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Co-Parenting Versus Parallel Parenting: What You Need to Know

by | May 2, 2023 | 0 comments

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 - ShortDivorce and separation can be tough on everyone, especially children.

When parents separate, it can be challenging to navigate co-parenting, especially if one of the parents is a narcissist.

In some cases, co-parenting isn’t possible due to high levels of conflict and tension between the parents, so parallel parenting is an effective alternative.

Through my own personal journey, I’ve learned about the benefits of parallel parenting, how it differs from co-parenting, and some tips on how to effectively implement it.

Parallel parenting can be a helpful tool for parents who have a difficult co-parenting relationship, especially when dealing with a high-conflict ex-partner.

It allows both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives while minimizing contact and communication with each other.

It can also be an effective way to reduce tension and conflict, which can ultimately benefit the children involved.

So, if you’re considering parallel parenting as an option for your family dynamic, keep reading to learn more:

Podcast: Parallel Parenting is So Much More Than a Plan

What Is Parallel Parenting?


Parallel parenting is a method of co-parenting that involves minimizing communication and limiting direct contact between parents while still maintaining a shared responsibility for raising their children.

It’s a parenting approach that allows parents to disengage from each other’s lives as much as possible while still providing a stable and healthy environment for their children.

While it may seem like a harsh way of co-parenting, parallel parenting can be beneficial for children, especially those who may have experienced emotional distress due to their parents’ high-conflict relationship.

Parallel parenting also allows both parents to have their own parenting styles, schedules, and rules, which can provide a sense of stability and structure for the children.

And because there is less direct contact between parents, children are less likely to be exposed to arguments or negative emotions that can be detrimental to their mental and emotional well-being.

But parallel parenting can also present some challenges, such as difficulty in communicating effectively, inconsistency in parenting styles and rules, and potential conflict when making major decisions about the children’s lives.

Overall, parallel parenting is usually recommended when

there is a lot of conflict between the parents and when co-parenting isn’t feasible (even with these challenges).

How Does Parallel Parenting Differ from Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting and parallel parenting are two different approaches to parenting after a divorce or separation.

Co-parenting involves both parents working together cooperatively to raise their children.

Communication and cooperation are key components of co-parenting.

In contrast, parallel parenting focuses on reducing communication and limiting direct contact between parents.

Parallel parenting is recommended when co-parenting isn’t feasible due to high levels of conflict or when the parents have difficulty communicating effectively.

It’s also suitable for parents who have different parenting styles or values, and it allows both parents to have greater control over their parenting time and decision-making.

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

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Co-parenting with a narcissist can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience.

Narcissists tend to manipulate and control situations and people to get what they want.

They may use their children as pawns to hurt or manipulate their ex-partners.

Narcissists have a strong need for control and may try to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time or decision-making.

This is why parallel parenting may be a better option to ensure that the children’s needs are met without exposing them to parental conflict.

Is Parallel Parenting Good or Bad?

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Parallel parenting is often portrayed as a negative or inferior method of co-parenting.

However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Whether parallel parenting is a good or bad option depends on individual circumstances, and it may be the best option for co-parents who are unable to cooperate effectively with each other.

but in other situations, it may not be the best option and could lead to additional problems.

Overall, an attempt should be made to co-parent with your ex, but if that doesn’t work, parallel parenting may be the answer.

The Advantages of Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is a form of co-parenting that allows parents to disengage from each other while still sharing the responsibility of raising their children.

Here are some of the advantages of parallel parenting:

  • Reduces conflict: Parallel parenting reduces conflict between co-parents by allowing each parent to make independent decisions regarding the children without having to consult or agree with the other parent.
  • Less stress for children: Parallel parenting reduces the level of conflict that children are exposed to, thereby reducing their stress levels.
  • More stable environment: Children benefit from a more stable environment when parents are not in constant conflict with each other.
  • Greater autonomy: Each parent has greater autonomy and control over their own parenting decisions, which can be especially important for parents who have difficulty communicating effectively with each other.

The Disadvantages of Parallel Parenting

While parallel parenting can be a good option for high-conflict co-parents, it also has some drawbacks.

Here are some of the potential disadvantages of parallel parenting.

  • Limited cooperation: Parallel parenting limits the amount of cooperation between co-parents, which can be problematic in certain situations.
  • Lack of consistency: Because each parent makes independent decisions, it can lead to inconsistency in parenting styles and rules, which can be confusing for children.
  • Difficulty in communication: Parallel parenting can make it more difficult for co-parents to communicate effectively with each other, which can be a problem when dealing with important issues such as medical decisions or education.

Steps to Implement Parallel Parenting

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Implementing parallel parenting requires planning and effort from both parents.

Here are some steps to follow when implementing parallel parenting:

Establish Boundaries and Guidelines

It’s essential to establish clear boundaries and guidelines to ensure that each parent knows what’s expected of them.

The guidelines should cover everything from communication to discipline to scheduling.

Each parent should know their rights and responsibilities, and the guidelines should be clear and easy to understand.

Create a Detailed Parenting Plan

Creating a detailed parenting plan is essential to ensure that both parents know what’s expected of them.

The parenting plan should cover everything from parenting time to decision-making.

The plan should be clear and specific, including details such as pick-up and drop-off times, holidays, and school schedules.

It should also outline each parent’s responsibilities and any restrictions or limitations.

Identify Communication Strategies

Communication is key when it comes to co-parenting, even if the communication is limited in parallel parenting.

Both parents should agree on a communication strategy that works for them.

This may include using email or a communication app that allows for messaging without direct contact.

It’s important to establish protocols for emergencies and urgent matters that require immediate attention.

Ensure Consistency in Parenting Styles

In parallel parenting, parents have more control over their parenting time and decision-making.

However, it’s essential to ensure that the parenting styles are consistent across both households.

Consistency is key to ensuring stability and reducing stress for children.

It’s important to discuss any differences in parenting styles and values and agree on how to handle them.

Parallel Parenting Plan PDF

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Creating a parallel parenting plan can be a difficult and overwhelming process, but there are numerous resources available to assist parents in creating a plan that meets their unique needs.

One such resource is a parallel parenting plan PDF, which I offer for free to those who sign up for my email list.

This useful tool provides a framework for developing a parallel parenting plan that works for both parents.

By using a parallel parenting plan PDF, parents can ensure that they are both on the same page and have a clear understanding of their respective rights and responsibilities.

Click here to learn more or sign up below:

Embracing Parallel Parenting: Creating Stability and Health for Your Children

As we wrap up our discussion on parallel parenting, it’s important to remember that this approach can be a game-changer for parents dealing with high-conflict situations.

While it has its ups and downs, parallel parenting can provide the stability and structure that children need when co-parenting isn’t an option.

The key is to approach parallel parenting with a commitment to communication and cooperation.

Creating a detailed parenting plan and identifying communication strategies can go a long way in ensuring that both parents are on the same page.

And remember, you don’t have to go through this alone – there are many resources available to help you create a parallel parenting plan that works for you and your family.

As a starting point, consider signing up for my email list to receive a free parallel parenting plan PDF.

By taking these steps, you can create a positive and healthy environment for your children, even in the midst of high-conflict situations.

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