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Parallel Parenting: The Role of Written Communication

by | Sep 12, 2023 | 0 comments

Written Communication when parallel parenting. Woman texts on phone.

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 (2)If there was one thing I learned early on in my experience trying to co-parent with someone who is narcissistic, it was that written communication was the way to go.

Every phone conversation ended in a blow-out, and face-to-face communication was downright frustrating.

So eventually, I switched to only texts and emails, and it made the world of difference!

Sticking solely to written communication may not seem feasible, but it’s possible and definitely worth it.

Before we jump into the benefits and methods of written communication, let’s take a quick look at what parallel parenting is (so you’ll understand how limited and written communication fits in):

Parallel Parenting Definition

Parallel parenting is a co-parenting approach designed for situations where traditional co-parenting is not feasible due to high levels of conflict or discord between parents.

In parallel parenting, both parents focus on the well-being of their children while minimizing direct contact and communication with each other.

The key principle of parallel parenting is to keep interactions limited to matters directly related to the children, avoiding unnecessary discussions or conflicts between parents.

This approach allows children to thrive in a stable and low-conflict environment, even if their parents cannot effectively communicate or cooperate.

If you want to learn more about all of the aspects of parallel parenting (and there are quite a few beyond communication!), check out my book You Can’t Co-Parent With a Narcissist: A Guide to Parallel Parenting.

The Benefits of Written Communication

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Effective written communication is the cornerstone of successful parallel parenting. Whether your ex is all-out narcissistic or just difficult, sticking to written communication is a great way to ensure clear communication and avoid arguments.

Here are some key benefits of incorporating written communication into your co-parenting strategy:

Documentation and Accountability

Written communication provides a clear record of all conversations, agreements, and decisions related to the children. This documentation can be crucial in case of disputes or misunderstandings.

Both parents can refer back to written records to ensure that everyone is adhering to the agreed-upon parenting plan.

Additionally, written communication encourages accountability. When agreements are in writing, it becomes easier to track whether each parent is fulfilling their responsibilities.

Reduced Conflict

Since written communication allows for a more structured and less emotional exchange of information, it reduces the potential for conflict.

Unlike verbal conversations that can quickly escalate, written messages can be carefully composed and reviewed before sending, helping to keep interactions civil.

When emotions run high, written communication can act as a buffer, preventing impulsive responses and enabling parents to address issues more calmly and rationally.

Flexibility and Convenience

Written communication offers flexibility in terms of timing. Parents can send messages at their convenience, allowing them to communicate without the need for real-time conversations.

This flexibility can be particularly helpful when dealing with busy schedules or different time zones.

Additionally, written communication allows both parents to respond when they are emotionally ready, reducing the pressure of immediate verbal exchanges.

Focus on Children

With written communication, parents can maintain their focus on the well-being of their children. It encourages them to communicate only about important parenting matters, avoiding personal disputes or unrelated issues.

By emphasizing child-centric communication, parents can create a healthier environment for their children, where their needs remain the primary concern.

Emotional Control and Reflection

Written communication allows both parents the time and space to control their emotions and reflect before responding. When conflicts arise in co-parenting, written messages provide a buffer that prevents impulsive reactions.

Parents can take a step back, consider their words, and respond in a more composed and thoughtful manner.

This emotional control can help prevent escalations, leading to more productive discussions and ultimately benefiting the children involved.

Different Types of Written Communication

Written Communication (2)

Effective written communication can take various forms, each with its unique advantages:


Email is a widely used method for written communication between co-parents. It provides a formal platform for discussing parenting-related matters.

Both parents can archive emails for future reference, making it easy to track agreements and decisions.

Additionally, email allows for detailed explanations and attachments, making it suitable for more complex discussions or sharing documents like school reports and medical records.

Text Messaging

Text messages are a quick and convenient way to communicate about immediate issues or updates regarding the children. However, it’s essential to keep these messages concise and focused on parenting matters.

Text messages are ideal for brief, time-sensitive communication, such as coordinating pick-up and drop-off times or sharing quick updates on a child’s activities.

Parenting Apps

Various co-parenting apps are available that offer features specifically designed for parallel parenting. These apps provide shared calendars, document storage, and messaging capabilities to streamline communication and coordination.

Co-parenting apps can help keep all communication related to your children in one place, simplifying organization and reducing the risk of misplacing important information.


In some cases, writing in a journal or notebook may be appropriate for more formal communication between parents. These can be useful for addressing important topics or making requests.

Journals and notebooks offer a more personal touch and can be particularly effective for expressing concerns or feelings in a non-confrontational manner.

They provide both parents with the opportunity to carefully consider their words and emotions before communicating.

Navigating Parallel Parenting Through Effective Communication

If you haven’t tried written communication before when parallel parenting, I hope you give it a try now!

Honestly, it’s the best way to control communication, make sure there are no miscommunications, and reduce conflict.

If your ex sends you a nasty text, you can just ignore it and walk away!

Trust me, written communication can give you control over your challenging situation and make things better for your kiddos.

How do you communicate with your difficult co-parent? Share your tips in the comments below!

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