* the following is a Blog Post from 9-30-11
Have you made mistakes with your case and now don’t have custody of your kids? Have you had some bad moments or has your evil ex been telling lies about you to the people in your children’s lives? I’m talking about school authorities or medical staff that used to think you were a good parent, but now, due to key events, view you as a crazy person? This does happen. It is unfortunately pretty common for the noncustodial parents to be demonized by the custodial parent.
If this has happened to you, it becomes quite difficult to get information from your children’s school. Even something as simple as a school picture order form or actually getting the pictures can become a nightmare. If this is your situation, there are some things you can do. One, you could come and see me. I can help you with a new start at school or anywhere else that you may have been labeled a crazy person. Two, meet with the school principal, psychologist and anyone else you need to. Do not complain about your ex or the situation. Just explain that there are circumstances that make it more difficult for you to access information for your children (do not take and angry tone or a blaming tone). Ask the school if they could mail things to you if you leave some self addressed stamped envelopes. You would be surprised what a difference something this simple can make.
If that sounds like too much work, ask if there are certain hours that you could pick things up at school, say once per week, or even every other week. Promise that you will not put them in the middle of any power struggle between the other parent and you. Also confirm to them that you just want information, and will not interfere with the school day for your children. AND THEN MAKE SURE YOU DON’T. By doing these few simple things, you can start building back trust. Maybe your ex will try to bring the conflict into school, but you will not. They will start to respect the fact that you are not using the school for meddling, but only to seek information. It takes a few consistent small gestures to regain trust and respect.
Three, if the school or Medical authorities seem unwilling to accommodate you because you don’t have custody, leave them a copy of Appendix A. Tell them that you have the rights spelled out in that document and they can check with their legal people to verify that. Wait at least a week before you make the request for information access again, and watch your tone. You will get a much better response if you are pleasant and positive.
Four, are there any other parents you know of whose kids go to school with yours that might keep an extra eye on your kids for you? Inform them that you have concerns about the children and ask if they would alert you if they see your child starting to have any behavior changes or anything that concerns them to please contact you with their observations. Don’t ask them to intervene on your behalf, just ask them to alert you and then you will decide whether action is necessary.
I’ve also wondered about maybe forming a community of parents who have a variety of court issues, teaming together to form a community of watchful eyes. There are several parents having the same issues. What if you could keep an eye on their kids while they keep an eye on yours? Also, what if you aren’t able to pick up information at the school, but can find another parent who wouldn’t mind bringing the information for you. This could work great if these are parents of friends your child plays with on your parenting weekend.
Lastly, check the school website for information you need, for example, what is the deadline for ordering school pictures. Also, contact companies like that directly, in advance. Maybe the portrait studio would be willing to mail your order to your so you don’t have to worry that the photos will be confiscated.There are always things you can do to still be involved as a parent. It isn’t always ideal or what you want, but you cannot give up and flee uncomfortable situations. Your kids will want you involved. It will make a difference for them. There may be times when they resist your involvement, especially if they fear the conflict that can arise in that setting. Stay involved, even if they express upset that you are involving yourself in their school. Just as with the school authorities, make a plan and be consistent. You will gain trust and respect with your children, too. You won’t regret sticking with it, no matter how difficult, but you just may regret allowing yourself to be pushed out of your parenting role just because it is unpleasant. If it’s unpleasant, turn it around.
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net