Keeping up with Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick has never been easy. Their toxic, rocky relationship has played out – or staged out – for years on the E! reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and Scott’s antics have been must-see TV. Emotional meltdowns, alcohol and drug-fueled party binges, and worse – Persistent rumors that he was cheating on Kourt. Meanwhile, Kourtney’s been portrayed as the doting might-as-well-be-single mom, pulling most if not all of the parenting slack with kids Mason, 5, Penelope, 3 and Reign, 7 months, while Scott plays the villain, shirking his daddy duties to make club appearances and party with his boys.
But single motherhood may in fact be the new reality for Kourtney now that she’s reportedly dumped Scott for good after pictures of him canoodling with ex-girlfriend and fashion stylist Chloe Bartoli in the south of France surfaced in late June. And sure, the Kardashians aren’t like you and me, but that doesn’t mean Kourtney will have an easier time going it alone. Reports suggest the new single mom isn’t doing so well, but is keeping a smile on her face for the kiddos while she bakes cupcakes.
“Single parenting is always a difficult thing to navigate, even with celebrity-style help,” says Allen Wagner, an L.A.-based marriage and family therapist. And caring for kids as young as Kourtney’s is especially challenging. “It’s difficult for children that age to express disappointment or frustration when their parents split, but at the same time they’re really needy.” As a result, Wagner says, many newly single parents have a tough time coping when they can no longer ‘tag out’ and ‘tag’ their partner in. But there are ways to keep it together, survive and yes, thrive while flying solo.
Find your village.
Don’t be afraid to enlist help. Wagner says every single parent needs a trusted support network of friends and family to help get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Which is exactly what Kourtney’s doing. Just days after the news broke of her split with Scott, Kourtney took Penelope to Disneyland to ring in her third birthday — in matching Tinkerbelle outfits — along with her famous auntie Kim and cousin North. Grandma Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble tagged along too.
Don’t erase your ex from the picture.
Sure, Scott seriously screwed up, and he knows it. But that didn’t stop him from sending a sweet birthday message to his little girl on Instagram. “1 of the only things I’m proud off about myself. Happybdayp,” he wrote, with a collage of photos of Penelope in other costumes. You certainly can’t blame Kourtney for not inviting him to the birthday outing, says Wagner, but she shouldn’t give Penelope the impression that daddy chose to go MIA. “Each parent plays a significant role in emotionally supporting their children,” says Wagner, “and Scott is a significant part of his kids’ lives.”
Try a little tenderness.
Scott’s hard-partying, bad boy behavior doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his children. “It indicates a combination of addictions, but more importantly, it’s also a sign that he feels overwhelmed,” says Wagner. “It’s common for parents of young children to feel they’ve lost their identity once they have to become responsible for others instead of just being selfish.” And let’s not forget Scott’s parents died within two months of each other last year and that he’s obviously still dealing with that loss — not productively, but recklessly. Kourtney doesn’t have to forgive him, but a little compassion is always a good thing.
Don’t point fingers.
It’s almost never one person’s fault when a relationship fails, even if that person cheated. “Infidelity is usually a symptom of a breakdown in communication,” says Wagner. “In families with young children, it’s common for parents to communicate only about kids and exchange to-do-lists, to stop going on date nights and stop saying ‘I love you.’ And pretty soon you have a sexless relationship. When people aren’t being validated romantically, it can be easy to stray.” Of course Scott’s behavior was reprehensible. But if Kourtney can understand the role she played in the breakup, however small, that will make it easier to move on.
Find common ground for the kids’ sake.
Kourtney and Scott had very different lifestyles even when things were OK in their relationship. Kourtney loves tea and green juice, Scott loves his vodka lemonades. Same can be said about their parenting styles — she’s a hands-on mom, while Scott’s been portrayed as being pretty much AWOL. But now they’ve got to focus on co-parenting successfully. “It’s okay if their parenting styles are different as long as they share the same values,” says Wagner. “It’s also important that they respect and trust one another as parents. And the structure and expectations of the kids have to be consistent whether they’re with mom or dad. There can’t be a good cop/bad cop situation.”
Embrace single parenthood.
A cool, devoted mom from day one, Kourtney has a head start here. After Scott gets treatment for his emotional and addiction problems, he can start building his own strong relationship with Mason, Penelope and Reign. “It’s time for him to decide what is important based on his own experiences,” says Wagner. “Being a parent is a unique opportunity to share yourself.”
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