This Picture Shows How Co-parenting Should Be Done

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“This is one of my favorite pictures. Not just because it was my wedding, but because it shows how co-parenting should be done. The man on the right is my dad; the man on the left is my stepdad.

I can’t really tell you when Dad and Dave became friends, or when they began referring to themselves as ‘husbands-in-law.’ I guess in my mind it has just always been that way. I’m sure it happened gradually over time, as things tend to do. As an adult, and now a step-mother myself, I have grown to realize there were likely some growing pains in their relationship, but as a child, I never witnessed that side of it.

My parents got divorced when I was in kindergarten. If I’m being honest, I don’t really remember much of it. Part of that is because my parents had always made it a point not to speak ill of each other around my sister, Kristi, and me. There were no ugly court battles or fights that had to be broken up by the police. I just remember that my dad moved out and we spent a lot of time with my aunt and my grandma around that time. To this day, I still believe that is why I do not see my parents’ divorce as a tragic event in my life. I have always said that I would much rather have four parents that are happy than two parents who are miserable. (I mean, HELLO … two sets of parents means twice as many birthday and Christmas gifts! What child doesn’t love that?!)

Young girl in graduation gown sits on the back of her dad's motorcycle
Melissa Blankenship

Dad got married a year or two after the divorce and so we officially had our first step-parent. With that said, my mom had custody of us so the impact of a new step-mom was relatively light on our day-to-day lives. Mom, Kristi and I were the Three Musketeers back then. That’s what we called ourselves and we were a tight clan. That is probably why it wasn’t until I was in the third grade before my mom got serious with a man. And that man was Dave.

My mom met Dave at the convenience store next to where she worked. The clerk wished my mom a happy birthday (because in a small town, everyone knows everything about everyone else). When Dave overheard, he chimed in that it was also his birthday. Mom assumed it was a cheesy attempt at picking her up, but it really was his birthday. They started dating and eventually fell in love and got married. At first, Kristi and I weren’t really sure about him. He was encroaching on the Three Musketeers. We also weren’t sure what to call him. Calling him ‘dad’ was never an expectation, but calling him ‘Dave’ sounded too formal for a third grader. Eventually, we settled on calling him ‘Not the Momma.’ (The show Dinosaurs was very popular at the time). And so began my life with four amazing parents.

Teen girl stands in prom dress next to biker dad for a photo
Melissa Blankenship

Whatever bad feelings my parents may have had toward one another, they kept away from my sister and me. All we ever saw was the laughing and joking every time they were together at a birthday party or softball game or school event. Back then, ‘co-parenting’ wasn’t even a thing. For me it was just how families were supposed to work. I never knew our family was unusual until my friend pointed out how rare it was that, not only did they all get along, they were actually friends.

Woman stands next to her father on her wedding day
Melissa Blankenship
Woman stands next to her stepdad on her wedding day
Melissa Blankenship

When Kristi got engaged, she was struggling with the decision on who should walk her down the aisle. Of course, it had to be Dad, because, well he’s dad. But Dave had been there with us every day for 10 years. Encouraging us. Loving us. Putting up with our sassy teenage attitudes. How do you pick? The answer is, you don’t. Kristi explained the situation to Dad and asked if he would be ok with both of them walking her down the aisle. And he said yes! So they did. And when the preacher asked who gave her away, they both said, ‘We do.’

I was so glad my sister set that precedent, because that meant I didn’t even have to ask. They were both ready and willing to do the job. And when the preacher asked this time, they both grinned big, pointed at one another and exclaimed, ‘He does!’

In this picture, we were laughing because I kept stepping on my dress as they escorted me. But what really makes this my favorite picture is the love that is clearly present. No animosity. No guilt. No jealousy. Just pure love and happiness!

Dad and stepdad walk their shared daughter down the aisle on her wedding day
Melissa Blankenship

Over the years I’ve seen some very messy divorces. People yelling at each other. People being spiteful. People suing each other in long court battles. People who use their children as weapons against each other. And every day, I am thankful that I have been blessed with such an amazing family. Each parent has played an important role in my life. I believe that God always intended for them to be in my life because I know I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for each one of them.”

Melissa Blankenship

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Blankenship of Florida. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.

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‘I live with my husband, my ex-husband, his girlfriend and our 6 children. We took co-parenting and blended families to the next level.’

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