50/50 parenting, or 'shared parenting', means only seeing your child/children for half of the week. It doesn't work for everyone and it can put some additional stress on parenting, but it provides stability and continuity for the children. Some parents may take a dim view, but it can work and it does. 'Cooperative parents is the key', says Rachel, a mum with 3 and a half years experience of equally shared parenting.
There are many, but to name a few:
- Living in close proximity of each parent is also a plus for a number of reasons; being close at hand should the need arise for doctor’s appointments, school runs, parents’ evenings, sports days etc.
- Time out - not the naughty kind of time out, but time out for yourself when your child is not with you. Use this time to re-energise, re-charge your batteries, indulge in some 'you' time and no, don’t feel guilty for feeling this way…..with recharged batteries you will find that you have more positive energy saved up for when you have quality time together; you also become more of a 'fun' person yourself, not so tired or worn out.
- Excitement - Your child is happy to see each parent when they know it's handover time. No tears, no fuss and no leg clinging!
- Balance - Your child has equal input from both parents and will reap the benefits; a good example of this is the shared school run or one parent assisting with homework one week and the other parent the following week (nobody misses out and why should they?)
- Routine - Children love routine, so once there is a pattern and things go to plan, they know exactly what’s going on.
- Extended family - As your child's relationship with their other parent is more involved, they also have a greater chance of building closer relationships with grandparents from both sides of the family, cousins, uncles and aunts, step and half siblings too.
- 2 Christmases/2 birthdays? Surely not? Yes, you said it, Exactly that… Surely that’s a plus, isn’t it? I know my daughter thinks so!
Of course, with most things, there are disadvantages:
- Sense of loss - It’s common to feel a sense of loss, when your child is no longer with you; Tears from the parent may still be shed on the odd occasion, but the fact that your child has not shed a tear themselves and gone off skipping happily to the other parent, well that’s a bonus! They are happy, so you should feel their happiness.
- Bags - Not the ones under your eyes, but carrier bags, overnight bags, tote bags and rucksacks…usually with your child’s 'favourites' like soft toys, new shoes, or particular outfits that they want to bring with them from the other parents’ home. You kind of feel guilty for having a child laden with bags, when they come to you. However, so long as they have some of their creature comforts and it becomes a positive. Does it really matter?
- Stability - Can a child really feel stable when they are in one home for half the week and the other home for the other half? This is a tricky one, however, from experience I have a well-balanced, happy, caring and loving child, so we can’t be doing too badly!
The 50/50 parenting won’t suit everybody’s circumstances but if you have a reasonably 'civil' relationship with your ex-partner, it really can work, providing you take into account a few factors:
- Living in close proximity of each other
- Both of you being flexible and cooperative
- Not arguing in front of the children is not within earshot.
- Remaining united in this arrangement.
- Making decisions together.
The norm these days is that us as adults only ever seem to consider how we are feeling at the time. We are sad, lonely, angry, hurt, frustrated... and we lash out at the other parent. What we don’t consider is how our child is feeling. We need to take stock and do what is in the best interest of our child/children, to be united in giving them the love and support that they so rightly deserve, regardless of whether we, as their parents, are together or not.