Managing Divorce and Back-to-School Time

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Just because you may no longer be a husband or wife doesn’t mean you aren’t still a parent. As a parent, working together with your ex to raise your child can provide him or her with the stability they need.

Going back to school following a divorce can bring up many feelings for both parents and kids. Parents may question how they’ll handle the responsibilities needed to support children in their schooling. Children may wonder what they’re going to tell their friends about the divorce.

You can successfully manage your divorce while adjusting to back-to-school time for the kids. Here’s how.

Divide Up Responsibilities

If you’re co-parenting your child, it’s a smart idea to divide up the responsibilities when it comes to the children’s schooling needs.

This way, not only can you split expenses—such as for gas, school supplies, and events—but you can both be present to support and encourage your child. Determine who will buy what when it comes to school supplies. Go over school forms together so that you can decide who will be on the list to pick up your kids.

Determining who is responsible for what can help you work together to share expenses, plan, and be an active part of your child’s life at school.

Keep to a Schedule

Sticking to a schedule can be very reassuring for children whose parents are going through a divorce. It helps them know that they’ll still be spending time with both parents and when this will happen.

Keeping a shared calendar can help ensure that no one misses events or claims not to know when they were happening. Using Google calendar or the Our Family Wizard app can help you keep track of each parent’s time with the kids.

You can also schedule times with your former spouse to talk about your child’s upcoming projects, progress in school, sport events, and more. This can help cut down on unnecessary bickering and create safe spaces where you solely discuss your child. Plus, each parent stays updated, which is important!

Attend Events Together

Presenting a unified front for your child can help remind them that you are still a family despite the divorce. For instance, dropping your child off together on the first day of school can make a huge difference. This is a great way to show that both parents will continue to love and support him or her.

You and your ex should also strive to attend parent-teacher conferences together. If one of you can’t physically be present, do a conference call to make sure that person is included. If both of you can’t be at all the events, put in the calendar who will attend what. For instance, Mom can attend the soccer game on Saturday afternoon while Dad makes the book fair on Tuesday evening.

Attending events together when possible can help you provide your child with a sense of constancy through the divorce. It can also help you and your ex get on the same page when it comes to raising your kids and sticking to a schedule.

Communicate with Teachers

It’s important that your child’s teachers know about the divorce. This is so that they can provide support when needed, but also so that they can notice any unusual behaviors in your child.

Like you, your children will continue to cope with the divorce for a while after it’s happened. Most children take up to a year to fully process the divorce. As parents, you and your ex should notice any behavior that’s out-of-character for your child.

If a bad grade or a behavioral problem happens, these could be slip ups that are to be expected in a child undergoing changes at home. However, a pattern of problems could point to a larger issue. Your child may feel sad, angry, or guilty. These feelings are normal but if they persist or intensify, seeking help is important.

Provide Support

Your child is going to need support during this new school year after the divorce. If they’re going to a new school, they might be fearful about starting school in an unfamiliar place. Reassure your child and support them by talking with them about it.

Make a plan with your child to discuss how to answer questions about the divorce. Facing these inquiries from friends at school can create anxiety. Let them know that they don’t have to answer questions if they don’t want to. If they do want to share about the divorce with their friends, discuss what’s ok to share or what the best thing to say is.

This back-to-school time isn’t an opportunity for you and your ex to fight—it’s a chance for your family to grow closer. When each parent knows what’s expected of them, they can work to support their child. Through scheduling, proper communication, and providing support, you and your former spouse can provide the best care possible for your child during back-to-school time!