Although co-parenting can benefit many families after divorce, it does not work in all cases. For instance, co-parenting can be difficult after a high-conflict divorce as it requires both parents to interact regularly, causing stress for the entire family.
If your co-parenting relationship leads to regular disputes and discord, you should consider alternative approaches, such as parallel parenting.
Navigating co-parenting conflicts
In a typical co-parenting relationship, people who are divorced, separated or unmarried work together to raise their children in a collaborative, mutually beneficial way. To make this arrangement succeed, co-parents must be willing to discuss issues openly and make compromises. Co-parents often share custody, attend events together and make decisions cooperatively. When parents have significant interpersonal animosity or frequent disagreements, co-parenting becomes more challenging. Some co-parents can benefit from seeing a family counselor or pursuing mediation to resolve disputes. However, parents should be aware that staying involved in their children’s lives is possible under alternate arrangements like parallel parenting.
Benefits of parallel parenting
The parallel parenting model allows both parents to take on the obligations and rights of parenthood while maintaining their boundaries and reducing family conflict. Parents can develop a parallel parenting plan that separates specific responsibilities and sets a clear and consistent schedule for child custody and visitation. A parallel parenting plan can promote stability and help keep children distanced from parental disagreements. Often parallel parenting arrangements rely on written or electronic communication instead of verbal conversations. For example, parents can use a childcare book and record updates about their children’s lives, routines and goals.
When co-parenting causes problems, parents should consider different strategies. Parallel parenting enables unmarried, divorced or separated parents to create supportive routines for their children while avoiding unnecessary conflicts.