The first day of a new school year is rapidly approaching, and many kids are excited to get back to school, but kids whose parents have recently divorced may be feeling apprehensive and stressed about how the changes in their families might affect the school year. Newly divorced parents also worry about how to make sure their children are able to thrive, both in and out of the classroom, while coping with a divorce. Ideally, both parents can put aside any ongoing disagreements or animosity and work together to co-parent throughout the school year. Remember to focus on what is best for your child. Communication, compromise and cooperation are the keys to successfully co-parenting after a divorce, especially as you and your child adjust to the new school year. The following tips can help establish a smooth back-to-school transition for recently divorced parents and children.
- Although it can be difficult sometimes, divorced parents should communicate directly with each other about parenting matters. Do not rely on your child to pass messages back and forth between you and your ex. This puts the child in an uncomfortable and stressful position, and it increases the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstandings.
- Make sure your child’s teacher is aware of the separation or divorce. You don’t need to give him or her all the details, but you should make sure that the teacher and the school have contact information for both parents. This way both parents can be informed of any school or classroom news and events.
- Share back-to-school shopping expenses if possible. Shoes, books, backpacks, uniforms, clothes and other school supplies can be a financial burden for any parent, and dividing the list and working together to make sure your child has everything he or she needs can help lighten the load. If possible, keep some basic school supplies (pencils, paper, ruler, books, etc.) at both parents’ homes so that your child will not have to lug everything back and forth all the time.
- Make adjustments to your parenting schedule to accommodate the school year schedule if necessary. You may need to make changes to accommodate after school activities. Both parents should try to agree to enforce similar bedtime and homework schedules at their respective residences. Consistency can help children adjust more easily to a new schedule. It also is important to make sure your child is aware of his or her schedule. Children may feel insecure if they do not know each day who is picking them up or where they will be spending the night.
- Both parents should be involved in their child’s school life by attending back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and other school-related activities. If possible, both parents should also take turns helping with homework and projects. Any report cards and progress reports received by only one parent should be shared with the other parent.
- Lastly, although it is impossible to plan for every possible contingency, discuss with your ex how the two of you will handle days off from school and times when your child is sick. Oftentimes both parents work, and having a plan in place to share childcare on off days or sick days can help prevent future arguments and stress.
A recent divorce brings many changes for children, but by working together and focusing on their kids, parents can ensure that their children are able to adjust and succeed in a new school year.
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