Co-parenting your college freshman

Sending your child off to college is difficult for all parents. However, when you’re divorced, you need to deal with how you’re both going to be part of that big drop-off trip.

Then you need to consider how you’re going to co-parent someone who’s hundreds or maybe even thousands of miles away. Instead of the custody arrangements you’ve had, you may find yourself competing for visitation time with your child on weekends and breaks.

Keep in mind that your child is likely stressed out about all the changes in their life. The last thing they need to worry about is whether their parents will end up fighting in front of their new roommate or making them feel guilty if they stay at one parent’s house more than the other’s on visits home.

Coordinating the drop-off

How you do this depends on how well you get along. If you want to avoid each other, you can arrange for one of you to drive up with your child and move things in. Then the other can arrive later and take them shopping for any additional things they need.

It’s best for the two of you to come up with a couple of options and then see what your child prefers. Kids want to know that both of their parents are fully supportive and care about what they want.

Who to come to for help

It’s essential that your child knows they can call both of you when they need something – whether it’s more money in their checking account or to be talked down when they’re convinced that everyone at their school is smarter than them.

Working out visits home

How often your child comes home and where they stay will depend in part on how far away they are and how close you and your co-parent live to one another. Just don’t make your child feel disloyal for staying with one parent instead of the other if they come home for weekends or short breaks. For longer breaks, consider talking with one another and then giving your child a couple of ideas you agree on that let them spend time with both of you.

It may be helpful to make some modifications to some of your divorce agreements to deal with school expenses, participation in your child’s life and other changes that have occurred since your divorce.