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Is co-parenting or parallel parenting better for you and your ex?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Firm News

In the aftermath of a separation or divorce, establishing a parenting plan that supports your children’s needs while accommodating the realities of your new family dynamics is important. Making this effort can let both of you craft your expectations concerning your family’s new dynamics in informed ways.

Two common approaches to post-divorce/split parenting are co-parenting and parallel parenting. Choosing the “right one” is a consequential process. You will want to avoid committing to a particular approach until you’ve evaluated the specifics of your situation, the level of conflict with your ex and your overall goals for your children’s upbringing.

Co-parenting: collaboration and communication

Co-parenting is an approach where both parents actively collaborate and communicate regularly to raise their children. This method is built on mutual respect, open communication and a shared commitment to making decisions that are in the best interests of the children. Co-parenting encourages parents to attend events and celebrate milestones together, share responsibilities equally and maintain a consistent parenting style across both households.

Co-parenting can demonstrate that both parents are still a unified front when it comes to their upbringing. This approach requires a low level of conflict and the ability for both parents to interact with each other in a respectful and cooperative manner. High-conflict situations may make co-parenting challenging, as it can expose children to ongoing disputes.

Parallel parenting: limited interaction and boundaries

Parallel parenting is a strategy designed for high-conflict situations where direct communication and collaboration between ex-partners are minimal. In parallel parenting, each parent assumes responsibility for the children during their allotted time, generally without interference from the other parent. Communication is typically limited and conducted through written means, like email or text, to avoid confrontations and is strictly about the children’s well-being.

Parallel parenting minimizes the potential for conflict. It allows children to have relationships with both parents without being caught in the middle of ongoing disputes. Yet, the lack of direct communication can sometimes lead to inconsistencies in parenting styles and rules between the two households, which can be confusing for children. Additionally, the formal nature of communication can impede the spontaneous sharing of information about the children’s lives.

There is no right or wrong way to parent. Make the choice that is right for your family. Keep in mind that whichever choice you make initially can be changed as your family and your intrafamily relationships evolve.