Dealing with a divorce and figuring out child custody arrangements is always a challenge. While everyone hopes to work things out within their marriage (and everyone considering a divorce should first ask themselves these seven questions), the reality is that sometimes two parents are better off apart.
With this decision, however, comes the responsibility of raising any shared children in the best way possible. Co-parenting, the act of two parents raising a child together after a separation or divorce, is the best way to ensure your children remain cared for and grow up in a supportive environment. However, many parents don’t know how to handle co-parenting, especially when children are starting to go back to school. Here are some tips on how to make the back to school process easier.
Create a schedule (and stick to it)
One of the best things you can do as summer ends is develop a schedule for once school begins. Plan out which days you have your children, and which days your co-parent does. Also, figure out after school activities and how that will fit into the schedule. Children are already feeling nervous this time of year as they are getting ready for a new school year, new teachers, friends, and responsibilities. The last thing they need is to worry about where they are living or who is taking care of them. Create a schedule, and stick to it!
Include your children in important discussions
While you and your co-parent are the adults and are in charge of making major decisions, don’t forget to include your children in these discussions. If you are able to all come together and have a conversation (not an argument), this will comfort your children, as they will see they have support from both parents. Allow your children to voice their opinions instead of making decrees about what they have to do and where they have to be. A divorce is challenging for you, but remember it can be just as hard, if not harder, on a child. Don’t forget to include them and ask how they feel about all of the major changes that are taking place in their life.
Show up to extracurricular activities
When a lot of adults think about how to handle co-parenting they think everything has to remain separate, but that isn’t true. If you are experiencing a particularly tough divorce this may not be possible, but try to show up to some extracurricular activities together. Your child needs support from both parents, and it can be really positive if during a sporting event, for example, your child can look up and see both you and your co-parent. If things are particularly messy, make sure you at least schedule things so that you both are showing up equally to events.
Don’t argue in front of your children
We understand that disagreements will occur during the co-parenting process. However, you should always try your best to not argue in front of your children. Many children report that they feel responsible for their parents divorcing, and to see their parents arguing over things like schedules and after school events, that will only reinforce that notion. Handle arguments in private, and most importantly, never include your children in the argument or have them take sides.
Help with schoolwork
Finally, both you and your co-parent should take an active role in your child’s education. If your child is at your house, you should sit down with them and help with homework, or at least ask about their day. School can be stressful for a lot of children, especially those who feel they do not have support when they get home. If you cannot help with a certain school subject, allow your child to call their other parent for help. Don’t let your personal issues with your co-parent get in the way of the relationship they have with your children.
Determining how to handle co-parenting can be incredibly difficult, as no two divorce situations are the same. At the Law Office of Kalkadora Thangkhiew, we understand this process, as we specialize in family law matters. If you are in the initial stages of a divorce, contact us for a free consultation. We will help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.