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Back to School Tips for Newly Divorced Parents

Back to School Tips for Newly Divorced ParentsThe kids going off to school after summer is tough for any parent, but for those who have recently completed and processed their online divorce forms, the experience can be a lot more emotional.  It might also get you thinking, though, about what this new school year means for you and your ex.  For instance, do you know who is going to be doing the pickups?  On what days, and how often?  Who pays for supplies?

Undoubtedly, the best thing for everyone involved is to be on the same page with regards to these decisions.  The embarrassing run-in with the ex when picking up your child can be a nightmare, especially with younger children who may not have caught on to the fact that other people have feelings too.  Regardless of what end of the conversation you fall on, no one looks forward to their youngster saying, “Hi, mommy!  I’m so glad you’re here to pick me up!  I hate going to dad’s!”

In regards to the questions that relate to who should pay, if you have primary custody, take it upon yourself to pony up for the cost of school supplies.  Sure, if the ex wants to contribute, that is fine, too, but if the child lives in your home most of the time, it makes sense that you also absorb most of the cost of school supplies.  Of course, every situation is different, and you and your family know what is best for you in your circumstances.

School is a tough time for kids, so try not to make it any worse than it already is by adding more chaos, confusion, and drama into the mix.  Having set schedules or rituals is helpful in adding a sense of stability for everyone involved.

Equally important is keeping involved in the child’s education.  Something as simple as meeting the teacher or having duplicate forms sent to each household can cut back on a lot of the confusion, and even in cases of joint child custody, this simple move can mean the difference between feeling connected to your child’s life or feeling excluded in the development of your child.  Regarding meeting the teacher, just having the opportunity to give the teacher a brief heads-up about what’s going on at home can help tremendously in case there is a problem.  And, God forbid, an emergency arise, taking that extra step of meeting with the teacher shows that you are engaged in your child’s life.

However, keep in mind what the real purpose of school is for your child.  It is not where you try to prove that you are a better spouse than your ex, nor is it your own personal social club.  School should be a refuge for your child and a place for them to exercise their social skills.  It is where they learn responsibility and that putting in hard work leads to good things–higher grades, maybe the extra privileges here and there…that’s hard to do, though, when mom and dad are screaming at each other in the parking lot in front of their friends. Of course we realize this is certainly the worse case scenario and hope it is rare for those parents who are divorced or in the divorce process.

The reality is, though, that if you keep your child’s best interests at heart, it is hard to go wrong.

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