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What Is Parallel Parenting? – And Why It Worked for Me

We recently had one of our readers write in to let us know about their success with parallel parenting. I'm not going to lie, when they first wrote about this I had no clue what parallel parenting was. So I did a bit of research and here's what I found. Parallel parenting is a method of co-parenting where each parent has their own ideology when it comes to the upbringing of the child. They have their own parenting approach and style and parents are free to raise, discipline, and guide children how they see fit when that child is in their household.

Also, in parallel parenting, both parents do not attend the same functions or family events. They keep their lives completely separate. I was a bit confused though when I was reading about this. Usually, I've been familiar with situations of co-parenting where the child might live with one parent and have visitation with another on the weekends or they spend their time between parents 50/50, but the upbringing is uniform and the parents are on the same page. But parallel parenting is often needed when there's a high conflict parent. If there is one parent who is constantly at war with the other and they can never find common ground, then parallel parenting is usually used.

One of our readers wrote in to let us know that there can be success with parallel parenting. She sent us a message telling us that she has a high-conflict ex. Initially, when they first separated, they tried to do co-parenting. But, they did not see much success as they could not see eye-to-eye on anything. She felt that a lot of the conversations regarding their child turned nasty quickly and they weren't seeing any positive results. They spent more time fighting on issues surrounding their child than actually making sure that they were providing a healthy and nurturing childhood for their child. So they turned to parallel parenting. She found that by doing this, it was a clear understanding on both the parent and the child and on what the expectations were when they were with either adult. If the child knows that at Mom's house no shoes are allowed in the home and they know at dad's they can wear their shoes freely, the child picks up on this quickly. They understand boundaries when they are with a given parent because it is clearly defined by that parent and enforced.

But - there are hardships with this method.

She did indicate one instance where she clearly told her son no video games before homework. While at his father's house, this rule was not enforced. He wanted to know why could he do it this at the father's home but not at hers. It was hard for her to explain that his father and her don't see eye-to-eye on this and they have different opinions on what is best for the child. She said in instances like that, it is hard with parallel parenting because it's not like you can use the other parent as a person to go to to reprimand the child. Instead, you are on your own and you just have to hope that your child can understand your perspective. But, overall she feels that it has helped minimize conflict with the other biological parent and she feels that it clearly indicates that her child that people do have personal preferences including parents.

What are your thoughts on this? I'm torn. I feel like this could be successful if a child is older but maybe in early developmental years it can be harder to put into practice. Let us know in the comments what you think.

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