It’s that time of year: back-to-school blues have started. If you’ve recently divorced, your child has likely already gone through some significant changes this past summer.
During this time of double adjustment for your kids, it is paramount that you work together with your ex-spouse to provide a stable back-to-school experience. Here are seven simple tips you can follow to help your child return to school comfortably, without unnecessary family drama.
1. Meet the teacher(s).
Get together with your ex to meet your child’s teacher and explain your co-parenting situation. This will help the teacher be aware that any acting out or strange behavior may be related to the divorce. While you’re speaking with the teacher together, ask him or her to provide two copies of all information intended for the child’s parents to ensure that you each receive a copy.
2. Provide contact information for both parents.
Make sure that your child’s school has contact information for both of you. From your end of things, do not expect your ex to be the only point of contact with your child’s school; this may cause unnecessary resentment and anger if one parent feels overburdened.
3. Develop a school routine with your ex.
Get on the same wavelength with your ex regarding school pick-ups, drop-offs, events and more. Once you’ve agreed, share the plan with your child to keep them in the loop.
4. Make smooth transitions.
Try to keep your child’s experience from feeling jarring. When your child is leaving, don’t make the goodbye too emotional or sad. Likewise, when your child arrives from your ex’s house, ask how it went, remind them of your rules and welcome them back. Try to make things feel as normal as possible.
5. Keep asking questions.
Stay in tune by asking questions occasionally. Your child may be uncomfortable bringing certain feelings up, or may be waiting for an opportunity to express an opinion. By asking, you give them that forum to speak.
6. Listen to what your child has to say.
Once you’ve asked, really listen. Don’t try to correct or talk over your child; simply listen to what they have to say. Then, if appropriate, you can discuss it.
7. Find an unbiased place for your child to vent.
Look for an unbiased location or group that your child can use to vent their frustrations. Occasional visits with a support group or therapist can go a long way.
Ultimately, these tips come down to two key elements: a strong co-parenting plan and an awareness of your child’s feelings and needs. So long as you stay aware and on top of these two things, this year’s return to school can be relatively low-stress for all involved.