Community Built Knowledge Base => Library: Tools and skills workshops => Topic started by: Skip on December 27, 2007, 03:35:29 PM

Title: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Skip on December 27, 2007, 03:35:29 PM
Shared parenting after divorce can be difficult under the best of circumstances.  Shared parenting with someone with a personality disorder or after a high conflict divorce can be personally draining and very hard on the children.

The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the hard realities of shared parenting -  the compromises, the tools, and the attitude necessary to bring about the greatest stability to the children and the separate households and how to best approach it.

In many cases the other parent is dysfunctional and not going to change - how do we best manage what we have to work with - with the people, with the family court, with our families.

Some suggested topics include:

  • What are effective ways to transition from the tensions of the divorce to shared parenting.  For example, is it better to start with Parallel Parenting and try to evolve to co-parenting over time?

  • How do you keep the child from becoming a pawn or a "go-between".

  • How do you effect boundaries without exacerbating the situation.  How to you compromise without being walked over?

  • How do you manage the household so the family acts constructively, even in the face of slights and inequities, while at the same time not being violated?

  • How do you address significant breaches in the post divorce agreement like poor compliance with the orders (schedules, payments, etc), parental alienation, or sabotage, mis-information/withholding of information.

  • What discrete safeguards can you put in place to avoid unjustified retaliation - accusation of child abuse, violation of the orders,  etc. avoid .

It’s a big topic  and an emotional one.   For the sake of organization, I will ask participant to list the specific issue you are addressing at the top of your post (either one of the above issues or another that you feel is important).  Also, as in all workshops, this is an information exchange - place to discuss concepts - no individual situations.

Thanks.  We all look forward to the outcome.


Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: happygirl on March 24, 2008, 03:07:20 PM
This is great Skip! I'd like to contribute this to start off:

Parallel Parenting Stops the Bleeding
Parent involvement is a predictor of good outcomes while parental conflict is the primary predictor of poor outcome.  Parallel parenting is a parenting style that keeps both parents involved while reducing the child’s opportunity to witness conflict.  

Parallel parenting assumes both parents are capable of safe parenting practices.  In cases of parents with no attachment to the child, no parenting skills, serious mental illness, active physical, psychological, or sexual child abuse, or addiction to alcohol, drugs, or conflict parallel parenting is not appropriate.  
Survivors of physical abuse who may feel guilty because they are unable to safely co-parent.  Parallel parenting may be the best they can achieve for their children.  Many parents can eventually transition to the more beneficial cooperative style, while some will always have to use a parallel style for high conflict issues.
Parallel parenting is similar to parallel play.  In parallel play children play near each other but they do not acknowledge one another, talk to each other, share toys or ideas.  In parallel parenting each parent is actively involved with the children but not with the other parent.  They take turns or share the children, but communication is minimized to reduce conflict.  McBride describes parallel parenting as children spending time in two countries.  When they are in Japan they speak Japanese, use Japanese money, participate in Japanese customs and religions.  When they are in Mexico they change to Mexican food, music, time schedules, and housing.
Ten Tips for Successful Parallel Parenting
1.   Maintain an attitude for non-interference with your child’s other parent.   Neither parent has   influence or say over the actions of the other parent.
2.   Carry on a business-like attitude; use common courtesy.
3.   Do not plan activities for the children during the other parent’s time.  It may be better for child to miss an event than to witness conflict.
4.   Stay focused on the present.
5.   Stay oriented to the task at hand.
6.   Keep your children’s best interests in mind.
7.   Remember the goal is to keep conflict to a minimum.
8.   Follow up in writing all agreements and discussions regarding the children.
9.   When communication and/or negotiation is necessary, use a neutral third party to assist you.
10.   Keep an open mind.
Source: Parallel Parenting Stops the Bleeding
McBride, Jean.  (2000, November).  Programs for High Conflict Separated/Divorced Parents:  Lessons from the Front.  Paper presented at the Pre Congress Institute Addressing the Needs of High Conflict Families, Fourth International Congress on Parent Education Programs, Association of Family, Court and Community, Kiawah, South Carolina.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Skip on April 30, 2008, 05:22:34 PM
What are the goals of post-divorce shared parenting after a high conflict divorce.

A Competent Divorce

Parenting After Divorce defines a competent divorce (the goals) as one in which the parents communicate and cooperate in a business-like way for the sake of their children. The following elements are needed in order to have a competent divorce:

  • Parents put the children’s needs ahead of their own
  • Parents keep the children out of the middle
  • Parents make sure there is no interruption in parenting
  • Parents work cooperatively
  • Parents relate to each other in a business-like way Most everyone has had the experience of successfully doing business with someone they don’t like. The skills and strategies that one uses in order to do so include:
    1) sticking to the business at hand;
    2) taking one issue at a time;
    3) focusing on the present and future, not the past;
    4) leaving out the emotions and
    5) listening carefully.

Even if you don’t particularly like the children’s other parent, you still have to do business together. While you are no longer together as mates, you are partners in the parenting of your children and will be for the rest of your lives. By utilizing the skills and strategies described above, you can maintain at least a business-like relationship with each other. We encourage you to think about what YOU can do to help create a competent divorce with your children’s other parent.

Source: Parenting After Divorce- Denver a Colorado non-profit corporationstarted in 1993 that provides classes for parents coming out of high conflict divorces.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: ForeverDad on April 30, 2008, 11:06:40 PM
Being fair - There is nothing wrong in being fair, as Nons we typically lived our whole lives trying to be fair to others.  That's normal.  Frankly, though, you simply can't risk being too fair with someone suffering from untreated and unrecovered BPD.  Shared Parenting gives the impression that both parents are expected to share the parenting and share the child.  That looks fine on paper but when you're dealing with a disordered person suffering from endless cycles of "acting-out" behaviors, that's all it is, words on a piece of paper.  Sharing is a concept that they may try to mimic and parody but they really can't grasp it.

So what do you do?  Some may choose to make their fair offer once and not budge, no haggling, take it or leave it.  Others may find it better to keep a couple aces up their sleeves, offering some but not all of what they're willing to do, holding the rest back for negotiation.  Be forewarned, though, that BPs generally can't negotiate, they demand.  Either they must win or you must lose.  Not much of a choice, right?  Also, by negotiating we risk getting enmeshed in their distortions, entangled in their turmoil and sucked back into their disordered lives.

What we can't allow to happen is to revert back to being appeasers, trying to placate the BP, trying to find some way to concede to the demands.  We are not bad parents if we decline to choose from the poor choices they will offer us.  Just because they refuse to agree and be reasonable does not mean that we have to cave in to their every demand.  Yet, there is some truth to the old adage, Choose your battles.  Fight hardest for what is most important to you.  You may let some issues pass in order to focus on the critical ones.  Be careful, though, not to let them chip away at whatever parts of the court orders are in your favor or in the kids' favor.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: ForeverDad on May 05, 2008, 10:28:09 PM
Does a Shared Parenting Plan mean that both parents can really share the parenting of the children?

No and Yes.<

No... .A common behavior of a parent suffering with BPD is that the person cannot effectively share, cooperate, and be the other half of a parenting team.  It's almost like the concept is out of their grasp.  The BP may agree to Shared Parenting only because it is ordered by the court or it is the only option left to them.  Agreeing to Shared Parenting doesn't mean they can really do it, though.  In a pattern often seen here, the reason the marriage failed is generally due to the disordered spouse's increasingly extreme actions of targeting the non-disordered spouse as the one who ruined everything, even to the extreme of abuse, whether emotional financial, verbal or physical.  How can the BP cooperate with someone they've convinced themselves is evil and the cause of all their troubles?  Better yet, how can the other parent realistically be able to share the parenting when being the focus of such distorted thinking?  ... .only with great difficulty.

Yes... .While the courts may call it Shared Parenting, hopefully we can start with that framework and build upon it so that we can parent the children on our parenting time.  Often there are continuing sabotages, constant manipulations and utter lack of cooperativeness on the part of the BP, so we may manage to go back to court to (1) get stronger boundaries specified and enforced by the court, and maybe even (2) gain more responsibility, authority and parenting time (even custody) as the BP continues to demonstrate poor parenting behaviors.  While in name it may be Shared Parenting, it may in reality be a blend of Co-Parenting, Parallel Parenting or as my custody evaluator termed it, Tag Team Parenting.  Whatever you have to do for the welfare of your children and yourself.  Be flexible yet firm for strong boundaries.  Be innovative and resourceful.  It may be difficult, it may even be exceedingly difficult, yet rarely is it impossible.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: united for now on May 08, 2008, 01:08:47 PM
Enforce Boundaries and Rules

Boundaries - Enforce your boundaries and expectations, even if it seems unfair at times. Otherwise, you will soon be taken advantage of and come to resent it, and have no way to resolve it. The children may not understand why you are doing it at first, and may view you as being uncompromising, but by establishing routines and sticking to them, there will hopefully be fewer encroachments later on.

Rules - Enforce your rules and expectations at your house, even if the other parent does something a different way. Kids are pretty flexible and can adapt and understand that while daddy lets them jump on the couch - that it isn't ok at home. 

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Skip on November 20, 2008, 12:19:28 PM
Let go of the anger. Easier said than done, I know. 

How can one not be angry when the "x" is selfish and self centered, tells lies, throws tantrums, plays parental alienation and favoritism games?  It is just unfair... .and it works... .they often get their way... .with the police, with the courts, with the kids.

I think the only answer is that these are real problems and "anger" doesn't solve a single one.

By definition, there is not going to be fairness when one partner is affected by BPD.  The reason is central to the disease - BPD is largely a disorder of high rejection sensitivity and limited impulse or executive control - BPDs do not have the ability to mediate immediate impulses that are self-defeating to their long term goals.   If they often defeat themselves in life - why wouldn't hey defeat you?

In short, they will paint you black (its the disorder).  They will do unconscionable things.

Unfair?  Yes.  Truly resolveable?  No. The scales will never be balanced.  The apology will never come.  The lightbulb will not go on.

All you can hope to do is mediate the situation.  Like a child with a BPD parent, or a country plagued by terrorists - you're stuck to a certain degree.  Radical acceptance is what the experts prescribe.

This is not to say toss in the towel.  There are many things you can and should do to mediate the situation. 

Another major problem with maintaining anger and judgment is what it does to your relationship with the kids. Researchers have shown that when you teach your children to love the other parent, your children will learn to love you more. When you teach your children not to love the other parent, your children will learn to fear you.

Your kids are made up of one-half you, one-half the other parent. When you judge and reject the other parent (not matter how justified, or subtle) it sends a quiet message to the kids. It tells them that you can judge and reject them as well, because they are half made of the other parent. Don't bother reassuring them that you can hate and reject the other parent but love them (your kids) unconditionally. Kids will judge the actions - not the words.

Of course you have every right to harbor negative feelings towards the BP. And anger, mistrust, resentment and a desire to punish will affect family. Its a tradoff you must decide.

I can't offer any simplistic alternative solutions - I don't think there are any.  There are many tools and methods you can put in place to better your life.  "Flanking" strategies are almost always better than "frontal" attacks. Do your best not to be a target.  A BPD is more likely to lose interest than to give up (remember, limited executive control).

This is just a perspective to keep in mind. I wish it wasn't so.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: happygirl on December 03, 2008, 08:36:56 PM
I wanted to add an article by Phillip Stahl about the stresses of conflict on the children: https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/ParallelParenting.pdf

Parallel parenting is a style of parenting in which both parents learn to parent their child effectively, doing the best job each can do during the time the child is in the irrespective care. Parents disengage from each other so that conflicts are avoided. Parallel parenting gets its name from a similar concept in children’s play. Psychologists have observed that young children who play together, but do not have the skills to interact, engage in a process of parallel play. If they are in a sandbox together or taking turns going down a slide, they play next to one another, not with one another. Each child is doing her own thing with the toys, and generally ignoring the other. As children get older, and more mature, they will learn to interact cooperatively and play together.

Similarly, parallel parenting is a process of parenting next to one another because parents are unable to co-parent together. Before parents can learn to co-parent, they wil leach learn to parent on their own. The task for mediators and parent educators is to teach parents how to parallel parent. Parents need to be taught that the important information revolves around the health, welfare, and interests of their child.

The first step of parallel parenting is disengagement. Disengagement means that parents will not communicate about minor things regarding their child. They will not criticize each other or bicker over things that have always led to conflicts in the past. Parents are taught to give the other parent important information about their child, but will not get into debates about the parenting plan or about each other’s parenting style. Parents will learn that they can raise their children differently, and the children may still be okay.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: faux on December 04, 2008, 12:28:53 AM
How do you keep the child from becoming the "pawn"?

You can't.  You can only control what you do.  Chances are your BPDSO IS going to use the child as a pawn.  So I think the question should be how do you minimize the effects of your child being used as a "pawn".

1-  Never, ever, ever NEVER be the one who uses the child.  Don't ask the child what your SO is doing, who is he seeing, did he buy a new car.  Don't make the child ask the SO things that YOU should be asking like... .":)ad, can you and mom switch weekends next week end so she and I can go to... .  That is a question Mom needs to ask.  If Dad says no he looks like the bad guy and kid feels bad because Mom did not get what she wanted, so he must not have asked right.  In short, be the adult!  Even is the X just refuses to.  I know it stinks to alway be the one who has to be the responsible one but isn't your child worth it?

2-  Find ways to reduce your child's stress that he is GOING to feel.  Your SO is going to use the child to get at you, no doubt, so you have to work to minimize that stress.  How can you do that? 

       a.  I am sorry but I can not remember the name of the man who came up with this plan.  I learned about it at work.  I use it with my D and it is wonderful for both of us.  But it take 40 minutes of your day... .isn't little Billy Bob worth 40 minutes?  The plan is simple and it is called 10-20-10.  You give your child 10 minutes of undivided attention in the morning before you leave the house.  This can be something as simple as getting ready 10 minutes early and going into their room and sitting with them as they wake up.  Think about it.instead of going in and turning on the lights and yelling "get up" you go in, sit on the bed next to them and rub their back or play with their hair or just lay there with them gradually waking them to the day.  For 10 minutes.  With my D I read her cues.  Sometimes I play withher, tickle, singing silly songs at her other times I just sit there and rub her back.  Then after you are back home after work and school they get 20 minutes of your time.  This could be playing a game, talking about the day, maybe they are helping you with dinner or even watching TV together as long as you talk to each other about what you are watching.  Then right before bed they get 10 minutes again.  This might be story time, calm game time whatever you can do with them.  When a young child expereinces stress he acutally stops learning.  Think of the significance of that in a two year old who is learning 24/7.  We must reduce stress for our children.  I know that 40 a day may bee too much for you.  But in the US fathers spend less than 5 minutes a day with their children... .if you can manage 10 to start and then work up to 40 that is probably an incredible improvment.  I find that this actually reduces my stress as well.

     b.  Find activities for them to let off stress.  Even babies feel stress.  They know when mom and dad are stessed and they feel it too.  Something as simple as a box filled with paper that baby can tear, wad up and yes taste can provide a great stress relief.  For older children maybe dance class, soccer.  For any age music or art activities, blowing great big bubbles!

3. Remind them DAILY that you love them NO MATTER WHAT.  They are going to feel that they are to blame.  Put their minds at ease often by telling them and showing them how much you love them just as they are. 

Don't worry about what SO tells your child about you.  if you show them love in these ways your child will KNOW who you are despite what your x says about you.  ANd don't you ever talk bad about your x to the kids.  Be excited about what they got to do while they were with him.  Kids are smart they can tell when you make a smart allec remark so don't make them. 

It is ok for a child to love both parents, even if one is BPD and we should encourage them to love the x... .withing whatever boundaries might be needed of course.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: JoannaK on January 01, 2010, 11:10:13 AM
Here are some techniques for parallel parenting from:

Children’s Adjustment Following Divorce: Risk and Resilience Perspectives
by Joan B. Kelly and Robert E. Emery
Disengagement: Avoid situations or communications which might create conflict.
–Don’t communicate unless you have to. Avoid communication about minor things.
--Don’t tell the former spouse how to parent.
--Avoid criticisms of the other parent’s parenting.
--Avoid conflict in all communications. When your former spouse makes an accusation, don’t “set the record straight.” You will never change their mind. You will only escalate the conflict by replying with your view point.
–Provide basic information only.
Communicate by email or letter. When writing to your former spouse:
-- Be factual and concise.
-- Be business-like
-- Avoid sarcasm.
-- Don’t share your communications with the children
-- Don’t ask the children to ask your former spouse something or give your former spouse a request for something. E.g. Ask your father if he wants to see you on this Sunday, or Ask your father how you are going to be able to participate in the school play if I don’t get your child support.”
--Limit non-emergency information to twice per month (more if child is under age 5).

Things to Promote:
-- Ignore (rather than arguing back) when the other parent tries to tell you how to parent.
-- Support different styles of parenting in order to avoid conflict. Even in happy marriages, people differ on parenting. Pick battles very carefully. Most parenting differences are not worth fighting over. E.g., bed times or cleanliness of a room or house.
-- Accept that there is more than one “right way” to parent.
-- Learn to be less rigid and more accepting of the child’s other parent.
-- Don’t try to change how other parent does parenting job.
-- Do best job of parenting during the time child is with you, without criticizing other parent. Children usually resent a parent who criticizes the other parent.
-- Children are capable of being parented in two different styles.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Harley Quinn on October 26, 2018, 04:49:50 PM
Boy do I wish I'd seen this workshop sooner!  This information is priceless for someone who shares parenting with a difficult ex partner.  I will definitely be referring to this a lot for tips and reminders.

Love and light x

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Panda39 on October 26, 2018, 07:25:08 PM
Good information!  I just read your article Skip my SO with no training or knowledge eventually did everything in it. 

It reminded me of a little story.  In court my SO's uBPDxw was talking about something and telling the judge that my SO was yelling at her and the kids were upset or scared because he was so mad.  So my SO asked her how they could have over-heard the conversation/argument when it was all by email?   


Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Turkish on October 26, 2018, 10:01:49 PM
Working on emotionally detaching and healing from the strong emotions related to the loss of the romantic aspect of the relationship certainly helps with seperate parenting.  Neither anger/hatred, nor pining for what is past helps.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Skip on October 29, 2018, 10:59:09 AM
Research shows consistent chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children.

In high conflict situations, one or both parents often believe they can get along with each other and co-parent. Inevitably, problems develop, and they parent struggle, the child struggles and with the loss of all goodwill, parent independently.

Many psychologist suggested the best route is to start with parallel parenting, and a year or so after word with some success, relax the rules somewhat.

Parallel parenting is described as both sets of parents parenting the children in their own way. They do not discuss the parenting decisions with the other parent. Communication is kept to a minimum. Interactions between the parents is limited. Face-to-face exchanges are eliminated or reduced. That's not right each other and discuss the daily events of the children.

Parallel parenting should last at least two years sometimes it should be longer.

If the conflict between the couple, the more important it is to parent separately. Coparenting can occur when the conflict dies down. If the conflict continues, co-parenting won't work.

Deana Stacer, in 2001, wrote an informal guide that may be helpful to read (click here (https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/stacer.pdf)). She make a few points, Stacer says:

  • "do not have face-to-face exchanges
  • make sure you have a clearly defined child sharing plan
  • do all of your communications in writing (follow the "just the facts ma'am" rule)
  • do not alter the child sharing schedule
  • don't send notes that inflame the other parent
  • parallel parent rather than co-parent
  • do not communicate by phone unless it's a medical emergency
  • follow all court orders to the letter"

At the first sign of tension or conflict however they should immediately go back to following rules which are recommended to protect the children from being caught up in the conflict.

Deana Stacer, PhD., left the psychology in 2002 shorty after writing a series of articles on parallel parenting.

Title: Re: 8.40 | Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting
Post by: Eleven011 on April 09, 2019, 01:49:33 PM
All of this is super-helpful advice and actually gives me hope for a future with far-less conflict and chaos for both my kids and for myself too.  Thank you!

(we aren't divorced yet - but are on that path... and given the mess things were in during our previous separation - there are some mistakes I *don't* want to repeat)