Upcoming Tele-discussion: Co-Parenting For the Sake of Our Boys

April 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles

Co-parenting Teleconference Call

Please join WeParent and the Raising Him Alone Campaign for a f*r*e*e tele-conference call on Wednesday, April 13 at 8:30pm ET.  We’ll be discussing the benefits of co-parenting to raise healthy & productive boys.  Our own Talibah Mbonisi will be leading the call and sharing the WeParent mission to support parents in working out their differences so they can raise healthy boys who will become men.

Often the issues between parents prevent boys from growing up in an optimal home environment. Whether it’s decisions about religion, extra-curricular activities, punishment & discipline parents who are on the “same page” increase the success of their sons.

WeParent is one of the Raising Him Alone southern based strategic partners.

Be sure to RSVP here.

605.475.4000 (8:30 p.m. EST)
Participant pin 324970#

Please submit questions for the call via email at info@raisinghimalone.com.

MamaSpeak: Can You Be a Co-Parent if You’re not Co-Parenting?

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak, Spotlight

MamaSpeak

I can’t count the number of times a frustrated parent has lamented to me, “You can’t be a co-parent, if the other parent won’t.”  Yeah.  I feel you.  And, really, I get it.  It’s a reasonable perspective.

But, it’s only one perspective.

There’s another that asserts that who you are and what you do doesn’t have to be contingent upon what anyone else is doing or being.

Yeah, maybe I can’t actively co-parent (the verb) without someone with whom to do it.  But, does that mean I can’t be a co-parent (the noun)…just without a partner?  Call me crazy, but I think it’s possible.  (Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?)

It’s all about who you say you are; What you’re committed to; who you’re willing to be for the sake of your children…and your integrity.

See, for me, a co-parenting is kind of like a religion…and I strive to be a faithful follower…a devoted co-parent.  It frames how I choose to be in this world, in my relationship with my child’s other parent.  It isn’t relative, my sense of myself as a co-parent, because I stand committed to it regardless.

There are many times when I fall short.  I’m no co-parenting saint.  In fact, I admit to being a backslider.  But, there is a force larger than me, greater than any co-parenting sin I might commit—my love for my child—that gives me the strength to forgive my transgressions, to stand and step forward again believing that the journey will be worth it in the end.

When my son’s father fails to follow one or all of the Co-Parenting Commandments, it doesn’t change the fact that I have chosen to be a believer and to adhere to the tenets of my faith.  It does not mean that it is acceptable for me to treat him as anything less than a parent of my child; one who is human, and fallible, perhaps even a non-believer…and who despite it all, is loved steadfastly and unconditionally by our child.

See, for me, co-parenting is all about what I believe in, what I choose to be committed to, what I will stand for even in the face of apparent impossibility.  And defining myself as a co-parent is all about who I choose to be.  It’s a state of mind; a way of thinking about myself and my child’s father that guides me in being the best parent I can be for our son–independently of what his father may or may not be doing or being in any given moment.

It’s also a commitment.  A beacon of light that illuminates the steps to take along a sometimes treacherous path.  A lighthouse that stands unmoved by the ebbs and flows of my co-parenting relationship, pulling me back on course when I have lost my way.

Sure, I have crises of faith.  Welcome to the human condition.  Whether it’s faith a higher power, in ourselves, or in humanity, doubt will creep into the cracks, leading us to wonder if it’s really worth it, if our faith-guided actions really make a difference, if what we believe in really even exists.

And, the truth is, we don’t really know.  We have no guarantees.

The skeptics may be right.

Still, I remain a faithful, committed co-parent.  Amen.

MamaSpeak: Co-Parenting is the New Black History Celebration

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak, Spotlight

MamaSpeak_Black History

As the daughter of a Black Studies pioneer and a history major, myself, the study of Black history has always been an integral part of my life.  It was all around me, on the bookshelves of my parents’ home, in the framed art on their walls, in the lessons my father taught to college students.  It just was.  No special month required.  So, despite the identity crises resulting from being raised in a lily white college town, I was well-versed in the proud heritage from which I sprang…kings and queens of African nations, revolutionaries and activists, heroes and sheroes whose names were rarely found in any of my school books.

In the past few years, though, “Black History” has taken on new meaning for me.  Thanks to my father’s interest and commitment to doing genealogical research on his family, I have been blessed with a more intimate connection to the history embedded in my biological and cultural DNA.  And, learning that history has influenced my story about myself in ways that no knowledge of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh ever could.

For much of my life my story has been about fear—fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of looking like an idiot, fear of getting hurt…you name it.  You’ve felt it.  At so many points in my life, I have been confronted by this paralyzing thought that I can’t do it (whatever it is). Whatever the ingredient was that makes some people do it anyway…I believed I didn’t have it.  It just wasn’t in my genetic code.  And, it cost me.  I mortgaged some valuable opportunities and hoarded some important contributions that might have made a difference somewhere to someone.  But, that was my story, at least the first draft, and I was sticking to it.

But, inspired by his research, my father started to share new stories…well, old ones, really, but, new to me.  And, those stories inspired a new draft of my own.  The heroes of these tales include an Uncle who won the pardon of his brother after decades of hard labor on a Mississippi chain gang for exacting his own sense of justice with a shotgun at a time when and a place where there was no justice for a little Black girl, his daughter, who had been raped.  And, also among them are landowning freedmen from Virginia, brothers, unjustly enslaved and sent to Mississippi after the Dred Scott decision, only to reemerge there as freedmen and landowners again decades later; a feat as impressive as turning water into wine during that era.  My father’s interest has connected us to the Bubi people of Bioko island, known for overcoming their own incessant internal warfare when necessary to collectively kick the assess of slavers who attempted to set foot upon the shores of their island.

The moral of these stories for me is that I come from some fierce stock.  My people, my kin, were determined, justice-loving, do-or-die, nuttin’ nice kind of folks both on the continent and on the plantation, and that is the blood that flows in me.  The closeness of some of this history, the specificity of it, has reshaped who I know myself to be in many ways.  It has given me certainty that the immediate past is not all that defines me and that I have a direct and traceable connection to some bad ass Black folks.  And, though it is difficult to explain, it is empowering for me to be able to say with certainty that I, too, am a bad ass Black woman…and I get that trait from my great-great-grandfather on my father’s side.  So, as I enter into the second half of my life, I do it armed with the second draft of my story…one that serves me more fully than the first.

And, I wish that for every Black child.  If I could give each of our children one Black History Month gift, it would be the opportunity to say with certainty, “Yeah…I am [insert word of power here], and I get that from my mother/father’s side.”

Of course, because our lineage as African people in this country is difficult to trace, there are barriers.  But, perhaps the other part of that tragedy is that because our families have been disconnected by the conflict that often accompanies divorce, separation and never being married…with kids…most of our children never get a true appreciation of the blood that flows through them.

I understand that you might not be enamored with your child’s Mama or Daddy today or ever, but what we have to understand as parents is that our children’s stories don’t start with us.  Many, if not all of us, have hearts that pump blood infused with the inspiration, determination and genius of a line of survivors, strivers and thrivers.  Our shortsightedness, the Baby Mama/Baby Daddy drama that we allow to be insurmountable, denies them their rightful access to a connection that could be the healing potion for the parts of their stories that blind them to their possibilities.

Giving our greatest effort to co-parenting and learning and sharing the truth that the weave of their DNA is strong, the reach is deep and the rich blood of both sides of their family flows unhindered within them could be the salve that soothes the pain of the story they carry…and exposes the illusion that because their parents have separated, their family is broken.

WeParent Workshop (Atlanta): Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power!

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events


Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power Workshop
10am to 4pm
Smyrna Community Center
Smyrna, GA

Download:  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power Workshop Flyer

Register for WeParent Workshop (Atlanta):  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power! in Smyrna, GA  on Eventbrite

If your relationship with your child’s other parent is causing conflict, stress, anger and plain old drama in your life, it’s probably impacting your children negatively, too.  But…It doesn’t have to!

Join us for “Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power”, a full-day workshop focused on equipping you with tools to overcome the drama that steals your co-parenting power.  If you’re a single parent doing on your own or who wants to build a stronger parenting partnership for the sake of your kids, you’ll benefit from this workshop…even if your child’s other parent doesn’t participate.

Here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Get you focused on your vision and goals for co-parenting and parenting
  • Mastermind an action plan to help you realize your vision and stay focused on it day-to-day
  • Upgrade your skills for dealing with the drama in your co-parenting relationship…and in your life
  • Gift you with a support network to keep you moving forward after the workshop has ended

Register for WeParent Workshop (Atlanta):  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power! in Smyrna, GA  on Eventbrite

Seating is limited.

“Co-Parenting Teens” on the Next “Co-Parenting Matters” Show

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

Parenting adolescents is hard work in general, but what unique challenges come with parenting teens across two households?  We’ll explore this question on Sunday night’s episode of “Co-Parenting Matters” on BlogTalk Radio.

We’ll be joined by Annie Fox, an educator, award-winning author, and online adviser to teens and their parents. Annie helps teens get what they need for healthy social/emotional development.

We’ll also be joined by Samantha Gregory, mom of a 14-year-old daughter (and younger son), who foundedRichSingleMomma.com to empower her fellow single mommas to overcome personal obstacles and to become joyful and prosperous.

We hope you’ll join the conversation as well!  That’s Sunday night, 9/12 at 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT on BlogTalkRadio (call in 646.378.0580, chat, or tweet with us @coparentingshow!)

Courtesy of Annie Fox, we are giving away a copy of Book 1 in her Middle School Confidential Series, “Be Confident in Who You Are!” There are 2 ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Leave a comment below sharing one of your middle school memories…happy or horrific.

or…

2) Answer this trivia question: Name one of  Annie Fox’s tips for teaching your daughter relationship smarts.Visit anniefox.com to find out.  Those posting correct answers  in the comments section below will be entered into the drawing.

You can enter right up to Sunday night’s show.  We’ll announce the winner on air and in Twitter.  Enter as often as you’d like!

Co-Parenting Matters This Week: Back-to-School Co-Parenting Tips

August 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

It’s hard to believe that it’s already back-to-school season!  But, it seems the Halloween decorations on display at my neighborhood grocery store have somehow become the signal that once again school buses are running, homework is calling and, well,…co-parenting can get a little more complicated.

Fortunately, it’s also a sign that the second season of Co-Parenting Matters is starting, too!  That’s right, after a wonderful summer hiatus, my co-hosts, Deesha and Mike, from CoParenting101.org, and I will be back on the internet waves talking all things co-parenting this Sunday, August 24th from 9:30pm to 11pm ET.

And, to kick things off for the new season, we’ll be talking about all of the planning and collaborating co-parents need to do to ensure a smooth back to school transition for their children.  Our guest, Brooke Randolph, is an Indiana-based therapist and parenting coordinator who will share tips about keeping life organized between two households and partnering to create a great school year for your kids.

So, be sure to tune in this Sunday at 9:30pm ET via phone at (646)378-0580 or listen to our live stream.

If you need to get caught up on last season before this new one begins, check out our archived episodes!

And, if you have any back-to-school tips or questions for Brooke, drop them in the comments or email them to us at contact AT coparentingmatters DOT com.

MamaSpeak: Is Co-Parenting Really Worth All the Effort?

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

Stressed Co-Parent

I had never heard of co-parenting until I was smack in the middle of it. Many different reasons lead to my daughter’s father and I ending our relationship. For a while after our relationship ended, I still acted like we were together. Assuming he would be as involved as when we were together. Assuming I could just go over and hang out at his house. Assuming that the feelings he had for me were still there. Guess my head gets stuck up in the clouds sometimes.

It took a long time for me to accept our situation and even longer to view it as a co-parenting situation. I was bitter, and I was downright mad at the situation. I was angry that we weren’t still together and that when it came to our daughter, we had two varying opinions. I said left; he went right. We didn’t talk to each other. We barked. We scowled. We yelled. I was so sure that my way was the best way. I mean, I’m her Mother. I was the one who carried her for 9 months, breastfed her, read her bedtime stories, did her hair in the morning, knew she liked her apples cut in thin slices not thick. And what did he know? Nothing…if you asked me back then. I didn’t value his place in her life, and it all comes back to me being bitter and angry that we weren’t together.

I couldn’t harbor all those negative emotions inside of me forever. It wasn’t healthy for me or my daughter. It was draining all of my energy being so mean, so I had to let it go and embrace the idea of co-parenting. I had to accept him as her Father and her Dad and an equal being in our daughter’s life. Because she isn’t just my daughter, she is our daughter; and we both have a responsibility to keep her healthy, safe, and happy.

Co-parenting matters because my daughter’s happiness is my number one priority. She and her Dad have this unbreakable bond that I don’t understand at all. But I have learned that I don’t need to understand their bond. That’s something special that only they share. When I see them together, when I see my daughter’s face light up as she yells, “Daddy”…well, that’s why co parenting matters. My daughter is lucky and has two parents who think she is the most precious thing on this planet and want nothing more than to see her smile every day.

I want us to be able to have a pleasant conversation, I want us to be able to all go out to dinner together and laugh and have a good time. I want to be able to call him without it being a yelling match. And I want our daughter to know that Mommy and Daddy are ok with being around each other. We owe that to her.

Co-Parenting and Emergency Preparedness

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

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As parents who are actively co-parenting or working to get there, we typically focus on managing the areas that will lead to a smooth day-to-day existence for our families. And, those of us who have solid parenting plans in place, may have even tackled the big issues. But, are you and your co-parent prepared for an emergency? As much as we hate to think about the possibility, our children are the ones who stand to benefit if both parents are prepared.

Here are some recommendations for information both parents should have with them or easily accessible at all times:

  • A way to contact the other at all times. If one or both of you are selective about which calls you answer or text messages you read, agree upon a code that will indicate that the call or message is a child-related emergency.
  • A copy of your child’s health insurance information. Be sure to carry it with you at all times
  • A list of contact information for all doctors, dentists, therapists and any other health care providers and other emergency contacts (e.g., family members, etc.). You should also make sure other caretakers have this information.
  • Names and dosages of all medications and details about serious allergies and/or physical, emotional or cognitive impairments and limitations. If necessary, also be sure both parents ensure that your child wears a medical alert bracelet or anklet with critical information.
  • Pharmacy contact information. Consider printing this information along with the previous three items on a small card and carrying it with you in a wallet or purse.
  • Up-to-date immunization records.
  • Written permission for a non-guardian caregiver to make emergency medical decisions if appropriate. (e.g. stepparent, grandparent)
  • Copies of birth certificates. This is particularly important when traveling.
  • Copies of any relevant court order outlining custody and decision making authority.
  • Current (annually) head and shoulders photograph.

Having this information accessible won’t prevent emergencies from occurring, but it will certainly help to expedite the process of treating your child. And, that could make all the difference.

Co-Parenting Requires A Plan

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

boy_blueprint_artimgIn addition to being a requirement for custody and child support orders in many states, a parenting agreement or plan can be an extremely helpful tool for managing a parenting partnership. Whether your state requires one or not, we recommend that parents lay a foundation for a solid co-parenting partnership that includes a parenting plan. In many ways, a parenting plan is to co-parents what a business plan is to a corporation, a living document that establishes guidelines, expectations for managing the business of raising healthy, happy children.

A good parenting plan is clear; anticipates the needs of your children, and you over the life cycle of your co-parenting relationship; sets a path for improved communication and partnering over time; and focuses on the win-win-win scenario. It is comprehensive, gently balancing specifics with enough flexibility to accommodate all of the shifts and changes that life and growth involve. Some of the areas that your plan should address include:

  • Education
  • Medical, dental and vision care
  • Rules and discipline
  • Decision-making processes and dispute resolution
  • Religious training
  • Child care
  • Special occasions, school events and vacations
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation and transitions between homes
  • Communication between parents
  • Communication between parents and children
  • Rights of grandparents, extended family and close friends
  • Role of parents’ new partners
  • Counseling for children and parents
  • Custody arrangements
  • Process for modifying the plan
  • Insurance
  • Co-Parenting philosophy and commitment

Ideally, parents should develop the parenting plan themselves, using the help of professionals like mediators, divorce or co-parenting coaches, counselors or attorneys focused on supporting your co-parenting efforts. As parents, we know our children and our own circumstances better than a third party with no experience with your family. Of course, the process involves being able to separate your adult relationship from the best interests of your child. And, it may take time to get to that place; so many experts recommend starting with a temporary agreement for a few months rather than pressuring yourselves to arrive at a final plan while you are still in the most difficult period of emotional healing and transition.

There is an abundance of resources available to help you and your co-parent create a parenting plan that works for your family. Resources range from online or downloadable software, to downloadable templates and books. And, of course, you should use professionals like mediators, attorneys, counselors and financial planners to support your efforts.

Parents who successfully partner in developing a co-parenting plan often find that it limits both the financial and emotional costs of a court fight, for them and their children. Though getting there may be difficult, having a plan in place can reduce tension between you, because the rules of engagement are clear and agreed upon. Knowing that there is a plan to which you have both contributed helps to reduce some of the worry that may come when your children are away from you. It is a process, but in the end, a parent-negotiated, parent-endorsed parenting plan can be the foundation of an effective co-parenting relationship.

This Week: Co-Parents, Come Whoop Some Ash!

April 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

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We are thrilled to welcome Sheree Fletcher as our guest on the April 18th episode of “Co-Parenting Matters”, “Adventures in Co-Parenting and Whooping Ash”.  In 1992, Sheree married actor Will Smith.  After the dissolution of their marriage 3 years later, Sheree shifted her focus from her career to managing life as a single parent to their son.  While many celebrity divorces make the news for their contentiousness, Sheree’s co-parenting relationship is publicly admired for its warmth and congeniality, even after both parties have remarried.  Sheree joins us to talk about co-parenting in a high-profile situation; her transition from single parenting to remarriage; and balancing family life with her entrepreneurial pursuits.

Sheree is the Founder and CEO of Whoop Ash, a natural organic beauty care product that annihilates ash (for the uninitiated, “ash” is a colloquialism expression for dry skin).  Deesha’s family has fallen in love with Whoop Ash.  Her daughters keep hiding the jar from each other.  She also bought some for her new hubby who had a seemingly undefeatable ash situation, but—you guessed it—it was no match for Whoop Ash.

Sheree has been kind enough to give away two jars of Whoop Ash to two lucky WeParent.com and CoParenting101.org readers.  Visit both sites for two chances to win!  We wanted to make the giveaway fun, and we were inspired by actress Holly Robinson Peete’s tweets about chasing her husband’s car down the street because he’d forgotten to de-ashify the kids before leaving the house!  A lot of folks on Twitter could relate!  (Peete is a Whoop Ash fan as well; her tweets are how our friend, Deesha, discovered the product.) So, here’s all you need to do to enter the Whoop Ash and Win Giveaway

Leave a comment telling us an “ash” story from your childhood or one involving your own child(ren).  Deadline: April 18th 5 PM EST

And that’s it! We’ll draw 2 winners at random from among the entrants and announce them on the April 18th show.

So plan to join us as we welcome Sheree to the show to discuss “Adventures in Co-Parenting…and Whooping Ash!”

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