Updated: Feb 10
Maybe, but it’s not a given. Parallel parenting isn’t easy. These are little hearts, with changing needs, not shared property and they live family life in two distinct and partitioned off worlds. Not knowing what is happening in your child’s world for a large chunk of their lives can invite grief, anxiety, sadness and a host of difficult emotions that you will need to work through and manage.
There is a mindset one must adopt when it comes to parallel parenting and it’s not always easy. There is little accountability to each other as parents and this can require some resolve to stomach. Parallel parenting at it’s best, requires each parent to accept that the other has different parenting philosophies and recognizes that there will be variations in parenting between households. Despite how difficult it can be, parallel parenting requires adopting the idea that that unless your children are in imminent danger, or are suffering damages, one’s best course of action is often to realize that your way is not the only way to parent.
Successful parallel parenting arrangements require that parents each maintain their end of the parenting agreement and follow the parenting plan often down to the last detail, with minimal communication or flexibility. There will be things your children will miss out in your extended family life and things they struggle with that you can’t resolve. It can be a tough road. Surround yourself with good support, learn what you can and can’t control, maintain your commitment to great parenting in your home and never hesitate to get professional help during the rough patches.
Regardless of your parenting schedule or timeshare, coparenting has a style. If cooperative coparenting isn’t in the cards, you will likely find a parallel parenting style is needed. Parallel parenting is designed to disengage parents thereby protecting vulnerable little hearts from undue conflict. Parallel parenting works much like a train track. Each parent actively parents on independent rails with limited points of communication across the ties, and only when necessary.
Research lends support for parallel parenting in terms of its utility in protecting children from conflict, but that does not mean it is free from challenges and isn’t always the magic it is sometimes purported to be, in particular in high conflict dynamics.
Glenda Lux, M.A., R. Psych.