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Sending children back to school after a divorce

After a divorce has reached its legal conclusion, many spouses think that the hard part is over. For some, this may be true. But for many families, adjusting to life after a split can be much more difficult and stressful than the divorce itself. This is especially true for children, who will now find themselves dividing their time between two households and two new and separate families.

So when children go back to school after their parents have split, it is foreseeable that they may have difficulty focusing on schoolwork, explaining their new situation to friends, and readjusting to their familiar school life at a time when their home life is turned upside-down. But there are several things that parents can do to ease this transition.

First, parents should consider meeting with the school principal, their children’s teachers, school counselors, and any other relevant staff. Explain the new family situation and express any concerns you have or potential issues that may arise. It may be a good idea to hold these meetings on a fairly regular basis for the first few months of the school year. In the alternative, many schools have support programs for children of divorce. It may benefit your child to participate.

Second, ensure that all of the logistical details are worked out with your former spouse. Your children should know when and where they are going at all times, and try to keep it simple to avoid confusing everyone involved. It may help to develop a system of communication with your ex-spouse to stay abreast of homework assignments, school announcements, and other issues. A notebook that travels with your child is a good tool.

Third, keep an open line of communication with your child, but don’t push them to talk to you if they are not ready. However, continue to let them know that you are there for them whenever they need your support.

Source: Huffington Post, “Doctors Notes: Back to School after the Break Up,” Mark Banschick, MD, Sept. 6, 2011

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