Unfortunately, there is no single answer or strategy for how to approach parenting after a divorce.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and their children have different needs. Therefore, there are several ways that California parents can take on post-divorce parenting. Some parents might try co-parenting, where they still collaborate and communicate regularly.

However, the time after a divorce can be emotionally stressful. Even if divorced spouses remain on civil terms, co-parenting can be a challenge. For parents in these kinds of situations, parallel parenting might be a good strategy.

What is parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting allows both parents to remain involved in their child’s life, but not in their ex-spouse’s life. It is a form of co-parenting that reduces the interaction and communication between parents, even as they focus on being the best possible parents to their children. This generally helps parents to:

  • Avoid conflict with the other parent;
  • Create strong and healthy boundaries; and
  • Reduce worries about what the other parent might think of one’s parenting.

If parents are worried about conflict or past arguments interfering with their parenting, parallel parenting might be worth a try.

Three essential things you need to make parallel parenting work

Since parallel parenting involves a limited amount of communication, parents must put careful thought and planning into how they will approach parallel parenting.

Three things that parents should consider include:

  1. Create a parenting plan that meets the family’s needs: Parents must make a parenting plan, or custody agreement, in California. This plan can be as flexible or detailed as parents wish, but parallel parents should establish specific details regarding discipline and decision-making, so they can be on the same page.
  2. Clarify the logistics in advance: These details are usually in the parenting plan, but parallel parents should establish guidelines for the parenting schedule as well as how they will handle pick-ups and drop-offs.
  3. Determine how to communicate: In many parallel parenting situations, parents have found success using electronic means of communication, such as email. This allows parents to share important details and remain in contact but keep interactions civil.

No matter the approach, it is about the children

Parallel parenting might not work for everyone, just as collaborative co-parenting might not. In other cases, a combination of the two strategies might best meet the family’s needs.

Regardless of the approach parents take to parent after a divorce, they must both remember to focus on their child’s best interests and put their children first.