As the last fireworks of 4th of July fade, stores replace fire crackers with “Back-to-School” supplies.
Parents (still focused on swim lessons, summer camps, and family vacations) also begin planning for school. Complex for most families–even harder from two houses. But, there’s hope.
A few statistics make the challenge clear:
- Children of divorce are twice as likely to drop out of high school.
- Children of divorce are 50% more likely to develop health issues.
- Children of divorce are 4 times more likely to have trouble with peers,
- Children of divorce are twice as likely to attempt suicide, and
- Children of divorce tend to be more aggressive toward others.
All factors that impact school attendance and performance.
Then, you add the logistics of getting kiddos and all their stuff to school from two homes. If you are divorced, you know the challenge.
But, you can beat the statistics. Your children can succeed in school.
A key focus enables children to successfully navigate and even thrive in school.
Put the children first
Logical–but hard to live.
Divorce wounds deeply. When parents interact around their children, the pain of the divorce often clouds perceptions and motives.
Dad, furious over Mom’s stance on financial issues, refuses to pay for a school activity to stick her with the bill. Mom, furious over Dad’s winning extra parenting time, purposely shows up late for drop-offs. The parents focus on scoring against each other, and they often win.
But, their children suffer.
Children suffer when parents fight. Children suffer when they have to defend one parent to another. Children suffer when their activities become the point of battle.
Parents, you need to remember that your children innately believe the divorce was their fault. Every fight over school endorses that belief.
When parents shift from “how I’m hurt” to “how do I put the children first?” it makes all the difference. You can do this!
Ask–“What is the best outcome for our child?”
Using “our” reminds each of you that this child belongs to both of you. Needs both of you. Is connected to both of you. No matter how you feel about each other, your child needs you to guard her relationship with both of you.
Whether discussing extracurricular activities, class schedules, or teacher preferences–focus on “What is the best outcome for our child?” Then, work together to build a plan to achieve that outcome.
If Johnny making the football team is a desired outcome–each parent can ask, “What can I contribute to Johnny making the team?” I can get him to practice. I can pay for equipment. I can help him manage homework.
As you each offer what you can, you build a plan to reach the goal. And, Johnny learns that his school matters.
Result–Children succeed in school. Parents succeed in life.
Focusing on Johnny helps Johnny succeed.
Instead of yet another battle ground, school becomes a point of agreement. A context where the family unit still works. A priority everyone agrees on. Children invest in school because their parents invest in their child succeeding in school.
Focusing on Johnny also helps parents succeed.
- money–as they work together, no need to return to court.
- time–fights eat time. Focusing on a common goal saves time.
- energy–ongoing fights drain energy in everything from dealing with a child’s rebellion in school to mentally reliving every battle. Working together free parents to support their children–and focus on their own important goals.
The Back-to-School season challenges every family. In the midst of buying supplies, setting up schedules, and finding the right teachers–every parent feels stretched.
Add divorce, and the challenge grows. But, you can make this work.
Put your children first.
As you do–you combine parental strengths to ensure your children get what they need from both of you. More, as you invest in your children, you break the patterns that cause problems for children in school. Instead of becoming another statistic, your children succeed.
If you need help working through school issues, or any other issues related to parenting after divorce, The Resolution Center can help. Please call us at 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We look forward to talking with you.