Everyone has their approach to parenting, and often it is in combination with a spouse and their style. No matter how well the two co-parent together, there are going to be at least subtle differences, and these can even be complementary strengths in healthy relationships.
Parents often try to carry this over to a parenting plan if they divorce. Still, sometimes divorce and the relationship that led to it is so acrimonious that both sides agree that they need to minimize contact. Rather than conventional co-parenting where parents work collaboratively, parallel parenting is an arrangement for exes who wish to reduce contact with each other while still actively fulfilling their parental duties.
The benefits of this approach
Parenting experts believe that there can be several benefits to parallel parenting:
- A short–term solution: This approach may be an understanding until the wounds heal, and the parents can resume active communication.
- Establishes priorities: The parents can work to determine the significant issues where they need to communicate (school, medical care, vacation planning) and leaves lesser matters for them to address themselves (house rules, etc.).
- Compartmentalizes conflict: This approach can avoid situations where conflict arises or at least isolates it, so it does not involve the children.
- An armistice: This enables both to be active parents regardless of how they feel about each other.
An essential part of parenting is managing and responding to the needs of the children.
- Put it in writing: Instead of detailing grievances, parents can pass a notebook back and forth (or use digital communications) with details of the child’s moods, solutions to new issues, school-related issues, and other important info about the child.
- Resolving disputes: When those aforementioned big picture issues need updating, couples may wish to use an impartial third party to help them navigate these decisions.
Safety must be addressed
This plan can work for many couples, but it is not a solution for those with a history of violence. Plans for the protection of the family should be in place with monitoring by the authorities or a judge before initiating a parallel parenting arrangement. If this is not possible, it may be best for that parent to disengage.
Children are the priority
The idea behind parallel parenting is to provide a healthy and happy upbringing, where both parents are involved. Creating clear boundaries enables parents to focus on such positives as their relationship with their children while minimizing the conflict and its negative impact. Family law attorneys can work with clients to draft a parenting plan, parallel or otherwise, to best serve the needs of the family.