How Do You Create a Parallel Parenting Plan?
Co-parenting is the best thing for your children after you and your spouse divorce. There is research that shows that it is conflict between parents that causes the most damage to children, not the divorce itself. Regardless of the reasons for your divorce, it is important to remember that your ex-spouse is still the other parent of your children.
Co-parenting requires communication, cooperation, flexibility, joint decision making and support for the other parent, even if the two of you do not see eye-to-eye. It will also help you make decisions centered around your children.
When the Divorce is Contentious
The fact is that most divorces are not amicable and it is often the children who are caught in the middle. If you and your ex-spouse are having difficulty agreeing on anything, especially a co-parenting plan for the kids, it may be time to adjust your thinking in order to avoid damaging your children. Rather than fight for a regular co-parenting plan, it may be time to consider a parallel parenting plan.
What is a Parallel Parenting Plan
A parallel parenting plan is still a co-parenting plan but it is designed for couples whose divorce was contentious or when one of the spouses is abusive, suffers from substance abuse or mental illness.
Contrary to what some believe, parallel parenting doesn’t actually mean no contact. It simply allows you to accept your ex-spouse’s limitations and create a health parenting situation for your children. You don’t have to have shared celebrations, go to the same events or handle the same activities for your children. However, with a parallel parenting plan, you create a healthy support system while keeping contact with your ex-spouse to a minimum.
Keep Communication Professional
One of the key elements of a parallel parenting plan is that you minimize contact with your ex-spouse. However, this does not mean you never have to communicate with them. When you do have to talk to them about schedules, the children or anything else, keep it brief, friendly, firm and informative. Stick to the facts and share only the information they need to know. You don’t need to be rude but get to the point quickly. Know why you are communicating and express your needs without embellishment.
Life Lessons Come from Conflict
If you are dealing with an ex-spouse whose behavior is sometimes unacceptable, try to turn any conflicts into life lessons for your children. Keep in mind that the other parent may not change, not necessarily because they don’t want to but because they cannot, especially if they are suffering from mental illness.
Instead of telling the children the other parent is wrong, try to show them what lessons they can learn from the conflict. This not only prevents your children from taking sides, it can also teach them to deal with difficult situations in other areas of their life. Ask them what they learned from the altercation and how things could have been handled differently. Let them explain what healthy boundaries they could set and guide them on how to do that.
Consider a Parenting App
Even parents who are not divorced sometimes need scheduling help and there are many online apps available that are designed for just that. Consider using one with your ex-spouse and include the children once they are old enough.
Parenting apps are often free and allow you to share schedules, manage expenses and even communicate with your ex-spouse without the need for a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Some even offer professionals who may step in should there be a conflict and any communication sent through the app cannot be altered in the same manner emails or texts could be.
Parallel parenting allows you to focus on your child’s growth, teach your child valuable lessons while also liberating you from the actions of your ex-spouse. If you need help creating a parallel parenting plan, don’t be afraid to consult a therapist or a lawyer.