Diaries of An African HomeComer: Leaving Europe after 20 years or Audacious parenting Part Three

Diaries of An African HomeComer: Leaving Europe after 20 years or Audacious parenting Part Three



It takes two to become a parent, whether living together in the same household or separately. I am also aware of many other ways to become a parent these days. In our case, it too, the two of us! After celebrating our kids, it is time to give credit and show my gratitude to my co-parent. Without his unconditional support, things would not have turned out the way they are today!

I share this to acknowledge all the committed dads out there and encourage mums to give them chance to be part of their children’s lives.

Even though we went our separate ways 6 years before my radical move from Austria back to the continent, we remain good parents and friends. When it was time to go our separate ways after being together for eight years and coming parents to two beautiful kids, we sat down together and agreed to be good co-parents to our kids no matter what. We decided to have dual custody, and even though the kids' primary home was with me, (he had them every second weekend), I knew that I could always count on his extra help on days when I had to travel. And it turned out that my job back then took me on the road very often. When he met the woman who became his wife, we all sat down and had a clear conversation to welcome her into the family and to clear possible misunderstandings. It turned out later that she could not really deal with the fact that her man had to co-parent with me, but that is another chapter.

My co-parent was the first person I talked to when shit happened, and it became clear that had to make that radical decision to leave Austria for good. We both agreed that I should go with the kids because it would give them another world experience. When some more shit happened, and I could not take them with me, I had another clearing conversation with him and his wife. We agreed that the kids would follow me once I sorted myself out. When sorting myself out took much longer than we anticipated, we had another conversation, and he said to me, “ No worries, we both are parents. Our kids can stay with me for as long as they want; I am their dad. Go sort yourself out first.” Knowing he had my back was the permission I needed to focus on doing myself in the new chapter I had just audaciously embarked on.

He took time to update me each time there was a test, exam or major school project coming up for our kids so that I could participate from a distance. Along the line, the kids developed a more open conversation with me because my being far away made me appear like the most understanding parent in their eyes. So he became the material caregiver and I the understanding confident mentor. I remember moments they fought and the kids left home without telling him about their whereabouts. When that happened would call me from Vienna to ask if I knew where our son or daughter was. And I always knew because the kids always confided in me. We learned how to share information about our kids without betraying our kids' trust. Over the years, we learned how to parent collectively from a distance, and the model continues to evolve and produce great results growing individually and as a collective.

Whenever there is something to celebrate, including when our son came home for the regular family lunches, they call me, and I join the table and keep them company from a distance. This has enabled me to always be present in our kids' lives.

Parenting from a distance has opened us up to brand-new communication dynamics. For example, while he is always the first to inform me about anything happening in the school lives of our kids, I am almost always the first to inform him when our kids are sick or need special attention- because they, especially our daughter, always call me first. I then get to inform him and, in some cases, explain what needs to be done, and he gets it down. Even though I am thousands of kilometres away I know what is going on in our kids' lives at any moment. I am not sure if I would have known this much if we were together.

When things got tough financially for me in the first months that I left Austria he learn me a hand now and then. Besides being my kids' dad, and my co-parent he is an amazing friend, and we come along very well as two human beings, so well that our kids often wonder why we went separate ways in the first place. I am the woman I am today and do the things I do because he is the dad that he is, and I am infinitely thankful for this.

I learned that just as it took our joint efforts to have our kids, it takes our collective efforts to parent them responsibly.

I learned that kids need both parents and that when we adults decide to end our relationship for whatever reasons, we have the collective responsibility to put the interest of our kids first because they need and deserve both of their parents. I understand that to do this, we need to accept that the other parent cannot do things exactly our way, and that is the beauty of it because then our kids get to enjoy different experiences with each parent.

I learn that showing appreciation and affirming my co-parent is the best way to affirm our kids and myself. It takes two willing adults to have this kind of arrangement. I wish this kind of understanding for all parents/families, especially those living in separation.






Family & Home