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By Tammy Gallegos Bennett, Founder, Christian CoParenting

What does God consider a “gracious thing?” Is it giving money, is it helping the sick? These are all certainly godly actions and wonderful efforts; however, In 1 Peter there is a disturbing passage that clearly notes a very specific behavior that is called “a gracious thing” and further clarifies one of the motives behind Christian CoParenting:

This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

1 Peter 2:19-25 ESV

Wow! I have to read that a few times to fully capture what Peter is saying. These scriptures jump out at me in light of the struggle that can be experienced when raising children between two homes. Coparenting is an absolute act of sacrifice that thinks first, “What is best for my child?” instead of “What is best for me?” It asks, “How can I lead my child to live a godly life, no matter the obstacles I encounter with my child’s other parent or step parent?” Being an intentional coparent means (many times) laying aside my own hurts, disappointments, unfair treatment in the past and unresolved problems and choosing to do the right thing for the sake of the child.

Some coparenting relationships are very difficult and extremely complicated. Sometimes coparents find themselves facing frustration and behaviors from the other biological parent or other step parents that are hurtful, unkind and (in our flesh) would create a reaction that would lash back or argue against injustice. Sometimes situations can get complicated when parents are attending school functions, sporting events, piano recitals and birthday parties. When the children are present it is always the absolute best choice to hold back any negative interaction and keep the events peaceful and focused on the children. The passage above speaks of “suffering unjustly” and “when He was reviled, He did not revile in return.” Christ is the ultimate example of unconditional love and grace towards those that did not deserve it or give it in return yet He chose time and time again to lay His life down for others.

In coparenting, this can simply mean that a parent continues to be kind and Christ-like to the child’s other parent, even when the other parent is cold, despondent or even outwardly rude. It is holding back words of defensiveness or anger and instead, choosing the high road instead of the easy road. It is expressing words of grace in response to rudeness. It is smiling at the other parent(s) even when they are not smiling back. It is calling oneself to the highest accountability for every word said, action expressed and response given -- with the complete focus on being an example to the child no matter what!

Difficult conversations should be handled in private without the child’s involvement. Biological parents and stepparents should consider ways to communicate about the details of the child’s life without doing so in front of the children, especially when there is unresolved hostility between the parents. Holding one’s tongue can be one of the greatest gifts you can give your children – not because the other parent “deserves” it but because you choose your child first in every situation! Allowing children to interact with all of their parents in a peaceful environment is an amazing gift!

I encourage you to always remember that God sees the motive of your heart. He calls it a “gracious thing” to live as Christ and to always choose your children’s heart first, no matter the conflict or frustration of the moment. Entrust yourself to Him! Love as He loved. Give as He gave.

Next month I will share a Coparenting Meeting Agenda that we suggest to coparents and stepparents as a starting point of conversation about the details of the child(ren)’s life.