You’re divorced and have kids.
Or you’re no longer with your child’s mom or dad.
With or without the court’s help, you are in a shared parenting relationship, commonly known as coparenting.
Many think that coparenting is an amicable, civil relationship between two parents who are no longer together. In many situations, this is true. However, there are many moms and dads who are not experiencing anything remotely close to amicable or civil.
Let’s examine the word “coparent”.
Merriam Webster describes a coparent as “a non-custodial parent or cohabitating partner who shares parental duties with a custodial parent”.
A civil coparenting relationship is one where both parents have committed to moving past their differences in order to parent the child together.
This does not mean that they don’t have conflict. They either know how to work through it or have decided that raising the child together is bigger than the conflict.
Either way, they are doing it together.They have let go of ego, competition, jealousy and any other hindering behaviors that could interfere in raising the child. Click To Tweet
If issues arise, which is normal when raising children, the civil coparents make joint decisions to resolve. They can talk freely with one another without worrying about an argument erupting.
Wow, they sound perfect, right?
Civil coparents are not perfect. They both are just willing to work together and clearly define how they will make their relationship work while raising their children.
Take another look at the Merriam Webster definition of a coparent.
The definition says nothing about the “temperature” of the shared parenting relationship. So, even if your relationship is high conflict, you’re still in a coparenting relationship. This type of shared parenting is known as parallel parenting and can help one or both parents focus on what matters most, the child.
Parallel parenting is a form of coparenting for high conflict coparents. Typically, coparents try to be amicable and civil towards one another, however, conflict exists between the two of them. Parallel parenting works when the two can detach from one another and have the child as their only topic of communication, allowing you to pause.
Either parent can apply parallel parenting strategies to their high conflict relationship. This type of shared parenting is reserved for those coparents dealing with an uncooperative ex.
Uncooperative exes display many different characteristics, such as:
- exhibiting narcissistic type behavior
- purposely sabotaging the parenting plan
- an inability to communicate without yelling and/or initiating an arguments
Abusive (physical/verbal/emotional) behavior is unacceptable and goes beyond coparenting or parallel parenting. Please seek the necessary help if your situation is abusive.
Parallel parenting may be a solution, however, it may not fix all of your problems with your ex. It should not be used to be spiteful towards your child’s parent, it’s not a weapon. It can, though, lead to an improved coparenting relationship.
Ready to work on improving your coparenting (civil/high conflict) relationship?