Every couple has disagreements now and again. However, frequent and heated disagreements can be harmful. They can be harmful to the couple’s relationship, but if the spouses are also parents, the conflict can also be harmful to their children.
Some parents in a high-conflict relationship opt for divorce because they think divorce will end the fighting. Divorce may not be a bad choice, but parents may still need to interact with each other for the sake of their children.
What is a co-parenting arrangement?
Usually, the best parenting arrangement for children is a co-parenting arrangement. This is because a co-parenting arrangement allows the child to maintain an ongoing relationship with both parents.
Parents with this arrangement try to share parenting duties equally and often collaboratively. They may make parenting decisions together. They may both attend the same events. They may even enforce the same rules in both homes.
Unfortunately, when parents cannot get along, a co-parenting arrangement may provide ample opportunities for arguments to occur. High-conflict parents with a co-parenting arrangement may inadvertently negate all the potential benefits of their arrangement. Fortunately, there is another option: parallel parenting.
What is a parallel parenting arrangement?
Parallel parenting is a different approach to a co-parenting arrangement. It involves parents disengaging with each other, while maintaining close contact with their child.
Parents with this arrangement may set strict rules about how and when they can communicate with each other, as well as what details they can share. For example, parents may only communicate in writing. They may share scheduling details on a shared digital calendar, and if they must communicate about their child’s well-being, they may be limited to email or text messages. All communication should generally be business-like and should not include any personal details.
Parents with this arrangement may also seek creative solutions to limit contact at pick-ups and drop-offs. For example, one parent might drop the child off at school in the morning, and the other parent may pick the child up from school in the afternoon.
Parallel parenting arrangements are not the best option for every family. However, in some situations it can be an effective way to protect children from parental conflict.