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Back to School: The ABC’s of Co-Parenting

Back to School: The ABC’s of Co-Parenting

For 13 consecutive years now on a back-to-school morning I have awakened with excitement.  In the early years I picked the perfect bow for my daughters’ hair and took my time while they let me brush and style their pretty hair.  In the latter years I have helped chose the outfit or made sure group pictures were taken with friends at school.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have cried on every single one of these days.  Every. Single. One.

I am proud to say that for each of these days, their dad and I met up with each other and our children to wish them the best on their back-to-school days.  We take pictures of each other with our daughters so we each have the moment captured.  4 of those days we lived together.  The remaining 9 years we have lived as divorced parents. Despite the history, we showed up, with each other, for our girls as their parents.

Unfortunately, I have seen many parents do just the opposite as their children head back to school.  They choose to put their differences with each other instead of their children at the forefront.

In these years I have observed the best ABC’s to managing back-to-school with your child’s best interests at the front of the line.

Always share.  Share the photos.  Share the start times.  Share the bus schedule.  Share the class lists.  Share the school supply list.  Share your child’s favorite sack lunch treat.  Share everything.  Even if there is no response to the gesture, share it anyway and keep sharing.

Be proactive and prepared.  Try to make arrangements with your co-parent about arrival time.  If that is not possible because your co-parent will not cooperate, know that you each have an equal right to be there with your children regardless of whose “day” it is.  Just plan to get to the school early and be prepared for when your child arrives.  Let your co-parent know that you will be there to take a picture and get a quick hug to set the expectation.

Create.  Create the best experience that you can for you child with or without support from your co-parent.  Don’t complain in front of your children, don’t agonize about what the other parent “won’t let you do” in front of your children.  Focus on what you can do.  You can show up.  You can celebrate with a back-to-school celebration of your own the weekend you have them.  You can celebrate on the pick-up from school. 

My hope is that this advice will support you and your co-parent to be head of the class.

Angela Dunne