A divorce or separation is one way for couples to end toxic, negative relationships. However, breaking up doesn’t mean that all forms of communication should stop, especially if you have kids. Children need to have a relationship with their parents, so once their parents’ union ends, they may go back and forth between homes. But the reality is, even though the kids may enjoy spending time with their mother and father, not all relationships end amicably, and it can be difficult for exes to maintain constant communication and face-to-face interaction.
If there’s too much grief, anger, hurt, and resentment between the parents, having to see each other constantly only exacerbates the situation. It may open old wounds, causing conflict. So, how do you parent when you’re in a situation like this?
A strategy known as parallel parenting would work for such scenarios since it helps maintain an amicable situation, or at least a tolerable one. But how do you practice parallel parenting? Read on for more.
What Is Parallel Parenting?
When a relationship ends badly, a couple’s anger and hatred for each other don’t automatically end. These feelings may linger for some time, meaning that each time you meet, it could end in a shouting or yelling match – sometimes when the kids are watching. Also, it may be near impossible to share information and reach agreements regarding the kids, not unless there’s a third-party intervention.
In such hostile situations, parallel parenting can work because it reduces the amount of interaction between you and your ex-partner. The less you interact, the less likely you’ll piss each other off and fight in front of your children. This approach lets the two grownups detach from each other, and they choose for themselves their parenting approach when the kids are in their care.
According to 2Houses, This arrangement is especially helpful when the relationship has a history of mental health issues such as borderline personality or narcissism. These make a cordial relationship impossible because either one or both parents can’t cooperate or be reasonable.
According to Our Family Wizard, parents don’t go to the same appointments, functions, or kid-related events in parallel parenting. They only communicate via email, texts, or a co-parenting app.
How Does Parallel Parenting Differ From Co-Parenting
Co-parenting isn’t the same as parallel parenting. In co-parenting, parents are friendly towards each other, at least from their interactions. Even though their relationship didn’t go as planned, they’re able to put their differences aside for the kids’ sake because they want to raise them in a healthy environment. It’s not that they have no ill feelings toward each other, but they put these issues aside.
They solve problems together and can be in the same room without fighting. They regularly communicate via email, phone, and texts and can go to doctor’s appointments, extracurricular activities, and any other child-related events together. They may even hold joint parties for the children.
Also, co-parents may share a parenting approach for the child. However, there’s limited communication for parallel parenting, mostly via written word. Also, parents don’t attend child-related events or activities together, and they don’t share parenting approaches.
The Benefits Of Parallel Parenting
Some people will argue that parallel parenting is not beneficial for a child or triggers more stress for children because it doesn’t advocate for a positive relationship between parents. However, this kind of parenting can be good because it prevents conflicts in front of the kids. And as unique as this strategy sounds, it may be in the best interest of everyone. Here are the benefits of parallel parenting:
- It reduces stress for everyone – First, your kids may feel safer and more secure, and this style may help them cope with separation or divorce. Also, according to Bestow, In the middle of a difficult divorce, you need to think about yourself and your well-being. It can be stressful to see your ex and make you angry, sad, or anxious. This model minimizes in-person interactions, helping reduce these feelings and allowing each parent space to heal and work on themselves and their personal relationships with their kids.
- It may be the first step to co-parenting– Even though it seems far-fetched, parallel parenting could be a stepping stone to eventual co-parenting, but don’t stress about this if it’s just going to be impossible. However, emotions run high after breaking up, and parents easily lose their cool with each other. But as time fades, parallel parenting allows for wounds to heal and hatred to fade. Only then will you be able to resume amiable communication.
- Maintains relationships between a parent and child – Parallel Parenting lets both parents spend time with their kids outside each other. They continue to play an active role in their lives and get involved in daily decision-making processes. And because no parent has more control over their child, both share equal responsibility.
- Protects kids from conflict – Kids are less likely to experience the conflict or resentment of divorce. Exposure to this conflict can be dangerous for kids who may think they’re responsible for the divorce or get scared. Maintaining a parallel parenting model avoids disputes whenever possible, ensuring that kids have a healthier experience with the separation.
Creating A Parallel Parenting Plan
Here’s how to create a parallel parenting plan:
- First, determine how you’ll share time with the kids – That is, who will have the kids on which days, including details on where they’ll spend vacations, holidays, and birthdays.
- Determine how long each visit lasts – Figure out the start and end times for each visit to prevent confusion and misunderstanding. Also, include pick-up and drop-off times for each parent.
- Identify locations for pick-up and drop-off – The goal is to minimize communication, so pick locations that are neutral such as a parking lot convenient for both parents, where kids can change cars fast. Depending on how hostile the relationship is, you can arrange for another person to transport the kids between homes – maybe a neutral friend or relative.
- Speak about handling cancellations– It’s inevitable for cancellations to happen. So, come up with a plan detailing how you’ll handle these situations. Make it crystal clear whether a parent can make up their time, and if so, outline when the parent can do so. For example, a parent may get an extra day in the week or an extra vacation with the child.
- Speak about handling disputes– If the parallel plan works, there are rarely disputes. However, there’s no perfect plan, especially if one parent is difficult. You can involve a court mediator and schedule a meeting to resolve the conflict.
Sources: 2Houses, Bestow, Our Family Wizard
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