During the summer, while catching up on some old movies that had slipped through the crack in years past, I gathered with career moms to watch a few movies that we could somewhat relate to, while catching some gut-busting laughter and a break from work. As we met, we exchanged dynamic stories of the inner dealings of co-parenting our children. We also shared our anxieties over school beginning, taking on larger than life responsibilities in our careers; where new beginnings were concerned, as well as moves we would have to make, exploring family dynamics, and how to find blends and balances. While a few of us are still dealing with unwilling parents, there were others who have evolved into a place where they have been able to work together, in providing a nurturing environment between homes. Even when it’s a one-sided operation, we keep reaching to find solutions and ways to create a more cohesive relationship, in the name of our children.
In sharing stories as such, you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your plight to raise your children. You find comfort in laughing about things of the past. You also find that you have so much in common. While we all had different stories, there was one denominator in which we all seem to share, with reference to the anxiety of our kids/kid going back to school. It was how the teachers usually handle divorced parents, when it came to access and information.
The kids have been back in school for at least two weeks in some areas, whereas other schools that weren’t closed or affected by closures, due to weather related concerns, began a little over a month ago. Curriculum is underway, as students, teachers, counselors and advisors are getting adjusted to the early morning commute, the back-to-school routine, dismissals and parent-teacher conferences. We thought it would be a great idea to gather teacher perspectives, on what they face from the inside; to either solidify our feeling and claim, or to put it to rest.
Among other things that teachers and school administrators dread, dealing with parents of divorced kids was one. The teachers say that they are often caught in the middle of the mess a lot of times and do not know what to do, which is probably the reason that the other parent feels slighted. While they are advised by superiors, on how to handle situations, it gets sticky when they have formed relationships with one parent, instead of both parents. BOOM! Just what we thought. They went on to say, the hearsay from one parent, regarding the other parent, has influenced them on how they deal with the other parent, and has put them in the cross-fire on many occasions. Here’s more on what they had to say:
In general-In joint or full custody, when moms are the primary: When it comes to dealing with divorced parents, moms major concern was that NO ONE is to pick up child without moms’ consent – no early or random dismissals from school, without her being notified, even if it was dad. School administrators agreed with this as a valid concern for safety*. Dad is permitted to have all the access to the school as she does. Mom wants Dad is to be informed about all things related to child, should he request information. Dad is to be included on the list of immediate emergency contact. Dad should be included on email advisories about events, projects, assignments and all things related to the child/school. However, some moms scoff or rolls eyes, at the sound of dads’ name and throws shade, when having conversations with the teacher. Makes it awkward and uncomfortable for teachers. Moms were described as mom Nazi’s by some teachers account, and the teachers felt as though it was an overcompensation for being a single-parent.
In general-In joint or full custody, when dads are the primary: Dad usually have classify the mother as a “crazy baby-momma”, when addressing teachers. More than half of these Teachers/Administrators said that the dads are the hardest to deal with, being that they use power and influence to make uncompromising request such as: Do not allow mom to visit, do not allow mom access to info regarding grades, teacher curriculum, behavior growth and progress of child; their request seemed more vindictive and spiteful, rather than a true and genuine concern for the child. Their request was reflective of a parent who wanted to deliberately leave the other parent out of activities.
While dads painted a picture of a bad mom, some teachers can read between those lines, to see that it’s not that mom is absent of her child’s affairs, but that she is being maliciously left out, for dad to bring this paining to life. For instance: If mom doesn’t know about curriculum night at the school, because she has not been informed by the school or dad, she is a no-show. Dad express care and concern for the child, but their hatred toward the mother makes teachers uncomfortable*.
About this survey: (conducted in Harris County, Texas/Cy-Fair ISD) -Interviewed 20 teachers / 4 principles / 4 schools-(16 female teachers / 4 male teachers: athletic instructors) (18 teachers whom are married/2 divorced) Grades K-5Questions asked: 1. Is it harder to deal with moms or dads and why? Provide examples. 2. What is mom/dad major concern, with respect to the child? 3. Does the opinion of one parent about the other parent influence you on how to deal with the other parent? 4. How does it make you feel, when one parent puts you in an uncompromising situation? 5. Does either parent influence you to take sides, by with gifts for the school/class or fundraising?
Statement from the Principles: “It is our overall concern to teach children while they are in our care, and make sure that they are in a safe environment, conducive to learning and teaching. While it is extremely necessary in sensitive situations, regarding the child, for us to know pertinent information, when it comes to enforcing our policies on safety of the children; it is not necessary to know that one or both parents had a troubled marriage, and that they have a grave dislike for one another. It creates a hostile situation for all, when parents discourage administrators from having a parent-teacher relationship with the other parent. We would like to keep both parents involved, when it comes to the child that they share. We hope that parents will come to agree, that this is what’s best for the child.”