Hi, I'm Cynthia, founder of The Co-Parent Coach in Tampa, Florida.
My job has always been about helping or coaching someone, but I started out my career working with a very different group to most co-parents; for 16 years I was an advisor to higher education students just starting adult life.
With a masters in curriculum and student affairs, I had a great career and a lot of positive experiences helping students with their career development, financial planning, and lots of other essential life skills as they began to look towards moving out of education.
My interests in helping co-parents began when I met my husband, who had two daughters from previous relationships and was working through the process of trying to co-parent with his exes. It was difficult to see them wanting to make shared parenting work, but often struggling to communicate and find a way to do it; anytime they tried to talk a conflict would spark.
Gradually they found their way and found some experts who could provide them with support and advice, but I realized a huge number of people had to be going through the same experience as they did, desperate for some support and advice from someone with real expertise in building co-parenting relationships.
Something I had noticed in getting to know and help so many higher education students, was that divorces could affect children in all kinds of ways, but whenever those divorced parents found a way to co-parent, communicate, and work together successfully, it always had the best outcome for the children.
Creating a career change and a coaching support program for co-parents
I had begun to suffer from chronic migraines and was realizing I couldn't meet the necessary demands of a full time job when debilitating migraines could strike daily. I began studying for a career change which could offer a more flexible workload, and that could maybe fill that support gap I'd seen to help co-parents create a great environment for their children to grow up in.
Certifying as a divorce coach in 2012 I started to plan courses and classes bringing together all these experiences. The young people who had been through successful and unsuccessful co-parenting, watching my husband establishing a co-parent relationship, and my own experience of divorce before meeting him, all helped me to try and look at the experience from all sides and find ways to keep everyone talking and working together.
I began working with individual co-parents before realizing that the real sweet spot was in working with both co-parents together. Sometimes the process may include some one-on-one coaching with each, but everything starts coming together when everyone is in the same conversation.
Focusing on the future, learning to talk, working out old problems and new disagreements on parenting decisions; it can all work if you both want it to, and have the right support and tools to make it happen.
Experiencing the importance of successful co-parenting in my own life
The personal experience of my own family has been a huge motivation in my career, I've seen close up the struggles of putting it together, and how easily it can fall apart again.
My husband has two adult daughters, each from different moms, and I became their stepmom when they were 4 and 7. It was quite an experience to find my place in such a complex dynamic, and looking back I would do so many things differently.
My eldest stepdaughter’s mom lived across the country, so I took on the mom role day-to-day. Her mom appreciated and embraced me from the beginning; she almost appreciated me too much, because I knew I could never replace the void my stepdaughter felt by not having her mom do those things. I felt very lucky to have my stepdaughter in my life, and guilty for feeling so lucky when it came at the cost of her mom not being nearby.
My youngest stepdaughter’s mom still lives in the same county as we do, but there were continuous fights in court over the shared parenting; a lot of conflict for over 10 years that exhausted and hurt everyone, most of all my youngest stepdaughter. I often blamed her mom for all the fighting, but today realize my husband and I played a much bigger role in that conflict than we thought at the time, and I know I overstepped my role on many occasions. We don’t have a relationship with my youngest stepdaughter today, I hope that can change for my both my husband and eldest stepdaughter, and I wish we could have had the right support at the time.
I've learned so much about better ways to do things to pass onto other co-parents going through the same process. No one gets it perfect, but all the time co-parents are communicating and keeping conflict away from their children, the potential outcomes are getting better and better for those children. Being part of making that happen for others is an incredibly rewarding career.
The girls have grown up and moved into their own homes now. It was an incredible experience to share so much of their growing up and to make them a part of my family too. As fairly recent empty nesters, my husband and I are kept busy at home by our five fur children: four dogs and a cat. Coaching became a perfect career change; sadly, the migraines are still with me, but I keep working with doctors, various holistic approaches such as yoga and meditation, and finding hobbies that bring me joy like bowling and crafts!
Co-parenting might seem impossible at times, but, with a little help, you can always make it work if everyone wants it to; book a 30 minute co-parenting consultation today and start creating a great outcome for your children.