The thought of having to share custody with an ex is often the hardest part of getting a divorce if you have kids. It may feel like you cannot get away from the person you least want in your life. And you not only have to share your children with them, you need to work together to successfully raise them.
Some form of shared custody is the norm for most divorces in which both parents are deemed fit. Therefore, you are not alone in facing this situation. And the good news is that there is not just one way to continue parenting with your ex. In fact, co-parenting approaches exist on a spectrum. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the two opposite ends of that spectrum.
Co-parenting is an all-in collaborative approach
Some former couples part on good terms and have never had disagreements about their children and child-rearing practices. For these exes, true co-parenting is possible. It means making nearly every decision together, synchronizing rules and routines between households, supporting one another in front of the children and communicating frequently and productively.
This is arguably the co-parenting ideal. But we’re all human, and very few people can achieve this ideal all the time. For those parents who can get along, however, this is something to strive for.
Parallel parenting is the opposite approach
The other end of the spectrum is “parallel parenting,” which is basically parenting separately and drawing distinct boundaries in communication and cooperation. If you and your ex simply cannot get along even though you share custody, parallel parenting might need to be your approach.
This style of parenting means running two different households without collaborating on nearly anything. You don’t want input from your ex and you don’t offer your own input or opinions. Contact between you is minimal and always related to practical matters.
Co-parenting and parallel parenting are the two extremes, but many ex-couples will fall somewhere in the middle. Deciding the best approach for your family will be crucial in finding a workable custody solution.
The most important principle to keep in mind
If co-parenting seems like the “ideal” solution, it would stand to reason that parallel parenting is the worst solution. But that’s not necessarily the case. One of the worst things for children of divorce is exposure to constant parental conflict. Either of these approaches minimizes conflict and keeps the focus on the children.