What is Parallel Parenting and is it Right for You?

February 17, 2023

Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner. In a parallel parenting arrangement, the parents work together to make decisions about their children’s lives without communicating directly with each other or finding a way to comunicate where they can do so without fights. It’s important to note that parallel parenting is not the same as co-parenting, which involves both parents working together to make decisions about their children’s lives. Some parents choose parallel parenting because they feel it is the best way to protect their children from the conflict between the parents. Other parents choose parallel parenting because they feel it is the only way to safely co-parent with a high-conflict ex-spouse. However, both parents have to agree that they want to both, albeit separately, work to make sure that they are meeting their child’s best interest.


So, is parallel parenting right for you? That depends on a number of factors. If you and your ex-spouse are unable to communicate at all or come to agreements on major issues, then parallel parenting is probably not going to work. Alternatively, if you find yourself able to communicate well about most issues, then parallel parenting is probably not necessary. Parallel parenting works when parents are unable to be civil if the have to communicate frequently, but can be business-like when required, and understand that the other person will parent with love, but perhaps in a different way than they parent.


There is no one right or wrong answer when it comes to whether or not parallel parenting is right for you. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to engage in parallel parenting should be made after careful consideration of all of the factors involved, including the ages and personalities of your children, your relationship with your ex-spouse, and your own ability to effectively communicate with your ex-spouse, as well as their ability to communicate back.


Benefits of Parallel Parenting


There are many benefits to parallel parenting, including but not limited to:


* Children have stability in their lives because there is less conflict between their parents.

* Parents can take a break from each other and have time to heal from the divorce.

* Parents can focus on being positive role models for their children rather than being caught up in negative interactions with each other.

* Parents can learn how to effectively co-parent without having to directly interact with each other on a regular basis.

* Children learn how to effectively manage conflict by witnessing their parents managing conflict in a healthy way.

* Parents who would otherwise not be able to coparent together are able to do so in a way that works for them and their children.

* Everyone has more time for activities that they enjoy outside of co-parenting (such as hobbies, time with friends/family, etc.).


Drawbacks of Parallel Parenting


There are also some drawbacks to parallel parenting that should be considered before deciding if this type of arrangement is right for you and your family, including but not limited to:


* There may be some confusion for children who have two homes with different rules.

* It can be difficult for children if they feel like they are caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict.

* It may be difficult logistically if the homes are far apart from each other.

* It can be emotionally draining for everyone involved if communications breakdowns occur often.


Overall, whether or not parallel parenting is right for you will depend on many different factors specific to your situation. However, there are many benefits that may make this type of arrangement worth considering if you are struggling to co-parent effectively with your ex-spouse. If you find yourself unable to communicate respectfully with your ex-spouse, you may want to consider parallel parenting. While this arrangement has its downsides, it may be the best solution for your family. If you want to read more, I suggest looking at this article published on Our Family Wizard, which is an app that some parents use to help them parent.


If you have reached a place where you can agree on your parenting times and the parenting styles you will both employ in the future, I would be happy to help make it official. Call my office at 618-726-2671 or reach out through my website.