What Does the Bible Say About Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting can be challenging, but as Christians we can turn to God’s word for guidance on how to raise children together after a separation or divorce. The Bible does not specifically address modern practices like joint custody or visitation schedules, but it does provide timeless principles that can help co-parents have unity, patience, and grace. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what the Bible teaches about co-parenting and offer practical tips for making it work.


Raising kids is hard work under any circumstance. When parents separate, the task of co-parenting adds unique difficulties. New logistics must be figured out. Two different household cultures and rules need to be navigated. Emotions can run high between ex-spouses. While an amicable co-parenting relationship may seem impossible, God desires unity and peace for families. With wisdom, humility and prayer, co-parents can partner well to give kids the security and nurture they need.

Here are the key takeaways we’ll cover:

  • God’s design for marriage and family
  • Causes of divorce from a Biblical perspective
  • Co-parenting principles from Scripture
  • Managing conflict and fostering forgiveness
  • Establishing boundaries and routines
  • Ministering to kids’ needs co-parenting
  • Involving a third party or church when needed
  • Practicing self-care and seeking support

When co-parents encounter challenges but respond in faith, kids still thrive with God’s help. While divorce departs from God’s ideals, He redeems the situation when ex-spouses follow His principles. Read on to learn what the Bible teaches about successful co-parenting.

What Does the Bible Say About Co-Parenting?

God’s Design for Marriage and Family

To understand Biblical principles for co-parenting, we must first look at God’s intended design. In Genesis, we read:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NKJV)

God established the marriage relationship before having children.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 NKJV)

He created the marital union to be a covenant reflecting Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:31-33). God’s design for marriage is sacred and permanent.

The Bible upholds parents, especially fathers, as primarily responsible for the spiritual development of children:

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV)

Though broken by sin, God’s ideal remains for children to be nurtured by both a mother and father united in marriage (Proverbs 1:8, 6:20).

When families do not align with God’s design, He provides redemption and helps believers adapt. Co-parenting well after divorce gives kids support within imperfect circumstances.

Causes of Divorce from a Biblical Perspective

Scripture allows divorce in certain situations. Jesus taught:

“Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 NKJV)

Infidelity violates the marriage covenant, permitting divorce. Paul expanded grounds to include abandonment by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15). Abuse also warrants divorce for safety.

Apart from these factors, Scripture warns against dissolving marriage:

“‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord.” (Malachi 2:16 NKJV)

Even permissible divorce falls short of God’s ideals. Prayerfully exhausting options for reconciliation is wise when possible.

Common culprits that erode marriage include:

  • Pride – Unwillingness to admit wrongs or make sacrifices
  • Selfishness – Pursuing one’s own desires over a spouse’s needs
  • Poor communication – Failure to address issues constructively
  • Financial disputes – Conflict over money and possessions
  • Sexual immorality – Infidelity or pornography use
  • Abuse – Physical, verbal, emotional or sexual mistreatment
  • Addictions – Drugs, alcohol, gambling obstructing family life
  • Interference – Meddling from in-laws or friends
  • Irreconcilable differences – Inability to resolve fundamental disagreements

Sinful choices prompt most divorces. As co-parents, examining our own contributions to marital breakdown can promote humility in the present.

Co-Parenting Principles from Scripture

Though separation is painful, parents should uphold God’s standards for raising children. Wise principles from the Bible offer guidance:

1. Parent in unity – Co-parents should have shared values, priorities and approach to discipline:

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3 NKJV)

Presenting a unified front provides security. Frequent communication about parenting decisions is essential.

2. Avoid bitterness – Let go of resentment to foster cooperation and model godliness:

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV)

3. Focus on the children’s needs – Kids’ wellbeing should stay central, not adult emotions or agendas:

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV)

4. Maintain boundaries – Respect each other’s households and new relationships:

“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28 NKJV)

Keep communication about the kids.

5. Look to God for strength – Rely on Scripture, prayer, and church family:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

God is near to the brokenhearted and sustains when co-parenting gets hard.

Applying these timeless principles serves families well. Next let’s explore practical ways for co-parents to live out these ideals.

Managing Conflict and Fostering Forgiveness

No matter how much co-parents agree, conflict will arise. Words get misunderstood. Logistics get complicated. Kids test boundaries. Emotions flare. How can parents minimize clashes?

Practice patience – Give the benefit of the doubt instead of taking offense:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19 NIV)

Speak gently – Use kind tone and language, even when disagreeing:

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6 ESV)

Compromise – Meet in the middle instead of insisting on having your own way:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

Forgive quickly – Let go of offenses to restore relationship:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

No one will navigate co-parenting perfectly. Seeking and granting forgiveness helps families heal.

Establishing Boundaries and Routines

Young children especially thrive on consistency. Co-parents should aim for harmony across households regarding schedules, rules, and responsibilities.

Maintain similar structures – Bedtimes, mealtimes, play time, chores. Kids do best with routines.

Discuss major decisions – Changing schools, starting activities, health needs. Get on the same page for big issues.

Align values and discipline – Teaching godly behavior and character. Respond similarly to lying, disrespect, irresponsibility.

Divide large expenses – Costly school and activity fees, equipment, trips. Split costs fairly.

Share important details – Curriculums, teacher conferences, friendships. Stay up to date together.

Exchange schedules – Make sure both parents know upcoming events, appointments. Prevent conflicts.

Allow consistent contact – Set similar phone, video chat availability. Ensure regular connections.

Adapt gracefully – When inevitable differences arise, discuss calmly and find middle ground.

Keeping co-parenting structured and synchronized provides security as kids transition between homes. Stability helps them thrive.

Ministering to Kids’ Needs Co-Parenting

Children often feel caught in the middle post-divorce. They may struggle with loyalty divides, carry unrealistic hopes of reconciliation, or feel abandoned. Parents should prioritize kids’ emotional and spiritual health during this adjustment.

Give reassurance – Frequently affirm your unconditional love and availability.

Listen patiently – Allow them to share feelings without judgement. Validate their struggles.

Do not criticize – Refrain from putting down the other parent. Be respectful.

Offer empathy – Kids did not choose divorce. Comfort those grieving family changes.

Accept all emotions – Anger, sadness, confusion are normal. Avoid minimizing their experience.

Provide spiritual guidance – Remind them of God’s faithfulness when emotions overwhelm.

Model healthy processing – Express your own feelings constructively, without burdening kids.

Seek counseling – If needed, get professional help to work through trauma or depression.

Pray together – Entrust your family’s hurts and needs to God for healing and hope.

With nurturing attention, kids still feel secure in God’s love despite divorce.

Involving a Third Party or Church when Needed

In some situations, communication breaks down between co-parents despite best efforts. A trustworthy mediator can get relationship back on track.

Seek pastoral counsel – Church leaders often provide guidance for families navigating divorce. Their objectivity and care can be invaluable.

Enlist a professional counselor – An experienced family therapist helps high-conflict parents reconnect constructively.

Consult an attorney – Legally outlining custody, support and property agreements becomes essential if significant disputes arise over kids’ best interests.

Engage extended family – Grandparents or close relatives may informally help bridge gaps between battling exes. Their close relationship provides accountability.

Request prayer support – Fellow church members interceding for co-parents lifts burdens and opens hearts to reconciliation.

Change pick-up/drop off routines – To avoid ongoing face-to-face conflict, a third party can be the go-between for child exchanges.

Alter methods of communication – If talking in person or on the phone escalates arguments, stick to texting or emailing unless emotions cool down.

As a last resort, parallel co-parenting keeps interaction minimal. But kids benefit most when adults cooperate respectfully. Outside support often gets strained relationships back on track.

Practicing Self-Care and Seeking Support

Raising children while navigating post-divorce realities tests parents’ personal health and wellbeing. Exhaustion, loneliness and frustration creep in easily. Joining together as a church body to uphold co-parents has never been more essential.

Set healthy boundaries – Limit conversations to logistics around the kids. Avoid venting or seeking emotional support from your ex. Find confidential friends or counselors for this.

Take time to rejuvenate – Carve out moments for prayer, rest, fun activities without the kids to prevent burnout.

Connect regularly with community – Small groups, mentors, family provide encouragement during stressful seasons of life.

See your kids as gifts, not burdens – When they seem oppositional, remember they too are adjusting and need empathy.

Cast your cares on God – Pour out your heart to Him through prayer and Scripture reading to find strength for each day.

Serve and bless others – Get the focus off yourself by volunteering, supporting others in pain, meeting needs.

Practice gratitude – Despite imperfect circumstances, thank God for His provision and the chance to parent.

Divorce was not God’s plan. But He redeems fractured families when co-parents seek wholeness in Him. By staying anchored in Christ, we become channels of His love and unity to the next generation.


While divorce falls short of God’s ideals for marriage, wise co-parents can overcome challenges to raise children with security, love and faith. Applying Biblical principles leads to shared parenting success, even after separation. By pursuing patience, forgiveness, consistency and self-care, families adapt to new dynamics with God’s help. When grounded in Scripture, co-parents make decisions that foster a nurturing environment so kids continue thriving. Though it requires effort and grace, unity and restoration is possible for those who seek the Lord. With Christ at the center, brokenness is mended and hope shines brightly.

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