In the beginning there were deadbeat dads... But with a little help from a changing patriarchal society (thank you feminism, you've done your job well), all that's changing. Enter The Dad Beat. Now also available at www.dadbeat.com.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Co-parenting Harmony

Co-parenting harmony

I'm pretty lucky as far as co-parents go. It took a couple years, but with only a couple shouting matches and a single two month blackout period where we spoke almost not at all, my ex and I have established a pretty level playing ground.

Importantly, we split the week pretty much 50/50 with our daughter. I have Maia Wednesday after work (5ish) until Saturday noon (or when I can track the X down) one week; the following week I have Maia from Wednesday at 5pm till Sunday at 5pm. If you do the math, X actually has our daughter for a few more hours than I do, but I have her during fewer working hours and more on weekends. So it works out.

This kind of an agreement was, for me, a major turning point. Say you're a weekend dad and just have your child on some combination of weekend days and evenings. That's good for you, if that's what you want. I sought to avoid this for a few reasons.
  1. I didn't want to pay her to do my job.
  2. I wanted to spend more time with my kid than that.
  3. I felt that not being with my kid might screw her up.

I grew up in a family that for better or worse stayed together. I enjoyed spending time with my dad and mom. I know in my heart I would have felt incomplete without a Dad there every day. In fact, I only wanted more quality time with him. I would not deprive my daughter of that under any circumstances.

What’s so great about co-parenting? Well, for starters, you get a pretty big break every week to fish, date, work, relax, read, write, travel, recuperate, etc. When I don’t have Maia, I’m usually doing a combination of those things.

You also get a good chunk of time to get to know your kid(s), learn from them, have them learn from you and have fun. When I pick Maia up after work Wednesdays, we go to Granville Island, do a big shop for a special dinner (don’t forget to grab some treats – caramels for Maia, goose liver pate with black truffles for me) and drop by “Kids Only” market before heading home. After my three day “break” we’re ready to hang out late (9pm for us), watch a movie and read a few stories (Check out Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. What a great one!).

Thursday is back to the regular schedule and Maia usually seems to have settled in comfortably by then.

Another great aspect about this arrangement is my roommates. Suzie is a single mom with two kids of her own (4 and 7), and her own parenting style as well. I’ve learned a lot from her along the way. And Maia has gained three close and trusted friends out of the deal – yet we have talked about our unique family lots. The children speak of one another like siblings, and we encourage a common family respect, but each of us is aware that one day our two families will have their own homes. We look forward to the sleepovers we’ll share once that happens.


This kind of shared home living has deep roots in not just our own culture, but many others, too. Hippie communes in the '60s, extended families living together in Asia, communal living in Soviet Russia, villages of huts just feet apart in Africa. It makes more sense to me than adamantly trying to go it alone as a single parent: It’s harder to learn from other parents as a single parent on your own. It’s more difficult to find help on the fly for babysitting, sick kids, and so on. It’s more expensive to do it alone.

My roommates thus far have been easy to find: Friends. But what happens later, once we’re ready to purchase a home? Well, that’s going to be tough in Vancouver. There’s nothing for a small family for less than about $600,000 here. I’m interested in buying a home with anther family. Two small families, in four rooms, with a yard. It can be tough sharing space with others, but hey, isn’t that what family life is about?

14 Comments:

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Blogger Jackie Champion said...

Hey there! I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about co-parenting match in your area. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about co-parenting match. Keep it up! This is a good read.
According to Wikipedia, Coparenting or co-parenting describes a parenting situation where the parents are not in a marriage, cohabitation or romantic relationship with one another.
The adults that come to the site are looking for someone whose views on raising children align with their own. The relationship between them is whatever they decide it to be and can evolve just as anything can through a lifetime. At Modamily, the parents agree that they are both crucial in supporting and raising the child. That's what co-parenting is: Both parents are involved in the child's life and agree on how best to share responsibilities for that child in a way best suited to the child. The child's needs always come first. That's one belief that all our co-parenting adults have in common.

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