Parallel parenting refers to a method of co-parenting in which each parent has their own parenting approach when the children are with them. In parallel parenting, parents do not attend the same functions, appointments, or child-related events. Communication in parallel parenting often occurs solely through email, text messages, or a co-parenting app.
What is the difference between co-parenting and parallel parenting?
Co-parenting and parallel parenting are different. A co-parenting relationship can include many communication touch points via phone, email, and text messages. The co-parents may align on a shared parenting approach for a child. In contrast, parallel parenting relationships usually involve limited communication through the written word only. Parallel parents do not share parenting approaches and essentially parent separately.
Taking a parallel approach to co-parenting
Parallel parenting allows for high-conflict co-parents to maintain their collective parenting responsibilities while disconnecting from each other personally. This parenting strategy helps parents attain a level of independence that they may not have felt previously and helps build a framework for healthy boundaries in shared parenting moving forward.
In a parallel parenting arrangement, all of your communication should be business-like and focused on your children. You’re also likely to agree to limit how you communicate to only be in writing and via one specific platform.
Certain aspects of parallel parenting will likely prove to change parts of your shared custody routine and parenting plan.
In a parallel parenting plan, you’ll probably change the location of your parenting time exchanges to a neutral space away from either of your homes or use a supervised exchange service.
Parallel parenting calls for parents to agree to make day-to-day decisions for their child independently. While important decisions on matters like education and medical care may still be made jointly, everyday choices like what the kids will have for lunch or what movie they’ll watch over the weekend are ones that each parent will make on their own.
All in all, this parenting style lays a foundation to end high-conflict co-parenting. It helps encourage parents to remove their focus from one another and keep it solely on maintaining the well-being of their children.
While a more cooperative co-parenting situation is often ideal, parallel parenting isn’t an arrangement that must last forever. One of the benefits of parallel parenting is that you can allow the arrangement to morph depending on your family’s needs and how your relationship evolves with your co-parent.
Other benefits of parallel parenting include:
- Less conflict between homes
- Greater sense of confidence when making parenting decisions
- More predictability when communicating about parenting matters
- Reduced stress for the whole family, kids included
In a parallel parenting arrangement, it is necessary for parents to find an appropriate method of communication. You may find that the method you choose for shared parenting communication stands apart from the other methods you use to communicate with others.
Phone calls, emails, and texts may be unsuitable in many high-conflict co-parenting situations, and their free-form nature will often make them an unsuitable choice for parallel parenting.