Parallel Parenting: Is It Right For You?

High conflict parenting typically arises from serious issues with one or both parents that is often a result of a narcissist personality or very intense hostility making successful traditional co-parenting impossible. Examples of situations that can cause high conflict parenting issues are:

  • Either one or both parents still hold resentment toward the other due to the breakup of the family, which adversely impacts communication between the parents and the willingness to put the children first and co-parent effectively;
  • One parent doesn’t respect the other parent’s role and refuses to work with him or her;
  • One or both parents have high levels of animosity and emotional pain that won’t allow for successful communication of any kind.

In situations like those mentioned or others that cause a complete breakdown in communication where one or both parties are unwilling to communicate at all or the communication is so toxic that it doesn’t accomplish anything, many parents have success with parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is used by parents who want to avoid contact with one another by limiting their interactions. This parenting technique allows both parents to be involved in their children’s lives without the added stress of being involved with one another. It also allows parents to detach from one another and avoid engaging in discussion as it minimizes contact and limits the need for discussion on day-to-day issues.

A parallel parenting agreement can be determined much like a traditional co-parenting agreement when all other details regarding the divorce and visitation are being settled. In situations where parents are unable to communicate, it is best to iron out every little detail and scenario in the beginning to avoid any further problems.

  • A third-party mediator can help mitigate the details; however, when the conflicts are to this level it is usually best that each parent has their own attorney negotiate on their behalf helping to avoid any face-to-face meetings.
  • The plan should be thought out and detail-oriented to avoid any possible room for misinterpretation. The art and success of parallel parenting are truly in the details. They should contain specific times and public places for exchanges, contingency plans for cancellations, and an agreed-upon method for resolving conflicts. Many couples have success with co-parenting apps that allow them to communicate via a shared calendar. No detail is too small.

Once the agreement is in place, avoid giving the other parent any notion that you will be flexible. Deviating from the plan, breeds conflict. Communication should be reserved for situations out of necessity. If you must communicate, try to do so in writing via emails and texts to document the communication. Again, a co-parenting app is beneficial and can serve as documentation.

Many couples have found much success with parallel parenting as it can be used while the dust settles and emotions cool down. Often times after parents have had time to transition to their new family life and have had time to process their feelings, parallel parenting can transition to a more traditional interactive co-parenting style consisting of cooperation and communication. Although it may not seem like it in the beginning, the anger between the parents will start to cool. Although parallel parenting is less than ideal, it works. It is a good alternative to the preferred form of co-parenting where parents are able to put feelings aside for the best interest of their children.

Whatever your co-parenting looks like, Hickey and Hull Law Partners can help you develop the plan that is right for you and your family. We can develop a co-parenting plan that works for your unique situation. The River Valley office number is 479.434.2414 and the Northwest Arkansas office number is 479.802.6560.