It's never easy learning that your ex has found a new partner – but it can be even harder when there are children involved. There are calendars to coordinate, ground rules to lay down, and responsibilities to be shared out.
More difficult to work through, though, can be the emotional upheaval that comes from co-parenting. That unwelcome sting of jealousy. That feeling that you’re being ‘replaced’. And that bitter pang of resentment over having to ‘share’ your child with someone. Which is why one single mum from Missouri has taken it upon herself to pen a powerful post about her ex-husband's new partner – and the incredible role that she plays in her daughter’s life.
In a post on Facebook, Brittney Johnson says that Kayla Imhoff has proved a wonderful role model for her daughter, Payton.
Sharing a photograph of Imhoff and Payton in matching nursing uniforms, Johnson writes: “I prayed one night for the type of woman my daughter's father would be with, knowing that she would be raised in two homes.
“Kayla has been a gift of so much more than I could have hoped for. She started nursing school and Payton has been infatuated ever since. So Kayla ordered a pair of mini scrubs for her to match.”
Johnson continues to praise her daughter and her daughter’s stepmother, writing: “Let me tell you, I'm raising a strong girl, a smart girl and a sweet girl. And I want nothing more than for her to be surrounded with role models who are exactly that.
“Thank you Kayla for showing Payton how to chase her dreams, how to work hard and stay up late to study for a test. Thank you for still making time to ride her bike with her and make her mac and cheese even in one of the stressful times of your life.
“You're a true role model and an amazing bonus mom and we are so proud of you!”
She finishes with a message for anyone who is finding it difficult to co-parent alongside their ex’s new partner, insisting: “If you're co-parenting, and seeing your child doing things like this doesn't bring a smile to your face, reconsider what's truly best for your child.
“Payton has more people to love her this way, and what more could a mother ever want for her child? Being best friends with me AND being best friends with Kayla, is exactly where P deserves to be.
“It takes a village, and I happen to love mine.”
The post has certainly struck a chord with social media users: it has already had 49,471 shares and over 101,000 likes on Facebook alone.
“This is what co-parenting should be like,” commented one person. “Happy for you.”
Another added simply: “I wish everyone understood this.”
According to a University of Florida paper titled When People Parent Together: Let’s Talk About Coparenting, the “degree of involvement parents have in their kids’ lives matters less than how well the co-parents communicate with each other”.
Researchers explain: “In over a dozen studies, problems with co-parenting during the infant, toddler, preschool, and elementary school years have been related to a wide variety of child problems, including problems with social adaptation, poorer preschool and school achievement, anxiety, and aggressiveness.
“Moreover, well-coordinated co-parenting during the child’s first year of life has been found to predict better child adjustment in later years, while distressed co-parenting predicts later child problems.”
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, of course, famously made the decision to ‘consciously uncouple’ rather than ‘divorce’ – and they did it to ensure that they could remain a team when it came to their children.
Speaking to Marie Claire Australia, Paltrow said of their harmonious split: “I think we are better as friends than we are [married]. We are very close and supportive of one another.”
She added: “It hasn’t always been easy for us because you have good days and bad days as you do in life with anything, but I feel lucky because Chris has been willing to push himself for the sake of the kids and help me co-create this new family.
“It’s like we are still a family, but not a couple.”
Meanwhile Kate Beckinsale has famously become best friends with her ex’s new girlfriend Sarah Silverman – so much so that they even spend Christmas together.
“Having as many strong females in your teenage daughter’s life as possible is a good thing,” said Beckinsale.
Images: Rex Features