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How to Set Up a Parallel Parenting Plan

by | Aug 14, 2023 | 0 comments

parallel parenting plan. A woman writes on a schedule as she uses her laptop.

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 (1)Divorce or separation can be a tumultuous journey, especially when children are involved

As you navigate this challenging path, it’s crucial to find a co-parenting arrangement that not only supports your children’s well-being but also minimizes the potential for conflict between you and your ex-partner.

Having personally walked this road myself and drawing from the insights I’ve gained in my journey, which I’ve also shared in my book about parallel parenting, I understand the complexities that arise when trying to co-parent with a difficult ex.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the concept of parallel parenting – an approach that goes beyond traditional co-parenting methods.

Parallel parenting provides a structured framework that helps both parents remain actively involved in their children’s lives while significantly reducing direct interaction.

It’s designed for situations where ongoing communication and collaboration are challenging due to unresolved conflicts.

Let’s take a look at the crucial elements to include in your plan, strategies to implement parallel parenting successfully, and how to choose between parallel parenting and co-parenting based on your unique circumstances.

Get Your Free Parallel Parenting Plan PDF Bundle

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As you embark on this journey of parallel parenting, I’m here to provide you with valuable resources to make the process smoother.

Sign up for updates and receive a free parallel parenting plan printable bundle, including:

  • Schedule templates: Create a clear routine for your children, helping them adjust to their new living arrangements.
  • Communication log: Foster healthy communication between co-parents by keeping track of important discussions and decisions.
  • Visitation log: Document visitation schedules and other crucial information to maintain transparency.
  • Boundary planner: Establish and respect boundaries, ensuring a stable environment for your children.

Sign up below to receive your bundle – then keep reading to learn more about how to set up your parallel parenting plan!

What Should Be Included in a Parallel Parenting Plan?

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Creating a parallel parenting plan is an essential step toward providing stability and structure for your children in the midst of a divorce or separation.

This plan acts as a roadmap for co-parenting, outlining the responsibilities and expectations of both parents while focusing on minimizing conflict and maintaining clear boundaries.

Let’s take a look at the key components that should be included in your parallel parenting plan to ensure the well-being of your children remains a top priority.

  • Detailed Schedule: Outline a comprehensive schedule that covers daily routines, school days, weekends, holidays, and special occasions. Having a predictable routine can provide a sense of stability for your children.
  • Communication Guidelines: Establish clear guidelines for communication between co-parents. Determine the preferred methods of communication and how often you’ll share updates about your children’s well-being, school activities, and other important matters.
  • Decision-Making Protocols: Define the decision-making process for significant matters like education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. Outline how joint decisions will be made and what steps to take in case of disagreements.
  • Visitation Arrangements: Detail the visitation schedule for both parents, including drop-off and pick-up times. Clarify how transportation will be managed and ensure that both parents are punctual and respectful of each other’s time.
  • Parental Responsibilities: List the responsibilities and expectations of each parent during their respective parenting time. This may include tasks such as providing meals, assisting with homework, attending extracurricular activities, and more.
  • Conflict Resolution Plan: Inevitably, conflicts may arise. Outline a plan for resolving disputes in a peaceful and respectful manner, whether through mediation, counseling, or other agreed-upon methods.

By addressing each element thoughtfully, you’ll establish a framework that promotes harmony and consistency in your co-parenting journey!

How Do You Implement Parallel Parenting?

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Successfully implementing a parallel parenting plan involves a deliberate approach focused on minimizing conflict and promoting a healthy environment for your children.

Here are some essential strategies to guide you through the process:

  • Establish Strong Boundaries: Clearly define boundaries and respect each other’s personal space. Avoid unnecessary interactions or involvement in each other’s lives beyond what is essential for co-parenting.
  • Prioritize Open Communication: Communicate with your co-parent using a respectful and business-like tone. Stick to the topics related to your children and avoid discussing personal matters.
  • Use Technology Wisely: Utilize communication tools, such as shared calendars or co-parenting apps, to coordinate schedules and share important information without direct interaction.
  • Stay Child-Focused: Keep your children’s best interests at the forefront of your decisions. Avoid putting them in the middle of conflicts and shield them from any negativity between co-parents.
  • Follow the Plan: Consistency is key. Adhere to the parallel parenting plan as closely as possible to provide your children with a stable and predictable routine.
  • Seek Support: If challenges arise, consider seeking professional support through mediation, counseling, or therapy. These resources can help both co-parents navigate difficulties and maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship.

By establishing clear boundaries, effective communication, and a child-centered mindset, you can navigate the complexities of co-parenting after separation. 

Parallel Parenting vs Co-Parenting: Which Approach is Right for You?

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Now that you understand what a parallel parenting plan entails, it’s important to differentiate between parallel parenting and traditional co-parenting.

Both approaches aim to provide stability and support for children of separated parents, but they differ in their strategies and level of interaction between co-parents.

Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is the preferred approach when there is a high level of conflict between co-parents.

This method involves minimizing direct interaction between parents by creating clear boundaries and structured schedules.

Parallel parenting recognizes that ongoing communication and cooperation may not be feasible due to underlying tensions.

It allows each parent to independently care for the children during their respective parenting time, reducing the potential for arguments or disagreements.

Parallel parenting is beneficial in situations where:

  • There is a history of significant conflict or unresolved issues between co-parents.
  • Effective communication and joint decision-making are challenging.
  • One or both parents struggle to remain civil and respectful in each other’s presence.

By adopting parallel parenting techniques, you prioritize your children’s well-being while maintaining a focus on minimizing conflict and creating a stable environment for them.


Co-parenting involves maintaining an open line of communication and collaboration between parents.

In this approach, co-parents work together to make joint decisions and share responsibilities for their children.

Co-parenting relies on effective communication and mutual respect, allowing both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives.

Co-parenting is a suitable choice when:

  • Both co-parents can communicate and cooperate without significant conflict.
  • There is a willingness to make joint decisions about the children’s upbringing.
  • The well-being of the children is best served by maintaining a close and supportive relationship with both parents.

Choosing the Right Approach

The decision between parallel parenting and co-parenting depends on the unique dynamics of your situation.

If you and your co-parent are capable of respectful communication and collaboration, co-parenting might be a successful choice.

However, if tensions run high and effective communication is a challenge, parallel parenting could offer a more manageable and conflict-free solution.

What if a Narcissist Refuses to Follow the Plan?

Dealing with a narcissistic co-parent can present unique challenges in the context of parallel parenting.

Narcissists often prioritize their own needs and desires over those of their children, potentially leading to disruptions in the established plan.

If you find yourself facing resistance from a narcissistic co-parent, consider these strategies:

  • Stick to the Plan: Maintain consistency by adhering to the parallel parenting plan as closely as possible. This can limit opportunities for manipulation or deviations from the agreed-upon arrangements.
  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of interactions, communications, and deviations from the plan. Having evidence of non-compliance may be essential in legal proceedings or when seeking professional help.
  • Involve Professionals: If negotiations and discussions are unproductive, consider involving mediators, therapists, or legal experts who can provide guidance and potentially intervene to ensure the plan’s execution.

Remember, while it can be challenging, your focus should remain on providing a stable and nurturing environment for your children, even in the face of a difficult co-parent.

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Setting Up Your Parallel Parenting Plan

Setting up a parallel parenting plan requires careful consideration and commitment from both co-parents.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can create a structured and harmonious co-parenting arrangement that prioritizes the well-being of your children and minimizes conflict.

Remember, parallel parenting is about cooperating as parents while maintaining individual boundaries, ultimately fostering a healthier environment for everyone involved!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on parallel parenting. Feel free to share your insights in the comments below. Your input can contribute to a supportive community of parents navigating similar challenges.

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