School has already started for most of our families across the U.S. and this article will offer some back-to-school advice for the newly divorced dad. If you are starting a new co-parenting relationship, it helps to understand the new environment by comparing it to something most Dads can relate to, like football. There is a unique relationship that goes on between the coach and the quarterback and it is a great way to compare that relationship to co-parenting.
Now, I am not going to identify who gets to play the quarterback and who gets to play the coach (in this article, it doesn't matter and I don't want to start off in the wrong direction with anyone). The football players represent the children of the divorced family and they depend on the coach and the quarterback to get along and execute the right plays. What's important to know in this analogy is how the coach and the quarterback work together in order to get to the end result: a victory. It's all about winning a game and eventually winning the Super Bowl. This is how a newly divorced dad needs to think when it comes to this upcoming school season. It's a long season and the team depends on the coach and the quarterback to get them through the challenges they will face together. There are games where everything goes according to plan, and sometimes, there are games where everything goes wrong. Take it from this single dad, your team will thank you at the end of the season for showing patience, poise and confidence. Here are a few quick tips for every divorced dad to remember on co-parenting and football.
The Coach and the Quarterback
Throughout our football history, the relationship between the coach and the quarterback proves to be dynamic, to say the least. You are dealing with leaders; strong-willed individuals that are very determined and have their set opinions on how to play the game of football. Just like you and your ex-spouse. Both the quarterback and coach in your co-parenting relationship need to be reminded that the relationship is built on results. It's all about getting the team to work together and winning. On Sunday, it's all business, so remember when you are making your kid exchange to keep it professional and don't let your team see your differences. That means no arguing in front of the children. Keep your arguing off the field and behind closed doors. Never have a coach vs. quarterback argument in front of the rest of the team. Your kids remember everything. Just like real life football, the teams that have these public arguments never make it anywhere. They self destruct and appear to build on more dysfunction.
(Example: Favre vs. Childress)
When Times get Tough
Take a look at the teams that go through a quarterback slump. More often than not, the coach is there to support his quarterback. The conversation is always about looking at the "big picture" and any slump is only temporary. This rule applies just as well in the co-parent relationship. It is easy to bad mouth another party when times are bad, especially after a divorce. However, don't do it. Friends, family and relatives are like the media reporters and expect some post-divorce drama. My advice is don't give it to them. coaches and quarterbacks don't have to be friends, but they understand that they have to get along in a working environment and do what's best for the team. A great coach and quarterback relationship to compare to is Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez.
Back to school season involves a lot of "face-to-face" appointments with teachers and school time activities with your ex-spouse. Do yourself a favor and make the best of these activities. Make it a rule to be on time at these events and make sure that the school, teachers, and principal know that you are in a co-parenting household. One of my best single dad suggestions is to have some business cards made with you and your child's photo. Add your cell and email address to the business card and you now have a great way for all the important people at your child's school know who you are and how to contact you.
A Short Season
The NFL season is only 16 games. Even with the pending expansion of two more games added to the regular season next year, there is no comparison on how quickly life goes by as a single parent. It's only 182 days a year that you have your child with joint custody, so make every minute count. As a divorced father of three, my oldest is going to be a senior in high school this fall and my youngest is no longer in elementary school.
In summary, you only get one ticket to the big show, so make it count and have the best season you possibly can with your co-parenting. Your children will remember and thank you for keeping their team together and being a great coach and quarterback with their mother. Remember--children don't choose divorce, parents do.