Perhaps you have exhausted all attempts to co-parent with your ex and you find yourself in a parallel parenting situation. Parallel Parenting is the co-parenting style when dealing with a high-conflict divorce, or if you are co-parenting with an ex who has a history of abuse (physical or verbal), struggles with addiction or has a mental illness (narcissism, bipolar, schizophrenia or other personality disorders). We understand in these situations, parallel parenting may be your only option (so long as you and your children are safe to do so).
This involves accepting the limitations of your ex and creating the best situation for you and your children. This approach includes less communication between parents and less shared celebrations, events, and activities.
- Communication with your co-parent should be brief, informative, friendly and firm. Keep to the facts and do not let it get emotional. Share only needed information. Don’t be rude but do be concise. Know your purpose for communicating and state it firmly.
- Maintain a support circle and take care of yourself. These high-conflict interactions take a toll, have a support group or professional to work through, process and let go. Dealing with high-conflict interactions requires personal boundaries and protection, external encouragement/guidance, and experienced support.
- Focus on positive outcomes for you and your child. Safety first which includes safety planning if this means drawing a lesson from something “wrong” or inept action your co-parent has done. Focus on the lesson learned, and keep the kid in the center, not in the middle.
Take a moment to check-in with your kids. Try some open-ended questions like, ‘How was your day? What were the highs or lows?’ Dig a little and find some open-ended non-threatening questions. As explained by veteran family therapist and mediator, Adya Riss, MSW: “Make sure questions are geared towards their age, level of maturity, and their unique situation. The more real, and less “candy-coated” a question is, the better.”
- “When you heard your dad and I fight, what were you feeling?”
- “Now that both your parents are not going to be at your birthday party, what can we do to celebrate?”
- “I am sometimes frustrated and angry with our family situation. What are some feeling you have?”
Kids that are in this situation have to grow up faster than their peers. It is important to recognize that by not asking vague questions. Give them credit for experiencing this incredibly stressful change, recognize what they are going through as a struggle and that they don’t need to hide what they are feeling. How might they handle things differently, next time? What’s a better way to handle things? Regardless of their answer, children love both their parents, so be patient. All kids deal with accepting the limitations of their parents and will find their own way.
If you haven’t already done so consider downloading the coParenter app to help you achieve these three things: consistent and proactive communication, support, and issue resolution while guiding your child. Our platform enables you to share schedules, expenses, and communicate in a safe and structured setting with dynamic language filters to keep everyone in check. The best part of the app is there are on-demand trained professionals to help you work through issues with your co-parent when they do arise.
On average issues can be resolved in 20 minutes or less, saving you money, keeping you out of court, and focused on raising a healthy kid. Once those agreements are made you can enable them in the app to automate the new terms.