4 Tips for Back to School Child Custody and Co-Parenting...
Dealing with your child’s education can be difficult for Co-Parents, especially those in the midst of #ChildCustody disputes. BUT, just like that pop quiz that teacher springs on kiddo in math class, it’s an opportunity to shine for anyone that’s prepared. Here’s how to score some extra credit...
1. Know your trivia.Trivia, in this sense, just means short answers to questions that reflect more meaningful engagement in your child’s life and education. What’s teacher’s name? principal’s? school counselor’s? Do they know your name? Who YOU are? Make yourself a spreadsheet of all the stakeholders your child interacts with at school and be able to nail a jeopardy round on the subject, except without answering in the form of a question. You don’t want to be in court saying “Who is Ms. Epps?”. I’m not saying be a school parent “karen” and all up in teacher’s business; I’m talking about a quick note of introduction or handshake at PTA night. Speaking of PTA night…
2. Go to the Source.We’ve written about this before. DO NOT consider the Other Side of your #ChildCustody to be your source of information about your child’s education. I’ve had the A#1 education lawyers in the State explain this to me - access to your child’s education records and information is a FEDERAL RIGHT under a law called FERPA. Yes, even if the Other Side has Sole Legal Custody. The school still cannot legally refuse to provide you any information about your child under Federal law. (There are, of course, VERY limited exceptions not worth worrying over here).
So, when you ignore this advice and you give the Other Side the power to screw with you and not give you a copy of kiddo’s report card, think to yourself, “huh, I wonder if there’s any way to get the information I’m seeking without dealing with the narcissist/manipulator/all-around jerk with whom you’re rearing the most important thing in your life.” Then, pick up the phone and call the records office at the school; ask the teacher for a short call to discuss more detailed issues, and get your own calendar of special events.
3. Make teacher’s life EASIER…When knowing your trivia and going to the source, make sure you’re doing so in a way that supports the SCHOOL’s efforts to educate your child. Make sure educators understand that you want to be informed and engaged and implement the techniques and strategies that the teacher is focusing on, that you’re not there to look over their shoulder or second-guess them.
4. Don’t eat lunch with your child at school as a way to see your child.Make sure you read that in the specific context, i.e., “as a way to see your child.” Your child’s educators are not family services. If your time with your child is so limited that the only way you can reliably spend time with your child is by eating a school lunch together, then you’ve got bigger problems and we need to talk about the root of that situation and what to do about it from the bottom up. Candidly, I don’t remember ever eating school lunch with my parents and I’m not sure that would have been considered very “cool,” but in this specific context the teachers probably already know there are custody issues and it gives the exact opposite impression that we need to be demonstrating to objective, third party stakeholders, (including and especially judges), working to serve our children’s educational needs. (See #3, above).