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What Is Parallel Parenting and Why Do Many Prefer It?

After a divorce, kids tend to struggle the most as often parents can’t see eye to eye post-separation. However, your children’s well-being and happiness should be your top priority despite the differences. Thus, it would be best to devise a plan to raise your little ones in a loving environment without intruding on each other’s space. That is why nowadays, separated or divorced couples opt for parallel parenting. It allows them to be responsible parents without involvement in their ex-partner’s lives. While many might think it sounds much like co-parenting, there is a slight difference. Read on to learn more about parallel parenting and how it differs from co-parenting.

What is parallel parenting?

As per Equitable Mediation, parallel parenting is when divorced parents view their assigned days as theirs alone. So, when you are with your child, you are entirely responsible for them. The other parent isn’t involved whatsoever on that particular day. Of course, the same holds when your ex-partner is with your kiddo, and you won’t be involved with the parenting duties that day.

In a nutshell, it is a method of shared parenting in which estranged or divorced individuals interact as little as possible while maintaining a healthy relationship with their children. So, one parent looks after the kids for an entire day or a determined period without disturbing the other.

It is an effective parenting method for ex-couples who have trouble maintaining a civil relationship or are prone to arguing. It can be an excellent long-term solution for many. Alternatively, people can use it as a temporary strategy while their ex learns to put their differences aside to work together to raise their little ones responsibly.

parallel parenting
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Every child needs a routine regardless of age. Constantly shifting their base without any schedule or prior information can also leave them annoyed and confused. This explains why many ex-couples are now taking the route of parallel parenting, as it has been proven beneficial for the kids’ overall physical and mental well-being.

In this parenting style, it is always clear which parent will care for the child, when, and for how long. This information leaves no room for confusion for children, who can settle seamlessly into their new routine without much hassle.

Moreover, parallel parenting allows both parents to stay involved in their kid’s lives, even in a high-conflict separation or divorce. This parenting style also helps children. It helps them develop better familial relationships, have fewer emotional issues, and have higher self-esteem. The kids also perform well in academics and other activities.

Children can learn essential things from each parent who brings their unique ideas and skills to parenting and life. This helps little ones get different perspectives, which can help them learn to view everything from various angles before making a decision.

Parallel parenting is not only great for kids, but it can also help the ex-partners. For instance, parents who travel for work regularly and practice parallel parenting can schedule their trips during their off weeks. Then, when they’re home with the children, they can focus entirely on being a parent. Alternatively, parents can enjoy some “grown-up time” during non-parenting days. For example, they can go out with friends, hit the gym, or take care of household chores.

Parents don’t feel guilty or stressed about trying to get to everything at once. This means they can be their best selves when with their kids, which is also great for their upbringing.

Parallel parenting vs. co-parenting: what are the differences?

Toddler boy holds hands with both parents and swings between them on their arms during a walk in the park, showcasing how co-parenting works, which is quite different from parallel parenting.
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The difference between parallel parenting and co-parenting is how they parent and share time with their little ones.

Co-parenting is generally considered shared parenting. So, former couples work together to raise their children with similar rules at both homes. They also have to show a united front for their kids’ benefit. This parenting style usually involves communicating extensively and working together with your ex-partner.

Moreover, in co-parenting, if a child stays with one parent, the other may come over at any time without informing. If one parent cannot provide care as scheduled, the other parent will have to make themselves available to fill in, even if they are informed at the last moment. Usually, attending your kid’s functions together is also one of the requisites.

However, that’s not the case in parallel parenting. While one parent may attend the soccer tournament, the other might attend their kid’s annual play instead. They don’t need to attend the functions together unless they want to. Also, the on-duty parent will be in charge of everything. From picking up and dropping off the child to helping with their homework, every responsibility will be part of your task list while the other parent is “off-duty.”

In parallel parenting, the off-duty parent won’t care for the children when it isn’t their turn. Rather than asking the other parent, they must find an alternative caregiver, such as a babysitter or family member with some free time.

However, before you set parenting rules, consider your child’s best interest and their age. They must come first. If you think parallel parenting might hurt your kids’ emotions, think twice before going with it. This might also mean you must go to counseling to learn how to get along as co-parents.

Also, write down clear rules about when and how to contact the other parent during their off-duty time and under what circumstances. If needed, you can set certain regulations about the child’s activity, basic routines, etc.

However, always inform the little ones about your decisions and plans and constantly monitor how things are going. Kids change as they grow up, so even if parallel parenting worked well before, it might not always. Be ready to change your plan to fit your children’s needs. Do what’s best for them, even if it means you and your ex must be on your best behavior in front of your kiddos.

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