differences between co-parenting and parallel parenting

Navigating Parallel Parenting: A Solution for High-Conflict Separations

Pathways TeamCo-Parenting

Navigating a divorce or the end of a long-term serious relationship can be incredibly painful for couples, and even more stressful when you have children involved in the situation. Establishing an accountable method of shared parenting is essential to maintaining the health and wellness of your children. While for some, a more amicable co-parenting style may be possible, in high-conflict situations where parents have significant animosity between them, parallel parenting may be a more efficient solution for all parties involved.

Below, we’ll examine what parallel parenting is, what the core differences are between parallel parenting and co-parenting, what situations may warrant parallel parenting and the benefits of working with a trusted co-parenting and reunification coaching team like Pathways Family Coaching. Read on to learn more!

What is Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is a form of co-parenting, that, unlike other methods involves a plan that facilitates as little interaction between parents as possible. For those who may be involved in a hostile divorce or breakup, it can be difficult to maintain civil face-to-face interactions or reach common ground on how your children should be raised. In such cases, a more separate approach may be necessary to maintaining peace, and parallel parenting plans can be adapted for both short and long-term purposes where necessary. Parallel parenting typically involves partnering with a third party that has experience in creating parenting agreements that are thorough and comprehensive enough to provide clear guidelines for all parties, including future plans for how to deal with evolving factors as your children grow.

How Does Parallel Parenting Differ from Co-Parenting

If you’re feeling a little confused on the differences in parenting style, we’ve got you covered. While parallel parenting is by a broad definition a form of “co-parenting”, it varies greatly from the actual parenting style/practice known as co-parenting. 

Co-parenting, as a parenting strategy, focuses on fostering a more collaborative and communication-based approach to parenting, wherein both parents frequently interact and discuss issues and the needs of their children. Decisions are typically made jointly, regardless of custody, and there are usually limited rules or guidelines in place to allow parents to fluidly adapt and address situations together as they arise.

Parallel parenting, in contrast, is much more separate and forgoes as much interaction as possible save for emergencies or necessary occasions. Where a co-parenting family may converse regularly over the phone, text, and be physically present for pick-ups and drop-offs, those who parallel parent will remain as distant and autonomous as possible, avoid attending the same appointments or functions, and stick to a regimented schedule/set of guidelines to avoid confusion or conflict. 

In high-conflict situations, parallel parenting can be extremely beneficial and result in:

  • Less exposure to conflict for kids
  • Children being able to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents
  • Less stress for everyone involved
  • Clarity and logistical simplicity
  • The ability to transition to a more flexible co-parenting strategy in the future, should conflict and emotions cool off. 

What to Include in Your Parallel Parenting Plan

Parallel parenting plans are typically highly detailed and outline the specific needs of your household. Partnering with an experienced co-parenting and reunification team like Pathways Family Coaching is a great way to make sure your plan is as thorough as possible. Details to determine include:

  • How parenting time will be allocated
  • Where and how custody exchanges will take place
  • Holiday and vacation schedules
  • Guidelines for essential decisions such as schooling, medical needs, emergency situations, extracurricular activities, authorized individuals who can pick up/drop off to facilitate exchanges without one parent being involved
  • Communication rules
  • Rules regarding the cancellation and/or rescheduling of custodial time, and more. 

It’s important to note that, even if you intend for this to be a short-term way of diffusing conflict, it’s still best to plan for the long term and factor in aspects that will come as your children age. 

When to Make Changes

Since parallel parenting plans tend to be so thorough, it is rare for significant changes to be made. With that being said, as your children mature, it is entirely possible for new needs and considerations to arise, at which point revisions may be necessary. All changes should be tied to a direct need, vetted by a professional, and signed off on by both parties. 

Choosing the Right Path(ways) Forward

Pathways Family Coaching offers a wide variety of online courses and one-on-one professional coaching to help prepare you for parallel parenting and ensure you have a vetted plan moving forward. Our experts offer years of in-field experience as well as comprehensive resources such as our Pathways Through Conflict flagship online course designed to guide you towards a healthy parallel parenting arrangement for you and your child.

Our expert coaches and comprehensive resources are ready to integrate with your existing legal and therapeutic teams, guiding you towards a healthy parallel parenting arrangement for you and your child.

Learn more about our services and how we can help bring balance to your family by contacting us today

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