Blended families are a fact of life today. Gone are the days where the nuclear family is the norm and the practice of shared parenting has become more commonplace. Children easily adapt to interacting with multiple sets of parents and multifaceted relationships. It's often the parents who require the most adjustments and willingness to be flexible.
If you're in a co-parenting arrangement, you know that this time of year can be hectic. Here are just a few tips to manage the stress and remain successful in these relationships as back to school looms.
Develop a co-parenting plan
Hopefully, when you began your co-parenting journey you sat down and created some guidelines that would minimize conflict and misunderstandings. This roadmap should include expectations with regards to school work and communication with the school. Determine who will be responsible for monitoring classroom assignments and helping with homework. If you plan to split up these duties, how will this be accomplished?
Discuss after-school activities
For most children, the school year involves much more than just classroom activities. There may be music lessons, drama, or sports teams to consider. Discuss what you are both willing, and not willing, to commit to for after-school activities for your children. Many of these clubs and teams require a great deal of coordination, time, and sometimes extra financial commitment. It's important that both parties agree on how this will be handled and that each activity is in the best interests of the child.
Involve the teacher and school
It's no longer necessary that divorce or separation be a societal secret. In fact, this is damaging to children who are made to feel shame for something that is beyond their control. Instead, it is much more healthy and productive to present the facts of your family situation to the child's teacher and school so that they can be as supportive as possible.
If there is still some animosity between you and your ex-spouse, you may be able to arrange separate parent-teacher conferences. If a step-parent wants to be involved in these meetings or other activities, this should be discussed ahead of time so that there are no surprises or hard feelings.
Attitude is everything when it comes to co-parenting. No one expects to divorce when they marry and have children, but it happens frequently. For most parents, the child's welfare and happiness come before anything else. These blended families can still provide a loving and supportive environment for children with cooperation and the right attitude.