This is the last week of summer break in most of the metro Atlanta area. Along with school books, school lunch, and school supplies comes the resumption of regular visitation schedules. This can be a tough time for kids of divorce.
While many children are excited about returning to school and their friends, others will have to readjust to the primary parent’s routine, rules and discipline, which might be quite different from the routine, rules and discipline they experienced while visiting the other parent during the summer.
To get things off to a good start for everyone, parents should make sure that they are really listening to their children. Kids may not initially volunteer their feelings or concerns, particularly if they think it will anger the primary parent. If you can talk to your ex, try to find out issues or concerns that may have been raised while your child was in their care. This way, if such issues remain unresolved, you are not blindsided by these issues and can make arrangements to continue to address them now that your children have returned to your home.
If you share legal custody with another parent, now is the time to share school information, even if you don’t want to. Make sure that you share with your joint legal custodian things such as the name and email of your child’s teacher, your child’s school calendar, and school events. It is also important to know the names of coaches and guidance counselors along with sports practice information, game schedules, and concert schedules. Providing this information can help to eliminate misunderstandings regarding a parent’s presence at the child’s event. Send this information with links to necessary websites embedded in an email, which will make the information easily retrievable if your ex says that they lost the info, cannot locate the information, or never received the information.
If you have asked for such info from your ex and there is no response, take the initiative to collect the information yourself. Don’t let someone else’s inaction keep you uninformed about your child’s world. You have the right to know your child’s teacher; email the teacher and introduce yourself. Most teachers want parents to take an interest in their child’s education. Let the teacher know that you are a resource for addressing your child’s progress in school. Find out about the teacher’s rules and requirements for your child. Find out if there will be a field trip and volunteer to go. Find out when parent teacher days will be scheduled and whether you can volunteer to participate in your child’s class. Contact the coach and get the practice and game schedule. When you finish, email all of this information to your ex. It is possible that with all the tasks required to be completed prior to school starting, they simply have not had the time to collect this information.
Even if your decree states that the other parent is to provide the above info, don’t let their failure to do so stop your involvement. If you have joint legal custody, you are probably entitled to all of this information. If you do not have joint legal custody, follow the rules outlined in your divorce decree. If you don’t understand the amount of access provided for in your decree, contact an attorney.
Getting on top of your child’s events and activities now can prevent anger, frustration and misunderstandings later. It’s better to take the time now and get this information rather than find out after the fact that your child was in the state finals and you missed it because you didn’t have any information on their school and extracurricular activities. Getting involved is a way to make everyone happy by providing a stable environment for your child.