I Live With My Daughter's Dad - But We're Just Friends

Kaeleigh Phillip's unique living arrangement forced her family to become very adaptable

Most parents that aren’t together lead completely separate lives, and pass their children back and forth in a coordinated schedule. There are a variety of reasons that people are placed in this position and only maintain a cordial arrangement with the other parent. But on the flip side, I knew I didn’t want that to be the way my family worked, even though my daughter’s dad and I aren’t together.  

So he moved into our apartment instead. Prior to moving to Toronto, he lived in New Zealand and immigrated to help raise our daughter. Perhaps it was the distance for so many years or the fact that we had the space we needed to get over our own history, but it was an easy decision to let him stay with us. A couple of suitcases later, my daughter’s dad is sitting on our couch eating pizza and we are a happy family again.

Prior to moving to Toronto, he lived in New Zealand and immigrated to help raise our daughter. Perhaps it was the distance for so many years or the fact that we had the space we needed to get over our own history, but it was an easy decision to let him stay with us. A couple of suitcases later, my daughter’s dad was sitting on our couch eating pizza and we are a happy family again.

Just to make things even stranger, I also have a boyfriend who had been staying over quite often prior to the arrival of my daughter’s dad. We all prepared ourselves for the adjustment of dad being in the picture, and both men were very accepting and open to each other. Once my boyfriend saw how casual and completely platonic my parenting relationship was with her dad, my boyfriend felt comfortable about the arrangement. My boyfriend couldn’t stay over as often because we were all crammed into a tiny apartment (which thankfully we are moving out of now), and that was tough for our relationship.

My advice to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position would be sure to make sure you include your boyfriend and maintain an independent relationship with him. We had to go out on more dates and plan our shared time more effectively because my daughter’s dad lived at my apartment, but it also strengthened our relationship because we learned just how far we are willing to go to be together. I also learned that people have an amazing ability to grow and adapt if love is the number one priority.

My daughter’s dad and I love our little one to the moon and back. My boyfriend loves her as well. Quite simply, everyone co-habited together peacefully because we wanted the best possible scenario for my daughter. When I see co-parenting relationships where both parties fight and put the kids in a position to take sides, I wonder when the child is being considered and respected in this arrangement. If you can get along and be friendly despite your differences, it teaches children nothing but how to love more openly.

When my mom came to town a few weeks ago, it meant the world to me to see my daughter’s dad and my boyfriend not only attend dinner but walk down the street together ahead of us, laughing and cracking jokes. It takes strong men to be able to look past the weird dynamics of the situation, and simply get along and adapt to the present circumstances. My mom was also impressed by how easy-going everyone has been in our arrangement. In fact, most people are impressed with us. That's what happens when you're progressive and open-hearted. Be damned the people who judge and criticize us when love and openness are the number one priorities.

Living together also gives my daughter’s dad and I the opportunity to relearn about each other and where we are today. We had a lot of opportunities to talk and bond over how we would like to co-parent, and it gave the necessary time to not get lost in our own busy lives in Toronto. We had a lot of important discussions about how we felt at this point in our lives, and I reacquainted myself with who he is today. It personally gave me the opportunity to sit down and look at him as another person, instead of someone who had caused me pain, and I think this is essential to us carrying forward in a healthy parenting relationship.

I highly recommend struggling co-parents to sit down together and really discuss how they feel. It sounds crazy and unimaginable, but vulnerability really brings out the most real and understandable emotions in another. For example, I got angry at my daughter’s dad after he arrived because he seemed stressed and distracted. Instead of ignoring it, we sat down and discussed. It turns out he was stressed not because of me or our daughter, but because Toronto is a tough city to adjust to and moving is a difficult challenge. If we hadn’t talked openly and honestly, I would’ve assumed otherwise but now I understand and can even offer support.

Sharing a child is the most important bond between two people. Simply because both parties aren’t married or together doesn’t change that there is a shared person who is growing and changing between them. This is essential to remember so that our parenting arrangement can evolve in a healthy way as well. We want to know each other’s kids when we have other families and each other’s partners. Families are made up of all shapes and sizes, and I’m glad my daughter will grow up with so much love in her life. 

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