You and your spouse have your differences, but you have concluded that separating from one another will lead to a positive change for both you and your children’s lives. The question now is how you split parental duties in a way that keeps the needs of your children at the forefront.
Some parents take a joint approach, co-parenting, while others prefer a more separate approach, parallel parenting. You and your ex-spouse need to begin by evaluating your relationship’s history and current state to determine which approach to take.
Is co-parenting best for our family?
When you look at your past relationship with your ex, were you able to communicate well? How about now that you live separate lives? Even if there are disagreements, are you able to hear each other out? If you are on good terms with your ex and understand the value of consistent communication, then co-parenting could be a great option for your family.
Through co-parenting, both parents work together to discuss and decide small and large decisions regarding each of their kids. This can include parenting time, medical decisions, holiday and travel arrangements, sports and extracurriculars and daily routines and rules you have for your children.
As you make these decisions, it’s important to keep consistency in your week-to-week or month-to-month schedule. However, healthy co-parenting usually leaves space for last minute changes for the sake of your children. For example, maybe you’ve committed to taking your child with braces to monthly orthodontist appointments. But, if something comes up at work one month and you can’t make the appointment, co-parents typically respond to last minute changes with a sense of understanding and flexibility.
What are the benefits parallel parenting?
In contrast, parallel parenting is best for ex-spouses who simply don’t get along. Or, maybe it’s painful for you to have to implement steady communication patterns with your ex after your divorce is final.
Parallel parenting allows you stick to a big picture schedule, rather than constantly checking in with one another on small changes. You also set expectations to communicate on big decisions that involve education, medical or other critical aspects of your children’s lives.
Parallel parenting creates more of a business-like relationship between you and your ex. But communicating on a child’s daily routines can be helpful from time to time, especially if your young ones are growing and changing almost daily. For example, maybe you have an infant that is on a streak of sleeping through the night, and to keep that up you’d like your ex to implement a similar bedtime routine for your baby. Composing a well-thought-out email with the suggestion or keeping an ongoing notes document that you both contribute to on these matters can help you work together without having face-to-face interactions.
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong choice when choosing between co-parenting and parallel parenting methods. It’s also perfectly fine to blend elements of each parenting style to take care of your family.