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.