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Cooperation makes school days easier for divorced parents

Imagine how difficult it would be for an adult to adjust to a new boss, job expectations and work environment every year. Children make the change annually, each time they advance to another grade. Kids seem to transition naturally from one big milestone to the next, a feat that can be much harder for adults.

Sometimes an experience in children's lives - like the separation or divorce of their parents - is so huge that children become overwhelmed with change, even frightened. All the more reason Texas family counselors suggest that divorced parents work hard to put the best interests of the children first.

The opening of another school year gives newly divorced parents the opportunity to cooperate. Conflicts between ex-spouses often escalate when arguments surround children's school activities, grades and extracurricular events. The disagreements can negatively affect children, already trying to move through new experiences.

Child and divorce experts tell parents that well-planned routines reduce parental conflicts. School transportation, medical emergencies, teacher conferences, special events and grades are subjects that require discussion and a written agreement that parents promise to keep.

Parents often wonder how much school officials, including teachers, should know about a divorce. Family specialists say children frequently exhibit emotionally-charged behaviors in response to their parents' divorce. Making a teacher aware of the family's situation is recommended, as long as spousal disputes are not included.

Competition and sabotage have no place in parents' dealing with child school activities. Information about test results, report cards, behavior issues and school activities should be easily available to custodial and noncustodial parents.

Parent-teacher meetings, school athletic or musical events often place divorced parents in the same place. If the relationship is contentious, counselors suggest meeting independently with teachers or attending school events at separate times.

School expenses can be a sore subject with some parents. Discussing what school supplies are necessary or undesirable and who will pay for them should occur before any spontaneous purchases are made.

Source: communities.washingtontimes.com, "Back to school tips for divorced parents," Myra Fleischer, Aug. 20, 2012

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