I like to think I have a pretty awesome co-parenting set up. The kids spend one week on and one week off with their other set of parents. However we find ourselves intertwining those weeks so that the kids can have all their parents at the important stuff! So many times I hear “how can you get along with them?”, or “how do you just forgive and forget?”. Those questions are always from my friends, my side of the family, you know all the people that choose “Team Jessie” after the divorce. Let’s be honest, we pick sides after divorce. We do, and we secretly hope the other is left with no one and spends their Friday night watching sad movies, eating ice cream, and getting fat. It’s normal it’s natural…I hope (maybe I’m a terrible person).
Truth is, there are always three sides to a story, yours, mine, and the truth. My situation is unique and I don’t expect it to be easy to understand, how we just “get a long” and coparent like we do. It’s not always been that easy. We’ve said terrible things to each other. I’m embarrassed honestly at the way I’ve acted about things. If you have kids, or nieces and nephews, or siblings for that matter you’ll understand this analogy…
The kids are fighting, you hear screaming and fighting and you run to check it out. When you get to the kids bedroom you find two kids disheveled and crying. You ask what the fighting is all about? After threating to take away every electronic, you finally find out your daughter is upset because your son won’t let her control the remote for the TV. DUMB! This is how coparenting can be sometimes. You fight over who controls the “TV” when in the end you both want to watch the same show! Sometimes I have found myself fighting over this hypothetical remote and ending in tears.
I was talking with the Bishop in my church a while ago and expressing concerns about co-parenting and co-existing with the other set of parents. He asked me to do something. He said “Jessie, I want you to pray for them.” What?!! How could he ask me to do this? I have plenty to pray for, so many things MY family needs! My husband and I share a lot with our exes already and I felt like bishop you’re supposed to be “Team Jessie”. Now I’m supposed to share my personal time with God, for their needs and wants too?! It was a lot to swallow. But I did that. I took a big ole glass of Pride, and that night I swallowed it.
My prayer went something like this…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for all that you have blessed my family with this day….(lots of personal stuff)….
Oh and please watch over the others.
Oh I’m sorry you thought I was going to just give up my personal prayer time and ask for all these blessing for them? Haha! You think more of me than you should. The next few nights went the same, and then just like going to the gym, I stopped all together.
The next week a big poop storm occurred! I’m not going to get into the details, but let’s just say the fight over the remote had nothing on this one. I wanted it to end in my favor! I turned to the Lord asking him to side with me. Just like a child would do. I wanted my Heavenly Father to be “team Jessie”. Then as I prayed I felt a prompting to ask Him to soften my heart and see their perspective. To comfort them. Why can’t it just be one sided?! Why do I have to care about them?! Yet, here in my anger and hate I found myself praying that they would know of my love for them. Wait love?! Ugh, it was true. It turns out I don’t hate them. As the words in my prayer came pouring out with each tear, I found myself giving it up to the Lord. Giving up the hate and the anger and the gosh darn TV remote!!
Ever since that time, which lets be clear was pretty recent, I’ve been adding “the others” to my prayers. It has made all the difference. I don’t know if im actually doing anything for them, but I do notice it helping me. Daily prayers for my ex husband and his wife have done the following for me.
- I don’t jump to negative thoughts when I hear about a positive in their life. I find myself rejoicing in their triumphs. I am honestly happy for their successes.
- I can forgive so much easier. I don’t instantly turn to hate and anger, but find myself being more compassionate.
- I communicate better. I don’t know why. I just feel better when I talk to them. Before I would get tongue tangled and nervous that I’d say the right things in the right way, but now communication is easy. In fact the other day I got a text from my ex husbands wife that said “I think we communicate better then most married people.”
- I am a better mother. When tension is built up in a person it shows. As I let the Lord hold some of that weight I had on my back I find myself being kinder to my children. They are noticing it too. The kids can talk open and honestly about the other house and I’m happy to hear their stories!
- I am quick to stand up for the other parents when “Team Jessie” attacks. They do it out of love, but over time I’ve noticed my indifference to the small stuff dictates my teams reactions as well.
- I am a better wife. My poor husband would get the brunt of my frustration. Now I feel like instead of letting go on him I can let go to God and then my conversations with my husband don’t have to include negatives about the other parents and we can focus on us!
Has prayer made my co-parenting life perfect? No. However I have noticed a change in myself and how I perceive the other parents. I see them as I should now, not the other team, but the same team. We both want the same end result, happy healthy kids! There will always be disagreements in raising children, but I feel like giving up some of that hate and anger in any confrontation to the Lord does make it better. Whenever you’re hurting or angry at the other parent, turn to the Lord and pray not only for yourself, but pray for them.
Luke Chapter 6 vs. 27 & 28 says
“27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
It’s not an easy road. Sometimes you want to be the one controlling the remote or you want to be the Team captain! However, I believe that by humbling yourself to the Lord and seeking help for both families, not only ours but our children’s lives will only improve and our example of “loving one another” will shape their future.