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Successfully Co-Parenting As The Kids Go Back To School

If you are separated, in the middle of a divorce or already divorced, getting the kids back to school still needs to be a team effort. There are a number of issues that can arise in the process whether with scheduling, supplies, involvement on the first day or volunteering in the classroom. 

We've outlined some common issues as well as considerations for successfully navigating this busy time of year. We know that your goal as parents is to minimize the stress for your children and make going back to school a positive experience. 

Here are some common concerns:

School Supplies:

Purchasing school supplies, including new clothes, can get expensive. A common debate arises whether this is covered by child support or in addition to child support. These gray areas in support can raise the potential for conflict. The best approach is to have a conversation with the other parent about who will buy what, what amount is reasonable to spend, whether the purchasing parent will be reimbursed or maybe even alternating years to purchase supplies. Ultimately, using this issue as a means to get at the other parent will only hurt your children. Consider a compromise that allows you to provide what your child needs with minimal conflict. 

First Day Of School:

Both parents probably want to be involved in the first day of school in some way whether it includes a special breakfast, first-day pictures or helping out at school. Consider discussing the parameters of how to handle this first day before the day arrives. A recent article gives some helpful guidance in order to minimize conflict. If you can both be present for your children in a positive way, everyone will be better off. 

Volunteering In Class:

Many parents want to take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer in their child's classroom or attending school events. However, if being present in your child's class at the same time causes tension and conflict, your child will pick up on it. As with all of the other issues, having a discussion ahead of time can help minimize any problems. If you cannot be in the same room together, try coming up with an alternating schedule. For school events, make it a point to both have a turn congratulating your child allowing for the child to enjoy both parents individually. If you are able to approach it together in a positive manner, that will benefit everyone, especially your children.

There are many other challenges that require some cooperation throughout the school year such as extracurricular activities, transportation, discipline and conferences. It is important to continue to work to minimize the conflict and address concerns before they become problems and cause additional stress for your children. By being proactive, you may resolve the issues ahead of time. 

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