What is Parallel Parenting and How Do I Make It Work?
What is Parallel Parenting?
Parallel Parenting is an arrangement where divorced or separated parents who share custody of their child each have their own independent parenting style. Generally, parallel parenting means that there will only be limited or formal contact between the two parents.
Parallel parenting allows both parents to spend equal time with their children while remaining separate at events such as family gatherings, school meetings, and doctor's appointments.
It often helps to avoid or limit conflict or disagreement between two separated parents, which can makes sure that the child is always in a safe and happy environment
Does Parallel Parenting actually work?
This will always depend on how severe the conflicts between the separated parents are.
However, the more effort the parents put in following their parallel parenting plan and avoiding unnecessary conflict, the more likely parallel parenting is to work.
We will go into detail in how and why you should create a parallel parenting plan later in this article.
What Are the Differences Between Parallel Parenting and Co-Parenting?
Parents often choose to co-parent their children after a divorce or separation. Co-parenting is a much more collaborative process which focuses on creating a supportive, stable and reliable environment for the child. It is often best for separated parents who had an amicable separation or divorce and can communicate consistently and effectively with each other without many issues
On the flip side, Parallel Parenting suggests that separated parents have as little conversation as possible while working together to give their child a great life.
Though co-parenting is often seen as a healthy way for a child to grow up in a stable environment regardless of their parents divorce, it requires frequent and open communication between the parents and there are therefore situations where co-parenting would end up doing more harm than good, putting it out of the picture. In these cases, it would be sensible to consider parallel parenting as a substitute, allowing it to avoid conflicts between parents and allow them to focus on the child's well-being.
In Co-Parenting, the foundation of the process lies in ensuring that everyone in the family is on the same page through direct communication between separated parents. For parallel parenting you will instead generally establish a detailed (but still realistic) plan at the beginning so all expectations and boundaries are laid out on the table.
What Are the Advantages of Parallel Parenting?
It can be an alternative to fighting out the case in court (which can lead to financial loss and excess emotional stress as well as making it harder to negotiate) even when two parents find it hard to agree with each other.
It will also avoid unnecessary conflict between parents.
Is Parallel Parenting better than co-parenting?
Parallel Parenting aims for minimal amounts of contact between separated parents, as opposed to working together like in co-parenting. Though co-parenting is generally seen as an ideal way to raise a child of separated parents you must look at how likely co-parenting is to work in each persons individual family situation.
If co-parenting is done in such a way that the child is constantly involved in conflicts between two unhappy parents, it may be such that parallel parenting is actually a better route for both the parents and the child's welfare.
When is Parallel Parenting the preferred route?
Parallel Parenting is best for couples who have lots of conflicts with each other, whether this is about their divorce or what is best for their child. If these conflicts result in an unstable or happy environment for the child, parallel parenting is probably an ideal solution.
In cases where there has been levels of abuse or toxicity between two exes, Parallel Parenting should also be considered.
In cases where divorced parents have an abusive or toxic relationship, it must be noted that at times it may be necessary to go down the legal route to ensure the safety of all parties involved. This could lead to taking out Non-Molestation Orders, or a Child Arrangement Order, or even simply formalising certain agreements through a Consent Order.
So How Do I Make a Parallel Parenting Plan?
Making a plan will help avoid disagreements or conflicts as issues and new situations crop up as the child grows up.
The more time and effort you put into a plan to ensure it is detailed and more importantly, clear, the less unnecessary arguments will pop up in the future. This will go a long way in making sure you and your ex have little amounts of contact and therefore less arguments.
To reduce the child's stress while still prioritizing their safety, parents should agree on as much as possible in advance in a parallel parenting plan.
It is important to include these things in your plan:
Agree to visiting and contact hours, as well as details about the exact start and end times of the contact
In addition to normal contact times and hours, how will contact change during birthdays and school holidays
Decide how cancellation from both parties will work
Who will attend school events
Who will attend medical appointments like doctors visits and the dentist
Who will pick up and drop the child from school and clubs, and when?
Agree on neutral locations or ask a trusted friend or family member to pick up the child when the exchange happens between the parents
Whether any financial covers will or won't be allocated to specific parents
And finally, decide on a method of communication between you and your ex. We suggest text or email which makes sure everything is recorded formally as well as avoiding in person contact with each other.
If you decide on parallel parenting, remember that the aim is to keep communication with your ex to a minimum. Therefore, try to communicate only when it is necessary. Try using either: email, text, or even a parenting app. Make sure the conversation is only about topics relating to your child. So unless the safety of your child is at risk, try not to disturb your ex or your child when it is their time with your ex.
Creating a comprehensive Parallel Parenting plan by yourself can be quite difficult. We at Court Help Limited can help you draft a Parallel Parenting plan for low costs, as well as guiding you through this difficult process. Call us at 07375757510 or fill in the quick contact form at the very bottom of the page.
When should I appoint a mediator for Parallel Parenting?
If the relationship between the two parents becomes resentful, or if it is such that there is a concern about the safety of one of the parents but you do not wish to go to court, it may be a good idea to appoint a professional mediator. Additionally, if you feel like mediation in person with your ex is not practical due fears of violence or conflict, hybrid mediation may also be a suitable option.
Mediation can help separated parents align their motives and intentions so they focus on the child's welfare. It can help separated parents can make well-organized decisions and reduce conflicts so they can create a mutually beneficial parenting plan.
How do I keep communication with my ex to a minimum in Parallel Parenting?
The key to successful parallel parenting is to limit interactions with your ex. Here are some tips we would recommend to you:
Try to only communicate through email and text when possible, which will have the additional benefit of making sure everything is on record.
Try not to be pulled into unnecessary arguments with your ex. To do this, ensure all your conversations are relevant to your child and their care.
Avoid going to any social gatherings together, pre-decide who is going to school events and family gatherings/weddings.
Until and unless it poses a threat to your child's safety, try not to interfere with what happens during your ex-partner's parenting time.