In many parts of the country, the school year has just started. If you are going through a divorce or are already divorced, have you talked about or planned how you and the other parent are going to communicate about your child’s school activities?

Sadly, when parents are going through a divorce or are divorced, one of them will more than likely have little to no knowledge about what is happening in their children’s classroom. Most parents know that parent/teacher conferences are a great way for them to learn about their child’s daily activities in school, whether they are doing well or if they need help at home. Yet, many parents don’t communicate with the teacher during this trying time in their lives or just simply turn over this responsibility to the other parent and don’t get involved anymore.

However, if you are divorcing or divorced from your spouse, not being part of your children’s educational responsibilities is not in their best interests. So, what can you do to avoid conflict with your spouse or ex, yet remain actively involved in your child’s education?

Brian James, president of C.E.L. & Associates, Inc., an Illinois-based divorce mediator specializing in pre and post divorce issues, has some advice for parents that can be beneficial to their child:

1. Make sure your child’s teacher is the first one informed that there is a pending divorce or if a divorce has just occurred. “Your child spends more time in school than anywhere else, and this situation might have a negative effect on your child,” he says. “At this time of year, scheduling school conferences has already begun. If the two of you can’t be in the same room for a conference, most teachers are willing to schedule individual conferences with each of you at your request.”

2. If the parents are cordial to each other, they can attend the parent/teacher conference together. That way, both parents have the same information and can ask the same questions regarding their child’s education.

3. More often than not, sitting together with a teacher is virtually impossible due to the antagonistic and negative vibes radiating from each parent. This makes the teacher uncomfortable-and in this hostile atmosphere-you may not receive all the information you need to know about your child’s academic achievements or non-achievements. If only one parent attends, the other one is left in the dark. Unfortunately, in most divorce situations, this is exactly what happens.

With the above being said, Mr. James as some advice on how divorcing or divorced parents should handle teacher/parent conferences:

• Ask the teacher to notify both parents what days and times are available for in-person or phone conferences. Some teachers may not be willing to accomidate such requests, but a majority of them will based on the situation. However, it is ultimately the parent’s responsibility to stay informed, not the teachers.

• When necessary, schedule individual in-person or phone conference time with the teacher. This will alleviate divorced parents from having to be together, but at the same time, allow them equal time with the teacher. This results in each parent learning the same information about his or her child.

• If only one parent is meeting the teacher in person or having a telephone conference, take notes. Even if you and your ex aren’t on speaking terms, sending him or her notes about the conference is in the best interest of your child. Both of you need to have the same philosophy and goals regarding your child’s education.

“No matter how much you and your ex dislike each other and want nothing to do with one another, you still have a child you need to parent together,” states Mr. James. “School is where children learn. If the two of you aren’t on the same page regarding the child’s current education, then you are both unnecessarily harming your child’s future education and well being.”

For more information, phone Brian James at (312) 524-5829 or visit www.yourdivorce.org.

Author's Bio: 

Brian James is a mediator with C.E.L. and Associates, a mediation, therapy, and coaching services firm with offices throughout Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. Learn more about the advantages of mediation and co mediation in Illinois for divorce at celandassociates.com. Visit our blog for information tips, trends, and advice on mediation and divorce at http://www.celandassociates.com/blog/.