The back-to-school season often comes with a mixed feeling of nerves and excitement. When a recent separation or divorce is in the picture, a range of stronger emotions can often join the fray—for both you and your children. Keep these post-divorce parenting tips in mind to help your kids adjust while they settle into the school spirit.
1) Plan ahead for questions.
When your kids get back to school, they may face a flurry of questions from curious classmates. Plan a family meeting before school begins and coach your children on how they should answer questions and comments about the divorce. Teach them how to politely deflect uncomfortable or personal questions, and let them know what subjects are inappropriate for discussion with their friends.
2) Speak with their teachers.
Once you find out who will be teaching your child’s classes, you should let them know about the recent divorce or separation. If your child acts out in class, you might ask the teacher to show emotional support instead of strict disciplinary action. The knowledge of your divorce will at least help teachers take a more problem-solving approach to your child’s issues.
3) Reinforce their sense of stability.
Your kids have had to face plenty of change during your divorce, and now that it’s been finalized, they’ll likely still need time to adjust. They may even be afraid of more changes to come. Remind your children that some things will stay constant. If they’ve had to change schools, reassure them that they can still see their old friends and keep other aspects of their old life.
4) Keep your ex-spouse in the loop.
No matter how you’ve arranged your custody and visitation schedule, it’s important for both parents to keep each other posted about changes in your child’s education. With that in mind, you may want to start an email thread dedicated solely to school-related updates (like “Jon got an A+ in art class!” or “Liz made the football team tryouts!”). You might also consider starting a shared Google calendar to keep each other abreast of upcoming school events, like parent-teacher meetings and field trips.
5) Watch out for warning signs.
Send your kids off to school with positive vibes, but keep an eye out for potential signs that your children aren’t coping well with their new situation. Possible red flags include falling grades, losing friends, mood swings and uncharacteristic anger, playing hooky, fighting at school, or even physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches. If any of these signs develop, you may want to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist.
At Freed Marcroft, we understand that you want to give your children the very best that life has to offer. In a situation like divorce or separation, sometimes the best you can give them is a more amicable, cooperative approach like mediation or collaborative divorce. Call us to discuss your options with our knowledgeable family law team.