Navigating parent-teacher conferences with your co-parent

One school activity that separated and divorced parents need to find a way to navigate is parent-teacher conferences. Whether it’s a regular conference to discuss your child’s progress or there’s an issue that a teacher needs to discuss with you, parents must determine whether they’re able to put aside their differences and attend these meetings together, to meet with the teacher separately or leave it to one parent to handle.

Many parents want to attend these meetings together so that they’re receiving the same information and can work together with the teacher to formulate a plan if there’s an issue. To make these meetings productive, current and former educators advise co-parents whose relationship is strained to keep the focus where it belongs — on the child. If your child is having problems at school, whether it’s poor grades or behavioral issues, now isn’t the time to point fingers at each other.

Before you go into the meeting, it may help to establish some goals about what you want to get out of it. Even if your co-parent doesn’t go along with this, have a list of questions and topics ready for the teacher. If your co-parent starts to play the blame game or lob insults, stick to your list and don’t let them derail you.

Don’t hesitate to tell the teacher in advance that you and your spouse aren’t on good terms. They’ll spot it quickly anyway, so you might as well be upfront with them. You may even want to ask the teacher to get the two of you back on track if the meeting goes off the rails.

If you and your spouse decide to have individual meetings with your kids’ teachers or each takes one child’s parent-teacher conferences, remember that you’ll need to share what you discussed and work together to help your kids. Separate meetings can’t be an excuse to claim that the teacher blamed everything on the other parent.

If you’re having difficulty working with your co-parent to help your kids succeed academically and socially at school, don’t hesitate to ask for support from their teachers and counselors. They’re used to working with divorced parents. You may also want to talk with your Arizona family law attorney to determine whether there are any changes you can make to your child custody agreement that could help with any problems your children are experiencing.

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