Parallel Parenting

What is parallel parenting and how is it different from Co-Parenting? Psychologist Alice R. Berkowitz explains.

Parallel Parenting is reserved for High Conflict Divorces. Parallel Parenting is for parents that still carry a great deal of animosity for one another (or at least one parent carries animosity for the other), cannot work together, continue to fight in front of the children, disrespect the other parent, cannot be consistent in their childrearing – in fact they often work to make the other parent even if it hurts the children.

The rules for are:

1. Strict Parenting Plan
This is usually worked out by an evaluator, parent coordinator, or a judge. The schedule of when the children are to be with one parent and then the other is spelled out in a court order, including vacation days, holidays, etc. Drop-offs and Pick-ups are done either at school (when school is in session), at camp (during the summer-if they go to camp), by a neutral third party when school or camp are not in session, and if there is not a neutral third party, at a public place like in front of a store (or right inside of a store if they live in a cold part of the country), in an outside mall, or in very serious cases – inside a police station. There is no flexibility in changing days or if one parent travels for work, make up time must be planned for in a court-monitored email.

2. Parental Contact can only be through Court Monitored Email Service or if that does not exist, emails or faxes
Communication between parents is to be strictly confined to changes in schedules (if one parent is traveling), if a child is ill, school reports, or to inform the other parent of an important issue with one of the children. Contact is limited to avoid conflict and fighting and to protect the children from the animosity between parents.

3. Parent Teacher Conferences and Other School Events
Parents are to schedule separate parent-teacher conferences. If needed, a court order can be sent to the school to assure that this occurs. At all other events, especially when children are present, parents are to split up the events – either by event or one parent can go to first half and the other second half. This excludes large school activities, like football, basketball, hockey, or baseball games or graduations, where there are many people and parents can avoid interacting. However, if there is an incident at any of these larger activities, one or both parents needs to report this to the minor’s counselor on the case, the parent coordinator, or their attorney. The idea is to protect the children from seeing negative interactions between the parents, as well as to protect the parents from experiencing them.

4. Agreed Upon General Rules for Each Household
In Parallel Parenting Situations – a set of household rules is agreed upon by both parents with either a custody evaluator, minor’s counselor, parent coordinator or judge. Clearly, the rules in each house cannot be the same, but the idea is to try to structure certain rules for the children that are consistent at each house. For example, bedtimes, showers or baths, morning schedules, mealtimes, homework times, brushing teeth and hair, curfews, driving, dating, etc. The basic rules around taking care of the children are what is hopefully set and carried through.

This is critical for the children. They may not say it, but it hurts them deeply to hear one parent speak negatively about the other. It also injures their sense of trust in relationships and may cause deeper levels of emotional problems.

Parallel Parenting is Similar to Being Two Partners in a Corporation who may not like Each Other, but if they Don’t Work Together the Company will go Under. When I teach parenting classes to High Conflict Couples, I start with this premise. Do you want this corporation that you have built to go under because you two don’t like each other? How can you work together, both being heads of a money-making corporation that supports many people, without fighting and without having much contact except for emails with each other? There is a great deal more to this, but this is the notion that actually really helps high conflict couples disengage personally and begin to look at their family as a company that they need to run. It becomes much more task-oriented and each party over the ten weeks becomes less angry. It does not work for everyone, but for people that know they are hurting their kids and have to find another way at looking at parenting with someone they have been so hurt or angered by, this approach can be very successful.


Parallel Parenting – The Evolutionary Way To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

If you are currently co-parenting with a narcissist, my heart goes out to you.

I read countless stories every day from people in this community who are experiencing the daily frustrations, twist and turns, insanity and gut-wrenching nastiness that goes with trying to co-parent with a narcissist.

You may constantly be worried about how your children are being treated, including if the narcissist is poisoning them against you, or WORSE … if they are turning your child into a narcissist.

And it can be beyond horrible for your children caught in the middle, seeing your distress and pain and witnessing the conflicts between their parents.

Up until now, the term co-parenting is what we understand to be the role we take with a narcissist once separated.

However, the word ‘co’ would almost suggest being a team or working together with the mutual goal of caretaking our children, such as being able to collaborate healthily for the good of the child.

Yet we all know this is NOT possible in narcissistic co-parenting situations.

This is why I believe we need a paradigm shift in the co-parenting community. We need a NEW way where you can take your children out of the conflicts between you and the narcissist, and also remove yourself from the trauma of trying to deal with someone who just won’t cooperate – so that you can be as healthy as possible for your children.

This can be done by adopting – Parallel Parenting.

This is a powerful, revolutionary way to have strict boundaries and even hold the narcissist accountable for their narcissistic behaviour.

Parallel parenting is about have joint custody with your children in a way that works, as effectively as possible, given the difficult circumstances.

In this very important Thriver TV episode, I explain WHAT Parallel Parenting is, how it can be done, the ways and moves you can make to enforce effective, accountable third-party communication channels … and the BENEFITS of parenting in this way.

Within this episode, I share with you my knowledge and observations of co-parenting with narcissists, which I have learned over the last 10 years, as well as a dear friend’s invaluable information, regarding his incredible knowledge and experience whilst parallel parenting with a high-level narcissistic.

[Source:  Narcissism and Relationships Blog
By: Melanie Tonia Evans
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Expert, Healer, Author, Radio Host]

The Story of a Targeted Parent, in his own words

My husband, the targeted parent in our particular situation dealing with Parental Alienation and Grandparent Alienation, is now gone.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumor (glioblastoma) in June 2015.  He had brain surgery, underwent chemotherapy,  radiation and all the other various treatments involved with this disease.  One of the things he was most adamant about was putting pen to paper and sharing his story of parental alienation and grandparent alienation.

After his brain surgery, he had great difficult writing, but he persevered.  Here is his story, in his own words:

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Letter from a Targeted Parent_0002_edited-1

Letter from a Targeted Parent_0003_edited-1

Tears are streaming down my face as I share this.  He and I were together for over 34 years, and married for over 33 years.  He was an incredible man and deserved to be a father to his children, and a grandfather to his grandchildren.  There was no reason to keep him from his children or his grandchildren, other than  ……. well, how do I even try to explain why someone would keep him from his children and grandchildren?  Because there is no reason, and there is no explanation.

It was a heartbreaking situation and there was no reason for it.

Here’s his narrative:

It’s time I put some facts in writing about my relationship with my children.  Having a relationship with L*** and C***** was difficult due to their mother’s interference.  I have many letters from D**** showing how difficult she made things.  L*** and C***** are loyal to their mother but they never stood up to her and tell her that the things she was doing were hurt full.  One week we would see the girls then the next we wouldn’t.  For 25 years this went on.  The girls learned from their mother if there’s something you don’t like you don’t let me have visitation.  I didn’t stop seeing my grandchildren, they were kept from me.   Much has been said about C***** in this matter.  C***** is not the villain here no matter what some people say.  Those people are only trying to remake history.  This has happened too many times in the past.  Will it happen again?  I lost 7 years of seeing my grandchildren that needs to be talked about!  C***** is my wife.  Ignoring her is not going to make her go away.  She has to be included in any conversations we have.  D**** R******* continues to put herself in my business.  For us to go any further, this has to stop!  Only you girls can make that happen.

If ………

Our targeted parent was never able to finish his story.  Brain cancer robbed him of his ability to write very early on.

Luckily he was able to reconcile with his oldest daughter a few years before his death and got to know her child — his granddaughter.  His daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were such a joy to him in his final years.  It’s a shame they missed out on several years with this incredible man, but I think everyone made up for it at the end.  He cherished them and they were all with him — laughing and enjoying being together — until the bitter end.

The tears are flowing again …….

And then we come to my part in his story.  I fell madly in love with a dashing 32 year old man, with two daughters.  I had two sons from my first marriage, so we seemed destined to create our own little Brady Bunch …. minus two.   🙂

Fast forward to a 67 year old, dying of brain cancer.  When he was told he had a brain tumor in 2015, his first words were to me:  how are you going to get home?  Oh my!  The man was told he had a brain tumor and his first concern was about me.  And, trust me, I managed to get home  just fine.  When he entered hospice, the chaplain spoke to him, and all he would say is that he didn’t want to leave me.  I didn’t want him to leave me either.  How do you let go of such a loving, caring man?  Why was this loving , caring man denied a relationship with his children and grandchildren?

And, as you can see from his letter, he wanted everyone to know that I wasn’t to blame for everything that went on — and that I should be included in any conversations about our family.  My protector, hard at work again.  Maybe he was wrong about that, but his steadfast love for me shown through in his narrative to his children.  Their mother  (and his youngest daughter) blamed me for everything that had happened and my Knight in Shining Armor stood up and defended me to the end.

That, my friends, is true love.

This story is a tragedy in some sense in that my husband went years without seeing his children and grandchildren, but then it’s also a story of what true love can conquer.  After all that we went through — no visitation with his children, the telephone calls and letters from his ex-wife, the fights with the children, not seeing his beloved grandchildren for years — we persevered and when he took his final breath, he knew he had enjoyed years with his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter — as well as the rest of the family.

And when he took that final breath, I was at his side, saying I Love You to the man who was my rock, my soul mate and my love for so many years …….


shamrock bar
Death leaves a heartache
no one can heal;
Love leaves a memory no
one can steal.

Nine Warning Signs of Parental Alienation and What to do About Them

Manipulation of a child’s mind and attachment bonds in a negative way is abusive. So is Parental Alienation.

There are times in divorce when one parent hates his/her spouse more than he/she loves his children. When this occurs, toxic things happen. Things such as parental alienation.

Parental alienation, when a child turns away from a parent in an extreme form, can occur in both intact and divorced families and in families where the alienating parent is the primary residential caregiver or not or when the parenting plan gives equal timesharing.

Both genders have the potential to be the targeted parent. Mothers, despite typically holding the brunt of the childcare activities, even today, are not immune to being on the receiving end of the alienation. And it is not necessarily related to the time-sharing plan, although there may be a correlation. Fathers can have the classic every other week visitation, joint time sharing or the bulk of the residential requirements and even an occasional visitation because it’s not so much about access when you are dealing with a pathological personality.

It happens when one parent, the alienating parent, typically has a personality disorder, often of the borderline and/or narcissistic type.

How does it begin?  Harboring contempt predates the onset of the behaviors that characterize this process. But when it starts it is the alienating parent that, most obviously or quite subtly, makes derogatory comments, demeans, negates and even berates the targeted, often good parent. And yes, this can occur quite subtly, depending upon how manipulative the alienating parent is.

Comments are soon accompanied by a stonewalling of sorts to the targeted parents: “Sarah is not feeling great tonight so she can’t have her sleepover”, “Blake has a big test on Monday and wants to stay here to study and meet with his tutor.” The latter becomes harder when the targeting parent is the non-custodial parent and the time-sharing is limited. But nevertheless, particularly with virulent personalities, anything can occur at any time.

9 Warning Signs that Parental Alienation is Present

Early warning signs of parental alienation might include things like:

  1. Exclusionary requests by the child (don’t come to my baseball games)
  2. Oppositional or oppositional-defiant disorder in a child that previously demonstrated none or minimal symptoms
  3. Shut out or requests made by the child to not attend parent/teacher conferences.
  4. Shut out from school meetings (by the other parent via subtle and not so subtle methods) and no longer listed as contact parent for school/camp
  5. Being challenged by your child; they become argumentative and combative and, in the extreme form, exhibit provocations to the point of explosive rage reactions back to your child
  6. A sense of entitlement to receive parental tasks/gifts yet arrogance of how they are better than this parent
  7. A failure of the child to identify any prior positive bonding experiences
  8. denigration of the targeted parent that he/she can’t do anything right. In fact, you might hear words from the targeting parent repeated which can be very triggering
  9. the child takes responsibility for the alienation and rejection; it was their idea. When confronted they don’t acknowledge manipulation by the pathological parent; in fact, they hold the process of rejecting as their own.

Pathogenic parenting is such that the parent’s approach is so aberrant that it creates in the child psychopathology, that can be transient, or, if not intervened, chronic and longstanding and develop into a personality disorder as well.

When to be Vigilant in Dealing with Parental Alienation

It has been clearly documented that parental alienation occurs in families in which one (sometimes both) parents have a personality disorder, typically that of the borderline and/or narcissistic types. Healthy parents don’t produce this sort of pattern. In fact, according to Dr. Craig Childress, Psychologist, and expert in PAS, children don’t turn away from parents unless there is a perpetrator lurking and a perpetrator to whom a child is afraid. Think about it-children don’t turn away from pathologic parenting; they are too afraid. But they will turn away from a loving kind healthier version; there is nothing to fear there. These are the parents of whom the child is most afraid to lose; not the parent with whom they can feel consistently safe and loved.

So, for you, the mom, if your husband has shown signs or has been diagnosed with a severe personality disorder, typically of the type mentioned, I suggest you be vigilant and aware. And, as noted earlier, this can happen even when that parent has limited access to the children; that is how vitreous the sick parent can be. Remember, people listen to a narcissist; they believe him, mostly out of fear. Children don’t know that but you should.

Why be Vigilant

There are very few things worse than when a parent is shut out. In fact, parental alienation is not for family court, although that is how it is handled; instead, it is child abuse. Manipulation of a child’s mind and attachment bonds in a negative way is abusive. It weakens the bond between mother and child and impedes upon the development of the self of the child. While on the outside it appears to have given them power, in essence, it weakens them by not allowing them access to their true selves. And they know that they are the unifying power since without them there would be no continuation of the family; this creates a whole host of complicated emotions.

Further, it is bad for the family. It creates chaos, a lack of cohesion, stimulates unhealthy subgroups and interferes with sibling bonds. It interrupts the natural course of the family.

Divorce/Separation causes sadness, grief, anger, fear amongst other complicated emotions and when these come out they may be expressed around and to the children. When the angry parent says/does things to turn the child away from the parent things become complicated.

The child, due to loyalty to both parents and typically fear of the angry parent, allies with them and starts to believe what they are saying about the other parent, who is typically not only the good parent but perhaps the only good parent during this process. So in order for the child to not have to face their own pain regarding their targeted parent, they shut that out and turn away. That is the dynamic right there. While conflicted, its much easier for them to not face themselves, even into adulthood, and stay away.

A Few Do’s and Don’ts

If you suspect at all that your soon to be ex-spouse or current spouse, has any degree of a personality disorder mentioned about, be cautious.

Don’t react to their defiance and/or eventual provocations. Do respond in the way that you have been and with further love and limits. Don’t accuse the other parent or refer to the other parent in that way: do take the high road. Be very aware of your own boundaries and how/if/when they are being crossed. If you have concerns, talk to a professional. When a child changes behavior there is always something behind it. When a child shows signs of alienation, there is always a perpetrator lurking.

This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms:

The Distancing of Fathering: Too Great a Loss in the Landscape — Karen Woodall

Today is Father’s Day in the UK and all around the land children will be marking the day for their dads. For some there will be no card or present, no telephone call or good wishes. For some children there will be no opportunity to give these and for others the opportunity will be denied […]

via The Distancing of Fathering: Too Great a Loss in the Landscape — Karen Woodall