Are you divorcing or divorced from a partner who is high conflict, has a personality disorder, or is emotionally unhealthy? Do you find that you are unable to co-parent with your ex in the way you had hoped? Is your ex- counter parenting at every opportunity? Are you worried about the damaging effects to your child?

Parallel ParentingIt is very difficult to co-parent with a toxic ex or emotionally stunted ex. In fact, the worst trauma of divorce on a child isn’t inflicted by the divorce itself but instead it is the conflict before and after it. Parallel parenting is a better approach in this scenario.

Parallel Parenting is a parenting technique in which divorced parents who wish or need to avoid contact can do so by limiting their interactions. The premise of this technique is to only communicate when absolutely necessary and only about the kids. This requires showing no emotion and keeping strict boundaries. Any interactions become all business. The goal is to mitigate and minimize the effects of an emotionally unhealthy parent and to also provide the kids with skill sets to reduce the negative effects on them. In order to do this, you must have the skills first.

Parallel parenting allows each parent to have a meaningful relationship with the children, while completely disengaging from each other. Choosing this route doesn’t mean either of the parents is necessarily a bad parent, instead it allows for whatever level of conflict between the two parents to not be the focus. Rather, the focus is back on the children and each parent’s individual relationship with the child or children. Thus, when the child is with that parent, they will have their own rules and their own styles, and the other parent will not be involved or discuss or guide it. They will each operate their own household independently. It eliminates the probability or inevitability for conflict with conversations and creates a more silo parenting approach.

This is better for the children if the alternative is constant conflict and chaos and children being put in the middle between two parents who cannot get along. It’s all about the essential functions of parenting and eliminates unnecessary dramas that inflict pain and trauma on the children. Parallel parenting may feel extreme, but it can be efficient solution for placing the focus back on your children’s emotional health and happiness.

If you have a question you would like to ask or a topic to be addressed in next month’s article, please email If you would like to schedule an individual appointment, please contact us at 713.800.6999 or

Connect with Jenn Pinkerton

Interested in scheduling an appointment, looking for more information, or for a qualified expert to speak at your next event?

Privacy Preference Center