What Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is when the mother and father of a child share in the duties of taking care of and raising their child even though they are divorced, separated, or have never lived together. Co-parenting is a deliberate choice by both parents to maintain a respectful and civil relationship with the other parent to provide their child with the care and attention he or she needs from both a mother and a father.
Approach Co-Parenting like a Business Relationship
Co-parenting is like a business relationship. You have a plan with your co-worker about how to get a job done. You have specific tasks assigned to you. You follow the rules
. You communicate with your co-worker as you complete your tasks or as you encounter difficulties along the way. You work together to find solutions to these difficulties and still get the job done. There is a tremendous amount of communication between co-workers.
And just like some business relationships don’t work, some co-parenting relationships don’t work either.
Make the Change from Co-Parenting to Parallel Parenting
Sometimes couples can figure out ways to communicate with one another respectfully, and sometimes, communication breaks down altogether. If you are unable to communicate with your child’s other parent and your interaction’s result in fights, name-calling, threats, abuse, or stonewalling of one another, then co-parenting isn’t going to work. Change course to parallel parenting.
What is the difference between Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting?
The significant difference is that there is almost no communication between the parents themselves, so children are not witnessing constant conflict. The consistency of routines between households might be lost, but your children can and will adjust with time. Parallel parenting does not mean you are failing your kids. Both parents can still play active roles in their children’s lives. Parallel parenting means parenting independently. What happens in your household is up to you. What happens in the other parent’s home is up to them.
Parallel Parenting is not ideal, but toxic fighting between parents is far worse to your child’s health and well-being. When using the parallel parenting approach, when serious issues arise, if you strongly disagree with the other parent’s decisions, or if there are safety concerns, you then turn to a mediator or the courts to help resolve the situation.
Another tool to use when you choose parallel parenting is a highly structured parenting plan
. Likely, you will get the help of an arbitrator, lawyer, or other neutral third-party.
What to Include in Your Parallel Parenting Plan
- What days children will reside with each parent
- How drop-off and pick-up will be handled
- How cancellation and make-up times will be handled
- Holiday and vacation schedules
- How major decisions, such as schooling or health care will be handled
- Ways to communicate with one another about the kids that require no physical interaction, such as a co-parenting app.