"Cooperative Coparenting" is best defined as a philosophical belief that both parents hold about their relationship with each other and the children.
Cooperative coparents, both believe that the other parent has the best interests of the children at heart.
Cooperative coparents both believe that the other parent is valuable, worthwhile and important in the children's life. This means that both of the parents believe that the children need to have a relationship with each parent and the children with both parents.
Although cooperative coparents may have some disagreements over some minor child sharing issues, they will do whatever it takes to work out the conflicts to support the child sharing plan and the other parent's relationship with the children; even if it is by "Parenting by Default." "Parenting by Default" occurs when one of the parents is given the power or the latitude to make the decisions for the children, while the other parent goes along with the decision, without fighting the reasons for the decision.
Cooperative coparents will always support the child sharing decisions that they make together as cooperative coparents, even if they may not have originally agreed with the decision.
Cooperative coparents believe that the other parent is so important in the child's life, they will do whatever they can to support the child's relationship with that other parent.
The "Conflictual Coparenting" couple has a completely different philosophical mind set for child sharing, because these parents have an entirely different belief about the other parent's value and relationship with the children.
Conflictual Coparenting Defined:
One or both of the parents believe that the other parent does not have the best interests of the children at heart.
One or both of the parents believes that the other parent has fundamental character flaws, parental deficiencies, a personality disorder, or a substance abuse issue that directly interferes with their ability to parent the children. One or both of the parents believes that the other parent is in some way detrimental to the children.
One or both of the parents disrespects or devalues the other parent, and they do not believe that other parent is important in the children's life.
One or both of the parents seeks the assistance from court professionals to help them make child sharing decisions, but even with assistance, one or both of the parents disrespects and often actively sabotages the court order. They may badmouth the professionals and the decisions that the courts make related to the case, they may disregard the court order.
One or both of the parents undermines and sabotages the other parent's relationship with the children by thwarting visits or attempting to alienate the children for the other parent.
Two Different Philosophical Mind Sets About Coparenting
In review, these two types of coparents are philosophically different from each other. Cooperative coparents both believe the other parent is important in the children's life. While conflictural coparents believe that the other parent is unfit and is unnecessary in the children's life. Cooperative coparents will do whatever they need to do to support the child's relationship with the other parent, while one or both of the conflictural coparents will do whatever they can to sabotage the child's relationship with the other parent.
The rules to reduce conflict for conflictural coparents must be different than the rules for cooperative coparents. Conflictual coparents need rules that will control their contact and the communication with each other. Cooperative coparents do not require these types of rules to manage their contact and communication with each other.
The conflictural coparent's mind set is that the other parent is dangerous and detrimental to the children. This means that the rules for conflictural coparents require that these parents stop talking to each other, because their focus during every interaction with the other parent is that they have to "protect" the children from the "bad" parent, or they have to somehow get the "bad" parent to "straighten up." Conflictual coparents are not going to change their philosophical view of each other, no matter how much coparenting counseling or coparenting classes they are ordered to take. In a "high conflict couple,"at least one, or both of the parents is permanently entrenched in their belief that the other parent should be eliminated from the children's life.
Conflictual Coparents Cannot Learn To Coparent
When the professionals and the courts insist that parents "learn to coparent," they want the parents to learn to become "cooperative coparents" with each other. This is an impossible task because of the differences between the two types of coparenting mind sets. Conflictual coparents require a set of rules to control the face to face interactions and the telephone and written communication between the coparents so that the conflict is controlled. Every time "conflictural coparents" interact with each other, either visually (they see their Ex's face) or verbally (they hear their Ex's voice), they both have a stress reaction that will last approximately seventy-two hours. This is called "spinning." The stress reaction or "spinning" is a result of the negative anticipation that each parent experiences as they focus on what is going to happen, or what is going to be said by the other parent, during the child sharing exchange. When a parent is "spinning" during these following seventy-two hours, they are distracted by the chaos inside their mind and body and they are emotionally absent for their children. We call it "lights on, no one's home" for the children. Parents in conflict cannot focus on the children when they are constantly "spinning."
Rules To Reduce the Conflict for Conflictual Coparents
Cooperative coparents do not need communication and contact rules, because they think about the other parent as an "asset" for the children rather than a "detriment" to the children. This means that cooperative coparent's stress level is significantly lower during every interaction with the EX and these parents do not experience the kind of "psychic hit" to their system that conflictural coparents constantly experience.
Defining Parallel Parenting
Parallel parenting is a style of coparenting which allows parents to reduce their communication with each other regarding the children. It gives each parent control over their own parenting time. The parents do not consult each other about their own daily routines, rules, or decisions regarding the children. (All major decisions however, may require communication and agreement between both parents, and professional who understand the differences between coparents and conflictural coparents can help parents with these issues).
Parallel parenting works for parents who have a history of, or potential for conflict over their children's issues. This style of parenting reduces communication between parents so they have a chance to develop their own rules in their own world. Each parent creates their own regular and stable routines for their children when they are in their home. The children benefit because parents can quit trying to reach agreements with the other parent. Parents in conflict generally waste their emotional energy trying to get the other parent to agree with them regarding issues.
Taking Parallel Parenting further, we introduce the idea of "Mom's World-Dad's World" for parents to apply to their lives. Conflictual parents generally waste their emotional energy trying to get the other parent to agree with them regarding child sharing issues. With "Mom's World-Dad's World,"each parent decides their own rules for school work, bedtime, homework and chores. Both parent's rules may be different. The children adjust to these changes, just like they adjust to having several teachers in school who have different rules for academics and for conduct. One of the examples includes a mother who tells her child to brush their teeth. The child says, "Daddy doesn't make me brush my teeth before bedtime." Mommy replies, "That's in Daddy's World. When you are in my world, we brush our teeth before bedtime."
The child may be manipulating Mom by trying to get her to not enforce her rules. Or the mother can let go of the child not brushing their teeth at Dad's home, since she has no control about getting the child or the father to cooperate. Another second example is one where a father tells their child to get their homework done before dinner. The child says, "Mommy doesn't make me do my homework before dinner." Daddy replies, "That's in Mommy's World. While you are in my home, we do your homework before dinner. When you are with me, you can do homework according to my rules." Dad then lets go of the child not doing their homework at Mom's. The father checks with the school to see if the child is really missing homework, then he handles any concerns with the teacher, (not the other parent) since he knows that communicating with the other parent means more drama and continued conflict, more wasted energy and nothing will change, except to add more drama to the situation.
Letting go of the other parent is a huge step toward practicing parallel parenting, rather than trying desperately to get the other parent to coparent with you, under the guise of parallel parenting. If a parent is still trying to get the other parent to work with them in any way, during their time, or during the other parent's time, that parent is still trying to get the other parent to "coparent" with them.
Parallel Parenting Suggestions:
Parenting in separate worlds means that both parents individually contact coaches, teachers and extracurricular leaders on their own, rather than waiting for the other parent to set meetings up or asking the other parent for details after the meeting with the professionals;
Parents attend extracurricular events on their own time, and if there might be conflict between the two parents at the event, the one parents does not go to the event for the emotional security of the child. A set of appropriate scripts can be said to the child to help prepare them that one parent may not be attending.
Communication about academic performance takes place at separate school conferences. Each parent schedules their own conference with the teacher. In parallel parenting, parents start to let go of the things they cannot change about the other parent. They let the other parent, parent in their own way.
Each parent's world includes their own rules for home, school and the world in general. Mom's World-Dad's World includes the parent's choice of friends, their beliefs, their religion, their culture and their family history.
Mom's World-Dad's World includes your own family traditions and family dynamics. It includes all the people in your life, both present and in the future. You may not like the other parent's choice of rules or people they add to their life, but your child doesn't deserve to hear about your displeasure. They love that parent and want to be a part of the other parent's traditions, rules and family activities.
What goes on in Mom's world stays in Mom's World. What goes on in Dad's World stays in Dad's World. (This statement does not include child abuse of any kind) This mind set is specific to helping your children feel safe that they do not have to tell the other parent what they did on your time and they do not have to report to you what they did on the other parent's time, they stay out of the middle of the war between their parents. Tell your children you do not need to know what goes on in the other parent's world.
Don't ask your child what they did with the other parent. Do not relay messages through your children to the other parent;
Do not plan activities with the children that fall on the other parent's time unless you get the other parent's permission before planning the event with the child.
Parallel Parenting has advantages over Cooperative Coparenting for conflictural coparent:
Cooperative Coparenting requires that you talk to each other about child issues. When you hear your EX's voice or see their face, you will "spin" for 3 days afterwards. "It's lights on, no one's home" for the children, while:
Parallel Parenting reduces or eliminates the amount of contact and communication between you and the EX. Exchanges are done from school to school or curbside to curbside to eliminate contact and conflict;
Cooperative Coparenting requires you to agree with your EX on the "proper" parenting approach. This requires that you talk to your EX (a lot) to reach agreements. If you couldn't agree on parenting during the marriage/relationship, how will you agree now? While:
Parallel Parenting encourages you to develop your own rules and standards for discipline, for parenting, school, homework, and bedtime. If you are not having to reach agreements, your Ex will reduce your conflict, while;
Cooperative Coparenting means the entire family remains upset because of the constant efforts to communicate, but with a low success rate. You are not able to become a "single" parent and move on, due to conflict, while you try to unsuccessfully communicate with the other parent, while;
Parallel Parenting allows you to calm down. You create a new family unit that supports you. You develop new rules that support this new family unit, because you can think more clearly now that you are not upset all of the time.
Cooperative Coparenting continues the marital relationship. Your interaction with the EX creates anxiety. It may even become addictive, while you continue to have contact, you are always feel anxious and disrupted around your children, while;
Parallel Parenting allows you to get closer to your children by redirecting your "fighting energy" toward "bonding" with your children. You'll feel better and more positive. Your kids will feel better and loved.