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What is Parallel Parenting and is it Right for You

July 31, 2021 Uncategorized

What is Parallel Parenting and is it Right for You?

We’ve written a lot on how to start a successful co-parenting relationship, and we’ve offered a lot of advise on how to do it well, but that advice doesn’t apply to everyone.

It doesn’t always apply to co-parents who just can’t or won’t get along. Because, no matter how much sound parenting information is available in books and on the internet, there will always be a percentage of parents who have very different parenting methods and don’t see eye to eye, yet who are forced to co-parent.

Parallel parenting may be the answer if you don’t get along with your ex and don’t envisage a positive co-parenting relationship in the near future. What is parallel parenting, and how does it work? Is it possible that it will work for you? 

“In situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner, parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by disengaging from each other and having limited direct contact,” wrote Edward Kruk Ph.D. in Psychology Today.

A Parenting Solution for Families with a Lot of Conflict

Parallel parenting allows high-conflict co-parents to co-parent with the least amount of direct interaction possible. While the parents are largely unengaged with one another, they are very involved with and connected to their children. The parents will have joint legal custody in certain cases, although one parent may make decisions in one area while the other makes decisions in another.

One parent may, for example, decide on the child’s education while the other decides on the child’s religious upbringing. However, in most cases, the parents will agree on important decisions but leave the day-to-day implementation of those decisions to one parent.

Emotions run high in many divorce situations, especially when there has been infidelity or a big disagreement over how one parent makes life decisions. When high-conflict families choose parallel parenting, the passage of time can help parents heal, and they can eventually build a successful co-parenting relationship based on mutual respect, open communication, and cooperation.

Following Through on the Parenting Plan

Flexibility is important for good co-parenting, but it is rarely possible in high-conflict households. As a result, it’s critical for parents to develop a parallel parenting plan in which both parents are committed to upholding their end of the bargain.

If the parents succeed in doing so, trust is progressively restored until one day the parents are willing to put their differences aside and adopt a more amicable and collaborative parenting approach.

The following are some of the advantages of parallel parenting:

  • It safeguards the bond between the child and both parents.
  • It protects the children from their parents’ quarrels.
  • It protects children from being embroiled in their parents’ quarrels.
  • It makes co-parenting easier in settings where there is often a lot of tension.
  • It makes it plain to the child that he or she is very important to both of their parents, regardless of their animosity and hostility against each other.

So, in a parallel relationship, how do you figure out the logistics? Our recommendation is to make your parenting strategy really explicit. You want to avoid having to communicate directly with your ex, therefore you’ll take precautions to avoid it. The more you and your ex are at odds, the more you need clear and detailed wording in your parenting plan.

Parallel parenting is sometimes known as “disengaged parenting.” While the tiniest amount of communication may be required for the child’s health and welfare, it’s more probable that such communication may take the form of a text message or an email rather than a phone call.

A “parent communication notebook” is one tool that Dr. Kruk suggests. Each parent writes a brief description or summary of their child’s feelings and behaviors while they were staying with them in this notebook. As the youngster moves between homes, this journal would be passed between the parents.

Some of issues addressed in the parent communication notebook:

  • Feeding schedule
  • Sleep schedules
  • Discipline concerns
  • Homework
  • Activities
  • Things the child loves
  • Upsets the child had
  • Issues raised by the child
  • The child’s moods
  • Things the child said
  • School-related concerns
  • Health-related concerns
  • What upsets or calms the child
  • The everyday routine
  • And anything else that the parents deem relevant

It’s critical that parents don’t criticize each other while writing in this notebook. Everything should be written down with respect and without any directions on how the other parent should parent their children. 

“Another option is to hold a ‘parenting meeting’ with a neutral third party in attendance, during which parents’ unresolved problems are explored in greater depth. Dr. Kruk noted, “The latter may also be used in reference to negotiating critical matters like as school selection, religious upbringing, and medical treatment.”

We recommend Linda Nielsen’s article “10 Surprising Findings on Shared Parenting After a Divorce or Separation” from the Institute for Family Studies if you want to learn more about shared parenting research. Ms. Nielsen discovered in the study that “…children who are exposed to intense, continuing conflict between their parents, including physical conflict, do not have any worse outcomes” in joint physical custody households than in sole physical custody families. According to the findings, children in joint custody arrangements are not more at risk than children in sole custody situations when there is a significant level of persistent conflict.

Parallel parenting may be the greatest option if you’re dealing with a high-conflict environment. Contact Spodek Law Group immediately to learn more about this strategy.



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