When couples separate, often it is difficult for them to continue to co-parent their child in an amicable way. All too often, people are unable to communicate civilly. If people can maintain an amicable relationship in order to co-parent, that is the most beneficial approach for children. But if that’s not possible, as sometimes maintaining communication in high conflict, volatile, or perhaps even violent situations where domestic violence has occurred, positive interactions might be nearly impossible to achieve without the involvement of a third-party. For people involved in these complex situations, parallel parenting might be the best option.
What Is Parallel Parenting?
Parallel parenting is a method of co-parenting in which each parent has their own parenting approach when the children are with them. Parallel parenting is a positive approach for people to consider when they are unable to communicate effectively. In a parallel parenting arrangement people co-parent their children at the same time with very little, if any, contact with one another. Under these circumstances, parents do not attend the same events for their children including but not limited to appointments, family functions, extracurricular activities or school related events. Communication when necessary, is limited to writing such as emails, text messages or a co-parenting application. Our Family Wizard is one such application, routinely used by the court system and recommended by mediators and recommended by family law practitioners in our state. This program allows for people to communicate via app, to eliminate the direct contact and additionally, which is often helpful for families, there is a log maintained of the communications of everyone involved.
Parallel Parenting vs. Co-Parenting
Parallel parenting is not the same method as co-parenting. When people co-parent together in a positive way they communicate often perhaps to ensure that they are approaching situations in the same way to eliminate confusion on certain issues or misunderstanding by their children. Under parallel parenting plans, people do not share their parenting approaches and generally parent completely independent of one another. Parallel parenting has proven most often implemented and effective in high conflict situations to allow people to separate from one another but maintain involvement with their children. This system allows for more healthy boundaries moving forward once the parties are separated. People often choose to avoid parenting time exchanges in their own homes and select an alternate neutral location. At times the exchange is supervised by a third-party. Under a parallel parenting arrangement, people make day-to-day decisions independently and limit their interaction with one another.
The long-term global objective when people employ a parallel parenting method is to end high conflict situations and to eliminate a lot of the negative consequences that children have to be exposed to when people can’t communicate in a positive way. This approach in high conflict situations ultimately leads to less conflict, more predictability in expectations of the other party, a reduced level of stress for everyone involved, particularly children, and clear boundaries as to what is required of the other person and a clear understanding of what the relied upon method of communication will be.
Does Parallel Parenting Work?
Parallel parenting has proven successful in circumstances when very few options exist. Parallel parenting with a narcissist may still prove to be difficult. In order to ensure that your parallel parenting method is as successful as possible consider the suggestions below.
Tips for Parallel Parenting
Taking an approach that allows for clearly defined boundaries, parallel parenting rules and an agreement on a method of communication and understanding among everyone in the family, including the children that this is what the expectations will be going forward is not only a way to start parallel parenting but a way to attempt to achieve the most desired results.
If you think that you might benefit from a parallel parenting plan with your child’s other parent, contact us today. The expert family law practitioners at DeTorres and DeGeorge can answer your custody and parenting time questions and guide you as to how to most effectively implement a parallel parenting plan to ensure that you are the best parents that you can be for your children. Establishing a plan which will allow your children to maintain a healthy and productive relationship with both of their parents independently, to avoid conflict between you and the other parent, will provide you with the tools you need to move forward happily after separation.