Q: I want to pursue a Parallel Parenting agreement with my ex. What kinds of tools are available?
A: When meetings with your ex continue to be explosive, it’s time to consider parallel parenting for a while. Parallel parenting is like parallel parking in which you line the car up next to the curb but your wheels are not touching it. The goal is to minimize contact because the relationship, at this point in time, is fraught with tension, producing conflicts which in turn can be damaging to the relationships you both have with your child or children.
Even though parallel parenting is disengaged parenting, there is still a measure of communication required between the parents. Matters of health, education, events and other planned activities must all be addressed one way or another in non-direct ways. To assist in these things a number of tools have been developed. Here are five.
Parent Communication Notebook
As the name suggests, a “parent communication notebook” is a way each parent can share the child’s emotions and behaviors while away from the other parent. The notebook provides a record of sleeping and eating patterns, school-related issues, the children’s moods and routines. This is all done in a respectful, factual tone without criticism of the other parent’s ways of addressing things.
Online Parenting Apps
This is another way in which parents can communicate regarding the same issues they might in a communication notebook. For those who have a modest level of tech savvy, this is an easy alternative, a form of private social media.
Online Support Groups
Divorce can make you feel beat up and worthless. Something that was important to you ended in failure. This does not mean that you need to wear the “Failure” label. Nor does it mean you are worthless. You are exceedingly important to your children, and for this reason must hold on to that essential truth.
Support groups are made up of people who have been there, where you’re at now. It may feel like you’ve entered a dark, foggy valley, but as you go move forward you will come to daylight again. Your support group will be there to see you through to help you transform pain into power.
Turn Conflicts Into Teaching Opportunities
By focusing on your children and their future, you can begin to use your ex’s bad behavior as a teaching experience. The goal is not to teach them that your ex is a bad person, because he or she is your child’s parent. Rather, the goal is to teach them lessons about how to relate to others, how to become better, more self-aware human beings themselves. As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.