Co-Parenting Is a Team Effort
Jason Miller and Ayisha Canant work to leave the past behind them and put their daughter first.
By Amy Gordy, Photography Courtesy Miller and Canant
Nobody wants to go through a divorce. It’s messy, feelings get hurt, and if there are children involved, it’s impossible to sever ties with an ex-spouse and co-parent successfully. Adults have to find a way to put their feelings aside and do what’s best for the kids.
Jason Miller and Ayisha Canant have been divorced for two years and are co-parenting their 9-year-old-daughter, Emmarey, using guidance they’ve picked up along the way in their careers in behavioral health. Miller is the CEO of The Bridgeway, an emotional, behavioral and addictive treatment facility in North Little Rock; and Canant is a therapist and owner of Conway Counseling & Wellness Center. Through their training, years of experience counseling other families, and their own personal journey, the two have gained some insight on how to move forward after a divorce, get along and coparent in a way that is best for the child.
“I work with a lot of parents who are going through a divorce. I see lots of custody battles, and I try to get people to remember that the child is the most important thing. Parents can have a hard time seeing that when they are so angry and focused on ’winning the battle.’ If you really look at what’s best for the child, you’ll see that they don’t need to be away from one of the parents as long as that parent is safe. Raising kids is so hard, why would you want to do it all by yourself? I can’t imagine raising Emmarey without Jason,” Canant said.
Miller emphasized the need to connect with your child to help you understand what is best for him or her. “You have to have a love for your kids. If you are connected to your kids, you do what you need to do as parents to make it work. Often the issues people are making big are not issues about the children. There’s a quote, ’hurt people, hurt people,’ and we see a lot of people make their issues about each other and that resonates with the kids,” he said.
The two admit that it’s not easy to move on after a divorce. Asking for help whether it’s through parenting classes or therapy is a great idea to get your reconfigured family on a track that’s positive for everyone, especially the kids.
“There are lots of issues in a divorce. You still have relationship issues. People move on, and there are still problematic things. The key is to separate that from the child. And I think that’s what Ayisha and I have been able to do. There are times I don’t like her, and times she doesn’t like me—we are divorced, but our kid didn’t ask for that,” Miller said.
They both stress the need to check in with yourself and check in with a professional if you need some guidance.
“Do some self-reflection and see where you are, and that’s not easy to do. If you go at it alone, sometimes it’s good to check in with a professional. Therapy is a great opportunity for guidance, and if you can’t do that, talk to your pastor or someone you trust to voice your concerns,” Miller said.
Canant added, “People have a misperception that when you go to therapy you have to be there forever. You can go for a visit or two. It’s private. It’s away from everyone else. It’s a safe place,” Canant said.
To connect with a therapist for co-parenting guidance, log on to thebridgeway.com or conwaycwc.com.
TIPS FROM JASON
• Don’t compete. You can give kids a lot of things, but at some point there’s a ceiling to that. In the end, kids just want to know you love them.
• Be careful how adamant you are in your stances. There may have been decisions made that I didn’t like, but I have to think, “What happens down the road if I want to do the same thing, and Ayisha takes a firm stance against me?”
• Pause before you send that text or make that phone call. Talk to your therapist first, or vent to a friend and calm down before you respond.
• Communicate with the other parent if you have concerns.
• Check in with your child. Don’t forget to ask your child how they are doing. Just simple things like if the schedule is working for them?
• Don’t be co-dependent on the child.
• Don’t be afraid to try therapy. It’s good just to talk things out.
• Not being compatible with your husband or wife doesn’t mean they are a bad parent.
TIPS FROM AYISHA
• Don’t talk bad about the other parent—even on the phone. Kids are always listening.
• Keep the scheduling between the adults.
• Be flexible. Things will come up, and the schedule may need to change a bit.
• Parents don’t need to lean on kids for emotional support. I see that a lot with single moms and older sons who get elevated to “man of the house”—that is not their job.
• You don’t have to wait until you are in crisis to come in for therapy.
• Don’t nickel-and-dime about money. If money is an issue, sit down and have a conversation with your ex about it.