Working together as parents after a romantic relationship ends can be a major challenge. However, determining what type of parenting arrangement a former couple wants to follow can set the stage for healthier interactions moving forward.

While some parents may be able to follow one of the following models precisely, it’s also possible that some will have to pick and choose features from more than one style to come up with a unique arrangement that works for them. Considering the following three parenting styles is a good place to start when trying to determine what’s best for your family.

Parallel parenting

Parallel parenting is often employed by parents with high-conflict relationships who are committed to fulfilling their parental roles independently. In this approach, each parent operates separately to minimize direct contact and communication.

Major child welfare decisions may still be made jointly, but day-to-day parenting and activities are handled independently. This method reduces the chances of conflicts and can provide a more stable, less stressful environment for the children. Communication is usually structured and may rely on written methods. Parents will agree on what to use, such as emails or a shared parenting app. This lets them avoid direct confrontations and misunderstandings.


Co-parenting is a collaborative approach where both parents actively work together to raise their children after a separation or divorce. It involves mutual respect and the ability to compromise. The focus of co-parenting is on the well-being of the children. Both parents are involved in major decisions and everyday aspects of their children’s lives. Respectful communication and a willingness to do what’s best for the children are critical.

Co-parenting requires a good deal of cooperation and often involves coordinating schedules, attending events together and sometimes even sharing holidays. When done effectively, co-parenting can provide children stability and security by maintaining strong relationships with both parents.

Bird’s nest parenting

Bird’s nest parenting is a child-centric arrangement that allows the children to remain in the family home while the parents rotate in and out according to their parenting time schedule. This method minimizes disruption in the children’s lives because they don’t have to shuttle between the homes of their parents. Instead, the parents take turns living in the family home with the children and in a separate residence when not on duty. Bird’s nest parenting can be expensive since it often requires three living spaces: one for each parent and the family home. For some families, it provides continuity and stability for the children.

Regardless of which parenting arrangement is chosen, crafting a parenting plan is critical. This document can set expectations and clarify the rights for both parents. Working with a legal professional who can assist with these matters can help to get everything in order.

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