Part 7 in the Honoring God During Divorce series.
Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce, 60% of second marriages, and 73% of third, leaving “26.5% of children below 21 years old have a parent living in a different home” (Gilbert, 2021), which means that co-parenting is now the norm for many parents.
How you conduct yourself during the divorce process sets the tone for your co-parenting relationship. Tread lightly. You do not want to create a dynamic in which the children feel pressured to choose one parent over the other. Parental alienation is abuse and is indescribably damaging. To paraphrase a friend of mine, do not hate your ex-spouse more than you love your children.
Why Co-Parenting Is Important
Co-parenting, as defined by Nunes-Costa et al., is “the joint and reciprocal involvement of both parents in the education, background, and decision-making about their children’s lives” (as quoted by Visser et al., 2017). Studies demonstrate that cooperative co-parenting benefits children’s mental and emotional stability, social adjustment, and wellbeing.
Transgression is an inherent component of divorce. “Forgiveness is one of the strongest predictors of the quality of co-parenting over time” (Visser et al., 2017). Not only is forgiveness part of a healthy Christian walk (Matt. 6:12), it has been empirically validated to reduce depression (Chung, 2016) and repair functionality in interpersonal communication. (For more on forgiveness, see How to Forgive Others.) “The most important factor influencing children’s post-divorce adjustment is parents’ communication. In fact, interparental conflict is often more important than divorce in predicting children’s physical and mental health” (Afifi et al., 2013).