Parallel Parenting Plan meaning sounds like a strange concept, it is where parents work independently with their child. Each parent chooses their own styles of parenting without the interference from the other parent. There is no room for collaboration, bare minimum for communication, and everything is separate. So, each parent lives their own life with their child as if the other parent was totally out of the picture. It isn’t an ideal situation for the child, but it works with parents who are high conflict or characteristics of a narcissistic.
After time Parallel Parenting Plan may allow for old wounds to heal and resentment to fade and the Parallel Parenting Plan may morph into something else. When my ex and I were going through our divorce, we were both high conflict adults, so the judge created a very detailed parenting plan and that described what was to happen in each situation. The two of us followed it to a “T”, like good little parents we were.
Not all judges are created equally. So, if you are expecting a judge to accept a Parallel Parenting Plan you might be disappointed. This seems be a new concept in the legal system, because it isn’t considered 'in the best interest of the child’.
Over the years things have changed, we have become different people. We are no longer angry nor high conflict parents, so we can parent in a much different fashion. We can talk to each other about the best interest of our child now and we work together to help be the best parent that we can be. This didn’t happen overnight, there were a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings. It has taken many years to create what we have now. So don’t stress yourself out about getting there, it will take time and a lot of energy, but it will be worth it.
Side note, the Parallel Parenting Plan can be created before parents go to court. One of my clients was able to create a Parallel Parenting Plan with her ex. Now their plan is very ridged and there is no way of changing it at this time, but it has helped with cutting off negative communication and the children know when and where they will be each day. It isn’t ideal but at least it is something.
So, what could Parallel Parenting Plan look like. It isn’t a cookie cutter plan because what might work for one family, won’t work for the next family. It is a trial by error plan.
1. Separate time with the child
a. In the agreement it will say which days one parent will have the child
b. Details on where the child will spend their holidays, vacation, & birthdays
c. Health, safety, and education-related decisions is specific to each parent
d. Specific pick-up & drop-off times
e. Location for pick-up & drop-off
i. Neutral location
ii. Maybe someone else can pick-up & drop-off
2. Handling cancellations
a. Plan for handling these situations
b. Clear whether parent will be allowed to make up time
Be prepared for no wiggle room for cancellations or making up time. As I stated above about my client, if she wants to go on vacation or must work out of town. He will not take the children, so she must find outside care, but the same is done when he needs the time off. So, this is their way of dealing with cancellations.
3. Communication between parents
a. Either through email, texts, shared calendar or *apps, but it is kept to a bare minimum
b. Communication is only related to the child, nothing else (boundaries are very important)
c. Communication is business like
d. All other communication will be disregarded
e. Time & day when the parents will be available to communicate between each other, unless an emergency
4. Help you through the process
a. Parenting coordinators
b. Coaches or therapists
Note: To protect you keep your parenting plan with you in case you need to show it to law enforcement or other authority that you are simply following the legal agreement.
The number one thing to remember is that you are only in control of yourself. You can’t control anyone else. This took me a long time to accept and to walk away from what I though should happen when my daughter was in her dad’s care.
*Apps: there are a numerous of different apps available for parents. Some districts require families to use certain ones. At this time, I have never used one of these apps. Hopefully at a later date I will look into the world of apps for families.