The journey to healthy co-parenting

Good Things Utah

Deena sat down with Nicea and Reagan in today’s parenting moment to get personal about her divorce from Charlie’s dad in 2017, and the journey since to build to a healthy co-parenting relationship. She tells us she went through a brutal divorce in 2017, followed by a court battle that went on for nearly two years.

After two mediations, Deena and her ex settled on a parallel parenting agreement. This means each parent does their own parenting with very minimal input or interaction with the other. However, a year ago when Deena was pregnant with a second child, things shifted and a new dynamic presented itself.

One year later, the ex-spouses work as a team. Deena says, “I would never tell someone to work towards co-parenting if it’s truly not possible. Some ex-partners will need to stay parallel parents and that’s okay.” But if it is something that you can work towards, here are some of her takeaways.

Find new boundaries. Take into account how new significant others may feel, as well as test out what it’s like for the ex-spouses and their child(s) to be together. It takes adjustment when it’s a new dynamic. Your children might have different behavior at first, they might not know how to act, they might act out. They might love it, they might be uncomfortable, they might have questions. Find the line between what makes everyone comfortable, and what won’t confuse the children.

A healthy co-parenting relationship for Deena revealed itself to be necessary with certain challenges that arose with their son. There are times when the she and her ex have to talk about the differences, and similarities in the home, as well as get on the same page with certain things. It’s another balance to find of not stepping on each other’s toes, while having each other’s back. Maybe they both hold to a consequence in order to show a united front. It’s harder for a child to play one parent against the other if they are a team, and you can still be a team while living in two separate houses.

“We can also check in with each other, and we can be open about our feelings. If one of us is particularly missing Char we can modify.” Deena tells us. “Things completely changed with a new baby. We never want Char to feel that he can only see his sibling on his mom time.”

Give things time. If you’re in a negative spot with your ex, know that nothing stays the same. Life happens to both of you. It will change you, them, and continue to shape things. Things will shift in ways you’ve never seen coming.

Says Deena, “I used to think I would die without Char being with me 24/7, but I can rest now knowing he’s in great hands when he’s with his dad.”

Deena Manzanares
Deena Marie Manzanares is a Utah native, but lived in NYC for a few years while attending the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School. Locally, she has worked as a professional actor for years in both stage and film.

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