Establishing school routines can be very hard for parents in the wake of the summer, which offers longer days, later bedtimes and a break from the structure of the school year. For parents who have recently been divorced, the challenge can be even greater. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of tips for recently divorced parents whose kids may be struggling with the transition back into a school routine.
Talk to the right people:
Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers and guidance counselor about the fact that you were recently divorced. Explain that your child may be having a hard time with the transition. You do not have to (and shouldn’t) share all of the personal details, but let them know what’s happened. That way, if your child has mood swings, seems anxious or depressed, or struggles with their school work, there’ll be compassion for their situation.
Talk to each other:
Living under one roof makes it easy to let each other know about up-coming sports events, class field trips and tests that need to be prepared for in order to make your child’s school day run smoothly. Communication about things like who is sending in the gym shoes, if there is a test coming up and both parents need to help with studying, sending the weekly spelling list with the child when they go from one parent to the next – all of these are critical! Parents who don’t communicate can cause difficulty for children, especially if there are mid week parenting time exchanges.
Create and stick to routines:
Kids need structure. In order to feel safe and protected, they need order and consistency. So during this difficult time, be sure to maintain a schedule wherever possible. Eating meals at the same time every night, having a fixed bedtime, and picking certain days to do weekly chores can help a lot in creating a sense of routine.
Whether it’s shared custody, visitation or some other other arrangement that you and your ex have devised for your family, be sure to stick to it. Your kids are going to be having difficulty, so make sure that you stick to the schedule you’ve created when it comes to drop-off and pick-up times. Knowing that mom will show up when she said she would, or that dad will bring them back right when he promised will help with that consistency that they need so badly!
Get help if they need it:
Some kids have a really hard time with divorce. Some of them aren’t able to cope on their own, and talking to their parents might be too hard. So if your child is struggling, don’t let them suffer in silence. Get them a therapist or counselor whom they can talk to. It may be hard at first, but it will make a difference over the long term, both to their emotional health, and also to their overall success in school.
Ask about support programs at school:
Some schools have support programs designed for kids who are struggling with trauma and major life changes. There are numerous different kinds available, but for children who are working through divorce in the family, there are options aimed at helping them cope. For example, the Children of Divorce Intervention Program, developed by Dr. Pedro-Carroll, have been proven to provide significant and lasting benefits for children in the wake of divorce.
We understand that parenting after a divorce is very difficult, and that children sometimes have a harder time than we anticipated. It does happen, and it’s difficult. But it doesn’t have to be devastating. There are lots of ways that parents can help their children adjust after a divorce, and even go on to be successful in school. It just takes a little planning and dedication. That aside, if you have any questions about the divorce process or about custody, our skilled family law attorneys are available around the clock to help you choose the best possible solution for your family.