Both co-parenting, and parallel parenting, after a divorce, have their benefits. The important thing is to make sure you find some way in which you and your former spouse are both working with your children’s best interests at heart. Parallel parenting can help your kids to be more resilient if you do it right.
Parallel parenting can provide a challenge for your kids, but showing them that everything is okay even after things have fallen apart is a good way to build resilience in your children and allow them to see that difficulties can be overcome, and life can still be good, even after something so disruptive as a divorce.
What Is Parallel Parenting?
Most experts agree that co-parenting is the best method for raising children after a divorce. In co-parenting, the ex-spouses work together closely in raising their children with rules that apply across both households and consistent punishments and rewards for breaking and following those rules respectively. Parents end up spending a lot of time together in co-parenting and, in many cases, even hold joint holiday celebrations.
While co-parenting may be the best if you and your ex-spouse can achieve it, trying to force it can have negative effects. Co-parenting is certainly not for everyone. Many divorced couples are unable to work together in such close proximity. Conflicts frequently arise, and they end up fighting in front of their kids. Hence the reason they divorced in the first place.
In situations like this, it is better for everyone involved to try parallel parenting instead. Parallel parenting means a lot less direct interaction between the former partners. In most cases of parallel parenting, big decisions like education and medical concerns are made together. However, everyday parenting decisions are made individually. Each parent establishes a set of ground rules for their children within their separate households.
Communication in parallel parenting is often dealt with through email and shared online tools that both parents can edit. There is rarely direct contact. Parallel parenting helps to keep parents from fighting and dragging their kids into the middle. Children can feel free to love each parent equally without having to choose sides. Often, with time, parallel parenting can lead to full co-parenting once old wounds have healed.
The Importance of Working Together
No matter what method of parenting you choose, it is important that you and your ex are on the same page regarding the fact that your children come first. Divorce is always difficult for children, even under the best of circumstances. See some of the ways in which divorce can negatively impact children here: farzadlaw.com/divorce-statistics.
Even though it is going to be a difficult time for your kids, there are many ways to limit the struggles and help your children to thrive, even when facing challenges. One of the most damaging things for children of divorce to deal with is the conflict between parents. This is also one of the most difficult things for children to deal with when parents do not separate.
As mentioned earlier, it is healthier for kids to have their parents practice parallel parenting rather than co-parenting if they can’t do it without frequently fighting. The same applies to parents staying together or getting divorced in the first place. You are not doing your children any favors by staying together if you can’t stop fighting. While divorce can be damaging, “staying together for the kids” often does more harm than good.
Two positive role models working together across a distance are far better than two negative role models working at odds together.
Tips for Building Resilience
There are many ways to help build resilience in your children following a divorce. Life is full of challenges. We all get knocked down from time to time and have to learn to pull ourselves back up. Divorce can mean an early opportunity to develop this skill. Some keys to helping your child grow more resilient in a healthy manner include:
- Model resiliency
- Making time for your child
- Provide unconditional love
One of the best ways to help build resilience in your children is to be a model of it yourself. Children develop a lot of their behaviors by mimicking their parents. This does not mean that you should hide your emotions away from your children. Building resiliency isn’t about crushing emotions. In the same way that you can’t be brave unless you feel fear, you can’t be resilient unless you feel challenged.
To properly show resilience to your children, you have to let them know that you are hurting just as they are. The goal is not to bury emotions down deep, but to acknowledge them and cope with them in healthy and meaningful ways. You don’t want to be a complete wreck in front of your children all the time. However, you do want to show them that you are struggling, but also coping and that things do get better.
Making Time for Your Child
This is always important, but especially so when your child is hurting. Divorce is certainly a difficult time for parents as well, but you can’t get lost in your own struggles. You need to notice when things are particularly difficult for your child so that you can talk to them and help them get through the pain.
Provide Unconditional Love
Many children will feel like their world is falling apart and may act out during a divorce. Showing your child that they are loved unconditionally can go a long way in helping them rebuild their world. Having a constant in your life is always helpful in difficult times.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t punish your children for acting out. It simply means that you should do so in a loving manner and show them that while their activities may have been unacceptable, they will not make you love them any less.
There are dozens of other things you can do to help build resilience in your children during parallel parenting. The most important thing, though, is for both you and your ex to be there for them. They need to know that even when things are at their most difficult, they have people who love them.