“Mommy, why don’t you and Daddy love each other anymore?” “I don’t want to go to Daddy’s house, it smells funny and my room is scary.” “When is Daddy going to pick us up from school?”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Have you heard some variation from your kids as you navigate the messy world of divorce and co-parenting? Nobody wants to explain to their kids why a marriage fell apart – especially if infidelity or some other issue was involved that children simply wouldn’t understand. To make matters worse, it can be extremely difficult to deal with an ex if you’ve been on the receiving end of these behaviors.
For divorcing parents, there are volumes of research available to explain why co-parenting is best for their kids. People are encouraged to be social, polite and respectfully engage with their ex-spouses for the sake of their children.
What if a relationship doesn’t work that way? What if one parent (or both) cannot work through their unresolved emotions to interact pleasantly in front of the children? What if one parent attempts to manipulate a child and instill negative feelings towards the other parent?
The above examples leave openings for parents to damage their ex in the eyes of their children. What does that mean for the child who is struggling to re-evaluate their new lifestyle and continue to forge healthy relationships with both parents? Children have not had the life experience to adapt to this new situation, so they look to both parents for guidance on how to react. If the parents cannot respond in appropriate ways, then what does that mean for the children?
Parallel parenting is becoming a solution for parents who simply cannot get along. Rather than battling in front of the kids, parents are given an opportunity to distance themselves from each other and focus on the well-being of their children. Parallel parenting is a solution that allows for a child-focused approach to divorced parenting.
This method uses schedules as an advantage and limits personal interactions in the attempt to avoid angry, emotional confrontations. For instance, communication can be restricted to emails and notebooks passed back and forth between the homes and exchanges can occur at public places.
Parallel parenting allows parents to maintain a more business-oriented relationship that focuses on the best interest of your kids. It can even allow for a third-party mediator to help facilitate the process and establish a schedule that works for all parties involved. Consistency remains the goal of this co-parenting alternative as children learn that they are the focus of both parents’ attention.
Before devolving into a modern day War of the Roses, take time to explore all of your options as a divorcing parent and figure out what works best for you and for your children. Most people would agree that warring parents can have a dramatic and generally negative impact on their children. You don’t have be that parent even if happy cooperation isn’t in the cards for you and your ex-spouse.