Divorce is never easy, and it's especially difficult for couples with children. Divorce completely changes a family and how it works, from decisions about who gets the kids on the weekends to who's going to pay for dance classes or sports equipment. These changes in family dynamics are especially apparent at the beginning of the school year, a time of explaining to others the co-parenting situation and all the awkwardness that comes with that.
Why So Awkward?
Even seemingly simple tasks can become awkward for divorced parents at the start of a new school year, according to an article by Erin Silver in the Chicago Tribune. Many teachers like to ask parents of younger children to bring in a family photo, which is easier said than done for co-parents. Do you bring in a picture of you and your ex with your child, or do you bring more recent separate pictures? Other normal school tasks, like permission forms and signing report cards, may bring additional angst to divorced parents.
It's clear that school is not really designed for single parents or co-parents; anything other than a married, two-parent family throws a wrench in the system. Silver gives the example of parent-teacher conferences, an event usually attended by both parents at the same time, which would likely be an uncomfortable or even impossible event for divorced parents. In these situations, a teacher should make every effort to accommodate both parents.
What Can Be Done?
It's important to make sure communication and access to information are equal for both parents. This is easier now with the widespread use of technology and social media; parents can easily sign up for email lists and newsletters, allowing them to both stay in the loop without having to deal with each other.
However, all these accommodations cannot be made unless communication is encouraged between teachers and parents. Teachers might find it useful to send home a survey after the first day, asking for any personal information that might be useful throughout the school year. But parents must also make the effort to keep the lines of communication open. Simple things like asking for two copies of everything or contacting the teacher promptly about any issues can ensure your child is succeeding in school.
And that's what it really comes down to-the children. Everything must be done in the best interest of the children. Child custody arrangements are never set in stone because the needs of children may change, especially at the beginnings of school years. In such circumstances, you may be able to pursue modification of child custody arrangements. Feel free to contact Stephen T. Holman, P.A., about any child custody issues you may have.