Hello Lisa! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It is my understanding that your story is worth telling and an inspiration for many co – parents out there. It is heartbreaking to us when we witness divorced or separated parents involving their children in their own personal conflicts. Sometimes their pain or anger towards another takes over and they don’t realize the impact that tensions can have on the children in the long term.
We want to share your story in hopes that it can inspire and send a message to parents to consider the influence of their decision on their children and that they will be better off if they co – exist in peace.
How many children do you have?
I have four children, all boys. They were all born within 6 years and today they are 25, 23, 22 and 19 years old.
How are they different or alike?
My first and third born are similar. They are more shy, gentle, and more methodical, whereas my second and fourth are outgoing and motivated. There was zero rivalry between them. The two oldest were so different that they completed each other, just like the yin and the yang, and the same goes for the two youngest.
Tell me a little bit more about the children.
They get along very well. They are more like friends than brothers. Very family oriented, and more artistic than academic. They go out all the time together and there is a lot of action! Their father and I have a larger age difference. Therefore, between him, the children and I, it’s a great melting pot of various generations.
Why didn’t it work out?
Steve and I were together for 12 years. At some point, we went through financial difficulties, and he fell into a depression. With four children to take care of, it became burdensome. We did not have the same coping skills and it felt like we were on opposite teams. Being overwhelmed by this, leaving was the only solution at the time, it seemed easier than working things out. If it were to happen today, I think the outcome would have been much different.
Why do you think co – parenting worked?
My children are well – adjusted, confident, happy, and progressive. They all had their own reaction to the divorce, also based on birth order. The oldest was more secured, the second was angry, the third worried the most and the fourth boy went with the flow. It being a full circle, there is always a way to go back and try and fix them. The co – parenting that we do now is all about the well – being of our children. We go back to our family for a safe place. Seeing our children grow like flowers, we realized that it’s the most important thing in life.
Tell me a little about your dynamic with their father?
At the beginning, there was a lot of emotions, and we didn’t know what the magic formula was. There was a lot of trial and error, but If your priorities and integrity are in the right place, you know what to do. We did not have a lot of money and that created a humble experience because we had nothing to lose. A lot of divorces are harsh because there is money involved, but with no money, there is no ego. Since COVID, because we weren’t allowed to go out, it changed that dynamic. Family and selflessness became the priorities. My children’s happiness comes before my ego.
How did you come up with the parental time arrangement? Did you both go to activities? How did you navigate that?
At the beginning, we did not have a precise parental time schedule. He had the children every second weekend and it sucked! In terms of activities, whatever I couldn’t do, he would take care of and vice versa. We would never impose a schedule to our children as it’s difficult when we have a lot of children. After moving to Westmount, it became easier because they became more independent. There was a time when Steve and I did not share anything, but now we do because we realize how time is flying. There is a good level of comfort for me to be involved with their father. If they played basketball, we would both go watch the game! We go camping together and every night I go have supper with them. My son had a semester in Barcelona, and we all went there for vacation, where I shared a room with one of the kids.
What do you think is unique when it comes to your co – parenting style?
Our ultimate respect for one another.
What do you like the most about your co – parenting dynamic?
Nobody cares about our children as much as we do. Even with a new partner, that person will never understand how much I love my children. Their father and I are co – creators.
What do you like the least about your co – parenting dynamic?
There isn’t anything. The least would be that they don’t live with me anymore and that I am an empty nest.
What are your thoughts and how would you handle having a new partner (either from your ex or your side) added to the equation?
I’ve had boyfriends, and it did not work out. I am reluctant for a new relationship; my space is great now. I would always choose my children over any new partner. If I had a boyfriend, it would be just for me, with no integration of him to the family. Steve was over his depression and started working hard, which made me appreciate him a little bit more. I thought about this and if he was to have a new partner, I would be very happy for him.
What have your children said about your parenting style? Have they shared their appreciation?
I think the boys don’t say, they show through their actions and their presence. When we went to Barcelona and it was my birthday, we spent the best day ever! I was happy just being with my family.
What is life now? Explain the dynamic?
Our situation now is normal, normal life.
I understand you recently went to Europe all together. What was it like?
We went to Greece this summer, it was amazing! We made TikToks, and we took family pictures!
How do you create and respect boundaries?
I don’t have a jealous bone in my body whenever Steve takes the children out, whether it’s golf or fishing/ I am so happy for them just to spend time together. The fact that he involves me in other activities that they do, I feel lucky and appreciative.
Little feedback for all of us?
I think they are very appreciative, whether we are married or not married.
Do you have any advice to co – parents who have taken the hard path of conflict with their ex – partner? How can they transform the dynamic to a positive experience?
Therapy. Put your egos aside and make your children a priority. They don’t need to know about new partners right away or hear negative comments about the ex. Manage the divorce for the sake of the children. Remember that you’re the adult and remain authentic. You must be smart enough to know what you can and cannot share with the children to shelter them from adult issues. It is important to be authentic in your feelings. Feel depressed if you and work on it, but do not involve your children in your anger.