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A single mom shares how she and the father of her kids co-parent while he's incarcerated

Senior Litigation Attorney Eiko C. Harris with Cordell and Cordell litigation firm, said if co-parenting is not successful, a parenting plan should be considered.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It has only been a few weeks since kids went back to school.
For single parents, it can be a very stressful time. 

There is just a different set of challenges that many of them face, oftentimes without financial support.

A Memphis-based, single mom of three is putting her babies through school, mostly on her own.

Brandie Thomas said the father of her children has been incarcerated for four years now, making caring for her children a challenge. 

But, even with their circumstances, Brandie said that they still find a way to make things work and co-parent for the betterment of their children.

Brandie shared advice and explained the methods that work for them.

You have to have that foundation of both parents, no matter how bad the situation is," Thomas said.

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She explained that the way you co-parent matters. It is the key to keeping your kids on track for school and in their personal lives.

"I've realized that a lot of other things that I see in other kids…they seem to kind of side with one parent and not the other parent because the parents don't have that relationship to where we are still parents before we are friends…or whatever the situation may be," Thomas said. “So it is a very big deal when it comes to co-parenting."

Thomas said although her children's father is incarcerated, her main goal is to make sure that her kids still have a strong bond with their dad.

"We still do visitations, we still celebrate his birthday. Our daughter just went to kindergarten,’ Thomas said. “This was her first year so, of course, on her first day of school, we did visitation, so he could see her uniform.’"

Brandie said if her kids did not have this relationship, it would be even more work for her.

"They still have to wait until he calls and say, 'Well dad can I do this, cause my mama said I can't.' Like last night we had a conversation with my son about phones, and I'm like, 'You cannot got to sleep with your phone. You don't need your phone.' We still have to parent whether he's in jail or not,'" Brandie said.

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Senior Litigation Attorney Eiko C. Harris with Cordell and Cordell, which is a domestic litigation firm that primarily practices family law and divorce, said if co-parenting is not successful, a parenting plan should be considered. 

A parenting plan determines who the primary parent will be and shows the individual obligations.

"A lot of the times, when you have a parenting plan in place, that holds both parents to the fire of what their obligations and responsibilities are,” Harris explained. “Now that doesn't mean that you're not going to have a parent that goes against the grain, and not follow that parenting plan. It tends to hold that parent more accountable.”

Harris said communication is the foundation to co-parenting. 

To take it a step further, Brandie said parents should regularly schedule individual time with each child to show them that they are seen and heard.

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