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Parallel Parenting as an alternative to co-parenting

Divorce is a challenging and emotional prospect, especially if there are children involved. If there is a lot of animosity between you and your ex, the thought of co-parenting might be overwhelming. When the relationship between ex-spouses is amicable, co-parenting works. However, if there is high conflict between the two of you, parallel parenting is a better option.

Parallel parenting allows both parents to be involved in the lives of their children but disengage from each other. It is a way for exes with a high degree of animosity to still effectively parent and put their children first, but limit direct communication with each other. Eliminating direct communication helps break the pattern of ineffective and damaging communication and shields you and your kids from conflict.

In parallel parenting, each parent makes their own daily decisions in their own household and takes charge of the time they have with their children independent of each other. Bigger decisions happen according to a parenting plan created during the divorce proceedings.

Guidelines in parallel parenting

To spell out clear rules and guidelines for how this will work, a mediator can help you create a solid parenting plan during your divorce proceedings. The following may be part of your plan:

  • Parent communication limited to non-confrontational means like email or a parenting notebook
  • If communication is needed, it happens through a third party
  • Child exchanges take place on neutral ground
  • A firm parenting schedule is established and followed

This method of parenting gives kids a chance to build a healthy and loving relationship with each parent and allows you to shield your kids from ongoing conflict. As the emotions die down between you over time, co-parenting and working cooperatively may become an option.

Parenting after a high conflict divorce can be a challenge, especially if there is lingering animosity. For the sake of your children, it is important that you and your ex find a way forward and parallel parenting might be the best choice. 

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