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What is parallel parenting?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2023 | Family Law |

As a divorcing parent, you have likely heard people talk about co-parenting. This is what most ex-couples try to do. They try to work together as best as they can to raise their children effectively.

In some cases, such arrangements just don’t work. The differences between a child’s parents are so great, or the attitude of one is so problematic and antagonistic that cooperating is not a realistic demand. If this applies to you, then you might want to consider parallel parenting.

You leave each other to parent in their own way

Parallel parenting is about minimizing contact between you as parents. While that might seem an odd goal to aim for, it takes into account that conflict between parents could be more harmful to the children (and parents) than non-cooperation. Plenty of studies have shown the damage that parental conflict can do to children, so if you do not feel you can reach a peaceful level of cooperation it may be better to avoid each other entirely.

When the children are with you, you do things your way, and when they are with your ex, they will do things their way. Neither of you needs to know or question what the other is up to – you should just let them get on with bringing up the kids as best as they can during their allocated time and you will do the same.

There may still be occasions when you need to intervene

If you believe that your ex is putting your children in danger, you may need to interact with them. But arguments over curfews, phone use, diet and all the “little things” that can lead to parental conflict can be avoided by refusing to engage in conflict with your child’s other parent.

You can take steps to limit communication to email or a parenting app and once again restrict it to specific topics only. While parallel parenting is not as ideal as cultivating a healthy co-parenting relationship, sometimes it is the best option for the present moment. With time, you may find your relationship warms as old tensions die, allowing you to change toward a more cooperative approach.