Some divorced parents have strong working relationships where the children move between households every few days, and parents work together on most parental responsibilities. However, not all divorces work seamlessly. There may be residual anger over the marriage’s demise and divorce settlement, or it can be a situation of outright hostility.
The parent’s primary goal after divorce is providing a safe and loving environment to the children, regardless of how one feels about an ex-spouse. So in an effort to reduce conflict between parents and allow them to focus on the children, parallel parenting may be a better option than the interactive approach of co-parenting.
What is parallel parenting?
This format minimizes contact between the parents. Using a parenting plan drafted by the attorneys during the divorce, parallel parenting outlines clear rules and guidelines of responsibilities and communications, including such details as:
- Parental contact is limited to specific formats (text, email, divorce app, third party).
- Any changes to the parenting plan require a neutral third party (such as a mediator).
- Child exchanges are on neutral ground with specific protocols.
- There are rules about notifying the other parent if there is an emergency.
Better for kids and parents
This approach gives parents a chance to build loving and healthy relationships with their children. Moreover, the lack of confrontation means that the family unit is more stable and healthier. Parents may like it because it enables them to establish their own ground rules (within reason) for the children without the other parent questioning their ex’s approach.
These are living documents
Family life changes over time. Children get older, and their needs change, while parents may let go of the initial anger or frustration they felt after the divorce was final. It can mean that parallel parenting becomes less necessary over time, but the couple may still prefer the clear guidelines and expectations of the parallel format. Whatever the arrangement, the idea is to keep the best interests of the children in mind and adapt as time passes.