The paperwork may be finalized and the assets divided, but if you have children, the chances are high that you will still be interacting with your ex when your kids go back and forth between parents or to discuss topics like medical treatment, extra curricular activities, or behavior challenges.
Typically, parents adopt one of two different models for managing this new dynamic: co-parenting or parallel parenting.
Co-parenting is the post-divorce parenting strategy we are most familiar with. Typically, ex-spouses in this situation are able to set aside their personal feelings while interacting with their ex. They are able to communicate over the phone or face-to-face with the other parent, work through parenting issues, and share holidays, birthdays, or other celebrations for their children without fighting.
But sometimes, anger, grief, or acute personality differences from the pre-divorce relationship spills over into the new parenting relationship, which sets up a new source of stress and recurring conflict.
In these situations, parents may opt to employ a parallel parenting model instead. Like the name implies, this means that parents avoid in-person interactions and communicate through email or a mediator to resolve major parenting questions or issues. With parallel parenting plans, ex-spouses disengage from each other’s lives to reduce the fighting but still have positive interactions with their children.
Parents who start out parallel parenting might eventually transition to a more communicative co-parenting style. But if one parent is constantly destructive, parallel parenting might be the best option to reduce conflicts and maintain healthier environments for their children.
How do you know if you or your ex-spouse are being supportive co-parents or destructive ones? Here are some questions to consider:
> When you’re with your children, do you speak negatively about your co-parent in front of them?
> Are you supportive of your child’s time with your co-parent, and willing to accommodate occasional fun activities that fall outside of an agreed upon parenting schedule?
> Are you respectful of your co-parent and their time with your child, giving them quality time to interact without being interrupted?
If you answered yes to these questions (either as they apply to you or to your ex’s behavior), then you (and your ex) are probably supportive co-parents.
But if you answered no, then you may want to re-evaluate your parenting relationship with your ex and see if you can improve it. Not only will it reduce your personal levels of stress, but it will help your children feel safer, will reduce the amount of conflict they experience, and help protect their mental health now and in the future.
If you’re interested in becoming a better co-parent, or want help navigating a difficult co-parenting relationship with your ex, please feel free to email me or contact me through Instagram. I would love to help you negotiate a new, happier co-parenting model with your child’s other parent.
Are you ready to feel joy again, reclaim your independence, and chart a path toward healing and recovery? I would love to help you as you take those steps.
Check out my guide on 7 Ways to Rebuild Your Confidence During Divorce, with real, practical tips on how to start taking control of your story and create the life you have been dreaming about!