BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR CO-PARENTS
A repost of an article by Jai Kissoon, of OurFamilyWizard.com. We recommend that all divorced parents explore the site as a possibility of making co-parenting easier and more effective.
The new school year is quickly approaching and its time to start preparing. If you and your co-parents both take part in the upbringing of your child than this can be a challenging task. Preparing your child for a new school year requires a lot of coordination and cooperation between you and your co-parent. This is an important time for your child to feel support from both you and your co-parent and to know that you both care. Here are some tips to remember to make going back to school as smooth as possible for you and your child.
Keep everyone on the same page
Some co-parents have implemented the use of weekly or monthly family meetings to keep everyone updated on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. This is a good way for children to get to talk to both you and your co-parent in the same room but it is more useful to keep both you and your co-parent updated on your child’s life.
Simple responsibilities, such as remembering to bring your son's soccer cleats for his after school game, can become a daunting task if communication with the other parent is poor. Communication hurdles can be difficult to overcome for parents with a good relationship, and separated co-parenting can become an even more challenging environment.
For family law professionals, the OurFamilyWizard website can provide an in-depth look into the parents' communications. This newly found accountability is giving parents a reason to get along with the other parent, because action and inaction are both documented. The end result is parents who communicate, children who are kept out of the middle and professionals who can spend their time more effectively helping the clients they serve.
We would add that parents should exchange schedules for school and activities.
Shopping is a job for both co-parents
It is extremely important to coordinate the back to school shopping with your co-parent. This is a big job and should not all be dumped on either one co-parent. Back to school shopping includes shopping for school supplies as well as clothes. If you and your co-parent are in a high conflict relationship try to remember to not sweat the small stuff. If you don’t agree on your co-parent’s choice of clothing or school supplies try to compromise as best you can.
Don’t bring up child support issues
Child support is a touchy subject and should generally not be discussed around your child. The beginning of a new school year is a time where kids show off all of their new stuff to their friends. This desire for the latest and greatest things can put a strain on your wallet. It’s important not to blame your inability to buy the most expensive things for you child on your child support payments or lack of child support. Do all that you can to avoid talking bad about your co-parent in front of your child.
Help your child with their daily schoolwork and projects
Regardless of whether or not your child is a fast or slow learner, when your child is residing at your home you should be sitting down with them as they work on their schoolwork. The same goes for your co-parent as well. The most important thing is to just be there for your child so that they can call on your whenever they need you. This will show them that you’re there to support them in whatever they are doing, not just schoolwork. Also try to coordinate with your co-parent regarding your child’s schoolwork. Let your co-parent know about important due dates and if your child did not complete something before it was time to switch between homes.
Attend important school events with your co-parent
This may not always be possible if you and your co-parent are in a high conflict relationship or if you have a no contact order by the court. If it is possible, it's much more effective when you and your co-parent are both able to sit down at school orientation, parent-teacher conference, or any other important event on behalf or your child. This is much better than one co-parent attending and relaying the information to the other co-parent.
Keep the focus on your child
Don’t get caught up in unnecessary competition or arguments with your co-parent. It’s important to keep the focus on your child during this time and to let your child know that both you and your co-parent are there for comfort and support. Be as civil as possible given the situation between you and your co-parent.
Have a backpack for the parents
Having a separate backpack for the parents to transmit items and forms is a great way to keep the kid out of the middle. This way it is the parent's responsibility to make sure the bag makes it to the other parent, taking the pressure off of the kids. Additionally, this takes possible inappropriate items from being seen by the kids.