Parallel Parenting Can be Effective When Former Spouses Don’t Get Along
Successful co-parenting is said to be a major contributor to the emotional health of kids whose parents divorce. All the same, it is often easier said than done. Even when divorcees are dedicated to the idea of helping their kids feel loved and supported, and they recognize the importance of having their ex in their children’s lives, it can be very challenging to pull off. And when a former spouse is manipulative, angry, or vengeful, it can be even harder! Thus, advice from an experienced therapist may be just the thing to empower parents to succeed in this all-important task!
Try Parallel Parenting
Divorcees can include an ex in their children’s lives while limiting face-to-face interactions that could be challenging by using what researchers call parallel parenting (PP). For success, they need to simply devise methods to reduce the number of unnecessary conversations, limiting difficult interactions whenever possible. That will entail establishing clear expectations around drop-off and pick-ups, bed times, diet, and so forth, and could also include:
- Developing a shared on-line calendar that provides information about upcoming extracurricular activities, school events, medical appointments, and other commitments;
- Emailing or texting information instead of having face-to-face communications;
- Considering the use of a trusted family member or friend to convey messages back and forth.
Parallel parenting isn’t going to eliminate all of the hassles that are a natural part of coordinating with former spouses who see things very differently. But PP can definitely help, especially when a plan is developed with careful consideration of everyone involved:
- Divorcees should treat the agreement as a business deal that compels fidelity. Filing the plan with the court is one way to hold both parties to it.
- Both adults should follow the agreement, even if it’s irritating, and must remember that a parent’s negative thoughts and actions could have a detrimental impact on their child.
- The welfare of the kids must be the priority. Parents should never give their children a reason to distrust or fear their other parent. There is just no need to unnecessarily create anxiety for the children. They don’t need to see dysfunction or fighting, no matter who is at fault.
- Parents should set and adhere to boundaries for themselves, even when it’s difficult—especially when it’s difficult. A parent who’s agreed not to check in on the kids when they are with their ex must stick to that arrangement. Likewise, when a former spouse agrees to have the kids home at a particular time, a breach of the agreement shouldn’t be ignored.
- Face to face communication between exes should be kept to a minimum. There’s no need to push one another’s buttons, so minimizing opportunities for that to happen benefits everyone.
- Consequences for non-compliance to the agreement should be spelled out, up to and including getting law enforcement involved if necessary.
Certainly, if a child is in danger, the proper authorities should be alerted. That should be a part of the agreement in the beginning, and something a parent follows through on if necessary.
It Can Work for You
It can certainly be exasperating to work with a former spouse who you’d prefer to keep one’s distance from. Even so, the courts generally see the benefit in having children develop a significant relationship with both parents. Research points to positive outcomes when parents put their kids’ needs first. At Courtney & Mills our experienced Springfield modification attorneys can help put together a plan that will work for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.