The start of school is quickly approaching! Whether a separation is new or has been the norm for a while, split families can work together to make the school year a success for children. Become a united front by following these suggestions:
Children are the first priority. Put aside bad feelings about the other parent and focus on the child. Children are responsible for their school work not mediating their parents. That is the job for a licensed family law mediator.
Establish similar routines and expectations. This is especially important for parents who share custody during the week. Set the same routine and times for homework, dinner and bed time. Not only will children understand the rules of the households, they will also know that both parents love them.
Open the lines of communication. Share homework and school schedules. Notify the other parent of successes and areas that need improvement. Inform the teacher of new developments in the households. They will be better equipped to handle “acting out” in the classroom.
Attend conferences, programs and other school events together. These special occasions are for the children and sometimes just having both parents in the same room will reassure a child that their parents support them. Do not feel obligated to sit next to the other parent if it makes for an uncomfortable situation.
Appoint one parent to pay for field trips, school uniforms and supplies. Children are easily embarrassed when they are different from their classmates. They may also feel bad if they are aware that one parent is withholding money to spite the other.
School forms. Provide contact information for both parents on school forms and make sure both are on the approved list to take the child out of school for appointments.
Sometimes parents just cannot get on the same page. Do not give up. Many schools will provide duplicate forms, instructions, schedules, etc. to families in this situation. Many will even hold a separate conference for each parent. Communicate with the school. The school guidance counselor is also a valuable resource especially in times when the student is struggling with their emotions or situations in the household.
An end to a relationship or marriage does not bring an end to parenting. Parenting lasts forever. Working together to help children succeed in school is the greatest gift a child can receive. Many parents are able to work out agreements on their own while others need outside assistance from a family law attorney for time sharing arrangements and parenting plans, child support, alimony, enforcement or modification, or other family issues. Ronald A. Luzim has been practicing family law in Florida for over 30 years and is a state certified family and circuit civil mediator. Contact his Coral Springs office at 954-755-1500 for more information.