When divorced parents struggle to co-parent
For parents who choose to divorce, the wellbeing of a shared child is often the main concern. In cases where parents share physical custody of a child, it’s critical that both remain committed to providing a loving, welcoming and supportive environment in which a son or daughter feels safe and comfortable. In addition to ensuring that a child has a predictable routine, proper nutrition and the creature comforts needed to feel at home in each parent’s residence; a child also needs to know that his or her parents are committed to each other and the responsibilities associated with co-parenting.
In theory, co-parenting is the ideal arrangement for divorced parents who share physical custody of a child. In reality, however, many divorced parents have strong feelings of hurt, anger and resentment towards an ex-spouse that can make peaceful and effective co-parenting seem difficult to impossible.
Let’s face it; some divorced parents simply aren’t able to get along. This doesn’t mean that they are bad parents; instead, it often means that the wounds of a bad marriage and difficult divorce are too fresh. For those parents embroiled in high-conflict relationships, an arrangement known as parallel parenting is often a better and more effective alternative to traditional co-parenting.
Much like the name suggests, the theory behind parallel parenting is creating an arrangement in which parents “remain disengaged from one another while they remain close to their children.” The main goal is to avoid or reduce conflict between parents and the likelihood that a child will be exposed to and negatively impacted by such disputes.
Following the principles of parallel parenting, divorced parents must commit to working to maintain a business-like and civil relationship with one another. To reduce the chances of arguments erupting, parents are encouraged to communicate via email and any verbal or in-person exchanges beyond a quick hello or goodbye should be avoided. Parents should also remain supportive of one another’s efforts and respect each other’s relationship with a child.
Under the best of circumstances, parenting is challenging. When parents are divorced and have a high-conflict relationship, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. Divorced parents who are having a tough time co-parenting can often benefit from turning to an attorney for advice. An attorney can help parents draft a parenting agreement that clearly defines the roles, expectations and responsibilities of both parties.
Source: Huffington Post, “What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along?,” Terry Gaspard, April 1, 2016