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Can't co-parent? Don't want to? Try parallel parenting

"I don't want your girlfriend around the kids!" "Mommy isn't here to get you because she's out with her idiot boyfriend." "Here ya go, kiddo! I know Mommy wouldn't get you a cell phone but I think you should have one!"

Sound familiar? Maybe you've heard these comments made or maybe you've slipped up and said them yourself. Your kids can hear them, and they can read between the lines better than you might think - even on a subconscious level.

Divorce can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but it's extremely complicated when kids are involved and emotions are running high. Experts will attest to the benefits of co-parenting. They'll urge parents to shield their children from any feelings of anger or resentment toward the other parent.

Co-parenting does have its benefits. It is important for kids to know that they are first in both parents' lives, but does that really have to mean you need to be friendly and social for the kids? Does it mean that co-parenting is your only option for raising healthy, well-adjusted kids in the aftermath of divorce?

Not necessarily.

Parallel parenting is being presented as an option for parents who don't get along. Consider the mother whose ex may have cheated on her or the father whose ex made degrading comments. It is understandable that the individuals in either of these situations could harbor some unresolved anger or frustration with their ex making it incredibly difficult to maintain any sort of post-divorce civility.

Instead of constantly arguing in front of the kids, parents can establish a parallel parenting plan that allows for a degree of detachment from each other but not from their children. By removing the source of conflict and limiting interactions, parallel parenting allows for the focus to return to devoting their time and effort to their kids.

Parents who choose this option can hire a third-party mediator to help with any necessary face-to-face interactions. Parenting plans under this method would be specific, schedule-driven and involve pickups and drop offs in public places. Communications can be limited to emails and notebooks carried back and forth from one house to the other.

It is important to remember that no matter what path you choose, putting your children first is the ultimate goal. No matter how much you are hurting, their lives are also changing drastically. They are trying to find out where they fit in this new situation.

Let your kids know that you love them, and maybe parallel parenting can be a way to keep your issues with your ex as far away from them as possible.

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