Separated co-parents: Allies not adversaries

Ebony Roberts and Shaka Senghor show how separated parents can be allies not adversaries. Ebony and Shaka have risen above their own disturbed backgrounds and their own separation too, to co-parent their son, Sekou, as allies who love and care for him whatever. And that’s Sekou making a surprise appearance in their lovely TED talk.

Ebony and Shaka fell in love when he was in jail for murder. They had Sekou on his release and wanted to make sure he still got the best love and care they could when they separated soon after. Here’s how Ebony describes how they did it:

“Knowing how our parents’ breakups impacted us, you know, we were really sensitive about how our breakup would impact Sekou. We struggled, but we found our way. And let Sekou [their son] tell it, we’re the best parents in the world. I love that he sees us that way. We made a choice in the beginning to co-parent as allies and not adversaries. To break the toxic pattern that we see play out over and over again when parents lose focus on what’s most important, the children. They allow their relationship pain to get in the way. But at the end of the day, we’re on the same team, and that’s Sekou’s team.”

Find more background to this powerful story from Indie Lens Storycast’s series: Pops – Fatherhood, the Untold StoryEpisode 9, Episode 10 and Episode 11.

Shaka says (at 5.20 mins in Episode 9): “I think one of the struggles that we have being fathers is that we haven’t created a space where we can be vulnerable, where we can really talk about the things that we’re afraid of. Oftentimes men aren’t thought of as nurturers. That in itself is one of the greatest tragedies because our children need affection from us. My son needs to be hugged by me, needs to have kisses from me and know that not only do I love him but I care about him and his well-being and his happiness.”

Read even more in Shaka’s celebrated book: “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison.” The publisher’s blurb summarises what Shaka has had to overcome to achieve all this.

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