So you have a child with a woman – but either you split up sometime after the child was born.
Or you returned, and accepted to take up your responsibilities as a father.
Maybe she is just a ‘baby momma,’ – but you want to be involved in the child’s life.
Flip the script. You are female, but it’s the same. You two are co-parents to your child(ren).
How do you make it work?
The first thing to remember is that it is always about the child, their welfare – not about you.
Or even the two of you.
If you were so good together, other than at making baby/babies, you’d still be together!
You are not.
So this is not the time to disrupt the child’s life and ‘secede’ to Mombasa to punish Moses’s dad – (he loves Moses) – for leaving you for ‘mpango wa kando.’
Once you have set what’s best for the child as your baseline, agree on rules and responsibilities. Maybe, as a man, you are to pay school fees in that expensive academy, every term, as well as X amount as child upkeep – and she pays the rent where she and your child stay.
If she gets a serious man in her life, that is not the time to start shirking your ‘upkeep’ responsibilities, either out of misplaced jealousy or stinginess. It is important for a man to sweat for his offspring.
If a rich man walks into your life and adopts your daughter, though, or you get a new job with a huge pay rise, as a woman, I think it is only fair you tell your Baby Daddy you can afford to do with less of his upkeep – but not with madharau like ‘Just keep your small upkeep money!’ as you eyeball his shoe. ‘Coz looks like you could sure use it, Baba Anita.’
Thirdly, leave third parties out of transactions to do with your children.
Don’t allow your new wife/partner to dictate to you, too much, on how to bring up your child.
Don’t let your new man be the one dropping off your son (the one he found you with) to his Dad. That is how many bust-ups and fisticuffs between co-parents and their ex’s new spouses or boy/girlfriends begin. Don’t outsource your part of ‘co-parenting’ to a third party. It’s risky.
Keep it strictly about the child
Getting into terrible arguments in front of your child as co-parents can be terrifying to the child.
On the other hand, maintain personal space and emotional distance from your co-parent.
You can casually ask ‘How’s work?’ and the correct answer from him/her should be ‘fine,’ regardless of the retrenchment programme going on at his/her workplace.
Don’t get cosy with exes who are now just co-parents – after all, the intimacy is kaput!
Have specific drop off points where your child can be dropped and picked during their transit between your homes. Do not go wandering into each other’s homes (where you can keep tabs on how she’s been fairing ‘since you’ve been gone,’ like that old Kelly Clarkson song).
Meeting in neutral spaces is best, and if you can avoid meeting altogether, that’s even better.
But do show up at important events of your child together – whether it is a play, or Sports’ Day, or Parents’ Day or a baptism. Children need to feel LOVED by both parents.
This does not mean you create houses that are so different, rules wise, it is like ‘Baba’ and Uhuru sitting down over a cup of tea to discuss a nusu mkate government. Kids are naturals at exploiting any gaps that may exist between your parenting styles,’for example, getting an i-Phone out of Dad when mum thinks you are too young for such, and it may interfere with other important stuff like schoolwork.
Try and keep a strict schedule for long visits and so on, well in advance.
For example on a ‘forever’ holiday like this one, you don’t want to have both planned to have your child over Christmas week and take them to ‘shags’ to bond with their grandparents, and then had planned to drop them off at your co-parent’s house on Friday, December 29th, 2017 (because you have booked the New Year holiday for Mombasa with your new partner) – only to find your co-parent planned to have your child over X-Mas, and leave them with you New Year’s Eve weekend.