Modern Life: The Joys and Challenges of Coparenting

Catt Sadler on coparenting two sons with her ex-husband.

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Spend the holidays with your ex and his new spouse? The mere thought of that is enough to bring out the Scrooge in most divorced people. But for Catt Sadler, her ex-husband, Kyle Boyd, and their new spouses, it has become a joyful tradition that they look forward to each season.

Just over 10 years ago, when Catt was entering her 30s, she had a thriving TV career and two young boys, but her eight-year marriage to Kyle, her college sweetheart, was falling apart. Eventually they divorced, but vowed to stay friends for their sons, Austin and Arion.

When Kyle began dating Sarah, an occasion like Austin’s birthday party could have been awkward, but instead a bond was formed. Kyle had respectfully asked in advance whether he could bring his girlfriend and Catt said yes. Sarah saw what a crazy day the birthday mom was having. “She asked if she could help and I responded with, ‘I’ll cut the cake if you scoop the ice cream.’ And there we were in my kitchen, harmoniously side by side. It felt good. Perhaps it wasn’t completely natural at first, but I knew it was right. If my ex-husband was going to have a girlfriend and she was cool, well, boy, I really hit the jackpot!”

Sometime later, Catt got lucky again when she met Rhys, whom the boys warmed to immediately. “I believe Arion, who was 5 at the time, was sitting on his lap by the end of dinner! You have to remember: The boys are extremely close to their father, so there was never this pressure that Rhys was coming in to take over.”

Catt says that from the very start, there was an unspoken understanding between her and Kyle. “We knew we’d be coparenting for the rest of our lives. Anyone we would become close to would have to comprehend that and be supportive of a lot of group experiences. Our spouses, Sarah and Rhys, are enlightened people who instantly encouraged this dynamic. It takes all four folks—with one bad apple, this wouldn’t have worked.”

While Catt will admit that it’s not always perfect or comfortable to witness your spouse so close to your ex (trust is essential), her family is a strong team, starting with Kyle and Rhys. “I think what I appreciate about both these men is how much they love the boys. Rhys and Kyle get along fabulously, but they are inherently pretty different people. That said, what they do share is their concern about the welfare of the kids.” Catt is also grateful for Sarah, who never expressed jealousy over her friendship with Kyle. When asked how they make it work, Catt says communication is everything. “There’s a respect that has been born out of including the adults in all matters relating to the boys.” The other key to making it work? Forgiveness. “None of this would have been possible if Kyle or I were holding on to old garbage about our marriage.”

The loving bond that Catt, Rhys, Kyle and Sarah have formed has spread to their relatives, and the holidays have become a big family affair. “Most people don’t believe that even our parents, the parents of the four of us, all know one another and come to celebrate with us! Yes, Rhys’ parents from London know and love Kyle’s parents. My mom and Sarah’s mom adore each other,” says Catt. “I know it sounds unlikely, but it’s true. We set this precedent and everyone has followed suit. For a while the boys thought everyone’s families operated like ours. It wasn’t until they got older that they recognized how fortunate they are to have this special dynamic.”

Describe your extended family situation in three words.

Loving, compassionate and progressive.

What do love most about each of your sons?

Austin and Arion are very different. Austin is creative with a wild imagination and has been making movies since he was five. He’s curious about our planet, the meaning of life, and is highly sensitive, yet he also has this wicked sense of humor. Austin is extremely perceptive about what’s happening around him when it comes to the nuances of daily life. He is also athletic and loves playing basketball. His idol is Paul George, who plays for the Indiana Pacers. Although we’ve lived in Los Angeles since Austin was 5, he connects very much to our Indiana roots in a lot of ways.

Arion’s nickname sums him up pretty well: Arion-the-Lion. He has a larger-than-life personality and is like lightning in a bottle. His smile and clever wit give him this magnetism that people can’t seem to get enough of. He is naturally athletic and plays basketball (his favorite), baseball and soccer. Don’t tell anyone, but he also is quite the rapper, with some stellar dance moves too!

What do you appreciate most about Rhys and Kyle?

Their approach to parenting isn’t identical, but in a way I think that's advantageous to the boys. They get a little different “touch” from dad and stepdad—both completely loving and well-intended, but two different experiences. Kyle coaches many of their sports teams and exposes them to so many adventures in the world of athletics. Rhys is a foodie and has them cooking in the kitchen, stamping their passports and teaching them about opera while we're on vacation in Italy. Austin and Arion are so fortunate that they can have relationships like these with two very good men.

How do you all coparent?

We are in constant communication. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but we are genuinely running the boys' lives out of two households. When issues arise at school or there’s a dilemma over anything, the four of us come together to weigh in and determine the best course of action. It’s very progressive. It’s a testament to two biological parents and very accepting stepparents who all want what's best for our children.

What have you learned about yourself since your divorce and second marriage?

That it always takes two. I’m still evolving as a person and have work to do on myself so that I can be the best wife I can be this time around. I practice yoga and read daily affirmations; I have a life coach I check in with on occasion for direction and venting! I think I’m becoming a more realized woman, having endured divorce and reached this more mature point in my life. 

What do you love most about your career?

Television broadcasting was a dream of mine since I was a teenager. I love that each day is a new day. I do a daily show, so entertainment news just keeps on coming and therefore every day is different. On a Monday I might be interviewing Scarlett Johansson about a film and on a Wednesday I might be off to New York to cover Fashion Week. Most days I’m in the studio hosting with a team of people I respect and admire. We have fun. A ton of fun. I pinch myself regularly. 

What is your working mother mantra?

Be present. When I’m at work, my attention is focused there. When I’m with my kids, I am eyes up, connecting. This creates quality time wherever I am and helps eliminate the guilt I feel about being away from the boys.  

How do you decompress? 

Hot yoga, running or a spicy jalapeño margarita on the rocks!