Co-Parenting After An Unexpected Pregnancy
You’re facing an unexpected pregnancy, but your relationship with the father is over. Can you possibly parent this child together even though you aren’t together? Yes. Though it might be tricky, co-parenting after an unexpected pregnancy is possible.
First, if you’re single and unexpectedly pregnant, you aren’t alone. Each year in the United States there are approximately 1.5 million babies born to unmarried moms. It might seem overwhelming, but you can do this! One and a half million other moms do this each year, and you can do it too.
Next, even if you and the father of your baby decide not to get married, he can be actively involved in your baby’s life. Fathers do have rights, but they need to take legal action to protect and exercise those rights. If the father expresses interest in co-parenting, you’d be better off working out a plan with him, rather than being forced into it by a court.
So how can you make this work? How can you successfully co-parent with someone you barely dated?
- Take a parenting class together. Since both of you are brand-new to parenting, you can learn together. Taking a class together can also help make sure you’re both on the same page about important parenting decisions. It will give you opportunities to talk through parenting styles and options with the help and guidance of a professional.
- Communicate. Healthy, straightforward communication will be vital. Be up front about your expectations and your limitations. Honestly communicate with kindness, keeping in mind that your child is most important.
- Stay on the same page. Technology can help keep you on the same page with schedules and lists. There are several different apps that make it easy to share calendars, custody schedules, activities, appointments, feeding schedules, and medical information. You can minimize disruption to your child’s routine when you stay on the same page by sharing all the important information.
- Accept that you aren’t in control. Even if you communicate clearly and honestly express your expectations or wishes, you can’t control what happens at the other parent’s home. As long as your child is safe and is being cared for, you’ll just have to accept that you don’t get to call the shots at the other home. You and your child’s father may parent differently in some ways, and that’s probably OK. Even parents who are married have different strengths and weaknesses or just different styles of parenting. Usually, children benefit from these differences. Trust that your way isn’t the only way.
- Keep your child as the priority. As long as both of you keep your child as the top priority, your baby is going to be alright. It’s in your child’s best interest to have meaningful healthy relationships with both parents, so it’s helpful to keep this in mind as you interact with your child’s father. Speak of him respectfully in front of your child. Be kind to him. And don’t use your child as a pawn to manipulate him. You’re a parent now, and your child is the priority. Put aside your own negative feelings or wounds in order to do what’s best for your child.
You may have other questions or need some more practical resources or support. We’re here for you. Please call today to schedule a confidential visit. We’ll be happy to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and point you in the direction of the resources you’ll need.