In the majority of divorces involving children, the parents end up with joint custody. This is because the courts believe that both parents being actively involved in a child’s life is in the best interest of the child.
However, if you have a narcissistic ex or are otherwise on very poor terms with them, sharing custody may seem completely unworkable. This is when parallel parenting can step in and save your sanity and your relationships with your children. Parallel parenting still keeps both parents involved equally, but the parents are almost never physically together at the same time.
How is this different from co-parenting?
Co-parenting generally involves both parents putting on a united front to the family, even if they divorce. For example, both parents may attend a child’s school play together as a show of support. If they have new partners, they may bring their new partners but still sit together for appearances’ sake.
With parallel parenting, one parent would attend the school play and the other might attend the post-play ice cream social. The parents would not sit together and they would not interact.
What are the benefits?
The biggest benefit to parallel parenting is that it removes children from any potential conflict. Another plus to parallel parenting is if you and your ex-spouse can stick to a parallel parenting plan for a while, you may be able to graduate to a more traditional co-parenting plan at some point. Often, time will lessen the conflict between ex-spouses.
If, on the other hand, co-parenting will never be realistic, parallel parenting can give you the space you need while still doing what’s best for the children.