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Successful Parallel Parenting: Child-Centered Support Strategies

by | Jan 3, 2024 | 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.

If you know anything about parallel parenting, it seems like a magic wand solution when you’re dealing with manipulative and inappropriate co-parenting.

And while I’m going to talk about successful parallel parenting, I want you to know that success does not mean perfect.

Success means doing everything you can to support your child and ensure that they are growing up in a supportive and loving environment that you provide.

It means helping them and guiding them through challenging situations with their other parent.

If your ex is toxic or narcissistic, there’s nothing you can do to stop their crazy – but you can cut down on how much their crazy affects your child’s life.

And it all has to do with focusing on your child’s needs and well-being!

So if you’re looking for parallel parenting support in order to find a more successful way of co-parenting, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

Is Parallel Parenting Good for Children?

Parallel parenting is an alternative approach to co-parenting, especially when you are trying to co-parent with a narcissist or difficult ex.

It involves things like structuring parenting time and limiting communication in order to avoid and reduce conflicts between you and your ex. Overall, parallel parenting is all about you and your ex staying in your own lanes when it comes to parenting.

(You can read more about parallel parenting here!)

But is parallel parenting good for children?

When it comes to parallel parenting, there are tons of benefits for your child!

  • Reduced Exposure to Conflict: As I mentioned, parallel parenting helps to reduce parental conflict. This shields your child from the emotional toll of witnessing conflict and provides them with a less stressful environment.
  • Emphasis on Stability: Kids need consistency, and parallel parenting allows each parent to establish expectations and routines during their parenting times.
  • Maintained Relationships With Both Parents: Despite any challenges between you and your ex, your child should be encouraged to have a meaningful relationship with each of you.
  • Focus on Child’s Needs: Parallel parenting shifts the focus from your relationship with your ex to what your child needs. It structures all interactions around your child’s well-being and prioritizes their emotional and mental health.
  • Limited Emotional Stress: Speaking of emotional health, creating a parallel parenting relationship reduces emotional stress. In this less stressful environment, your child can work through their emotions more effectively.

While these benefits contribute to a healthier environment for your kiddo, parallel parenting is rarely perfect.

For example, parallel parenting with a narcissist guarantees ongoing conflict despite your efforts to avoid conflict.

But don’t worry! Within the structure of parallel parenting, there are ways you can support your child for better success.

Let’s take a look at how:

How to Deal With a Manipulative Co-Parent

Dealing with an inappropriate co-parent who is manipulative is exhausting and requires certain strategies to dodge their controlling tactics.

Here are the things you can do to deal with a manipulative co-parent for parallel parenting success:

Establish Boundaries

It can be hard to establish boundaries with someone who doesn’t respect them. However, you can create boundaries and enforce them even if your ex doesn’t know it.

For instance, you can create communication boundaries. Limit your communication to written forms like text messages and emails. Tell your ex that you won’t respond to anything that isn’t related to your child.

Boom! Boundary!

You can also establish physical boundaries, like not allowing your ex in or around your home. Or have pick-ups and drop-offs happen in public places.

If your ex is particularly difficult, you won’t be able to put down all the rules you want but control what you can.

Document Everything

If you’re parallel parenting with a narcissist or difficult individual, then you know how they love to twist your words and manipulate situations to work to their advantage.

One way you can hold them accountable is to document everything!

Those text messages and emails are not just a way to limit communication. They are a paper trail you can use to prove what has been said and agreed to. So hang on to any communications that have to do with decision-making or conflicts.

Just don’t throw them in your ex’s face as an “I told you so.” Remember, you are trying to reduce conflict for your kiddo. But if there is a disagreement, you can use your proof as a gentle reminder of what was agreed upon.

You should even keep track of incidences like missed parenting time or concerning events in a notebook or spreadsheet.

If you land in court, this can all be used in evidence to help protect your child.

Seek Professional Support

Speaking of professional help, you may need to consult with a legal professional if your ex is particularly difficult or disagreeable. They can help you file for a court order that lays out all of the rules and expectations that both you and your ex have to follow.

Or you can talk to a counselor who can give you valuable insights and strategies for dealing with manipulative behavior. They can give you objective advice based on your unique situation.

If you notice that your child is affected by the situation, they can speak to a counselor as well.

How to Help Your Child With an Inconsistent Parent

Another roadblock to successful parallel parenting is when the other parent is inconsistent.

Parental inconsistency can affect a child’s sense of stability. If you find that your ex is inconsistent, here are some ways that you can help your child cope:

  • Maintain Consistency At Home: You can’t control what your ex does, but you can control how consistent you are. Establish a stable routine in your home and establish rules and expectations that are consistently reinforced.
  • Teach Coping Skills: Help your child develop coping skills that will help them deal with disappointment. You can encourage healthy outlets like art, journaling, or simply talking about their feelings.
  • Focus On Your Relationship: Do things with your child that help to build connection and trust with your child. Be a consistent presence in their life and provide them with stability when their other parent’s behavior is unpredictable.
  • Talk To Your Child About Their Other Parent: Explain your ex’s behavior in a way that is age-appropriate and doesn’t badmouth them. Tell them that people have different ways of expressing themselves, and it has nothing to do with your child’s value or worth.

If you want to learn about how to talk to your child about their other parent, check out my article here!

In the end, it’s the consistency and emotional support you provide that will counterbalance your inconsistent co-parent. In your care, they’ll get the stability they need to thrive!

What To Do If Your Ex Refuses to Communicate

I know there were times in my co-parenting journey when I wished my ex would just stop communicating with me.

However, if your ex refuses to communicate with you or your child, it can make a co-parenting situation complex and confusing.

While you may never enjoy effective communication with your ex, communicating (even if limited) is an important aspect of successful parallel parenting.

Here are some ways you can address your ex’s refusal to communicate:

Your Ex Refuses to Communicate With You

Even though your ex refusing to communicate with you may not seem to involve your child, it will affect them at some point. Communicating about plans, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of co-parenting is crucial to creating a stable environment for your kiddo.

If your ex refuses to communicate with you, here are some things you can do:

  • Written Communication: Again, written communication can be a game-changer when it comes to your difficult ex. It eliminates the need for verbal communication and helps minimize misunderstandings.
  • Stick to Essential Topics: Focus on only talking about your child. Keep communication brief, factual, and centered on your child’s needs. Avoid getting into conflicts by ignoring their attempts.
  • Document Your Attempts: Keep records of all the times you try to communicate with your ex. You can use this as evidence in court.

At some point, you may have to back off and stop encouraging communication. When it comes to your child, the important thing is that you try.

Your Ex Refuses to Communicate With Your Child

When your ex refuses to communicate directly with your child, it can be emotionally challenging. Your child may start to internalize this and wonder what they did to cause the situation.

If this is the case, here’s what you can do:

  • Encourage Openness: Create an environment where your child feels comfortable talking about their feelings. Reassure them that this lack of communication isn’t their fault.
  • Alternate Forms of Communication: Try out different forms of communication like letters, drawings, or recorded messages. Even if your ex isn’t receptive to this, it allows your child to express themselves.
  • Talk To Your Ex: I know we’re trying to limit communication while parallel parenting, but ask your ex why they are refusing to communicate. You’ll either have a jumping point to fix the issue or evidence that you can document.

If your ex completely cuts off all communication with you and your child, speak to a legal professional about your options.

Other Ways to Support Your Child While Parallel Parenting

Along with these specific challenges, here are some more strategies for supporting your child and finding parallel parenting success:

  • Model Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Show your child healthy ways to cope with stress and challenges. Handle difficult situations with a logical mindset instead of reacting to things emotionally.
  • Encourage Independence: Help your child develop independence. Create opportunities for them to make their own choices and express their opinions. Get them to do more for themselves at home. This will help build their self-esteem.
  • Promote a Positive Outlook: Don’t sugarcoat the situation, but focus on the positive aspects of their relationships with both parents. Encourage your child to focus on the love and support they receive, even if your parenting style differs from your ex.
  • Check Your Own Behavior: Be mindful of how you act and your mindset. Avoid speaking badly about their other parent in front of your child. This can create unnecessary stress and confusion.

When you’re parallel parenting with a narcissist, your parental responsibility becomes supporting and protecting your child. It’s not fair, I know, but you do have the power to help your child grow beyond difficult situations!

Successful Parallel Parenting – Not Perfect But Possible!

If you approach parallel parenting with a focus on your child, you can’t go wrong!

By focusing on their well-being and supporting them through difficult situations, you and your child can navigate the challenges of parallel parenting with success.

What are the most effective techniques you’ve found when co-parenting with a difficult ex or navigating through a parallel parenting arrangement? Drop your insights in the comments below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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Let’s create a supportive community and navigate the complexities of co-parenting with strength and resilience!

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