The biggest issues in a divorce or family breakup situation is coming to terms with parenting the children and removing them from the middle of the conflict – finding peace with the separation and being separate individuals again while maintaining a calm, peaceful family unit.
Up to this point in divorce or family breakup situations, the focus has been on coparenting the children together. In a non-conflictual divorce, the new task is to decide how the children will be raised in two separate homes with similar rules and expectations.
In high conflict situations where two parents cannot be in the same room or carry on a conversation with each other, mutual agreements is nearly impossible and this conflict puts the children in the center of the fight. These situations, where coparenting becomes conflictual, most often cause both parents to be emotionally unavailable for their children. A new strategy needs to be implemented – Parallel Parenting.
What is Parallel Parenting?
Parallel Parenting means both parents follow their own rules on their own time as parents, without getting the other parent’s approval. With Parallel Parenting, parents do not communicate with each other about minor issues concerning the children, such as bedtime, meal time and how the children manage the homework and school work on that parent’s time. Important issues requiring decisions from both parents such as health, education, and safety of the children may need the help of a professional who will keep both parents focused on decision making related to the welfare of the children, even if the professional has to step in and make a recommendation. High conflict couples often require a court order to solidify these decisions too.
Parallel parenting is the ability of each parent to create their own parenting style during the time the children are under their care. Understanding the concept of Mom’’s World/Dad’s World means that what goes on in Mom’s World/Dad’s World is relevant in that world to the children. The rules each parent makes are designed by the parent in charge. When children say, “My Mom/Dad doesn’t make me do that when I am with them . . .” the parent can say, “That is in Mom’s/Dad’s World, but when you are with me, these are my rules.” This eliminates discussion, fights, and keeps the children out of the middle.
Parallel Parenting provides:
- Children the right to have a meaningful relationship with each of their parents;
- Children the right to be removed from the middle of their parents’ conflicts; and
- The parents the right to develop their own rules and beliefs for what they believe will provide a meaningful relationship with the children, without the other parent’s interference or disapproval.
In high conflict situations, practicing Parallel Parenting is in the best interests of the children. Bedtime routines, homework rules, discipline, belief systems, traditions, etc. are no longer up for argument between the parents. Each parent is making up their own rules, beliefs, decisions, and discipline for their children with the children.
Parallel Parenting Provides:
- Little to no interaction between the parents;
- Parents an opportunity to create their own parenting style with the children;
- Each parent independence from the other parent’s approval and disapproval of them;
- A specific, clear and extremely detailed child sharing plan that alleviates parental communication which leads to conflict;
- Child sharing exchanges that are in neutral locations and occur after school, at daycare or after an extracurricular event so the children are not negatively anticipating their parents acting up.
- Each parent the responsibility for getting their own information about the child’s grades, attendance, activities, school conferences and award ceremonies, rather than from each other.
Parallel Parenting is designed to reduce the interaction between the parents to negate conflict. It allows each parent to focus on building a closer relationship with their children without the other parent demanding they comply with the other parent’s rules or parental demands.
Parallel parenting is a very powerful way to take your child out of the middle of the conflict between parents. When you begin to Parallel Parent, you can calm down and start focusing on the children rather than keep trying to get the other parent to work with you.
Dr. Deena Stacer is an International Parent Educator for parents involved in child custody conflicts. Parents can take online coparenting classes at www.ParentsInConflict.com/lessons. The courses are available online 24/7. Parents can spend time taking the courses online for as long as they want each time they log in. A certificate of attendance is available after the parent has attended the course.
Dr. Deena Stacer can be reached at Doc@DeenaStacer.com or by calling 800-980-0434.