Extracurricular Activities: Providing Consistency and Support

Extracurricular Activities: Providing Consistency and Support

Imagine the following scenario of a couple: They divorced while their 2 young sons were in elementary school. Both parents shared 50/50 time with the children and they rotated on a week on and week off schedule.

Mom believed music was important and had the boys in music classes on her weeks.

Dad was a soccer fan. On his weeks that boys had soccer three times a week.

Each parent diminished the importance of the other parent’s chosen after school activity. Mom thought soccer was a waste of time, and failed to take her sons to games on the weeks she had the boys, and dad constantly complained that the children “didn’t want to go to music” on his weeks, even though mom was adamant that they enjoyed music on her weeks. The children were confused. They were sidelined at soccer games because they would miss whole weeks of practice out of the season. Due to lack of consistent practice, they missed every chance to participate in music recitals and competitions.

Had both parents agreed to encourage BOTH music and soccer, they could have enjoyed watching the boys progress, and they could have children who were BOTH athletic and musically inclined. And if they could consistently do only one agreed upon activity, the boys may have been able to tell them why they preferred to do one activity over the other, and they could have participated more completely in that activity and experienced more success in it.

This may seem like an extreme case, but it is a reality for a some of today’s children of divorce. While the children are benefiting from increased contact with both parents, the increased contact may also lead to increased conflict and bickering between the parents.

It is important that parents who are divorced make an effort to encourage consistency in after school schedules and activities. It is important that they show their children that they can agree when it is important- when it enhances the lives of the children.

Paola Parra Harris