The opening months of a new Tennessee school year can be an exciting time, but parents and kids both agree that there is some anxiety as well. Parents want their children to do well and have a positive experience, and children may be anxious about seeing old friends and making new ones. If you are the divorced parent of school-age kids, you may have additional concerns with which to deal.
Whether you have been divorced for several years or this is your first school year with a custody schedule, you are probably already feeling the additional stress that comes with the school schedule. The end of summer may have spelled the end for some of the flexibility surrounding shared custody. It may be a good idea to meet with your ex to address any early concerns the school year has introduced before they become a source of tension.
Talk it out
In the early stages of the new academic year, you and your ex can set a positive tone for your children. Each new school year brings new possibilities for your children, and it may reduce stress and frustration if you and your ex can anticipate any changes or challenges you may meet.
For example, do you have a child who may be old enough to get a job or driving permit? Will your child be asking to stay home alone after school instead of going to a babysitter? Have you and your ex worked out a mutually agreeable system for after-school activities, time with friends or even dating? You may find that a discussion with your ex can benefit the entire family. Some matters to address may include the following:
- Sharing expenses for school supplies and functions, extracurricular activities and other costs not delineated in your child support agreement
- Arranging care if a child is sick on a school day
- Deciding on a reasonable level of activities for your children outside of school
- Figuring out how to share schedules and efficiently facilitate any last-minute changes
- Arranging ways to communicate with each other so as not to leave either parent out of important events in the children’s lives
- Communicating with each other regarding homework, school projects and other deadlines children must meet
- Settling on a level of consistency for household responsibilities and routines for the children, such as chores, bedtime and privileges
If you and your ex are on good terms, you may even include your children in your discussion. Invite your children to share their goals and help them prioritize their schedules. However, if the situation with your spouse does not allow for this kind of cooperation, you may wish to seek advice about your legal options.