Co-parenting is touted as the ideal way for parents to raise their children after a divorce or legal separation, but what happens when you just can’t get along with one another? If every communication or interaction escalates to an argument, it may be time to try parallel parenting.
What is parallel parenting?
Parallel parenting is parenting arrangement wherein the ex spouses have limited engagement with one another in order to limit confrontations and focus on parenting. Think of two parallel lines headed towards the same goal; the lines can be close together or a ways apart, but both are progressing towards the same end goal. While you and your ex spouse may disagree about day to day parenting decisions, it’s likely you have shared hopes for your child’s future and are mainly in agreement about your child’s overall upbringing.
How does it help?
This parenting approach protects the child from being in the middle of parental conflict. Your child is not living in a vacuum and they can sense when tensions exist between parents. In a parallel parenting arrangement, each parent is allowed to manage their own day to day parenting responsibilities and joint parent interactions are limited. You can set up neutral best practices for engaging with your ex.
Parents no longer have to endure stilted and tense joint birthday parties or parent teacher conferences, they can set limits about when they will engage with one another and how basic communication will happen. If phone calls between you and your ex become heated no matter the topic, perhaps sticking to text messages or emails with factual information about the child will help. If child transfer situations create conflict, perhaps consider enacting a policy where parents wait in their car for the child.
Parallel parenting can provide a base for future co-parenting in best case scenarios, but it does not need to be used a means to an end. Rather, use it as effective parenting method in its own right to avoid unnecessary confrontations and help make the best decisions regarding your child.