Martin Luther King, Jr. The name evokes memories of freedom marches, fiery sermons in Southern churches, and cities burning across the country at the news of his assassination. Almost 40 years later, we are still marching, bombastic sermons are on the rise and our nation is struggling to maintain some basic level of civility (and the struggle is real)!
Today reminds me, though, that many of Dr. King’s words are just as applicable to the family as they are to the world.
The key to positive co-parenting is mutual respect and admiration between the parties. That sounds like legalese – what it really means is that children benefit greatly from parents who love each other. Not necessarily living together, or married to one another, though God knows that is the plan. Children are resilient and flexible; if parents aren’t married and don’t live together they can work around that. (They may need support, but it isn’t a showstopper).
What rattles their world is when Mom and Dad dislike each other. When Mom and Dad can’t stand to be around each other. When Mom and Dad look like their greatest achievement was their worst mistake.
So how do co-parents dig up that lovin’ feeling? How do they transform an enemy into friend?
Pray for love. When we don’t have enough money, we pray. When we don’t have any idea what to do next in a situation, we pray. God already knows that you are a co-parent, it isn’t a surprise to Him. He’s waiting for you! Pray for a relationship that is built on shared interest in God’s greatest blessing. Pray for a change in attitude. Are you praying for a spouse? Before you ask God for Boaz and Hallie, ask Him to help you love the family that you already have. Even if it doesn’t look like a family to you. It’s the family you gave your ids.
See the love. January is the month of vision boards, of setting intentions and resolutions. Resolve to love that other parent. Write it down –“I love the mother/father of my child with a divine love”. (Don’t forget the divine; this isn’t about your relationship, it is about your role).Put up pictures with the two of you supporting your child. Envision a relationship built on love and expect it to happen.
Be the love. Every conversation you have with the other parent, choose to be love. Speak calmly. Listen responsibly. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” (Like, where has that question gone?) Pretend that you are in a positive relationship with the other man/woman – how would that affect your response? Your approach? Then just do it.
It's 2017. It's time.