The Differences Between Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting

January 19, 2021

After separation, you will hear a lot of people talking about co-parenting and highlighting that this is the ideal aim for parenting with your Ex after separation. But what happens if it can’t be achieved…what’s the other option?

The experts say that co-parenting is the ideal framework, but they also recognise that it takes a lot of energy and commitment from both parents to make it work.  It requires both parents to work collaborate and work together to:

  • provide consistent rules, routines, boundaries and behavioural guidelines in both households; and
  • commit to talking positively about the other parent in their household; and
  • proactively promoting the children’s relationship with the other parent. 

Co-parenting isn’t immediately achieved after separation, but it can only be achieved when both parents have processed the separation, let go of and found a way to deal with past and ongoing conflict and when they have found their way to a cooperative relationship focused on the children. 

In saying this, co-parenting is not always feasible.  

When there is a high level of conflict or both parties have very different personalities and parenting styles, they are unable to get to a place where they have a cooperative relationship. Sometimes, one parent is pushing for a co-parenting relationship with a high level of communication and this often leads to increasing conflict and one or both parents disengaging.  In this situation, parallel parenting may be the most helpful way forward.

Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is where you and your Ex, parent your children side by side where you are each focused on your individual relationships with the children and you each adopt your own parenting style independent of the other.  Essentially, you parent the kids how you want in your household and your Ex, parents how he or she wants in their household.

Parallel parenting can have its positives for children as it allows them to develop meaningful relationships with each parent and both parents can disengage emotionally from the other and develop a more business-like relationship which can reduce conflict.

To make parallel parenting work, you need to come to the mindset where you aren’t worrying about what you can and can’t control, or what your Ex does when the kids are in his or her care such as:

  • their parenting choices;
  • their lifestyle choices;
  • their behaviour;
  • time management;
  • their relationships with the children; 
  • differences between your households; and
  • how the kids are coping with moving between such different households. 

Your mindset has to be focused on what YOU CAN control such as:

  • your choices;
  • your behaviour;
  • your routines;
  •  your relationship with the children;
  • your reactions, responses and behaviour towards your Ex; 
  • how you communicate with your children about your Ex; and
  • how you communicate with your Ex.

By focusing on what you can control, you will be able to let go and focus on your children and this will allow your children to feel free to have a positive relationship with both parents despite your differences or any conflict. 

This is a challenging time and finding the right way to parenting with your Ex is a journey, not a sprint. If you are trying to come up with a parenting strategy and arrangement in the short, medium and long-term, you can book a FREE CLARITY CALL with us to see how we can help you. 

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

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