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What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work

When co-parenting isn’t working for parents in a joint custody situation, parallel parenting can be a healthy solution.

What is co-parenting?

Co-parenting is when a mother and father share in the duties of taking care of and raising a child even though they are not together. The parents of the child could be divorced, separated, broken up, or were possibly never even in a relationship. Co-parenting is a deliberate choice by both parents to maintain a respectful and civil relationship with each other. This is often done to provide the child with the care and attention he or she needs from both a mother and a father. 

Co-parenting is often approached 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 needed between co-workers, but just as some business relationships don’t work, some co-parenting relationships don’t work either.

You can make the change from co-parenting to parallel parenting

Sometimes parents 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 interactions result in fights, name-calling, threats, abuse, or stonewalling one another, then co-parenting isn’t going to work. This is when it can be beneficial to change course to parallel parenting

The main difference between co-parenting and parallel parenting 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, though you are still sharing custody. 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 when it comes to consistency for your kids, but toxic fighting between parents can be far worse for your child’s health and well-being. With parallel parenting, if you strongly disagree with a decision made by the other parent or there are safety concerns, you must turn to a mediator or the courts to resolve the situation.

Another tool that can be helpful with the parallel parenting approach is a highly structured parenting plan. Likely, you will get the help of an arbitrator, lawyer, or other neutral third-party to form this agreement, but here are some common ground rules to lay out: 

  • 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 each other about the kids without any physical interaction, such as a co-parenting app 

Co-parenting apps can be useful in any type of shared parenting situation

If you have joint custody of your children, a co-parenting app can help you coordinate with the other parent when necessary, while keeping all communications secure and accountable.

TalkingParents offers features like Secure MessagingAccountable Calling, the Shared CalendarAccountable Payments, and more. These tools allow you to communicate about important matters, schedules, shared expenses, and other joint custody related topics, while keeping everything on an Unalterable Record that cannot be changed or deleted.

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