As your kids return to school, be the adults in the room

September 5, 2017

For most school districts in California, the end of August means the beginning of the school year. Schedules need to be re-adjusted and special room made on family calendars to make room for school activities. The first weeks of September can be challenging for any family. When divorced parents are trying to stay on a strict parenting schedule, the special considerations at this time of year can seem overwhelming.

Some tips for avoiding unnecessary conflicts

The most important thing to remember is that the children are watching. Whether you are trying to figure out your first school-year schedule after your divorce or are trying to get a blended family on the same sheet of music following a remarriage, the way you handle things with your co-parent will make a statement. Start by sitting down with your co-parent (either your new spouse or your divorced spouse) and discuss these tips offered by Huffington Post.

1. Make sure your current parenting plan works for you and your children. Don’t wait until the school year starts to determine what schedule will work and what has to be modified to meet everyone’s needs. For many couples, parenting plans need to be revised as kids get older and situations change. It may be uncomfortable to sit down with your ex-spouse or your new spouse’s ex, but it is important to review what still works best to keep the children’s interests at the top of the priority list. This will also be a good time to go over the school calendar and start marking everyone’s calendars for special events, school holidays and weekends that may need to change due to unusual circumstances. If your current parenting plan doesn’t work this year, it is likely it should be changed for future years, as well. See an attorney about making a modification through the courts. Most special circumstances for school years, summers and vacations can be written into the modified agreement.

2. Get everyone on the same page regarding home work. “The weekend with dad” doesn’t mean taking the weekend off from homework. All parents involved – especially step-parents – need to set expectations and hold themselves accountable for making sure the children meet those expectations.

3. Support each other and present a united front to teachers. Your children’s teacher should know about your family circumstances, but that doesn’t mean making things confusing regarding how to deal with a child depending upon which parent will be attending conferences and special meetings. Decide together how you want to communicate with teachers and what teachers should expect when dealing with any of the parents.

Work together for your children’s sake – and your own

By finding a way to get all the parents around the table, you can avoid potential unexpected problems at the start of the school year. It isn’t always easy. Parenting never is. But show the teachers that you are, indeed, the adults in the room.