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You Can Co-Parent in a Variety of Ways



Co-parenting is seen as a positive experience by some people. In reality, there are many different types of co-parenting that develop after divorce, and often, they are influenced by the type of marriage and/or divorce you've been through. Unfortunately, positive co-parenting is relatively rare in practice, and it may not always be feasible (or recommended).


Types of Co-parenting.


There are three main types of co-parental relationships after divorce:

  • The most prevalent method of co-parenting is parallel co-parenting, where each parent is generally disengaged from the other but still actively involved in parenting. In this relationship, there is minimal cooperation between the parties, but there are no open conflicts. This type of relationship is maintained by approximately 50% of divorced couples.

  • Approximately 35% of divorced parents engage in conflicted co-parenting. Conflict, anger, and control issues are present in this relationship. When there is conflict, it's usually due to one or two parties not being able to let go of their relationship.

  • A third type of co-parenting is cooperative co-parenting, which occurs in 25% of divorced couples. The parents coordinate their roles in the child's best interests and maintain flexible and supportive relationships with one another.

When parents engage in parallel parenting, there is little conflict and communication between them. They are emotionally disconnected. In addition, they are unable to coordinate child-rearing issues because each parent is operating in their own sphere. In general, households operate independently and children may or may not behave consistently between them. The parents are not actively discussing it, so the possibility is purely by chance.


Conflicted co-parenting involves... well, you guessed it... frequent conflict, poor communication, and a failure to disengage emotionally (or being emotionally reactive) by one or both former partners. According to research, conflict in the family is responsible for children's negative outcomes (not whether they are raised in an intact or divorced family).


Cooperative co-parenting is the most advantageous for children and is characterized by joint planning, coordination, and some flexibility in parenting schedules, as well as offering mutual support to each other. Parents are able to resolve their differences independently or with the help of mediators or therapists, and it is typically conflict-free. When children are co-parented in this way, resiliency is promoted.


Various Co-Parenting Styles: Which Are You?


However, Michael Thomas and Deesha Philyaw have also identified three types of co-parenting styles in Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce: Super Friends, Business Partners, and Oil and Water.

  • There is very little conflict between super friends because they respect each other, put the children's needs first, communicate often, and have no ill feelings toward one another.

  • In a business partner co-parenting arrangement, boundaries are clear, but all emotions are held close to the vest. A minimal amount of communication exists between the two divorced parents, and their lives are very separate.

  • Parenting in oil and water is the most toxic style of co-parenting. Physical and verbal altercations are frequent. Both parents remain angry and resentful because they cannot compromise.

A co-parenting style can also be classified as authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, or neglectful, according to Dr. Claire Nicogossian.

  • Authoritarian. Children are shaped and controlled by their parents. As well as setting high standards and rules, they also set high expectations and consequences. The majority of children are anxious, withdrawn, frustrated, academically successful, and unlikely to engage in high-risk behavior.

  • Permissive. With this type of parenting, style anything goes. They don't set many rules, expectations, or rules. A lot of children are insecure, do not possess good social skills, quit easily, show defiance, and behave antisocially more often.

  • Authoritative. These parents think rationally and communicate openly. After setting rules and consequences, they explain them. It is their nature to adapt. Children who are happy and confident have strong social skills, are flexible, and are good communicators.

  • Neglectful. Parenting in this manner leaves the child emotionally unattended. The rules, expectations, and consequences they set are nonexistent. Essentially, the child is responsible for taking care of themselves. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low academic performance, and relationship difficulties are common among children.

Anita Gurian, Ph.D. and Robin Goodman, PhD. has alsoidentified four parenting styles in terms that are extremely similar.

  • Authoritarian parents are highly controlling and rely on punishment. There is very little negotiation and their children are expected to offer no resistance to parental rules or decisions.

  • Authoritative parents tend to be great communicators but yet set realistic expectations for their children. They stay in control but listen to their children’s viewpoints. They usually hold firm on their position but allow their children to express their feelings and independence.

  • Permissive Parents are warm and affectionate. They are very interested in their children’s creativity. The parents make few demands and have few rules.

  • Uninvolved parents: These parents demand very little and are often emotionally absent.

After a thorough summary of various co-parenting styles, here are some tips for dealing with a parent who operates under a different parenting style from you.

Dr. Claire Nicogossian provides us with 9 Ways to Coparent with Different Parenting Styles.

  • Talk. Rather than criticizing each other or blaming each other, parents need to learn how to communicate.

  • Compromise. When dealing with a co-parent with a different parenting style, flexibility and compromise are key strategies.

  • United Front. In making decisions, both parents should support one another. If you disagree with a parent's rule, you should talk about it without the children present.

  • Teach Healthy Ways to Resolve Conflict. It's important to talk to your children about some of these issues, as some disagreements can provide valuable lessons for them.

  • Parent with Intention. You should be willing to change your parenting methods as your children grow and as conditions change.

  • Be a Role Model. Be aware of your behavior when you are in front of your children and emulate positive behavior as much as possible.

  • Take Care of Yourself. In order to cope with parenting styles, children, and all of the issues that divorce has raised, you must be physically and emotionally healthy.

  • Educate Yourself on Parenting Styles and Strategies. So that you can be the best parent you can be, don't hesitate to learn from the experts.

  • Understand How Your Childhood Impacts Your Parenting Style. Analyze your parents' parenting methods and incorporate them into yours. Negative methods can be left out. To get a more comprehensive perspective, you should also understand how your ex was parented.

Co-parenting Relationships Can Be Improved.



The first step toward improving your co-parenting relationship is determining the type of relationship you want and the type that is feasible for your situation. Ideally, co-parenting should involve cooperative parenting, but this is not always feasible or recommended. It is possible that some parents don't seem interested in changing their interaction or that they are incapable of doing so because they are abusing drugs or alcohol.


In order to reduce negative effects on children, co-parents can improve their communication, reduce conflict, and develop a healthier relationship by participating in therapy. It is recommended that divorced or separating couples consider uncoupling therapy to address co-parenting issues and set the stage for more cooperative co-parenting relationships. Remember, it's for your children.



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