Your first parent-teacher conference after a divorce or separation can be uncomfortable and stressful, especially when you don’t know what to expect. Not only are you worried about the issues the teacher might address, but seeing your ex can be a nerve-wracking experience. It can bring back unwanted memories, or it could stir up feelings that you may not want to resurface. Plus, you don’t want the teacher to feel the tension in the room. But if you are co-parenting, these types of situations are a reality you will have to face.
It’s important to remember that you are doing this for your child’s education and wellbeing. Here are our top tips for getting through those 30 to 60 minutes in a civil and unified manner.
Let the teacher know you are divorced ahead of time
To eliminate any awkwardness or uncomfortable situations, let the teacher know you are divorced before the parent-teacher conference. Once the teacher knows, you can also request two copies of everything sent home including report cards.
Reach out to your ex beforehand
Have a simple conversation with your ex about the upcoming parent-teacher conference beforehand. You do not want your first encounter or interaction with your ex to be at school. Use this conversation as an opportunity to discuss your goals for the conference and set expectations. It’s also an opportunity to discuss whether new partners should attend.
Own your own energy
Be mindful that you are in control of your emotions. Do not let your ex control your emotions. You are the only one who can control your emotions and it’s important to be mindful of that.
Keep it about the children
Remember this meeting is about your child’s education and nothing else. Stay neutral. Stay focused on your child, not on your failed marriage. Keep your issues with your ex at bay and focus on your child’s education.
Do not place blame
It is important to remember that it isn’t a competition. One parent may have custody during the school week so it seems easy to place the blame for any school-related issues on them, but as co-parents that is not fair nor is it the case. Stay focused on what you can do together to support your child and remain a united front. As difficult as it may be, it is in the best interest of your child.
Treat your ex with respect
Respect each other. No matter how bad your relationship may be, you do not want to let that become the focus of the parent-teacher conference. There is no reason to be swinging insults at your ex or screaming profanities in this setting. Pay attention to your body language and tone of voice. Take the high road and be the bigger person. You are modeling this behavior for your child’s sake, whether your ex chooses to cooperate or not.
If you feel it is not an option to sit in the same room with your ex, then consider requesting two separate meetings. Not all schools will be able to accommodate this request, but it is worth asking your child’s teacher if this is an option. You might also consider a phone conference if the school is unable to accommodate two separate meetings.
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