Divorce is awful. There’s no way around it. It’s also a given that tempers will flare, especially when kids are involved and custody arrangements have to be mapped out. But what if when the dust settles (or the paperwork gets signed) you can still barely be civil to each other, let alone kind? It makes it difficult to co-parent, which is where the concept of parallel parenting comes in.
In a nutshell, parallel parenting is an alternative approach that puts each parent in the driver’s seat vs. having to consult each other on every move. But does it work? We asked Laura Wasser, divorce attorney and founder and CEO of the online divorce platform, It’s Over Easy, plus real parents actually using the approach, to break it down.
What is parallel parenting? Parallel parenting is a version of co-parenting that’s designed for parents who can’t get along or find themselves in a toxic situation with an ex, Wasser explains. It allows them to co-parent separately—meaning each parent does his or her own thing when the kids are in that parent’s physical custody—but with the same overall big-picture approach when it comes to education, discipline, emotional and physical safety. (For example, your child may spend more time on screens when with your ex, but you can rest assured that your kid’s best interest still comes above all else.)
In other words, you no longer have to consult each other about every child-related move. With parallel parenting, there’s a lot less direct contact, especially in situations where parents have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner. “This is something that can prove helpful during the transition period from one home to two,” Wasser says. “The hope is that as the dust settles and tempers cool, parents will realize that they love their children more than they hate each other and move forward with an ability to communicate better.”