For divorced or divorcing parents, one of the more difficult challenges they face is sending their children off to college. The college process is such a huge milestone—and an anxiety-provoking experience—for the whole family.
It’s no wonder that the tradition of Parents’ Weekend/Homecoming occurs about a month and a half into the semester; the freshmen have settled into their dorms, many have already made friends that will last a lifetime, and they are eager to share their new friends and new lives with their families. This positive growth must be fostered, not sidelined by another fight between mom and dad.
Unfortunately, reuniting a divorced family means there is an opportunity for conflict to take place.
Luckily, there is one overriding principle that should make it easier on you and your ex-spouse: Never, ever fight in front of your child; if you can’t be civil, don’t go together. Parents need to be adults and keep their conflict separate from their children—and certainly not include the child in any kind of discussion that’s going to put their young adult child in the middle or create a loyalty conflict.
Parents’ Weekends usually involve some kind of a sporting event, and oftentimes seating is limited. You may find yourself in close quarters with your co-parent as you attend the game with your child, who will undoubtedly see his or her new friends with their parents. There may also be opportunities to meet your child’s professors or academic advisors. The last thing your child needs is to feel tension and acrimony between his or her parents.
The good news is that, with so much to do on Parents’ Weekends, even high-conflict families can partake in the fun. For instance, they can share the weekend, with one parent visiting on Friday to Saturday, and the other parent visiting from Saturday to Sunday. As long as you have the desire to do what is best for your child, there will always be creative solutions available to you.
Co-parent counselors, mediators and parenting coordinators like us can help you achieve your goals by opening your eyes to a variety of options to persevere through Parents’ Weekends, the holidays, and beyond. Contact us to learn how we can help you.
My Divorce Recovery
Lauren Behrman, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Zimmerman, Ph.D., ABPP