Photo: Kenya’s popular single mothers from Left to Right: Akothee- lePresidente, Lilian Muli (community wife fame), Betty Kyalo (with taste of married Somali men) and murder suspect Jaque Maribe.
By Rodgers Otieno via FB
A post by Silas Gisiora Nyanchwani dubbed ‘Memo number 15 from the welfare of men’ which tried to explore the issue of marriageability of single mothers sparked a heated e-debate that saw the post pulled down. However I managed to read through the comments. They were venomous. They pointed to lack of appreciation and understanding of two important concepts: blended family and Co-parenting. The knowledge and appreciation of these two concepts will impart on you necessary soft skills to navigate through a union where there are children from other previous relationships.
This has caused me to research on two social phenomenon: Blended family and co-parenting and give a highlight on them.
The success of a marriage where either of the couple or both has a kid from a previous relationship largely depends on understanding and appreciation of the above two concepts
The term co-parenting describes a parenting relationship in which the two parents of a child are not romantically involved, but still assume joint responsibility for the upbringing of their child.
It can also be used to explain a situation where two people are jointly raising a child, regardless of whether or not they are both biological parents or have ever been romantically linked.
Co-parenting can occur following a separation, divorce, or break up of a romantic partnership with children involved.
Blended family forms when you and your partner make a life together with the children from one or both of your previous relationships.
According to Pew Research, by the age of 9, more than one-in-five children experience a parental break-up and that 40% of new marriages include at least one person who was previously married.
20% of weddings feature two people who have both been married prior. This means we must accept that to co-exist with these two new social concepts.
The process of forming a new, blended family and co-parenting can be challenging experience.
Major challenges with a blended family include becoming a new parent and relationships between ex-partners and stepparents.
When two people enter into blended family with no children of their own they find themselves taking parental role for the first time as stepparents and getting used to this new role can be challenging.
When a relationship ends, people may choose to move on and focus on their new partner. This can mean they stop communicating with their ex-partner. But this is often more complicated when children are involved.
Presence of children means the remarried parent must continue speaking with the non-residential parent and partners may feel threatened by their partner’s contact with their ex. At times non-residential parent feel the stepparent is not treating their child fairly and these situations strain relationship and adjustment difficult.
Strategies to co-parenting and managing a blended family.
• Make your new relationship a priority. Have time with each other.
• Make the relations with exes as cordial as possible.
• Make any necessary adjustments to your parenting styles before you remarry.
• Remember s/he is your ex but also your co-parent and that you divorced for a reason. If s/he didn’t change their ways when you were a couple, most likely not going to do it now.
• Avoid discussing the past issues that you had with your ex. Focus only on the child.
• Learn to compromise.