Every child deserves a loving and supportive family.
One definition of co-parenting that makes it plain says…Healthy co-parenting involves two parents who are not together raising their child (or children) jointly to ensure they have a safe and loving environment to grow up in. To work, co-parenting requires that both parents not only contribute to their child’s care, upbringing and activities, but that they also interact frequently and respectfully with one another. The best co-parenting relationships involve the parents putting their personal feelings aside in favor of giving their child what they need emotionally and physically.
Our Health MattersTM (OHM) is always seeking people whose personal stories reflect perseverance, resilience, love and hope. For me, this article about Brian and Whitney, the parents of three-year-old Luna, highlights just how important it is to put a child first. Brian and Whitney eloquently share where their priorities lie. Not being together as a couple hasn’t hindered them from forging ahead to make sure their daughter has a wholesome, happy and balanced life.
The following highlights their actions to put their daughter, Luna, first.
OHM: What contributed to your decision to co-parent your daughter?
Brian: I grew up in a family where my parents did not get along. I remember the arguments, and I knew that I did not want that for Luna. Luna was brought into this world out of love, and just because Whitney and I did not work out does not mean Luna should suffer for it. I wanted our daughter to never feel like a mistake or a burden in our lives. Luna is the best thing to happen to us!
Whitney: Our decision to co-parent Luna was based on our mutual respect and love for one another; it was a conscious choice, and one that we continue to make as Luna gets older. Brian and I both come from loving families and understood the importance of providing a strong family for our Luna. We wanted her to understand that we loved her most, that any challenge we faced was worth it to provide her a stable, loving childhood and family system.
OHM: What challenges did you have to overcome?
Brian: The biggest challenge I would say is when either one of us has a different belief, agenda, or idea on something. We are learning in certain situations that it’s give and take and the willingness to be open-minded. Bottom line, no matter what it is as long as it’s the best for Luna, that is the way we’ll approach things. In the end, it’s worth it to see Luna happy.
Whitney: Luna was born right at the beginning of shutdown during the pandemic in March 2020. We had navigated our breakup earlier that year, in January, and had come to an understanding about how her birth and early parenting would look. However, the pandemic turned all our plans upside-down. We had to make difficult decisions about her delivery and quarantine that were wildly different from what anyone could’ve predicted.
OHM: Did you seek the assistance of a counselor or third party? If so, why and what type?
Brian: I personally talked to other parents in similar situations. My sister-in-law has two daughters from a previous marriage. She was a huge help. Alissa expressed things that she wished she would’ve done earlier and differently. I had conversations with both my parents to get as many points of views as possible. In the end, I realized it was taking a little bit of everything and adjusting it to my situation and desire. Just because it works for one couple does not mean it will work for another. It is about learning every step of the way and truly putting effort into the relationship.
We put Luna first and set our differences aside to show up as her mother and her father. – Brian
Whitney: I consulted a lawyer to help us with the difficult process of custody and family courts. It was helpful to have an outside person’s perspective during the process, because they are able to see beyond fleeting emotions or reactions that may cloud a person’s judgement. Many people tried to help with their advice, but it’s better to get the facts straight from someone who understands how the system truly works.
OHM: How similar or different is your “vision” for your daughter’s future?
Brian: Our vision for our daughter has its differences in the smaller details such as: Whitney danced as a kid, and I played sports. So of course, I want her to play sports. We just want Luna to be happy and do whatever makes her happy. Whether that is dance, sports, or being a standup comedian, I know both of us will be there supporting Luna no matter what she chooses.
My goal has always been to make decisions that I will still feel good about 5, 10, 15 years down the road, when our daughter has questions. – Whitney
Whitney: We both want Luna to be happy and loved. We are open to whoever she decides to be and whatever paths she’ll take to get there. One of the things I appreciate most about Brian—he’s open-minded about Luna’s future and only wants the best for her.
OHM: What priorities have you agreed on and are satisfied with?
Brian: The plan we have in place is designed for all of us to spend time with each other. Life changes, and so does our plan. When things come up, we immediately talk to one another to get on the same page. I am proud of us for how hard we have worked on our plan. We want nothing but the best for Luna, so we adjust when needed.
Whitney: A big priority we agree on is that Luna should spend time with both of our families. We do our best to make sure that she sees both sides of her family for every major holiday. We spend lots of time with our own families when we have Luna, and we also make it a priority to spend time with the three of us (Mom, Dad, and Luna) when we do drop-offs and pickups throughout the week. Luna regularly sees us sitting at the table, drinking coffee, and catching up about her school day or family time. I’m really happy that Luna sees us as a family, even if it looks different from the traditional nuclear family.
OHM: How is Luna adjusting to two different households?
Brian: Luna has adjusted to living in two different households really well. She knows “momma’s house” and “dada’s house.” Whitney and I are fortunate to have our parents help with picking Luna up from school and watching her until one of us gets off of work. It truly does take a tribe to raise a child, and I could not be the father I am today without the help of Luna’s grandparents.
Whitney: Luna is a happy girl, and I’d like to think it is in large part because of the communication across our households. Because we are in regular communication, we have the opportunity to provide her with the same goals and expectations. It can be harder at times, because transitions are already tricky for this age! Some days she is grumpy about going back and forth between homes, but her father and I are a united front and support one another during those times.
OHM: What advice would you give other parents facing the challenge of co-parenting?
Brian: The best advice I can give is put your pride aside and have open communication. This is a two-way street, and it only works when both parents work together and respect one another. It’s easy to get mad and be selfish, but that hurts the child. I am so proud of what Whitney and I have accomplished. It is all because of the love we have for Luna. We put Luna first and set our differences aside to show up as her mother and her father.
Whitney: My best advice is to “think big picture,” not the “right now” feelings of co-parenting. My goal has always been to make decisions that I will still feel good about 5, 10, 15 years down the road, when our daughter has questions. And of course, I want others to know that we are human, we make mistakes, and we carry on. Forgiveness and grace, for ourselves and our co-parent is very important!
It is Our Health Matters’ hope that every parent who finds themselves at the crossroads of deciding what is best for their children will borrow a few takeaways from Brian and Whitney. It’s true children are our future, and they need parents who are physically and mentally healthy and committed to making their child’s future as successful as it can be.
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