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Tough (or maybe easy) assignment? Getting on the same page with an ex for back-to-school planning

Before long, it'll be time for kids to go back to school. For school-age kids, this is always a rite of passage.

As a divorced or separated parent, it's an important time for you too. You have to be ready to help your kid take the steps needed to prepare for a successful year.

In this post, we will consider how to handle matters such as back-to-school shopping and initial conferences with teachers. These things can be tricky and sensitive when dealing with an ex with whom you may or may not be on the same page.

Coparenting types

Of course, a lot depends on the relationship you have with your ex. As we discussed last month in a post on co-parenting types, ex-partners who are co-parents vary widely in how they relate to each other after splitting up.

Psychologists have noted that coparents tend to fall into certain types, ranging from good friends to oppositional enemies. The research suggests that kids generally have better outcomes when their parents are able to cooperate effectively with each other.

Blueprints for success

Positive outcomes for children whose parents split up ideally include success in school. With the new school year less than six weeks away, what can you do now to help your child get ready and create a blueprint for success?

For starters there is the nuts-and-bolts task of getting clothes and school supplies. For ex-spouses who have established a good way to fund necessary expenses for the children, it should already be clear about who should pay how much for these necessary items.

This is why it is so important to have a sound parenting plan in place, so that the responsibilities are clearly defined.

Perhaps the single most valuable thing you can do to set the stage for a successful year is to encourage summer reading. To be sure, that is easier said than done, especially if you have teenagers who are glued to their digital devices. But it is worth trying to develop a common strategy with your ex to make it clear to your kids that reading is important - and even fun.

Avoiding labels

Let's fast-forward a few weeks to your first conference with your child's teachers.

If the separation or divorce has been emotionally troubling for your child, you might consider raising it confidentially with a particular teacher or teachers. It would be a way of giving those teachers a heads-up about where your child is coming from.

Don't feel, however, that you have to do this. Indeed, it may be better to avoid putting a label like "child of divorce" on your kid. It might be a better approach to stick to the specifics of the academic challenges at hand. After all, you can always make use of counseling resources - inside or outside of school - if your child really needs them.

Legal arrangements

In short, it's time to start getting those proverbial ducks in a row for another (hopefully) successful school year. For parents going through divorce, this includes making sure you get knowledgeable legal guidance.

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Jason J. Bonar, Attorney at Law, P.C.
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