Friday, December 9, 2011

There's no "I" in Parent

Although statistically it's usually fathers who opt out, cop out or are pushed out of their children's lives by divorce, it happens the other way as well – and with equally devastating consequences.  An excellent example comes from blogger Sophia van Buren, who for various reasons lost joint physical custody of her children in a divorce and has expressed her grief – and her children's – in a most public forum.

Surprisingly, Ms. van Buren has also appeared in several online forums for divorced fathers and has come to identify – and to sympathize – with the legions of divorced dads.  As a similarly legally alienated parent, she now endorses a concept that is becoming more common in more states across divorce-torn America: co-parenting.

“'Co-parenting' is just a slick new word for an old idea – Cooperation," she writes in her blog. "Cooperation [is] a word that even looks like a thinly veiled word scramble of 'co-parenting,' and is a concept most kids are introduced to at an early age."

Hers is a sound conclusion, and one more and more people are coming to.  One parent is an individual, two or more involved parents make a team.  And just as in baseball, it's the best team that wins in parenting.  This is even more true after divorce ... especially after divorce.  Whatever it takes to field such a team, research shows that divorced parents should do it.  It doesn't do any good to have a star player on the sideline.  And let's face it, in most kid's eyes both mom and dad are star players.

Take a moment to read about Sophia van Buren's struggles to stay involved in her children's lives despite a lopsided parenting plan.  As you read, think about the millions of fathers who have gone through this same custody nightmare at the hands of a court system that customarily dismisses the importance of a father's day-to-day role in children's lives. Van Buren's story is a heartfelt one, with a strong endorsement for a solution that's working for divorced parents and children of divorce everywhere: joint legal and physical custody. 

And yes, while "co-parenting" may sound a lot like "cooperation" (and feel like it too), "parents" and "partners" is an even more thinly-veiled word scramble.  Which isn't surprising. The best parents are partners, after all.