Let schools focus on your children...
INTRO: School is like a child's job. It is the place where children spend most of their waking hours. When the conflict of divorce becomes overwhelming to children, school can be a sanctuary, where they are the priority and the focus is on how they are handling the pressure. But when parents involve the school in the conflict between them, the school's focus is diverted away from the children and moves over to the parents.
Letting the School Focus on the Children and Not On Your Divorce Conflict
School is like a child's job. It is the place where children spend most of their waking hours. When the conflict of divorce becomes overwhelming to children, school can be a sanctuary, where they are the priority and the focus is on how they are handling the pressure.
When parents involve the school in the conflict between them, the school's focus is diverted away from the children and moves over to the parents. Upon receiving a report from one parent about the other parent, it becomes difficult for the faculty and staff at the school to deal with the child without the filter of their knowledge about the parents' conflict.
Consider, for example, the problems that arise when one parent reports a restraining order to the school, but neglects to tell the school that the restraining order has nothing to do with the children or the other parent's access to or contact with the children.
It is the school's job to keep the children safe, not to investigate facts surrounding restraining orders. It is natural for the school to assume that the restrained parent is dangerous and the children need to be protected. The school might inform the staff to be aware of the situation and to check with the office or the reporting parent before the other parent is even allowed in the school. Now you have a staff prone to view "poor little Billy" as abused and fragile when what Billy really needs is an understanding and welcoming environment to escape the stress of parents constantly in conflict.
If there are serious concerns about an abusive parent and the court has ordered that parent to have no contact with the children, the school definitely needs to be aware of the situation and have a copy of the full court order. Otherwise, it is better for the children that parents limit the information they give the school about their conflict, especially temporary restraining orders that do not limit the children's contact with the other parent.
Temporary restraining orders are fairly easy to get, but not so easy to make permanent. Restraining orders are often vacated after the temporary restraining order has been reported to the school, but this information rarely gets to the school. Based on old information, the school is then left trying to protect children from a threat that was never present. This is not fair to the children or to the reported parent; and is definitely not fair to the school.
Before you share information with the school about your ongoing conflict with the other parent, think about the negative impact that information might have on the children. If the court agrees that the other parent's permanent presence in the children's life is detrimental, share the information with the school along with the court order. Otherwise, don't bring the school into your conflict.
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