What it is like co-parenting in the age of technology

Sunday, November 29, 2020
Many celebrities have taken to co-parenting openly, but being under public scrutiny often leaves them caught up in fights that involve their children.

What you need to know:
Less-known parents find themselves trying to manoeuvre the complex landscape now complicated by challenges such as Covid-19 lockdowns and other protocols.
Modern parenting distributes the responsibility more equally between parents and allows for each to spend more quality time with their children.
In the past few years, traditional gender roles have become more of the exception than the rule. Many families are taking a modern approach to parenting, from reversing gender roles to fully co-parenting and everything in between. But is it easier co-parenting in the age of technology?

Many celebrities have taken to co-parenting openly, but being under public scrutiny often leaves them caught up in fights that involve their children.

Earlier this month, Ugandan socialite Zari Hassan dispelled rumours that she and former boyfriend and father of her two children, Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz, were getting back together.

Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz and Ugandan socialite Zari Hassan.

On arrival at the Julius Nyerere International Airport with her children, Zari said: “I just brought the kids because their father wants to see them, it’s been two years. We are co-parenting and even if he has somebody, I can still come because it’s home for the kids regardless of what happened between us. A lot of people are saying we have gotten back together but that is not true, I’m just here for the kids.” The two broke up in 2017.

Last month, vlogger Maureen Waititu opened up on social media, sharing her frustrations with gym instructor Francis Kiarie, popularly known as FrankieJustGymIt, blaming him for not playing his part in the co-parenting arrangement. This led to a few days of calling each other out on social media on co-parenting lapses as they both said they had had enough.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Kim’s sister Kourtney Kardashian and her former lover Scott Disick have been navigating their co-parenting relationship on ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’.

Frankie accused her of denying him access to their son during his fifth birthday in a post on Instagram. The vlogger and TV host responded in a long rant on YouTube denying his claims, instead accusing Frankie of seeking clout using their children.

Frankie then responded in a 33-minute video, addressing Maureen directly and even providing screenshots meant to help clear his name and add weight to his defence.

Covid-19 lockdowns
Yet it is not celebrities alone caught up in this. Less-known parents find themselves trying to manoeuvre the complex landscape now complicated by challenges such as Covid-19 lockdowns and other protocols.

Alice, a 32-year-old a mother of three – a 10-year-old, an eight-year-old and an 11-month-old – co-parents with the father of her first two sons. “It has definitely not been easy, but we keep learning along the way. After our separation in 2014, I raised the boys alone for more than a year. We even saw a counsellor but the guidelines were not being followed.”

In 2019, the man took Alice to the children’s court to try and get full custody of the boys. Alice, a mediator by profession, had to request the judge for mediation, where new ground rules were set and a common ground found.

“He gets to see the children when he’s available. He’s usually very busy with work. But they get to stay with him over the holidays and I have them over the weekend then. We only use direct transfers for money, which we agreed to go 50/50 on all the boys’ needs. We prefer using written forms of communication, especially text messages. The boys also get to talk to their father on most days, but they are free to call him whenever,” she says.

Alice shares the top three lessons she has learnt since she started co-parenting: “Stop having expectations on what a co-parenting relationship should look like. They will make you lose the bigger picture. Play your role. Things might end up flowing.”

Faith, 35, a mother of two – a 13-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl from different fathers, says she has no co-parenting agreement with her son’s father “since we cut off communication a while back”.

“However, I currently live with my daughter’s father, who has two children from a previous marriage,” he says.

The girl’s father works in Nairobi while his two children live in Thika. He gets to visit them over the weekends.

Modern parenting
“The back-and-forth travel between our two families has been a bit hard because it takes some time for children to understand such situations. But what matters most is that my partner and I are open-minded.”

She adds, “My children know their siblings. The bond between them is growing stronger, especially since we spend most weekends and holidays together.”

The two children get to talk to their father every day through WhatsApp video calls. Faith says she also makes a point of calling them every two days, even though she tells them that her line is always open for them to call at any time. She also supports them by shopping for food and groceries.

Modern parenting distributes the responsibility more equally between parents and allows for each to spend more quality time with their children.

Couples and families of different backgrounds are adopting co-parenting techniques that suit them: From traditional couples and divorced partners to same-sex couples and blended families.

Additionally, with the rise in numbers of technology tools and apps, modern parents have a lot of options to choose from. Many of them solve the biggest co-parenting problems out there: scheduling and communication.

Co-parents often need to communicate about a variety of issues, not least of which is what’s going on in the children’s lives. Communication about finances such as school fees and hospital bills are important as well.

And even when parents do their best, whether living together or apart, messages often get missed. When raising one child from two homes, miscommunication may be attributed to malice, leading to increasing mistrust and poor co-parenting.

There are lessons to be learnt from the celebrities. Hollywood celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have had their ups and downs – half the time we hear of ugly custody battles and estranged children, while the other half is the two releasing carefully prepared statements on how they’re working together for the sake of their children.

Since their 2016 split, Jolie and Pitt have struggled to find a new normal for themselves and their six children, partly because of the extreme circumstances (Pitt’s drinking and allegations of child abuse) that led to their divorce.

Child Services
In an interview with GQ in 2017, Pitt said, “I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. I heard one lawyer say, ‘No one wins in court—it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.’ And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred.”

Jolie has been careful not to speak negatively of Pitt to the Press – but it’s clear that she’s worried about the toll this has taken on her children. “They’ve been very brave. They were very brave,” she told Vanity Fair in 2017. “We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing…we care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal.”

Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick have been navigating their co-parenting relationship on their reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The pair, who split up multiple times between 2006 and 2017, share three children.

In April 2019, the two recorded a video for her lifestyle brand POOSH in which they talked about co-parenting challenges they’d faced.

“I think the hardest part [of co-parenting] was when we both started new relationships,” Kardashian said, referencing Scott’s ex Sofia Richie and her ex Younes Bendjima. ”… that caused fights between you and I about introducing the kids. We had to literally go to therapy to talk…to be able to communicate together.

Source: nation media by
kmuriuki@ke.nationmedia.com

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