For many parents, the ideal situation post-divorce is to get along, right?
Well, this is not always the case because many people hold on to feelings of resentment and anger related to the irreparable relationship or separation.
This type of behavior creates a hostile situation for all, including the children.
Regardless of your choice of parenting with your ex, co-parenting or parallel parenting, the most important thing to remember is that you should safeguard your children from conflict at all times.
Many people manage to remain civil enough after a divorce, and they can effectively raise their children in two separate households because they are able to communicate like adults, without grudges and hostility.
These parents are able to co-parent because they leave the marriage with proper understanding of their duties and responsibilities as caregivers.
Effective co-parenting happens when two people understand that their irreconcilable differences are not an obstacle to problem solve together for the sake and well-being of their children.
Parents who manage to put their relationship differences aside exponentially increase the chances of the children adjusting and transitioning easily between both homes.
These are the parents that can attend school functions and other events without acting like mortal enemies. They are successful co-parents because they manage to behave as team players without inserting pains from old divorce wounds into the joint care of their kids.
Co-parenting is the benchmark for post-divorce parenting because it allows people to communicate calmly and follow as well as respect the conditions and relationship with the other parent.
From medical care to religious training, to education, and even disciplinary decisions, proper co-parenting sets the ground for parents to be able to troubleshoot any child related matters.
About Parallel Parenting
Parallel parenting happens when one or both divorced parents cannot put their differences aside and behave like adults after they part ways.
These parents are unable to effectively co-parent and must resort to the more corporate and detached form of parallel parenting for the well-being and proper development of their children.
Parallel parents view their relationship as an arrangement, a sort of business transaction that allows them to disengage from each other. These parents choose to have limited contact in situations they are clearly unable to manage in a respectful or polite way.
Parallel parenting is not always the choice for both parents, but often happens because one of the parents refuses to behave properly post-divorce.
While functional, parallel parenting is not ideal as it treats parenting like a corporate business deal that nobody should screw up.
Yet, it is the only option for many split families because one or both parents can’t let go of grudges long enough to peacefully and successfully raise children in separate households.
Having said that, having to parallel parent instead of co-parenting doesn’t mean you screwed something up. It just means you have a high conflict situation and your only choice is the less confrontational approach because is in the best interest of your children.
When people parallel parent they keep everything separate, including extracurricular activities and school events. There’s little interaction and almost no face to face communication. Even child exchanges are silent.
In parallel parenting, almost all information sharing is done in writing via email or text messaging.
These parents cannot communicate in a civil manner, have smooth house to house transitions, or attend extracurricular activities, school events, or medical related matters without being at each other’s throats, making unpleasant statements, or giving each other bad looks.
This behavior creates a high conflict environment that can be emotionally and psychologically detrimental for children.
While both co-parenting and parallel parenting are effective forms of raising children post-divorce, everything about parallel parenting is more stressful than co-parenting.
Think of parallel parenting as having a job or a project that, by law, requires everyone’s input, but you cannot communicate with your teammates to get it done. Yes, it sucks.
With parallel parenting, pickups and drop offs become tense situations. Resolving a school related problem becomes an unmanageable event. Parent/teacher conferences are generally done separate and coordinating simple activities can turn into mission impossible.
In many high conflict divorces, courts may order parents to maintain all child related and post-divorce exchanges through specialized communication management platforms designed for these particular cases.
Why is Co-Parenting Better?
Anyone who has raised children in separate households understands the importance of communication and respect between all parties who have daily contact with the children.
Without information exchange, vital details related to the kids are not shared, and this can leave the children unable to receive the best from both households.
Lack of information about the children can translate into lack of proper care. If one parent cannot communicate that the child fell down, then the other parent will not be able to do simple things like apply ice when necessary.
The benefits of effective co-parenting far outweigh those of parallel parenting for children.
- Children who are raised in separate households witnessing their parents collaborate are often better problem solvers in adulthood.
- Children who have equal (quality) time with both parents have higher self-esteem and fewer trust issues as adults.
- Children who see their parents communicate learn to establish a pattern of healthy relating to others, an invaluable lesson for their future.
- Children who are able to maintain a close bond with each parent grow up having a solid sense of security.
- Children who witness their parents be civil (or even friendly) with each other grow up understanding the value of communication.
The key to successfully raising children in two separate households after divorce is rooted in keeping the focus on the children.
Always strive to maintain a cordial and communication-based relationship with your ex-spouse. Clearly and consistently relating all important and pertinent child information will allow divorced parents to be on the same page, will help reduce friction, and avoid additional problems.
But when being civilized doesn’t work, parallel parenting is the only option. In this case, parents who find face-to-face interactions difficult can only raise their children by maintaining written communication.
While co-parents are able to communicate regarding medical issues, education, legal troubles or other important child related matters, parallel parents chose, and sometimes have to do everything via text or email without speaking to each other.
After a divorce, the choices are limited. Both parents love their children, but this is not always a concept understood or easily processed by most.
From the heart, I urge you to attempt to effectively co-parent with your ex-spouse even if you have to bite your lip and avoid speaking your mind at times. However, if parallel parenting is your only choice, please stick to it and follow the corporate rules.
Regardless of which post-divorce parental arrangement you end up with, always remember that your children must be safeguarded from conflict at all times if they are to grow up to be self-confident, well-balanced, and innate problem solvers in adulthood.