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Parallel Parenting: 11 Types of Boundaries

by | Aug 21, 2023 | 0 comments

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The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

TINY - Pins - Short (6)As the author of the book You Can’t Co-Parent With a Narcissist: A Guide to Parallel Parenting, I have explored the intricate dynamics of parallel parenting, a valuable approach for separated or divorced parents facing high-conflict situations.

Parallel parenting provides a structured method for co-parenting while maintaining healthy boundaries, allowing both parents to focus on their children’s well-being without escalating conflicts. 

However, many parents I have talked to tell me that they have a hard time establishing parallel parenting boundaries – especially what kind of boundaries they can establish in a parallel parenting situation.

If that sounds like you, then let’s take a look at the core concept of setting boundaries within parallel parenting and the essential types of boundaries that can facilitate a smoother co-parenting journey.

Setting Boundaries With a High-Conflict Ex

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Co-parenting after a separation or divorce can be challenging, especially when dealing with a high-conflict ex-partner.

In such cases, parallel parenting offers an effective strategy to minimize conflicts and prioritize the children’s needs.

Setting clear and well-defined parallel parenting boundaries becomes a crucial aspect of making parallel parenting work in these situations.

High-conflict ex-partners often struggle to communicate amicably, which can negatively impact children caught in the crossfire.

Establishing boundaries helps establish guidelines for communication and interactions, making it easier for both parents to navigate their roles without causing additional distress to their children.

What are the Boundaries for Parallel Parenting?

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When engaging in parallel parenting, a variety of boundaries must be established to ensure that both parents can maintain their individual lives while effectively co-parenting.

These boundaries provide structure and clarity, reducing potential conflicts and enabling the children to thrive in a stable environment.

Here are some essential types of boundaries to consider:

1. Communication Boundaries

Effective communication is the linchpin of successful parallel parenting.

Set clear guidelines for the preferred modes of communication – whether it’s email, text, or a co-parenting app.

Establish designated times for communication, such as during non-working hours, and agree upon a reasonable response time to ensure promptness while respecting personal space.

Emphasize maintaining a respectful tone, focusing solely on matters pertaining to the children’s welfare.

It’s essential to avoid personal attacks, accusations, and inflammatory language to ensure productive exchanges that prioritize the children’s best interests.

2. Schedule Boundaries

Creating a well-defined parenting schedule is instrumental in minimizing disruptions and uncertainties for the children.

Detail the specific days and times that the children will spend with each parent, including pick-up and drop-off arrangements.

Establishing a consistent schedule not only reduces the likelihood of conflicts but also provides the children with a sense of routine and stability.

Additionally, discuss the protocol for any potential modifications to the schedule due to unforeseen circumstances, ensuring transparency and mutual agreement.

3. Personal Space Boundaries

Respect for personal boundaries between co-parents is paramount to maintaining a civil and functional co-parenting relationship.

Avoid delving into each other’s personal lives beyond what is directly related to the children and steer clear of probing inquiries into new relationships, social activities, and personal matters.

By adhering to personal space boundaries, both parents can contribute to an environment where the focus remains on the children rather than being overshadowed by emotional tensions.

4. Decision-Making Boundaries

Articulating clear guidelines for decision-making is crucial to prevent disputes over important aspects of the children’s lives.

Delineate the categories of decisions that require collaborative input, such as major medical choices, educational changes, and religious considerations.

At the same time, establish autonomy in areas where independent decisions can be made, such as day-to-day activities and minor health-related matters.

This approach fosters a streamlined decision-making process that prioritizes the children’s welfare while minimizing unnecessary conflicts.

5. Conflict Resolution Boundaries

Even with well-established boundaries, conflicts may arise. Establish a conflict resolution protocol that outlines how disagreements will be addressed.

This could involve engaging a mediator, attending counseling sessions, or following a step-by-step process to prevent conflicts from escalating and negatively affecting the children.

6. Financial Boundaries

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Financial responsibilities are another facet that necessitates well-defined boundaries.

Establish a clear framework for child support, shared expenses, and other financial obligations.

You should also determine how shared expenses, such as extracurricular activities, school supplies, and medical bills, will be divided and managed.

Implementing financial boundaries contributes to transparency, accountability, and equitable distribution of financial responsibilities.

7. Social Boundaries

Coordinating social interactions with new partners or significant others requires careful consideration.

Discuss when and how new partners will be introduced to the children, taking into account factors such as the children’s age and emotional readiness.

Establish guidelines for informing the other co-parent about new relationships and communicate any concerns that may arise regarding the children’s exposure to these individuals.

8. Technology Boundaries

As technology becomes an integral part of children’s lives, setting boundaries related to screen time, online safety, and content consumption is essential.

Discuss and agree upon limits for screen time during visits, as well as guidelines for internet usage and online interactions.

Ensuring that both parents are on the same page regarding technology usage safeguards the children’s well-being and maintains consistency across both households.

9. Boundaries for Special Occasions

Special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays, require thoughtful planning to ensure that both parents can participate without causing discomfort for the children.

Establish a schedule for sharing these events, alternating years, or specifying certain celebrations for each parent.

Coordinate gift-giving to avoid duplication and create a cohesive experience for the children, regardless of the household they are in.

10. Education Boundaries

Collaboration on educational matters is vital to support the children’s academic progress.

Determine how information about school activities, parent-teacher conferences, and academic achievements will be shared between co-parents.

Agree on a protocol for handling school-related decisions, such as selecting extracurricular activities or addressing academic challenges, to ensure that both parents are involved in their children’s education.

11. Emergency Boundaries

Unforeseen emergencies require a well-defined plan of action.

Establish a clear protocol for communicating during emergencies, designating who should be contacted first.

Outline the process for sharing critical information, making decisions, and providing updates to ensure both parents are informed and involved in resolving emergency situations.

What Are Examples of Parental Boundaries?

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In the context of parallel parenting, implementing specific boundaries can greatly contribute to the success of co-parenting and the well-being of the children.

Here are some examples of parental boundaries that can be established:

  • Communication Boundary Example: Limit communication to text or email for non-urgent matters; reserve phone calls for emergencies.
  • Schedule Boundary Example: Strictly follow the agreed-upon visitation schedule, with no alterations unless pre-approved.
  • Personal Space Boundary Example: Refrain from discussing personal dating lives or social activities during interactions.
  • Decision-Making Boundary Example: Collaboratively decide on major medical treatments, but respect each other’s autonomy for minor medical decisions.
  • Conflict Resolution Boundary Example: Engage a professional mediator when disagreements arise that cannot be resolved through direct communication.

By implementing these examples of boundaries, parents can ensure that their focus remains on their children’s well-being while minimizing the potential for conflicts that might arise from blurred lines.

Stand Firm in Your Boundaries

Establishing boundaries when parallel parenting can be difficult when you are dealing with a difficult, toxic, or narcissistic co-parent.

But establishing those clear boundaries is the cornerstone of making parallel parenting successful – it either helps you and your ex work together, or it helps you maintain control and reduce stress in the situation.

Either way, by understanding and implementing communication, schedule, personal space, decision-making, and conflict resolution boundaries, parents can navigate the challenges of co-parenting with respect and consideration for their children’s needs.

If you have any thoughts, experiences, or additional boundary suggestions to share, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below and join the conversation!

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