Dr. Darcy Smith on custody rights
Ask a mental health professional the difficult questions
Dear Dr. Darcy:
My Partner and I are in the process of dissolving a domestic partnership. We have a 6-year-old daughter together who lives with my soon-to-be-ex-partner. I just moved into my own apartment.
If I'm going to be honest, I have to tell you that I think my partner is emotionally unstable, but I am the primary earner between the two of us and I cannot maintain two separate homes and be the primary caregiver. I'm not concerned for our daughter's safety, but I'd rather walk through fire than communicate with my partner. I truly hate her.
I don't know how we're going to raise this child together. I've recently begun fantasizing about giving her full custody so I can divorce her and never have anything to do with her again.
-Don't Want to Be a Deadbeat Mom
You can divorce your partner, but you cannot divorce your child. Therefore, when you have a child with someone, you can never completely separate from your partner. For better or worse, you become partners for life.
The two of you need to learn a new set of skills called cooperative parenting (CP). If you think parenting under one roof was tough, wait 'til you learn the complexities of cooperative parenting. The fundamental principle of CP is that you need to decide on and follow a unified philosophy of parenting which cannot vary between the parents. If you choose to circumvent this obligation - which you signed up for when you became parents - you doom your child to a life filled with emotional baggage.
I can imagine how overwhelming this must feel, but I'm here to tell you that your needs are not of primary concern: your child's are. You are ethically obligated to make her a priority. So get yourself connected with a therapist who is skilled at this type of training and expect to go through cooperative parenting sessions for at least six months with the soon-to-be ex. if you put in the hard time now, you will be spared years of unnecessary drama with both of the females in your life.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-604-0144.
*By submitting questions, the writer acknowledges that she has no rights of confidentiality and that her question or a version thereof may be printed in GO Magazine or GOMAG.com. Correspondence between Dr. Darcy Smith and a writer does not constitute a therapeutic relationship and such a relationship and rights/privileges associated with such can only be established through a scheduled, in person session.