If you’ve thought about creating a parenting partnership with a friend (or friends), have you ever thought about how you will explain to your child your co-parenting situation? Or maybe you’re already in a partnership agreement and your child is starting to ask questions. While kids who are 2 to 3 years old aren’t likely to be aware that his/her family is any different from others, once they begin to interact with other children, they will soon realize there is a difference.
Rather than thinking of this as an awkward conversation, a little advance planning can turn the opportunity to address these questions with your child into a positive bonding experience – as long as you answer these questions with honesty, authenticity, and patience. Here are a few tips from the FamilyByDesign co-parenting website as to how to approach the conversation, what you might wish to say, and when / how to say it.
(1) Honesty is the best policy. No matter what information you choose to share with your child at this early age, provide an honest and straightforward answer.
(2) Think about what you want to say before you say it. Each parenting partnership has its own “backstory”. While honesty is important, you should think in advance how you want to present your family’s story to your child, keeping in mind that, as your child gets older, you will continue to build on this story as your child may ask for more details. For example, if an egg donor was used, what do you want your child to know about the egg donor?
(3) Keep answers consistent between parenting partners. Just as you should consider how you want to present information to your young child, you should communicate these thoughts with your parenting partner – before your child starts asking family questions – to make sure you are both on the same page with the information you want to share. It would be confusing to a child to hear different stories from his or her co-parents.
To read a full list of best practices for parenting partnerships, click here to learn more.