By Trace Embry
Regarding God’s, or in the case of a humanist, “Nature’s” ecosystem, there is a definite optimum for the family. Who could deny that, generally speaking, one father and one mother isn’t the best scenario for raising healthy kids and families?
So, why do so many folks insist that other combinations are just as healthy? It’s called personal preference. However, if we take personal preference out of the equation and look at the greater good of society as a whole, then we would be foolish to say that one’s personal preference should take precedent over what is good for the masses when it comes to what a family should look like as well as how it functions.
The Challenge: Co-Parenting
I’d like to share briefly, not on the ridiculous argument that two moms or two dads or an incestuous relationship is just as valid as a mom and a dad committed to a marriage or that one parent is just as effective as two, but on how and why parents with divorced homes should work together to have as much input in their child’s life as possible. Its called co-parenting. Again, this is all generally speaking; because, a single parent who has his/her act together can be as or more effective in raising an emotionally healthy child than a two parent home where chaos reigns.
An Example from a Divorced Home
Speaking from experience, my parents were divorced when I was five and my sister was two. Though I love them dearly, as parents, I wouldn’t consider my mother or my father to be the greatest examples to follow for those looking for the perfect parenting model. However, they weren’t the worst either. After their divorce, from the age of five until I graduated high school, my father never missed a Friday picking my sister and me up from my mother’s house. She had full custody. Regardless of my father’s many flaws, including alcoholism, he never missed a Friday–never. This sent me a message that I hold near and dear to my heart to this day–even though some of the days in those weekends were spent with babysitters while he and my stepmother worked.
Practical Steps toward Co-Parenting
The reason this subliminal message was so vitally important to me is the same reason it would be for any other child. Thanks to the research done by 33 mental health and child care professionals from Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Indiana University, Emory, Northwestern, and several other prominent schools, research shows that children are hardwired to connect to their biological parents. This means any other form or combination of co-parenting, regardless of how good and healthy it might appear on the surface, is at best making “good” a competitor with “best.” These results, and more, can be found in a book produced by the YMCA USA called “Hardwired to Connect, the New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities.” The study used these 33 professionals to also confirm that children and adults are also hardwired to connect to their Creator. That’s right–to their Creator.
Why is it that so many of those who don’t believe in a Creator are so bent on preserving “nature’s” way of doing business–God’s ecosystem? For example: we shouldn’t cut the rain forest; protect the spotted owl; don’t warm the planet; etc. In other words, don’t mess with the natural order of things. Yet, when it comes to the obvious natural order of human things regarding life, and family in particular, we want to mess with it with an unbridled disregard for the natural order of things.
Coming from a broken home and now running a residential program and school for troubled teenagers known as Shepherd’s Hill Academy, my experience tells me that everything within the bounds of prudence and practicality needs to be done to keep kids connected with their biological parents. Unless parents are absolutely derelict, drug addicted, or criminally insane, I see very few reasons to keep them from working with one another in a co-parenting relationship with their kids when divorce makes living under the same roof impossible.
What is your experience with co-parenting?