Five tips for parallel parenting

Parallel parenting is a method used by many divorced or separated couples who wish to continue to care for their children in parallel, whilst also agreeing to limit contact and interaction with each other. 

This technique is particularly helpful in divorces or separation that involves high conflict, or where communication is extremely difficult. However, knowing where to start with parallel parenting can be tricky. 

To give you the best start after divorce or separation, here are x tips for parallel parenting. 

Create a mutual parenting plan 

It’s best to plan ahead of the final divorce in order to avoid disagreements. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to argue with your ex-partner. Agreeing terms in advance will also minimise the stress for you and your child. 

Some things you may want to plan in advance include:

  • How often will the child see the parent?
  • Who will take your children to appointments?
  • Who will drop them off or pick them up from school?
  • Where will your child spend Christmas and birthdays?
  • Agreement of visits in writing 
  • Choose a neutral location, or even ask a trusted family member to pick up your child
  • Set out financial responsibilities

Take time for yourself 

When you’re coming out of an unhealthy relationship, ideally you would never contact them or see them again. But when children are involved, it isn’t always possible to eliminate them from your life. If some form of contact must remain, you should prioritize looking after yourself and fulfilling your needs as well as your children. 

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Incorporate time for yourself in your routine in order to reconnect with yourself. Creating long-term goals can help with this, as it will encourage you to build resilience and reintroduce happiness into your life. 

Accept the current situation 

Although it’s important to take time for yourself, it’s also important you stay grounded and remain aware of the current situation. Parallel parenting can be difficult, and it’s natural you will struggle with some negative emotions such as anger, shame and guilt. You may feel like things aren’t fair and you may find it hard to accept that your ex is still a parent to your child, but try to practice acceptance.

The way things have turned out is something that you cannot change and all you can do is make the best out of the situation. Focus your energy on parenting your child and providing them with the love and support they need. 

Keep communication to a minimum 

Ideally, you should only communicate with your ex when it’s necessary. It’s a good idea to set boundaries, such as only communicating via email or parenting apps so you can document interactions. Try to keep communication impersonal, only discussing topics that relate to your child and ensuring no personal information is shared. 

Try not to use your child as a messenger between yourself and your ex, and try not to dwell on the relationship whenever an email pops up. Try to think of interactions with your ex as a business that’s necessary to maintaining your child’s happiness. 

Get a mediator

It’s likely that you have a lot of history with your ex which can cause resentment to arise when discussing parenting plans. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to appoint a professional mediator. Mediation sessions can help separated couples to align their intentions and focus on the shared priority, their child. 

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Mediation can help separated couples to make well-informed decisions, reduce conflict and set out beneficial plans for all family members

Parallel parenting can be a challenging and confusing situation, and the details of an arrangement will depend on individual circumstances. Consider getting the help of a professional family law solicitor, who will be able to guide you through the best options available during parallel parenting.

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