Divorce or separation is often hard for the couple involved. But it’s hardest on the children. For their kids to have a wholesome upbringing, it’s important for divorced parents to come up with a workable plan that allows the children to develop a healthy bond with each of their parents. In such cases, parallel parenting might be the best way to go.
Parallel Parenting Defined
According to Psychology Today, parallel parenting refers to an arrangement in which a divorced couple can co-parent by disengaging from each other (1). That means in parallel parenting, the interaction between the divorced parents is kept to a bare minimum.
It’s a good option for divorced couples that ended on a particularly bitter note and continue to harbor feelings of hostility towards each other. In such cases, parallel parenting allows each parent to raise their child in their own way while staying detached from their ex.
The Difference Between Parallel Parenting And Co-Parenting
Parallel parenting is very different from co-parenting. The latter involves putting their differences aside on the part of the parents so that they can share the responsibility of their children (2). That means more interaction among the parents in public as well as private spaces and maintenance of civility while actively trying to reduce any conflicts that may arise.
On the flipside, parallel parenting becomes the need of the hour when one or both parents are unwilling to compromise, communicate, or adhere to the rules of co-parenting. In parallel parenting, parents raise their children independently.
The Benefits Of Parallel Parenting
The benefits of parallel parenting for estranged couples are many. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Minimum Interference
By choosing parallel parenting, parents get the chance to pursue their own parenting style without their ex’s interference. There’s no need for one to explain their parenting style to the other; or seek approval or permission from the other for letting their kids do certain things. Parents are solely responsible for how they choose to raise their children.
2. Minimum Stress
Divorced couples often disagree on the best way to raise their children. The ensuing conflicts can have a negative impact on their children, leading to stress for everybody. Parallel parenting protects children from the negativity of conflicts and offers them a peaceful environment to grow. It’s a win-win for all involved.
3. Minimum Interaction Among Parents
Since parents don’t get to interact with each other much in parallel parenting, they get relief from uncomfortable social interactions (like events), which serve as a source of stress. Parallel parenting allows for the setting of ground rules in case the interaction between parents is necessary, thereby preventing conflict while keeping meetings to a minimum.
4. Assists In Emotional Healing
It can take a considerable amount of time to heal from divorce, both for the parents and the kids. Parallel parenting can help heal the trauma by creating a healthy distance between the parents, so each can recover at their own pace. Plus, the distance helps in keeping outbursts at bay.
Tips To Create A Successful Parallel Parenting Plan
Here are some tips to help divorced couples create and implement a successful parallel parenting plan:
1. Figure Out How To Split Time With The Kids
Chalking out which days of the week will be spent with the mother and which with the father will prevent conflict and miscommunication. Birthdays, holidays, and vacations should be factored into this plan, so each parent gets their fair share of time with the kids and vice versa.
2. Fix Up A Start And End Time For Every Visit
Parallel parenting plans should be as detailed as possible to avoid any misunderstandings later on. Having a predetermined start and end time for every visit with the kids ensures no parent encroaches upon the time of the other.
3. Determine Pick-Up And Drop-Off Locations
Determining precise pick-up and drop-off locations can simplify the task of parallel parenting while reducing interactions between the parents to a great extent. This works well when hostility is high between the couple.
4. Have A Plan To Handle Cancellations
Cancellations, albeit natural, can cause major conflict between parents, which in turn can adversely affect the children. Having a plan in place to handle cancellations with space to make up for lost time with the kids ensures both the parents and the kids get due time together.
5. And One To Handle Conflicts
The core idea behind parallel parenting is to minimize conflicts. However, conflicts are inevitable. In case of conflicts, it’s best for parents to have a mutually agreed upon impartial mediator who can help resolve the issues that arise.
Parallel parenting works. However, there are a few downsides to it. For example, conflicting parenting styles can leave the kids confused. Increased competition among the parents and using kids as weapons to get the other can also cause upheavals. In such cases, it’s best to seek professional help so the ride of parallel parenting can be a smooth one.