Co-parenting is when the parents of a child share the obligations of taking care of and raising a child while separated or divorced.
Co-parenting can also refer to relationships where the parties never lived together or in a common-law relationship.
Often co-parenting relationships are compared to business relationships with a work colleague. You both have a job to do and must get along to get the job done.
Like a business relationship, you will likely have to communicate with the other parent when you face challenges that must be discussed. You will need to find resolutions jointly to ensure the job gets done in the best way probable.
Further, you both may have distinct duties to deal with in addition to the ones you jointly share.
What If Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work?
Sometimes the co-parenting relationship is so adversarial there is harassment, threats, name-calling, and more, making it even more impossible to co-parent the kids effectively.
The communication often breaks down completely, just as it does with co-workers, and occasionally the relationship can be salvaged. Sometimes you cannot function with the other individual efficiently, resulting in more issues.
Reasons Why You May be Unable to Co-parent
It may have started as a fantastic co-parenting relationship, but things can change. Other people may get involved, whether friends, new spouses, or family members. The other parent may become influenced by outside sources, which will change the dynamics of the co-parenting relationship.
This is frequently witnessed when one parent remarries and has to consider the new spouse in childrearing decisions.
Co-parenting may not be the best approach to parenting your child if the relationship is toxic or abusive.
If this is the case, it’s often the healthiest alternative to limit contact with the other parent and concentrate on guaranteeing the children are safe and well taken care of.
If one or both of the parents cannot push past their anger or bitterness toward the other parent, it is probable co-parenting won’t work. When a parent is stuck in negative emotions, these feelings discourage constant, joint communication.
Co-parenting and relationships alike require collaboration. If an absence of cooperation was dominant in the relationship, there’s no reason to anticipate it would be any different in a co-parenting relationship. To co-parent, you must be able to work together collaboratively.
So what do you do if you cannot co-parent?
Co-parenting vs Parallel Parenting
The primary difference between the two is the extent of communication that parallel parenting varies from co-parenting.
Co-parenting concentrates on working jointly and communicating regularly to satisfy the needs of a child.
Parallel parenting is where communication is minimized or eliminated between the parties. If there is any communication between the parties, it is usually done through a parenting app.
Parallel parenting is a process whereby each parent has an autonomous parenting style for when the child is with them. Everything is separate, implying parents do not attend the appointments or school functions. The parents decide how to raise their child within their home and only collaborate on significant decisions like health care.
Parallel parenting is the opposite of co-parenting.
Benefits of Parallel Parenting
Parallel parenting seeks to prevent conflict between the parents, permit the child to have a favorable relationship with each parent, and prevent destructive behaviors.
Some of the benefits of parallel parenting include the following:
- Easing stress for the parents and children;
- Decreasing the amount of conflict between parents;
- Limiting your child’s vulnerability to parental discord;
- Permitting your child to cultivate a relationship with both parents despite your conflict with one another;
- Allowing each parent more autonomy involving their preferred parenting style and family rules; and
- Giving both parents more time and space to heal from their relationship breakdown;
Co-parents must be able to speak to each other about issues affecting their child, and they must be able to collaborate on decision-making and what’s in the child’s best interests.
If your attempts to involve the other parent are met with unanswered phone calls and no responses to emails or text messages, or if you are faced with harassment, threats, or disparaging comments, you may need to swap to parallel parenting.
If parallel parenting is the best approach for you, ensure it is well-documented in a parenting plan.