leader

I learned there is a significant difference between leader and ruler.  A leader leads by example!  This means sometimes I had to submit for the best interest of my child and our co-parenting relationship.

What I say does NOT always go!

I had to understand that my child is learning from my leadership.  I have a son and I want him to know how a leader is strong in every way possible.  Strong enough to understand that I can bend but not break.

I had to ask myself if I was being extreme or not?  I had to lose the “I am the Father and that’s it” attitude.

My position should be leading in a way that is healthy and creating a healthy thriving environment for my son and yes, my son’s mother.  This does not mean I am taking care of her, this means I must support her.

I am providing a positive example in a dysfunctional environment.  It’s dysfunctional because we aren’t married and on the same page.

I lead by action!  I had to bury my ego!

Besides I can’t control what is happening when I’m not around.  If I try to rule my child’s mother, I would create resentment and make things worse.

I have to be a leader by example!  A leader can co-lead and that is exactly what we do.

Respect and Honor the Mother as a Gift to Your Child

Sounds like a hard thing to do huh? I am sure you are thinking of all the reasons why this is something you don’t want to do.  This is something my mother told me when I was having a hard day and it has stuck with me.

She just happened to call me and said to me “THE GREATEST GIFT YOU COULD EVERY GIVE YOUR SON IS RESPECTING AND HONORING HIS MOTHER”.

I thought about what she said and my attitude and approach changed.  It didn’t change because I wanted to devalue my feelings or my position, it changed because I wanted to give my son the greatest gift I could ever give him.

Regardless of what was going on, I didn’t want to hurt my son by watching him trying to figure out why his dad was making his mother upset.  I was not willing to be responsible for that anguish.  I  understood the trickle effect of what I could do to his mother emotionally and psychologically  and how would impact him as well.

With this decision, he would learn how to respect and honor his mother as well.  He would learn how to respect and honor women. He would learn how to respect and honor his Dear Future Wife and mother of his children.

This is not an easy task, I get it, but it needs to be done.  The mother of your child is feeling emotions that we aren’t familiar with.  She carried your child for you and now feels alone, ashamed, and that you get to do whatever you want.  She also feels that the promise that was given to her of you two being a family, living in the same household all while she is wearing your ring, was broken.

Whether you told her this or not, this is her expectation as it should be. Respect and Honor Her.

Establish and Maintain Boundaries

Boundaries! Boundaries! Boundaries!  Once I understood that I need to be a leader and must respect and honor her for our child, I had to establish CLEAR BOUNDARIES.

Lines could not be blurred!

There can’t be any mixed signals of maybe you two can work things out and become a family.  You can’t get intimate every once in a while because “you already have a child together” nor should lead them on to get what you want from them.  All those mixed signals are recipes for disaster and co-parenting stagnation.

We had to establish the relationship of me being the Father and she being the Mother.  You should too.  You both are establishing a business partnership where lines do not need to be crossed.  Every time you cross those lines, you erase any progress that you have gained because emotions get back into it and expectations change.  It clouds judgment and decision-making.

Women are emotional and whether you want to accept it or not, we are emotional as well. We just express it differently.

Boundaries also help your child understand your relationship.  Children want their parents to be together and when you send them mixed signals, it will confuse them.

Both of you will need to be consistent in what you tell your child.  Again, as the leader, if we are involved with our child’s mother and are also dating other woman, what signal does that send our children?  Everything points back to the example we are setting for our children.

Having loose boundaries also will make your dating very hard.  But that is for another article.  “Daddy and Dating”

Click Here for Part 2 of 6 Ways I Became a Better Co-Parenthttp://www.basheawilliams.com/better-co-parent-with-my-childs-mother-part-2/

(Image credit: bettermoms.com)