It is natural for there to be hard feelings between ex-spouses after a divorce. No matter what the cause of the divorce was, it is almost 100% likely that interpersonal problems played a role.
However, sometimes these interpersonal problems make moving on from the divorce very difficult, particularly if you are in a joint custody situation with your ex-spouse. For divorced families with very high levels of conflict that make effective co-parenting impossible, parallel parenting may be the only reasonable custody situation to pursue.
What is parallel parenting?
A parallel parenting arrangement allows the children access to both parents, but in such a way that shields the children from the conflict between the parents. For example, parallel parenting may be the only reasonable joint custody solution if one parent has narcissistic personality disorder.
To compare parallel parenting with co-parenting, co-parenting often involves the parents coming together to support the child publicly. For instance, both parents may attend a child’s birthday party. With parallel parenting, the child may instead have two separate birthday celebrations. The parents would not both be present in the same place at the same time.
How long does parallel parenting last?
It is possible for a parallel parenting situation to continue indefinitely. Again, this is common when one parent exhibits certain personality disorders. Parallel parenting is a perfectly reasonable way to approach joint custody and there is no necessary “stop” date.
However, in other situations parallel parenting can eventually evolve into a more traditional co-parenting situation. Often, successful parallel parenting will help establish a modicum of trust between the parents. Once this occurs, co-parenting may become possible.