For those of us who have been co-parenting for some time, you may not be a stranger to this scenario. Kid exchanges happen, as do school assemblies, sports events and all the activities in between with little to no interaction with your co-parent. Perhaps you’ve hit maximum velocity in the co-parenting world and the friction point has disappeared or perhaps you have taken parallel tracks for the sake of the kids and your sanity. Let’s explore a few things that may be in play.
If this is the path, it is probably a very purposeful path. Parallel parenting is a manageable way for two high-conflict co-parents to provide the benefits of co-parenting by means of disengaging from each other and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner. This allows children to form active loving bonds with both parents while not suffering from a toxic parent relationship and home environment. While we know this puts the onus on the parents to over communicate their concerns, priorities and co-parenting expectations to each other, generally speaking, ‘what happens at mommy house stays at mommy’s house’ and ‘what happens at daddy’s house stays at daddy’s house’. Meaning, children may be growing up in a two-house family but the rules across those two homes are most likely very different and it will be your challenge to manage your half of the family as best as possible.
They’ve simply moved on.
Over the course of the months and years, the edge of conflict has waned and they have effectively moved on with their lives. They are no longer invested in the conflict and drama and do not feel the need to engage. Whatever the reason, if there is a critical break in the lines of communication and it is to the detriment of the child, be proactive and bring it up and get information flowing again. It is important to remind yourself there will be some connection between you and your co-parent for the rest of your life. It is natural for that connection to feel more like a rope in the beginning -with all the decisions and life events that come with young children during your child’s younger years and thin (as a thread) as they grow into adulthood.
Picking up on a blind spot
As in business, blind spots are a thing. Specifically, blind spots may include your values, habits, thoughts, actions, traits, feelings, or idiosyncrasies that are ill-received or not kept in check with those around you and work against you in a social setting and/or work setting. Top personalities, politicians and business leaders tend to have very keen adaptive abilities of sensing and adjusting (sometimes in real-time) to offset what may become blind spots for others.
What you may be picking up on is a co-parenting blind spot that may or may not need to be addressed. Some may consider it a passive-aggressive way to deal with something that rubs you the wrong way but if it is the ‘path of lesser resistance’ many will take it. If the current lack of engagement is causing issues that affect your child, then, of course, it needs to be addressed.
Depending on your family, age of your children, and their needs you may be okay. You may have changed lanes and are now running on parallel paths. So long as your children are thriving, healthy and happy you may be fine. If things are falling off the tracks (ie. your child is acting out or there is a notable change in their behavior in general or toward you for example) you will need to initiate a conversation to understand how communication can be improved. This is to say, this is not an opportunity to ask what is ‘going on’ since that may cross a boundary. Keep the conversation focused on maintaining good communications for the sake of the children.