Students (and parents, too), welcome back to school!
Some kids are yelling "yes". Others are crying "no!!". Parents are relieved, with a "finally".
I have some words of wisdom for all of you parents, especially for the non-custodial ones amongst us.
Please, please, please, make sure that all the paperwork for all of your children is properly filled out, and returned directly to the school office as soon as possible. The contact information, with the correct phone numbers, complete with emergency numbers, is essential. Also of great importance is WHO can pickup your children from school, and if your child will be picked up, or will ride a bus home. Release forms, allowing your child to travel in-district to events, plays, field trips, and the like are also included in the packages this time of year.
For all of you non-custodial parents, double-check the following, PLEASE!!:
1. That the PROPER contact information is on the form for your child(ren), including that for BOTH you and the custodial parent, if you share joint legal custody, including name, relationship, home number, and work number.
2. That only the PROPER people to pick up your child(ren) from school are on the "approved" list.
3. Please check to make sure that BOTH of you sign and date the release forms, including any "medical release" or "medication at school" forms.
4. Double-check EVERYTHING-every single form, if they have been filled out by the custodial parent, just to be absolutely sure.
Why double check everything?
From a voice of experience-when my first born daughter was enrolled for kindergarten four years ago, our public school district did NOT even know she had a father. My ex- had DELIBERATELY left off ANY and ALL contact information for me, and we share joint legal custody. It took over two months of conversations with the school administrators, and several PROMISES as to what was going to happen if they did not rectify the situation IMMEDIATELY. Also, never make any threats whatsoever. Make true, sincere, promises of what actions you WILL take to correct the "oversights" if they happen, AND THEY WILL. School administrators tend to listen when they see a determined, honest, and sincere parent in front of them. When my youngest daughter was enrolled in school two years ago there were no such problems.
Also, make sure that you are properly informed of picture days, so you can order your own, and not rely on the other parent. Make sure you are on the school's mailing list, for monthly newsletters and the like. Make absolutely certain that you are notified of ALL parent-teacher conference dates, and set an appointment for them! I had to "inconvenience" them the first year, insisting that I also meet with my daughter's teacher. They very quickly got used to this involved father, and I now have a good relationship with the school principle and the teachers.
If you possibly can, VOLUNTEER at your child's school. Many options are available for this, and few fathers take advantage of them. Most PTO's and other school organizations are largely made up of women-and the kids are missing out on the "male perspective" on things. Besides, volunteering to read to a class, perhaps put on a special presentation based upon your career or employment, or go as a chaperone on a field trip is NOT gender-exclusive. And, yes, they have special forms for this too, to make sure that only respectfull, well-meaning, and SAFE individuals can get anywhere near YOUR children.
Regardless of the relationship with your ex-spouse, this is your child(ren)'s education. Put aside the differences, and work together, to provide your child a productive, happy, safe, and educational school year experience!
By the way, non-custodial parent, you SHARE your child(ren) pick-up responsibilities with the other parent, RIGHT? If not, pick that as an essential goal, work for it, and make it happen!
Do NOT make the mistake of expecting the courts or your local FOC office to enforce "joint legal custody" guidelines. They won't. My advice-deal directly with the school first, if you encounter any problems. Show them you are sincere, and mean business. Earn their respect, if you can.
After all, children deserve the right to the love, care, guidance, EDUCATION, and nurturing of BOTH fit, willing, and able parents. Denying a child any of this is child abuse!
A Father Of Two.