Q: Our divorce was very messy, and things are still unhealthy. My friend recommended Parallel Parenting. What does that mean?
A: Parallel parenting is a concept or approach to co-parenting that is designed to minimize conflict between the divorced couple when children are involved. Parallel lines, like the rails of a railroad track, remain in a relationship but never touch. In the same way, parallel parenting is designed to minimize contact in a toxic relationship while enabling healthy relationships between each parent and their children.
Studies have shown that direct exposure to parental conflict can be emotionally damaging to children. Taking steps to minimize flare-ups or explosive emotional tension makes sense once consideration has been made. Disengagement creates the opportunity for each parent to have healthy relationships with their children. Both parents are equally important in a child’s life. Parallel parenting is a method of being disengaged from your spouse while remaining connected to your children.
If you are in an intractable, highly toxic co-parenting situation, a parallel parenting arrangement may be the best solution, for the sake of the children as well as your own emotional needs. Parallel parenting offers divorced couples an option when an ex is especially abusive, has addiction issues or mental illness. When a civil co-parenting relationship is unworkable, parallel parenting may be your only option.
In another post I will share ideas and tools available to help with parallel parenting.