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Is 'parallel parenting' the best solution for raising your kids?

When parents divorce, it's obviously best for their children if they can co-parent and put the needs of their children ahead of any residual conflicts they still have. However, for divorced couples who remain in high-conflict relationships, something called "parallel parenting" may be the best solution.

One parenting expert describes parallel parenting as an arrangement where a divorced couple co-parents by "disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact." Of course, a cordial relationship between the parents is still important. Parents should model courtesy and cooperation to their kids. Children should never be asked to choose sides between parents or be subjected to criticism of their other parent.

Because couples who choose to parallel parent often have trust issues between them, a detailed parenting plan is often necessary. This can reduce conflicts regarding everything from drop-offs to doctor's appointments to vacations and more.

Besides a detailed parenting plan, experts recommend the following for parents who choose this type of parenting arrangement:

-- Engage only in necessary communication that involves the kids. It's best to do it via email or apps like OurFamilyWizard.com than in person or via phone.-- Make sure that your kids have clothing and other possessions at both homes -- even if it means having duplicates. This will minimize the chances of having to retrieve needed items from your ex's home.-- Provide a regular schedule, particularly for younger children, so that they'll know which house they'll be living in at any particular time. Older kids may need more flexibility. However, amid the tumult of divorce, particularly where parents don't get along, children of all ages benefit from having consistency in their lives.-- If you and your ex have difficulty being in the same place, even for drop-offs, you may want to enlist a social worker or other third party to be present. It may not be a good idea to have a family member or friend play that role, as that can be seen by your ex as ganging up on him or her.

A parallel parenting plan doesn't have to last until your kids grow up. Often, wounds heal and anger dissipates over time, and divorced couples can begin to move toward a more cooperative co-parenting relationship. Your family law attorney can help you work to develop whatever type of parenting plan you choose and to make adjustments as needed.

Source: Huffington Post, "What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along?," Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker and College Instructor, April 01, 2016

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