Parenting collaboratively from two household is difficult and complex. This story illuminates that reality.
When Tomas, a divorced dad of a 12 year-old daughter, Anna, had Saturday placement, his daughter had her first period. She chose not to tell her father – not a peep.
The next day, dad rode with the mom to drop Anna off at camp for a week. When they were alone on the drive home, mom shared with dad what had occurred at his home the day before. Suddenly, the blood stains on Anna’s bed sheet made sense to Tomas.
Dad chose not to ask mom why she did not call him on Saturday with a heads-up after Anna called her with the announcement. Mom suggested to the dad that Anna may have been too embarrassed to tell him or talk about it with him. Tomas asked mom what “product” Anna was using so that he could make that available in his home. Mom said that Anna was given product and not to worry, suggesting again that Anna may be hesitant to discuss the topic with Tomas.
Tomas pondered the events and process that just occurred for his POD family. Tomas knew this was a big deal in Anna’s maturing process and, somehow, he felt on the outside looking in. He was not being viewed as a valuable resource to Anna in the situation and, without notice, was not included.
This is sad.
Not that it is always so, but within an intact family, there is more opportunity for mom to immediately inform dad of Anna’s development and to collaborate how to discuss the issue with her from numerous perspectives.
Parents tend not to discuss sexual issues with their “of-age” children nearly enough. Being in two households makes it even easier to avoid the discomfort and work of deciding what to say, what to teach, and when.
To Tomas’ credit, he wrote mom a letter declaring that he wanted to be more involved with Anna about her physical maturity. He wrote that he would share with Anna that now he knew and to inquire with Anna into what she had learned about the actual physiological purpose of a woman’s menstrual cycle and, even more importantly, what having her period now meant to her sense of self.
In the actual conversation, Anna shared that she knew her body was going through a “monthly cleansing” and Tomas was able to add more facts about how her body prepares itself for egg fertilization and regroups through the menstrual cycle when no pregnancy occurs. Anna was not shy or uncomfortable in the conversation and told Tomas that her period signals that she is “growing up” and is now capable of becoming pregnant.
Tomas asked Anna to consider that the arrival of her period should have her reflect upon the ability that God has given her to grow one of her fertilized eggs into a baby. And, that she should always honor and respect her body within that miracle potential.
Anna seemed to welcome her dad’s interest and appreciated his insights. Anna and dad agreed that, within the coming years, they would have many conversations about her growing up, sexuality, and dating.
Effective collaborative parenting requires awareness and the willingness to collaborate on a level with parents and children who reside in one home.
Please share your collaborative parenting successes and failures on the POD community social network. We can learn so much from one another!