After your divorce, collaborating with your spouse may be the last thing you want to do. Unfortunately, if you and your ex have young children together, communication and collaboration may be necessary for the foreseeable future.
Many parents who share custody of their children opt for a tradition co-parenting arrangement. This usually requires ample communication between parents to make sure the best decisions are made regarding their children. Some co-parents may even enforce some of the same rules in both houses, maintain an open dialogue, and work together to solve problems related to their children.
However, many recently-divorced parents struggled to get along during their marriage, and the conflict sometimes escalates after divorce. Exposure to parental conflict can be harmful to children and can sabotage many of the benefits that could come from a good co-parenting experience.
If you and your spouse are often in conflict, traditional co-parenting may not be the best parenting strategy for your situation. For high conflict-situations, parallel parenting may be a more appropriate choice.
What is parallel parenting?
Parallel parenting is a specific type of co-parenting arrangement that involves parents disengaging from each other while remaining close with their children. Parents limit the amount of direct contact they have with each other to allow time for healing and to avoid potential conflict. This strategy does not mean that parents never communicate. It just means parents are required to communicate in a specific way.
Usually, communication between parents must be:
- Related only to the child’s well-being
- Completed in writing, when possible
Under a parallel parenting strategy, parents must still both be invested in collaboratively making good decisions regarding the major components of their child’s upbringing. However, parents usually each make the rules for their own homes and have the freedom to make day-to-day decisions about the child as they see fit.
If you and your ex have a high conflict relationship, it is important to prevent the conflict from negatively impacting your child. Parallel parenting may not be appropriate for all situations, but it may offer you a way to protect your child from parental conflict, while maintaining a close relationship with your child.