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By GreatSchools Staff
"When my parents divorced way back in the 'dark ages,'" writes a divorced mom, "I was keenly aware of the pain and anguish that accompanied this situation from the perspective of a child - so when I married, I 'married for life.' And of course, like all absolute things, they are not absolute - except death and taxes, as the old saying goes. I ended a 12-year-marriage and had a 3-year-old daughter to consider!
"The flood of memories and emotions with all the hurt and anguish came fully back to the forefront of my mind, and it was at that time that my ex and I agreed that there was no reason to have any animosity between us when it came to our little girl. This helped in setting schedules, maintaining routines and even in our dealing with one another! We made her the first priority and have kept that sacred and foremost in our situation."
"One thing that we have had to learn over the years," writes a Louisiana mom, "is that no matter what kind of anger or issues we are dealing with as parents, we have to keep that out of our children's lives and get along well enough to focus on our children's happiness, education and discipline."
"We had some real battles on several issues, so we fought about it on the phone or when the kids weren't around. When the kids were in our presence, we would often act so fake and kind to each other that it ended many arguments with laughter. The key is not how you set aside your differences, but THAT you set aside your differences."
A parent of four children, ages 3, 7, 9 and 16, writes: "Unfortunately, a lot of divorced parents miss out on a lot of opportunities because of their emotions. You must stay focused on what's best for your child. Keep your child involved in after-school activities such as dance, plays, basketball or football. Go to your child's PTA. Stay involved in all of their school activities.
"What worked best for me and my children was to establish a routine. When it comes to parent involvement, my ex and I rotate who will be there. Sometimes there is a conflict of interest, so if we both end up there at the same time, such as a school concert or a play, since we agree on the importance of parent involvement, we sit on opposite sides. When school pictures are taken, one person gets the pictures and the other parent orders reprints.
"Last but not least, please do not force your emotions about the other parent on your child. Whatever happened in the breakdown of your marriage has nothing to do with your child's relationship with the other parent. Allow your child to form his own opinion of what he feels about the other parent, not yours. What helps me is keeping in mind that it's business, not personal. It's business to make sure that child support or other financial resources are in place to ensure my children receive the proper care that they need."
"When you are drawing up the divorce papers," he advises, "the non-custodial parent should request that the custodial parent keep the non-custodial parent advised of their children's progress in school, for example, by sending copies of report cards, kudos, etc. My son is graduating next month and I had to email his principal to find out the date of the graduation. My son has never been one to care about dates - of Christmas break, spring break, now even his own graduation date - and his mother was never forthcoming. As I said, he is graduating and I have not seen one single report card. You're all probably thinking I am a derelict father, which is the farthest thing from the truth. I have never been behind on support and though my military career made visiting difficult, I went to see him as often as possible and usually at great expense. So, get it in writing folks!"
A father of two, ages 13 and 11, writes: "I have had to be very active in their schools even before my divorce, since their mom has a different view on school than I do. I attend all conferences, and when I can't, I do them by phone. I have volunteered for special in-class events to make sure that I have met the other parents, and we attend the class leisure activities, such as book fairs and barbecues.
"My ex, unfortunately, does not do any of these things. I had a teacher call me one year and let me know that she had actually gone to a parent-teacher conference and let him know that 'homework was not a priority in her home' and walked out on him.
"But I can say that my efforts have paid off since they are both still maintaining their grades at right around a 3.0 each, and that they realize just how important it is that they continue on with a post-secondary education."
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