We all know the importance of educating our children, but what about educating ourselves to be better parents? This is especially important in the case of divorced parents. Divorce is difficult enough on children without the parents behaving, well, like children. Here are some tips for school-related issues that can make the school year a success for everyone involved, especially divorced parents.
Let’s face it – how many times has your son or daughter come home with a project assignment with tomorrow’s due date and you missed it? Think how hard it is when both parents, in separate homes, have to be aware of the same information? Regardless of what your Court Order or Child Custody Agreement reflects, it is a good idea to take the initiative and be proactive in obtaining information related to your child’s academic progress and involvement rather than relying on the other parent to do the work for you – or worse – for your child to be the one burdened with the communication.
One tool that is at your fingertips is the ability to better share information in two households. In most situations, both parents (regardless of divorce) have access to all school records, including, but not limited to, attendance logs, homework assignments, school personnel contact information, report cards, progress reports, and test results. Most schools have websites with specific information about your child’s academic progress and development to which both parents should have access. At the start of each school year, consider scheduling a conference with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor and administrative staff so that you may inform them about your family dynamics and ask that both parents be contacted with any relevant information. Often, providing the school with pre-addressed stamped envelopes is a way to make sure that you receive hard copies of documents and sharing a current email address should ensure you receive any weekly updates that teachers may send. Further, with technology, there are multiple apps, websites and shared calendars that can be customized to fit your unique family’s needs. Even something as simple as a shared Google calendar can make a world of difference and is available to you for free. For whatever means you choose, consider sharing the user name and password if there is opportunity for both parents to regularly update the calendar with project deadlines, fall festivals or even a father-daughter dance. Technology not your thing? It may be a fun activity for you and your child to create a hard calendar that can be shared at exchanges.
Co-Parenting does not come naturally for many families, even the most traditional ones. Now that school is starting, divorced parents can learn how to better co-parent by sharing information is paramount in keeping your relationships with your children healthy and happy. Remember, any Court Order or Agreement may trump these tips, so make sure to check with your counsel before making any decisions or changes.
Written By: Charlotte NC Divorce Attorney Penelope L. Hefner