Not Everyone Can Positively Co-Parent and That’s Okay

Co Parenting

Last week, two things happened that made me shake my head. First, the founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie, announced they were getting divorced after 25 years of marriage, according to a joint statement posted on the Amazon’s CEO twitter account. It read, “We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends…”

I had to stop and shake my head – here we go again – before continuing reading the statement.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all over again….” Again, I had to stop reading, shaking my head again, before continuing. “We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals projects ventures and adventures. Through the labels might be different, we remain a family and we remain cherished friends.”

Cherished friends?

Then Gwyneth Paltrow had to go out and share that she and her new husband Brad Falchuk went on their honeymoon…with her ex-husband Chris Martin. “We had a big family honeymoon over Christmas. So it was my new husband, his children, my children, my ex-husband, our best family friends.”

First, celebrities are not just like us. Most of us who get divorced do not put out joint statements, for one, sharing how we’re are going to remain the best of friends. Second, while I do believe most divorced couples should try to always put the children first, that doesn’t necessarily mean most of us can, do, or even want to remain ‘cherished friends’ with our exes. Rather, we would choose to be friends, but, really, even remaining friendly with your co-parent can be extremely draining, confusing, and unattainable.

Or it’s attainable for a week or so and then you’re back to bickering about how you should be on the same page about bedtime until three days later when you’re talking about how you should remain friends for the kids again. And that’s okay. I think to pretend otherwise – that everyone who divorces nowadays is expected to remain friends – is doing a disservice to those of us who are happy to put our children first, but don’t want to go trick or treating together or spend March break with our exes. Why? Because we are human. We have resentments. We don’t have anything in common with our exes anymore. They hurt us. We hurt them.

Do you know what real life looks like when it comes to co-parenting, for those of us not putting out sweet press releases about our soon-to-be-exes? Well, I’ll tell you. Near the end of last year, for example, a school email was sent out about booking parent-teacher interviews. When my ex sent me a text, somewhat demandingly, saying he booked a time and would I be there, I wrote him back, “I have already spoken to the teacher and have booked another time. Many divorced people do this. We are not that unique. And it will not affect the well being of our son.”

My ex was not pleased. He knew that I didn’t want to be in the same room as him, because guess what? I didn’t. I couldn’t. I wasn’t emotionally ready. And our bickering was an on-going thing still, so why would I put myself in a position that would make me miserable? Sure, yes, if I believed that both of us had to be at the same parent-teacher interview, or else my son would end up in therapy for life, yeah, I would have spent 15 minutes in the same room with my ex. But my son had no idea it was even parent-teacher interviews.

These celebrities who go out of their way to post photographs or share how they are still best friends while getting divorced are setting the rest of up for feeling like failures, or at least to question why we can’t have weekly Sunday night dinners all together…just like when we were married!

I think it’s cute that so many people who divorce think that they can still remain best friends.

I will always put my children first, and I will never say anything negative to my children about their fathers, but that doesn’t mean I have to spend Christmas with my ex, go on holidays with him, or even go to the same 15-minute parent-teacher interview.

There’s one real-life example of a woman who shares her story on living right next door to her ex and his new wife and how they’re able to co-parent. I appreciate what she’s trying to do, but this seems to be an anomaly (in non-celebrity situations) and not really the norm. Most of the posts on her site are written by people who are looking for advice on remarriage, child support, and to complain about new partners in their exes lives.

Admittedly, when I read positive co-parenting occurrences – “We went to Disneyland together!” – I question why people who loved each other, respect each other and are best friends can’t remain married? People really need to be honest. I can believe, over time, that you can become friends. Even really good friends.

Truthfully, I am trying to positively co-parent with my ex but I find it difficult, to say the least, as I’m sure my ex finds co-parenting with me difficult as well. The problem, mostly, is that even if you have the best of intentions to remain friends, (and, let’s say your ex cheated on you? Gambled all your money away? Are we really expecting these people to remain friends with the exes? Maybe, but that may take time), feelings arise, because, well, we’re human.

But then finally! A celebrity who doesn’t pretend that positively co-parenting is easy.  “Chris and I work really hard ’cause we have Jack, that is sort of the long game idea and making sure Jack is really happy, which makes us really happy,” Anna Faris said, per Us Weekly. “We have sort of the luxury of circumstance. You know, we are both in other loving relationships. … But It’s like, how do you not in general sink into a place of bitterness?”

My point, I guess, is that just co-parenting may be enough. If you don’t find yourself being ‘positive’. Being kind to each other is enough. Only communicating through text is enough. Just talking about the kids’ schedules is enough. Not saying anything negative about the other parent is enough. Not fighting in front of your kids is enough. Putting the kids first is most definitely a MUST, but I don’t buy into the belief that to put your kids first means spending 7 days and nights on a tropical vacation, with your ex and his new girlfriend, or have weekly ‘family’ dinners.

Well, unless you’re cooking, then I may have a change of heart.


**Editor’s note: this post has been edited from the original version.




  1. Brandie Weikle on January 24, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Rebecca,

    As the person you’re referencing who lived for years next to my ex-husband and his wife (update: they live a couple of blocks away now due to that rental property being sold), I respectfully dispute your assertion (based on the anecdotal evidence of your recent personal experience) that positive co-parenting is only for for celebrities. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s not for everyone, and have never looked down on anyone for a co-parenting relationship that just can’t be made positive. You reference “her site,” but I think you’re referring not to my website,, but to the free Facebook group I run, Positive Co-Parenting After Divorce, which has provided support to 4,600+ members.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that most of the posts there are about people complaining about new partners in their ex’s lives, or looking for advice on child support or remarriage. The group is also home to many posts celebrating co-parenting wins, shared birthday parties, team efforts to come together when the the kids or sick, etc. I note that you haven’t really been very active in the group since 2016. Though it seems you did manage to swing by and copy and paste something from this closed group into your blog post. Did you ask the poster for permission?

    I believe there’s a significant shift in the narrative around separation and divorce. The end of a romantic relationship is rarely easy, but those who are willing to do the work on themselves required to address all that hurt and disappointment and move forward in mature, constructive ways (and who, critically, have a co-parent willing to do the same) can absolutely have a positive relationship. Weekly dinners and Disneyland trips are not a requirement of positive co-parenting, and I’ve never suggested they are. The key things you mention above – not speaking poorly of one another in front of the kids, not fighting in front of them – are the key core values.

    And you don’t need to look to the pages of Us Weekly for those.

  2. Courtney on January 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    I couldn’t agree with Brandie more. She said it all. This blog post sounds extremely condescending. Didn’t you just write a book about the mommy wars that happen amongst bloggers? Then turn around and write a post yourself that is not constructive or helpful to the real life people you directly referenced? Talk about contradicting.

  3. Jackie Kansas on January 24, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    I agree with Courtney and Brandie. It sounds like you didn’t ask the poster for permission to use her post outside of a private group, that’s not okay. And it sounds like the underlying point, I guess, is that you’re jealous of what these positive co-parents have attained. There’s an undercurrent of bitterness here. I expect more of Savvymom than this type of article.

  4. Kip on January 24, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Yecch. Mining an online support group for anecdotes —and then using them verbatim with no indication that the poster gave permission to have their words used that way — is tacky AND lazy. Like another commenter said, I expect better of this website, if not this writer.

  5. Sarah on January 24, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Brandie’s comment. I’m a member of her Facebook group and it’s been a great support for me. I know for a fact it’s also been a great support for others as well, based on the conversations that happen. Your flippant attitude towards this group and your plagiarism of a post made by someone else is just sad and speaks volumes about you. Frankly I expect more from Savvymom.

  6. Laura on January 25, 2019 at 12:34 am

    I am not a celebrity, and yet somehow my ex and I have that “cute” friendship relationship you suggest can’t really exist. If we get along so well and respect each other why didn’t we stay married, you ask? Well, I didn’t want to live with his mistress-turned-girlfriend, or his other lifestyle choices anymore. But I did want to continue to raise our children together. I chose to forgive him and become great coparents because I didn’t want to be bitter and negative like you seem to be. It was a Facebook group I found early on (one you seem to have joined but not really participated in), and all the real-life examples of positive coparenting I read about there, that opened my eyes to that possibility. I’ve received such great advice and shared experiences through the group you’ve unfairly criticized. Believe it or not, my ex and I haven’t bickered or fought in almost three years. It just works.

    I can understand why celebrities seem to be the only ones out there who are able to do this successfully – they have a public platform on which to share their positive experiences. The rest of us who positively coparent just carry on with our lives, with little to complain about and often out in public coaching our kids together, sharing meals, passing school bags from house-to-hous, or sitting in a parent-teacher conference having to remind the teacher that our kids have two homes because otherwise they’d never know.

    I’m sorry you’re unsatisfied with the situation you find yourself in with your coparent(s). But just because you haven’t been able to do it doesn’t mean positive coparenting isn’t possible for a great number of us.

  7. Alex on January 25, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Aw, man. Rebecca. I’m really disappointed in this piece, despite understanding that your niche is provocative nerve-touching writing. This, for starters, feels like a violation of the privacy (which, hey, we all understand is false on the internet, but STILL) of a Facebook group that I’ve found VERY helpful since my separation. It’s full of stories that contradict exactly what you say here.

    And let’s face it, *you* are a celebrity, you’re not the regular masses, either. Perhaps not a Gwyneth, but definitely a known personality thanks to your writing. So… what’s that all about?

    No, not everyone can have a positive relationship with an ex, but celebrity has nothing to do with it — how bizarre an insinuation.

    My ex and I are friendly, positive, and do well as co-parents. Your last paragraph IS positive coparenting, which really negates the entire argument.

    Annnnnd I know I’ve just contributed to the clicks, so I’m feeding the beast here, but I felt I had to say something. I feel really disappointed, not in your opinion, cuz you get to have that… and not because of your crappy coparenting experiences, because that really does suck for you… but in the fact that you took from the Positive Coparenting After Divorce page, skewed things, and wrote something that COULD have been supportive but is instead super judgemental.

    I know you’re better than this.

  8. Maureen Turner on January 25, 2019 at 8:06 am

    This piece is so negative. I’m disappointed that you would write this about a very positive group that helps people. I am by no means a celebrity and I have an amazing relationship with my ex. He comes over once a week and we may have dinner or he might take our kids (his and mine) out for a movie. It can work that way, you just have to be willing to work at it. Maybe start by going to the same parent teacher interview as your ex.

  9. Heather Dixon on February 15, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Hi there. Just wanted to follow up that we’ve edited the original piece, as there was a Facebook comment used without permission that we’ve now removed. We apologize for the error and thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  10. Corinne on February 22, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Rebecca…I have to agree with the majority of opinions below. I’m certainly not a celebrity and I have a great relationship with my ex husband, not only him but his new wife, and my new husband – we are all great friends, attended each other’s weddings, and continue to co parent as friends every day.

    I semi resent the question you asked “If we get along so well and respect each other why didn’t we stay married?”

    Well…it’s really very simple….we weren’t in love anymore. We met when we were 19 & 20 respectively and 20 years later were both incredibly different people. We both realized we deserved to be in a romantic relationship with other people who we would love romantically – we loved each other only as friends and the marriage was suffering because of that and well so were our children. I can assure you our kids are much happier now that their parents are happy. And even happier that we are friends.

    I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished and our “real Modern Family”. Wish I could share the pics from my recent wedding with my ex and new husband shaking hands and grinning ear to ear, with my exes wife and me hugging, and the best picture of myself, my husband, my ex and his wife and all of our 6 children…incredibly happy.

    Be careful in this area not to make assumptions. It’s a sensitive area and while there are many nasty splits out there…there are others that are truly happy endings.

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