School conferences, Back-to-School Night, seasonal concerts, and the need to attend school functions in general can present a challenge to divorced or separated parents. Should you both go? Will it be uncomfortable for you or for the children? Here are some practical tips for getting along with your ex when you're attending school events:
1. Make an Effort to Attend Your Child's School Events
Attending school events is an extremely important way to show your children how much you support them. Of course, there will be times when you have scheduling conflicts and valid reasons why you cannot attend. However, when you can go to events like Back-to-School Night or a special concert, play, or sporting event, make the effort to be present. Don't let hesitation over seeing the other parent keep you from being at events that mean a lot to your children.
2. Focus on the Kids During School Events
Remember, it's for your children's benefit that you want to attend school events. This is not for the purpose of making an impression on your ex, school personnel, or anyone else. Instead, you're doing this because it's an important part of playing an active role in your children's lives. Don't make the mistake of underestimating how powerful your involvement really is.
3. Coordinate With Your Ex Regarding School EventsCommunicate with one another beforehand so that there are no surprises at the event. Also, remember that you don't have to drive to the function together or even sit together. If the event is parent-teacher conferences, you can opt to request separate meetings with your child's teacher. However, it is important that you keep your meeting focused on your child's progress, not your personal situation.
4. Be Courteous to One Another at School EventsWhen you see your ex at the event, make an effort to be courteous. This means, at the very least, acknowledging his or her presence with a nod or a wave. Even if your situation is extremely contentious, make an effort to treat your ex as you'd like to be treated yourself. This sets an important example for your children about your ability to put your differences aside and get along for their sake.
5. Tolerate Some Discomfort For the Sake of Your Child
Frankly, the need to attend school events at the same time will probably make you feel uncomfortable for quite a while, especially if you are newly divorced or separated. If it is helpful to you, make plans to attend the event with a friend or neighbor. The distraction of making small talk and knowing ahead of time who you'll be sitting with may help you tolerate some of the discomfort and focus on enjoying the event.