Co-parenting – What is Parallel Parenting?

If you are developing a co-parenting plan or are in a child custody battle, you may hear the term parallel parenting. This can be a good solution for some situations.

Parallel parenting means that each household functions independently of the other household. Often, co-parenting plans try to place boundaries on homework, food, extracurricular activities, bedtime, etc. In parallel parenting, each parent determines what the limits will be a their home without participation from the other parent.

If your co-parent is generally cooperative and willing to do what’s best for the kids, then you can probably negotiate to have similar expectations in both of your homes. But, if you have a co-parent that is mentally ill, abusing substances, or completely inflexible, parallel parenting can be the way to go. These types of people are often inconsistent at best or worse, do things that they know you would hate like plying the kids with junk food and letting them stay up all night watching objectionable television programs.

They are likely to ignore anything you put in the co-parenting plan, and the thought of being in contempt of court doesn’t phase them. You will save yourself a lot of headaches if you concentrate on providing a stable environment at your home, and stay out of what happens in the co-parent’s home unless there is neglect or abuse going on.

You may think that parallel parenting sounds like a stressful situation for the kids since they have two different sets of expectations. However, research has shown that kids are do much better adjusting to the rules of two different households than to being in a situation of constant conflict.

Parallel parenting can be a good solution for high-conflict divorce situations. You may need to seek support for handling the emotions of ‘letting go’ of what happens at the co-parent’s home, and for helping your children cope with the situation.