Divorce and College: When the College Road Trip is Taken After The Road to Divorce
It’s an annual rite playing out across the country this time of year: Parents and their college-bound kids taking road trips to visit potential colleges.
College road trips, even under ideal situations, are filled with anxiety and anticipation for teens.
Your child is worried about selecting the right school: their first love (the early decision school); their bottom of the barrel (the safety school). Will the chosen school be a place they’ll make friends? Will they get good grades? And of course, while your child may be acting all grown up and ready to fly from the nest, they’re often afraid of admitting to their very real fear of being homesick.
When a College Road Trip is taken after parents traveled the road to divorce, even more concerns are raised:
- Two for the Road? You may see these school trips as a great opportunity to visit a new city with your boyfriend or girlfriend. But will this make your child uncomfortable? Take away your focus from him or her? Do you have the type of relationship in which you can ask your child what he or she thinks about bringing along your new partner? Will your child feel you’re just taking a “date” to these visits, or does your child already have a good relationship with your significant other so that your boyfriend or girlfriend is welcome.
- Which Direction? Your teen may be begging to attend school in sunny California, a long way from home in New York. You may think this is a great idea- however you must consult with your teen’s other parent. Even if you aren’t on the best of terms with your former spouse- it is an important decision, and your former spouse should have input.
- Divide and conquer the Road: Perhaps your teen wants to make a few college road trips and visit different areas of the country on each trip. Mediation is a good place to discuss which parent takes the child where and the dates for each visit. Even if you don’t speak to your former spouse, coordination is essential. You can do all your communicating via email or texting. Or maybe you are on good enough terms to coordinate taking trips together. This might be an opportunity when you can co-parent and let your child know that no matter what, you are both always their parents.
So yes, the college road trip in a divorce can potentially have more bends and turns. However with proper preparation and planning it can be a smooth trip.