Monyetta Shaw-Carter Discusses Motherhood, Positive Co-Parenting and Making It All Work
The author, entrepreneur, and mother of Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Ne-Yo's oldest two children, Monyetta Shaw has discovered the peaceful balance between effective co-parenting and happiness as a newlywed. She's even been able to put her practical collaborative skills to the test as a new stepmom to her husband, Heath Carter's, daughters.
Shaw sat down with Kindred at Parents.com to talk about the rewards and challenges of motherhood, being a bonus mom, and tips for positive co-parenting.
You're a step mom now! What is it like being on the other side of that coin?
To be honest, I was a little nervous. Being on this side of the fence is a little different, because I'm now dealing with someone else's kids in a scenario in which I'm familiar, but excited at the same time about bringing her into the fold. I've been in the shoes of the biological mom, so I know what it feels like to have my children become a part of a blended family.
I'd never try to take the biological mom's place in their lives, so I extend lots of grace and love. My bonus daughter's mom and I are friendly towards each other. We all recently attended GiGi's birthday party in Florida as one big blended family.
How did you cultivate the new relationships between yourself and your husband's kids? With your children?
By being authentic. I didn't rush into anything. Having been on the other side, I have more empathy. [Because of the] things that hurt me, I know to be gentle and take more time. We [Monyetta and Heath] are very patient with the children. We had been dating for 18 months before his children were introduced to me and mine to him. I take my role very seriously.
As far as the children with each other—they got along very well, organically. They have more sisters to love. They were so excited! At the end of the wedding, they kept asking "Are we brother and sisters yet?"
I love that! So, let's discuss your children. Their dad is very active in their lives. Was it a challenge introducing a bonus dad to them?
No, it wasn't a challenge at all. Heath and the kids hit it off after the introduction. He gets along with their dad, and it definitely helps. Heath, Shaffer, Crystal [Ne-Yo's wife] and I are all able to talk about what works best for the kids.
What are some of the most effective tips for positive co-parenting you've learned along the way?
Open communication is essential. The adults have to be the adults. Always keep the kids first and do what's in the best interest of the little ones. Try to be consistent. This helps the children maintain normalcy, keeps down confusion, and always keeps the other parent in the loop. Not only does it keep the line of communication open, but it's the respectful thing to do.
With multiple kids, different households and busy schedules— that's a lot to balance. How do you keep up with everything?
I'm a visual and kinesthetic type of person. I write everything down, and I've always kept a planner due to the different households and the kids' extracurricular activities. It keeps everyone organized and on the same page. I've created a co-parenting planner that debuts early summer 2022. It's an essential tool for busy parents packed with positive parenting pointers, calendars, and other organizational tools to make life as a blended family a smooth ride.
If you could change anything, what would it be?
Absolutely nothing. I love my life as a wife, mom and bonus mom. And I wear all of these hats proudly, with poise, grace, and honor.