Divorces are snow-flakey, meaning each one is different. Some people are able to be grown-ups about it and be respectful, friendly enough to co-parent but, honestly, this is the exception rather than the rule.
Everyone has to move on, eventually. Acceptance is not always easy, though. Not everyone is good at accepting new paradigms, especially if things like respect, collaboration and communication are challenging to begin with.
When kids are in the mix, it is even more important to be collaborative, accepting and open to compromise. Sounds good in theory (and in divorce documents) but the reality is most often much different. In the end, the kids end up taking the brunt of it when parents struggle to separate their own need to be contrary from the needs of their children to have equal support of both parents.
Not having a voice with the other parent makes it even more challenging to establish a strategy to best support the kids as well as our own quality of life as we move on.
When co-parenting is not a viable option, parallel parenting can help.
What is Parallel Parenting?
Parallel Parenting is a departure from the fairy tale many divorced people choose to sell themselves. It’s about acceptance of a real situation. It abandons the veneer and means letting go of what isn’t true. In situations where one or both parents struggle with putting the kids first, parallel parenting can help better delineate even where there is great resistance.
Some great articles have been posted on it around the Internet.
How do we Parallel Parent?
If we already know communication doesn’t work and we aren’t the type of divorce where boundaries are mutually respected, there are other options.
For example, instead of continuing to be disappointed by an ex’s condescension, demands, lack of equity and threats, we go the other way. Limit contact to only what is absolutely necessary, minimize opportunities for conflict, buffer the kids from that energy as much as possible so they feel safe and, most importantly, keep ourselves from losing time and energy that distracts us from moving ahead.
Communicate only when necessary – Use email. Check it at designated times and delete/ignore what’s not relevant and focused on the child.
Set Boundaries – Be firm and clear. Respectfully maintain them.
Ignore Threats – Yep.
Effective Navigation – We may not be able to schedule separate parent-teacher conferences but, even so, we can limit interactions.
For example, keep transitions with the kids short. Better for them, better for us.
Parallel Parenting requires letting go and accepting what’s real.
For example, what happens to the child while they are with the other parent – out of our control. Focus on the time they are with you and let the rest go.
As children get older they will speak up and advocate for themselves more and more. This is a good thing. Alongside the good times, we will be their supporters and guide them through some tough ones, but letting them know they are not alone, that they are loved and supported, will make things as smooth as they can be.
For example, it isn’t an awesome idea to get involved in problems between children and the other parent. The goal is to empower our kids, not help them feel like victims. Listen to the kids talk about their problems. They will have to do the work of sleuthing out solutions, especially if it concerns the other parent, but it will help them to know someone is listening and not judging or putting any pressure on.
In a nutshell, Parallel Parenting can be a good strategy to minimize negative mojo and maximize acceptance. That’s good. For everyone.