Can't get along with your ex? Alternatives to co-parenting.

It seemed to begin with Gwyneth Paltrow. Her "conscious uncoupling" with lead rocker of Coldplay shined a light on the co-parenting movement. This Hollywood couple was doing their best to put their kids first, slowly ending their marriage while attempting to keep their roles as parents unaltered. In theory, this sounds wonderful. In reality, it just does not work for every couple.

Are there other options?

Other options are available for those who are going through a divorce that cannot get along with their ex. After all, you are getting divorced for a reason - and you are not alone. Other parents find themselves in similar situations. In fact, the situation is so common that the Huffington Post recently ran a piece discussing this exact problem. One alternative to co-parenting that is gaining popularity in these situations: parallel parenting.

What is parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting allows both parents to be active in their children's lives without requiring interaction between the two parents. Although it requires that each parent be polite to each other and avoid speaking ill of each other in front of the children, it does not require parents jointly attend functions or other events.

How does parallel parenting work?

Like any parenting arrangement, the plan must begin with an agreement. This can be completed either through a traditional courtroom divorce proceeding or an alternative method like mediation. Some tips that can help better ensure the agreement is successful include:

  • Exchange the children in public meeting places. For some parents, it may be beneficial to designate a public meeting place to exchange the children. This could be a local library, park or play area. Avoiding meeting at each other's homes could help reduce conflict.
  • Treat conversations with your ex like business meetings. It can be helpful to remove the emotion from discussions with an ex and simply focus on necessary communications.
  • Focus on the children. Numerous studies show that in most situations, children benefit from meaningful relationships with both parents. Encouraging children to spend time with the other parent is generally in their best interest.

It is important to note that parallel parenting is not best in every situation. In relationships with a history of abuse parallel parenting and co-parenting styles are not recommended.

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