• What is "Parallel Parenting"?

    Learn about it and why some parents consider it the next best thing when co-parenting fails
  • What is "Parallel Parenting"?
  • It's not a shock anymore when couples with kids decide to separate. Life happens, and sometimes the ideal scenario just doesn't play out. We also can't blame these separated parents if they decide to part ways. We can only hope that they make the change easy for the kids.

    With that in mind, co-parenting has been proven to work for some separated couples. Both mom and dad, though they live separate lives, share the duties and responsibilities of raising their child. They both respect each other's right to have a healthy relationship with their child. They both set aside their differences and try to work together just like regular parents, only they do not live under one roof. The key word is "both".

    But what happens if only one parent recognizes that co-parenting only works if both parents are on board? Fact is, co-parenting is not a walk in the park. What if no matter how you want to be “friends” with your ex for the sake of your child, it just simply doesn’t work? Here’s an answer: Try parallel parenting.

     

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    According to Psychology Today, parallel parenting is defined as an arrangement in which separated parents co-parent by means of disengaging from each other. In other words, you and your ex raise your kids but as much as possible, have little to do with each other. This is most recommended for hostile separations. Think worst-case scenarios of bad breakups.

    Licensed marriage and family therapist Virginia Gilbert, M.F.T., explains parallel parenting as letting go of fighting altogether. "Why are you trying to have a reasonable conversation with someone who isn't reasonable, at least with you? Stop expecting reciprocity or enlightenment. Stop needing the other person to see you as right." She clarifies, however, that parallel parenting should be a last resort, when all attempts at co-parenting have failed.

    Gilbert takes us through the six essentials of parallel parenting. For one, communication with your ex is very limited. If you have to talk about logistics, schedules, and the like, do so via email or text messaging where you can be direct, with little room for emotional outbursts. Create a different e-mail account just for liaising with your ex, if you have to. You don't need any more negativity in your life.

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    If you're having trouble agreeing about simple things, or a certain parenting style, then don't. Agree to disagree, so they say. Just make sure your children understand that “Dad’s style” is different from “Mom’s style”, and that Dad has his own house rules, and so does Mom. You also don't need to meddle with how your ex-in-laws spoil your kids, becuase that your ex's responsibility. What you can only do about your concerns is to talk to your child about it and explain it to them in words that they can understnad.

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    Set boundaries. try to come to terms on them ajor aspects of raising your kids, such as big-ticket items and changes. Remember, letting go is key to making parallel parenting work. Try not to make a big deal of every little thing you ex does differently from you. Just make sure you do your part. When you detach the emotional part of the separation, then it could mean less stress for you, your ex, and ultimately, your kids.

    Worried as to how your kids are going to take it? Children can be resilient; they will adapt because they will see that it’s the better end of the stick. It’s so much better than having your kids see your fight, or worse, hurt each other. Clinical psychologist Zachele Marie Briones, M.D., says that when it comes to violent relationships, the safety of the mom and her kids should be top priority. She explains, “Kids who are exposed to violence at home actually become more accepting of their parents’ separation because it restores peace in the house, and it gives them a sense of security.”

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    If you choose parallel parenting, it doesn’t mean you've failed as a bad parent. “In fact, the opposite is true. By reducing conflict, parallel parenting will enhance the quality of your life and most importantly, take your child out of the middle,” says Gilbert. If you and your ex can work towards co-parenting rather than parallel parenting, then even better. But for the time being, parallel parenting could make a huge improvement in your family’s quality of life—yes, your ex included. 

     

     

    Sources:
    November 30, 2015. “5 Reasons Why Parallel Parenting Is Better Than Co-Parenting” (huffingtonpost.com)
    September 1, 2013. “Parallel Parenting After Divorce” (psychologytoday.com)
    May 29, 2012. “What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn't Work”
    (huffingtonpost.com)

    More from Smart Parenting

    According to Psychology Today, parallel parenting is defined as an arrangement in which separated parents co-parent by means of disengaging from each other. In other words, you and your ex raise your kids but as much as possible, have little to do with each other. This is most recommended for hostile separations. Think worst-case scenarios of bad breakups.

    Licensed marriage and family therapist Virginia Gilbert, M.F.T., explains parallel parenting as letting go of fighting altogether. "Why are you trying to have a reasonable conversation with someone who isn't reasonable, at least with you? Stop expecting reciprocity or enlightenment. Stop needing the other person to see you as right." She clarifies, however, that parallel parenting should be a last resort, when all attempts at co-parenting have failed.

    ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

    So how does parallel parenting work?
    Gilbert takes us through the six essentials of parallel parenting. For one, communication with your ex is very limited. If you have to talk about logistics, schedules, and the like, do so via email or text messaging where you can be direct, with little room for emotional outbursts. Create a different e-mail account just for liaising with your ex, if you have to. You don't need any more negativity in your life.

    If you're having trouble agreeing about simple things, or a certain parenting style, then don't. Agree to disagree, so they say. Just make sure your children understand that “Dad’s style” is different from “Mom’s style”, and that Dad has his own house rules, and so does Mom. 
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