It's obvious that getting divorced is going to have an impact on your kids. Two homes, keeping track of stuff, and dealing with all the emotions that go with that can be really overwhelming. As parents, you're doing everything you can to make this huge transition as smooth as possible for them, so don't overlook one of the places your child spends the most time: school. Here are four common faux pas made by well-meaning parents.
Myth #1: Teachers want to stay out of your personal business.
Don’t withhold information thinking it’s too personal to share. The more information about a change in the family you can share with your child’s teacher, the better. Leaving the teacher guessing about why there have been some subtle, or not so subtle, changes in your child’s behavior or work isn’t helpful. Your child’s teacher needs to be in the know so she can be sure to reach out when needed. Not all children ask for help.
Myth #2: Just wait and see how it goes.
Don’t wait until there is a problem. Contact the teacher(s) and school counselor. Share what changes are happening in your family. Ask questions. Share your concerns. Don’t wait for your spouse to be ready to share this information. Go on your own if you have to. Share changes in the family’s living situation and schedules. Ask for resources that can support your family through these changes.
Myth #3: Talking About this will make it harder for my child.
Let your child, the teacher, and the counselor decide this. Should your child meet with the counselor individually? Is there a group that already exists that he can join? Let the school experts help your child decide if talking through this is helpful or not. Articulating how he feels or what he needs can be a great skill to learn.
Myth #4: My Ex-Spouse will give me whatever school information I need.
Don’t count on your ex to share all school communication with you. Sign up for email notification. Call the school and ask if they have a non-custodial parent communication form to sign. If they do, sign it. This will require the school to give you all of the same communication that your ex receives. Events, clubs to join, parent conferences, open houses, etc. Don’t ask your child to take on the adult role of gathering these notices for you.
Guest Post by Shoshy Starr Collins, who is a professor of education at Wheelock College, education consultant, and former elementary school teacher.