As one of the renowned divorce attorneys in Scottsdale, Arizona here at Owens and Perkins, we often counsel families who face the task of reimagining what “family” looks like in the aftermath of a divorce. When summer’s carefree days make way for back-to-school season, the challenge of adjusting to new routines and shared responsibilities can heighten tensions, leading many divorced parents back to court. This article will explore helpful co-parenting tips to navigate this annual transition and make it as smooth as possible for all involved, especially the children.
- Communication is Key:
The first and foremost tip is clear, open, and respectful communication. This does not necessarily mean lengthy discussions or face-to-face meetings. Today, various co-parenting apps can facilitate efficient communication about your child’s school schedule, homework, and extra-curricular activities. Communicating effectively also means discussing larger issues, such as education choices or health concerns, in a respectful and timely manner. Avoid springing decisions or changes on the other parent, which may cause unnecessary conflict.
- Consistency Across Households:
Maintaining consistency in rules, routines, and expectations across both homes can significantly ease your child’s transition. This may include consistent bedtime, homework schedule, and behavioral expectations. While it’s natural for parents to have different parenting styles, keeping the major elements constant provides a sense of stability and predictability for your child.
While consistency is important, so is flexibility. If your co-parent needs to switch weekends or can’t make a pickup time due to a work commitment, being understanding and accommodating can go a long way in maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is your child’s well-being. Unexpected situations will occur, and the ability to adapt by both parents will reduce stress for everyone involved.
- Child’s Academic Success:
As parents, you both want your child to succeed academically. Regularly update each other about parent-teacher meetings, report cards, school projects, and any academic struggles your child may be facing. Both parents should have an equal opportunity to engage with teachers and school administrators and contribute to the academic decisions for the child.
- Don’t Use Your Child as a Messenger:
Regardless of how well or poorly you get along with your ex-spouse, remember that it’s not your child’s responsibility to convey messages between you. Using your child as a middleman not only places an unnecessary burden on them but also risks miscommunication – think of that old game “telephone” that we played as children, the more ears and mouths that a message passes through before its final destination, the more likely that the message may become garbled or something else entirely. Keep adult discussions between adults.
- Respect Your Child’s Feelings:
Lastly, always respect your child’s feelings. Divorce is a significant adjustment for children, and they may express sadness, anger, or confusion. They may also feel torn between their parents. Assure them that it’s okay to have these feelings and that both parents love them unconditionally.
The back-to-school period can be a stressful time for any parent, and for co-parents after a divorce these stressors can be even more pronounced. But by keeping the lines of communication open, maintaining consistency, showing flexibility, focusing on your child’s academic success, and always respecting your child’s feelings, you can mitigate these challenges.
Remember, it’s okay to seek professional help if needed. Mediators, family therapists, and experienced divorce attorneys can provide the necessary support and guidance during these challenging transitions. Your commitment to successful co-parenting will ultimately serve your child’s best interests, helping them thrive both at school and at home.
Here at Owens and Perkins, we are always ready to help you navigate these complexities. Your family’s happiness and well-being are our highest priorities. For more advice or assistance, feel free to reach out to us at 480-994-8824. Happy parenting, and here’s to a successful school year ahead!