Imagining the future can seem like an impossible task. The hurts and pain of the past and present can make thinking about how things might look in one year, five years or ten years can be a struggle. At a time when parents are working through their separation, their children are not only managing their own response to this family transition, but are still growing and developing. The work of parenting and child development does not pause whilst parents recover their own equilibrium.
In these challenging circumstances, it can help parents to use a parallel parenting structure to manage their ongoing responsibilities to their children. Although agreeing rules is not the same as complying with rules, having an agreed structure in place is a significant benefit. Without structure, it can be impossible for people to imagine how they might move on. The old patterns of their relationship did not work but how can they construct a new pattern?
One of the issues for most separating parents is that for now they are surrounded by uncertainty:
- Uncertainty about where they and the children will live
- Uncertainty about how much time they will have with the children
- Uncertainty about what the finances will look like
- Uncertainty about how long and how painful this process will be
In the midst of the separation process, children still need to be fed, watered and get to school. Parallel parenting can provide a strong basis for parents to manage their parental responsibilities. If parents are able to agree a new paradigm and meet their obligations, parents may even be able to rebuild trust, communication skills and the ability to problem solve. Choosing to try and build a new structure is the first step to moving on. The reality is that the children will continue to need help with homework, will get into scrapes, will have medical issues, etc. etc. Having a structure in place as to how to deal with the realities of parenting can help both parents to parent without having to re-litigate the past.
There are multiple variations in the way that parents can design how their co-parental team will operate. Separating parents need to be supported to develop rules which will work for their children and their new separated family.