One of the most difficult parts of co-parenting for many newly separated and divorced couples is the communication it requires. Even minor changes in the parenting schedule can lead to bitter conflicts. Sitting together at soccer games and school plays to show your support for your child can provoke fights that leave your child wishing you’d both stayed home.
There’s another option for parents who want to share custody of their child but aren’t ready to deal with the routine cooperation that entails. It’s called parallel parenting.
How does parallel parenting work?
With parallel parenting, parents each care for the child during their parenting time while having minimal personal contact or consultation with each other. Of course, there are still matters that require communication. However, this is done through brief and business-like texts, emails and parenting apps. The apps allow parents to share calendars, receipts and other information without having direct contact.
With this approach, parents often choose a neutral third party to facilitate custody exchanges so they don’t have to encounter each other. They may choose a public location like a restaurant, playground or even a supervised exchange center.
They either don’t attend the same child-related events or at least don’t sit together. For example, they may take turns attending their child’s swim meets and have separate parent-teacher meetings.
What parallel parenting requires
For parallel parenting to work, parents need to have some level of trust in each other to properly care for their child since their interaction will be minimal. They also have to commit to making the limited communication they have brief and succinct. It should involve only the immediate issue at hand regarding the child.
Having a clear parenting plan that addresses larger issues that you agree on can help a parallel parenting agreement succeed. Of course, there can’t be any question about a child’s safety or well-being when they’re with either parent. However, if you share custody, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Parallel parenting arrangements are often used temporarily to help parents deal with the aftermath of an acrimonious marriage and perhaps a bitter divorce. They’re intended to minimize stress for everyone in the family, but especially the children. If you think parallel parenting would work better than co-parenting, it’s wise to learn more about it.