Parallel parenting works best for divorced or separated couples who actively want to be a part of their children’s lives but want to minimize communication between each other.
Depending on the situation, it may be initiated by one parent or mutually adopted by both parties. It involves limited contact, which is done to avoid conflict and improve the sense of security for children.
Key Elements of Parallel Parenting
There are four critical elements of parallel parenting that make it work constructively for kids, as the parenting style can work best to improve their child’s life. Parents minimize communication to avoid conflict while focusing on digital tools to schedule meetings, appointments, quality time, etc.
It is also healthier if either partner has a checkered history and their spouse wants to minimize dispute.
1. Minimizing Interaction Outside of Parenting Needs
One of the main reasons parallel parenting works for some parents is the emphasis on minimizing interaction. While adherence to outlined schedules, appointments, meetings, and mandatory engagements is vital, talking regularly on the phone or via chat is not recommended.
2. Leveraging a Mediator or Parenting Coordinator
A mediator or assigned middle person can help coordinate the kid’s schedule, ensuring that both parents spend adequate time with their children. Whether court assigned or mutually agreed, the mediator also monitors the levels of conflict between parents to ensure that they’re complying effectively.
3. Reducing Conflict Through Maintaining Separation
The reduction of friction is also a critical element of parallel parenting as it ensures that parents engage only at the level of scheduling and decision-making. Interactions that are emotionally motivated or emerge as being manipulative by either parent ought to be avoided entirely in the case of parallel parenting.
4. Focusing on the Well-Being and Future of Children
While any form of parenting revolves around the wellbeing of children, parallel parenting focuses the attention further. Communication between parents is minimized, which means that kids get more attention individually in a conflict-free zone.
3 Major benefits of parallel parenting
There are vital benefits of parallel parenting that make it the perfect solution for some parents. While many parents may try co-parenting at first, they may find that parallel parenting works better, especially if one parent is more involved in everyday activities.
1. Stronger Focus on Development and Safety of Children
There is a significant risk of children developing long-term psychological and emotional problems stemming from their parents’ fighting. This could impact the child’s behavior and outlook towards life, depending on their age.
That is why parallel parenting works better for children, as they can evolve with each parent without being in the middle of outbursts and conflict.
2. Better Manageability of Time and Energy
With the lower risk of outbursts and emotional manipulation, either parent has more time to spend with their kids. There is also a lifting of mental burden that may have been present during the marriage, which allows parents to live their lives as freely as possible.
While kids are still the focal point of parallel parenting, it aims to empower parents to not experience complexities as when they did when they were together.
3. Long-Term Clarity in Parenting Arrangement
Parallel parenting draws clear lines about responsibility areas for their kids’ lives. Either parent handles specific parts of their kids’ time and energy, allowing them to focus entirely on those areas.
Key aspects such as education, living situation, school meetings, associations, etc., are strategically designed to minimize interactivity between parents.
Things to Look Out for When Parallel Parenting
There are many areas parents must look out for if they’re going against the set rules of parallel parenting. It’s best to identify discrepancies or non-compliance sooner and fix the issue before it emerges as a root cause for an argument.
1. Lack of Communication Relating to Parenting
The other side of parallel parenting is no-parenting, which can sometimes happen when one parent refuses to honor obligations or attend meetings. Long-term behavior of negligence and missed appointments should be reported immediately.
2. Manipulative Behavior by Either Parent
Parents can be influenced to manipulate their children, especially if they’re still working out legally based situations after divorce. Kids can feel dragged into a situation where they have no control over and can display signs of distress, fear, and lack of safety.
3. Unfit Parenting Style or Lack of Attention
It is essential to review the parenting style of either parent and understand whether they are paying enough attention to their kids. It is best to identify if kids feel neglected or ignored when they spend time with their parents.
4. Emotional Interventions or Outbursts
It is ideal to avoid an emotional connection or rekindling of a past relationship as it can become more complicated for kids. There can be vocal fighting or unhealthy behavior displayed in front of the kids, making adjusting to their new lives harder.
5. Escalation of Parenting Issues or Problems
If either parent notices problems with the other’s parenting situation, living arrangements, or their child’s environment in their presence, then they should consult with a coordinator immediately. Keeping children away from unsafe environments after divorce is critical to ensure regardless of whether it is co-parenting or parallel parenting.
When Parallel Parenting Differs From Co-Parenting
While co-parenting may sometimes be mentioned alongside parallel parenting, both are pretty different in their approach. Co-parenting focuses on harmony between two parents, and parallel parenting recognizes the positivity behind minimizing communication.
It is a non-collaborative approach that is singularly focused on improving a child’s life. For many parents, parallel parenting is ideal if they’re working out specific legal issues, have ended on bad terms, or do not get the value of collaborative parenting.
Co-parenting may also not be feasible if parents live far away or have refused to connect after divorce. It is not the right approach for parents with differing parenting styles and inflexible mindsets. Therefore, parallel parenting is the right system for parents that can’t see eye to eye.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make a parallel parenting plan?
Parents can focus on the following strategies when making a parallel parenting plan –
- Chart out specific responsibility areas for each parent.
- Scheduling is key – pick-up/drop-off, holidays, birthdays, etc.
- Create a communication plan – tools, timelines, limits
- Keeping both parents in the loop of changes.
- Updating parents on school and kids’ behavior.
How can I make parallel parenting work?
It is essential to set the proper limits when making parallel parenting work. It is also vital to prioritize your children instead of your needs to ensure that they’re protected and safe.
How do you do parallel parenting with a narcissist?
It is important to outline specific boundaries from the start of the arrangement and keep timelines and schedules for regular updating. Parents should keep communication to a minimum, and manipulative behaviors should be tracked and highlighted.
Can you do parallel parenting with a toxic parent?
Parallel parenting helps manage the responsibilities of parenthood with a person that may be toxic or experiences certain issues. It is also the right approach for parents that want to keep their children out of conflict.
What is the impact of parallel parenting on kids?
Kids learn to become more independent and can flourish in a more secure environment. Their self-esteem is not impacted by staying in a conflict-zone household. Kids also get to spend more meaningful time with parents individually.