Several weeks ago as school approached I blogged on divorced couples co-parenting tips for the new school year. This is such an important topic that when I saw the recent Huffington Post article that suggested some additional co-parenting tips and support, I thought it was important to dedicate another blog to the topic in order to pass on this additional information.
1. Plan, plan, plan–from September through June. Just as a thorough, detailed Marital/Property Settlement Agreement supports a more peaceful future for a divorced couple, detailing the parents’ responsibilities through the school year sets everyone’s expectations. When the parties know when and what he or she is expected to contribute, there is less room for confusion. A clearly spelled out plan will significantly cut down on potentially stressful miscommunication and uncertainty.
2. Backpacks rule! The backpack follows the child which enables that child to take personal possessions with them from home to home and therefore have some control over his or her piece of their universe.
3. If one parent is not living nearby, let the teacher know so that the child isn’t put in an uncomfortable position if that particular parent is expected, yet unable, to attend a school event.
4. If your child asks, help them with some simple tools to handle explaining his or her new living arrangements. “Sometimes I live with my mom and sometimes I live with my dad.” Also make sure to list the co-parent as the emergency contact rather than a new spouse who isn’t the child’s parent.
5. Call in the grandparents. Not only can they be a convenient resource to pitch in with childcare, but what child can’t benefit from having another caring, loving adult in their lives?
6. Both parents should make it a point to support and work with their children on their homework. I often hear parents complain that the alternate parent doesn’t participate in their children’s homework routine and therefore should not have parenting time with their children on a school night. Participating in this important part of your children’s lives is a parental right, responsibility and privilege.
7. When a parent enjoys joint custody, each parent is entitled to their children’s academic records and information. Don’t wait for the primary parent to supply your children’s educational information. Reach out to the school yourself and stay connected. It’s a different game now and it’s up to you to make sure you are involved and informed.
8. It’s a good idea to make sure the school is aware of your altered living arrangements. It’s important for your children’s teachers and guidance counselors to be on the lookout for any behavioral or emotional issues that should be addressed for your children’s emotional health and well-being.
9. Don’t use your children as the informant for school and extra-curricular activities. This is true both in and out of school. Your children should never be given that responsibility, and in any case it’s not a very reliable means for communicating important adult information. Email is an unemotional means to communicate and keep a record of your efforts.
10. Make sure you check in with your children so that they will remain comfortable talking with you as issues arise. Let your children lead the way as they will ask what they are ready to hear and absorb.
11. Never let the circumstances of your divorce be the reason that your children are unable to get their schoolwork done. This may mean that you have two sets of school books or that you make a trip to the ex-spouse’s house to get a book that would normally be your children’s responsibility, but would under ordinary circumstances have been left at their one and only home.