One of the most important aspects of co-parenting after separation or divorce is helping ensure that your kids’ performance at school doesn’t suffer. Maintaining communication with their teachers is part of this.
It’s typically best to make sure the school and your child’s teachers, coaches and advisers know about the changes in your family. In addition to ensuring they have contact information for both of you, you likely want them to make you aware of any problems they’re seeing with your child’s behavior and performance.
Parent-teacher conferences are a vital part of that. However, it’s natural to be anxious about that first conference after separation or divorce. While you may be able to arrange for separate conferences, it’s best when both of you can sit down together with your child’s teacher. This way everyone is hearing the same things — even if one or both of you connects to the conference via Zoom.
So how can you help make the first parent-teacher conference after divorce a productive and undramatic one? Here are a few recommendations.
Communicate with your co-parent before the conference
Have some things prepared that you want to tell the teacher or ask them about. You can work on this together via phone, email or (if you’d rather minimize direct communication) a co-parenting app where you can share a journal or other document.
Don’t turn on each other
Don’t spend the meeting pointing fingers at each other whenever the teacher mentions a problem. Even if you believe your co-parent is to blame, commit to working together to solve the problem. If your child is doing well, share the credit with your co-parent (even if you’re sure it was all you). Then share the appropriate information with your child – together if possible.
If you’re not sure you can get through a conference together, don’t try
The last thing you want is for a conference to turn into a shouting match. Teachers know how to shut down unruly kids, and they can do the same with parents. Try to at least be at the same meeting even if it’s via phone or computer. Remember that teachers don’t have unlimited time, so they may not even be able to accommodate separate meetings.
If issues emerge from your first parent-teacher conference of the new school year that warrant additions or changes to your parenting plan, be sure you have legal guidance when making them.