Last Updated on December 6, 2023 by Meghan
Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting: The Difference
Children often feel better when they get support from both parents. The truth is, parents who share custody of their children experience lower conflicts. Recent studies confirm that children become more resilient when conflict is kept at a minimum. Though co-parenting has many advantages to both the parents and the children, it can’t work best in relationships prone to conflicts.
What Is Co-Parenting?
In the U.S., co-parenting defines a parenting situation where divorced parents both take part in supporting their children. It means that children have the right to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents, even if they divorce. It only doesn’t apply when there is proof that the children need to be separated from one of the parents.
Co-parenting offers an opportunity for children of divorce to have equal access to love from both parents.
How Does It Work?
Communication is key! For co-parenting to work best, you will need to communicate regularly with your ex. It is going to be necessary as long as you both want to maintain a stable relationship with your children. However, ensure you set clear boundaries – avoid personal sharing, so your children don’t think you may reconcile. Instead, focus on cooperating to build a better life for your children.
Observe parenting time. Reschedule your parenting time to make sure it works best for both of you and your kids. For younger children, moving more frequently between homes is never a good thing! Adolescents, on the other hand, want to control their schedule because of schooling and maybe creating time to be with friends.
What Is Parallel Parenting?
Of course, co-parenting is the best arrangement for most kids. However, it can be difficult for some reasons. Having to regularly communicate with your ex and making joint decisions can be challenging.
Now, parallel parenting is a parenting situation where divorced parents co-parent, but with limited direct contacts. It applies in a situation where there is proof that parents can’t engage and communicate respectfully.
How Does Parallel Parenting Work?
- Communication must only be about your children’s well-being. It means you have to avoid personal communication by all means if you want this to work.
- You must keep your children away from your communication. You can’t use your kids as messengers to pass on information back and forth.
- Schedules are only shared in writing.
Unlike co-parenting, parallel parenting allows one to remain close to their children without having to directly engage.
Benefits of Coparenting and Parallel Parenting
- It enables children to maintain a strong bond with both parents and boost their self-esteem.
- Recent studies show that children raised in divorced families report fewer trust issues.
- Children brought up in divorced families learn how to resolve problems effectively.
- It fosters healthy relations among children.
Challenges of Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting
The Lasting Effects of Conflict
Of course, a happy co-parenting is great and makes parenting easier. But exes don’t simply want to forget their anger, hurt, and frustrations that come with divorce. Moving on seems to be difficult for some people and they tend to find it hard to co-parent without having to fight over their differences, including parenting styles.
Making A Plan
In conflict-prone co-parenting, developing plans can be challenging. You want to communicate and avoid personal engagement at the same time. If the level of conflict is higher, it gets harder because the higher specificity is required.
Moving Between Homes
Frequent movements between homes can be challenging for younger kids. The goal of co-parenting and parallel parenting is to keep the relationship between the child and both parents stable. Safety and psychological adjustment of the child matters a lot when it comes to co-parenting and its success. Children raised in divorce families grow up with better communication and problem-solving skills when they experience how their parents cooperate.
Co-Parenting with A Difficult Ex
It can be challenging raising kids together if your relationship didn’t end well. However, you can still make it work for both of you and the children after the break-up. And of course, it is going to require patience.
Tips to Co-Parenting with A Difficult Ex
Set boundaries. You need to ensure you set clear boundaries for you and the kids. Consistency has to be there if you want this to work. If your ex, for instance, keeps showering the kids with gifts and allowing them to engage in activities that might be dangerous for them, keep things as consistent as possible on your side. Your kids may not like how you treat them, but one time in the future, they will be grateful.
Avoid criticizing your ex behind their back. Don’t talk bad about your ex in the presence of your kids. Remember children are influenced by the environment they live in. So, if you have to talk about your ex, emphasize on the positive ones.
Work as a team. Even if you argue most of the time, try to act like you are united in the presence of your kids.