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Back to School Considerations for Separated Parents

School is back in session! Managing back to school considerations during COVID is challenging enough. Conflict between separated parents over the issue can increase tensions and polarize options.

Now, just imagine the impact of such differences upon the children.

Already having to deal with COVID, social distancing and on-line learning as well as differences between the expectations and approaches of other friends’ parents… They must navigate their parents’ differences.

To whom shall they listen? With whom may they align? How will they maintain a relationship with parents? Whose differences are so stunning and emotional? Will this child fall to anxiety or depression? How about indifference? No longer listening to either parent and doing as they see fit? And if doing as they see fit with regard to COVID and school, how might that translate to other areas of their life?

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Consequently, it does parents well to remember that it is most often their fighting and not the actual issue of dispute that affects their children.

Parents are cautioned to manage their differences between themselves perhaps now more than ever before.

  1. To that end, hold all conversations away from the kids;
  2. Explore the nature of your differences and seek to find solutions acceptable to you both;
  3. Remember that if you stand rigidly on a matter, there may be a social and emotional consequence for the child;
  4. Resist taking these matters to court as the delay is long and the process escalates conflict:
  5. Do seek the help of either a mental health professional or family mediator to resolve issues between you.

Keep in mind a mutual objective. Your child should be involved in learning, sheltered from conflict and kept safe.

In the end, we want your child to be able to concentrate on their learning and not be distracted by parental issues.

So, despite your actual plan, if the plan at least can offer some advantages to those mutual goals, that may be the best in your circumstances.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.


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