Going back to school after a divorce is challenging for children because they face new uncertainties at home and school. Talk with your children about their feelings and help them manage their fears before they return to school. Develop a plan to deal with the inevitable questions from school mates about the divorce to help them cope.
1. Tell Their Teacher About the Divorce
Make certain you inform your children’s teacher about the divorce, even if you are able to communicate and cooperate with your ex-spouse. It’s important for school authorities to know what’s happening at home so they can be prepared for any unusual behaviors from your child. Teachers may suggest separate parent-teacher conferences and discuss how both parents can stay fully informed about homework assignments and your children’s behaviors at school.
2. Adjusting to Two-Homes
One of the more difficult adjustments after divorce is getting used to living in two homes. It helps if both homes are set up in similar ways, with coordinated schedules and similar routines for bed time, meals, homework, and playing before bedtime. Having duplicate sets of important belongings at both houses makes transitions easier.
3. Returning to School
Children find it challenging to shift from summer play to school work, so don’t be surprised if they show some resistance. If at all possible, keep them in the same school where they know their teachers and classmates. Talk about the fun times you had this summer, discuss what school will be like, outline any new arrangements caused by the divorce, and help your children understand the possession schedule during the coming school year. Talk about which parent will be available for school activities, parent-teacher meetings, special events, and how homework will be handled at both houses.
4. Utilizing School Resources
Modern schools offer many helpful services and resources for newly divorced parents. Teachers can be a wonderful source of feedback about how your children are adjusting after the divorce. Children generally trust their teachers and are willing to talk with them about how they feel. Guidance counselors are another great source of information about your child’s behavior at school. Use these resources to keep track of how your children are doing in school.
5. Expect Some Adjustment Problems
It takes about a year for children to feel comfortable following a divorce. Even after a year, they may have a few residual concerns, but the feelings of sadness or anger will likely be over and they will generally be coping. Don’t panic over one bad grade or disagreement on the playground. Only if you see a pattern of poor grades, fights with other children, withdrawal, physical symptoms, or continued adjustment problems should you consult a mental health expert about your child.
6. Use Technology to Share Information
A persistent problem among divorced couples is lack of shared information about their children. Even when living together, it’s hard to keep track of homework, school activities, and friends. The task gets much more difficult when you’re living apart. Use a shared calendar such as “Family Wizard” to schedule children’s activities, homework assignments, medical or dental appointments and anything else that’s important.
7. Maintain A United Front
Even after the divorce, you’re still both parents. Don’t let bad feelings toward your ex-spouse interfere with child rearing. Be sure to maintain a consistent schedule at both houses so the children know what to expect. Never argue in front of your children. Kids are good at playing one parent off against the other to get what they want. Don’t give them the chance–get on the same page and stay there.