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Navigating Extracurricular Activities

family law lawyer kanataOne of the biggest issues some separated parents have to deal with is their child’s extracurricular activities. These activities can range from team sports to music lessons to martial arts and everything in between. Today’s busy child may be involved in multiple activities and have a schedule that rivals that of the CEO of a large enterprise. Unfortunately, parents often bring their own disputes to bear upon these activities. In such cases, the one that suffers the most is the child.

Parents often have different views and opinions regarding their child’s talents and how best to nurture these talents. We sometimes encounter the situation where the parent who did not register the child in the activity wants nothing to do with the activity at all. They are sometimes resentful as they see the activity as taking away from their time with the child. Sometimes parents forget that the disputes between the parents have no place in the child’s activities. We encourage our clients to remember that the well-being and happiness of the child must remain the priority.

Our own experiences as parents has demonstrated to us that extracurricular activities can teach a child invaluable social skills as well as help him or her determine where their own interests lie. For example, the bonds created on a team can be as close to a family bond as they learn to trust and rely on others. The friendships made in the course of a child’s activities can last a lifetime.

Extracurricular activities are also a great way to strengthen the bond between a parent and a child. This may be through the parent’s participation as an instructor or even simply as the ‘taxi and biggest fan’.  All children, even teenagers, want to be recognized for their accomplishments.  A child’s confidence can grow immeasurably following a first goal scored, a first solo performance, or beating a personal best.

Try to leave the Family Law issues at home

We remind our clients to do their best to leave the Family Law issues at home. This is especially important where the child’s activity involves parent volunteers as coaches or instructions. These volunteers generously give of their time to make the activity the best experience for the child and they should not have to act as a mediator between a child’s parents.

The reality for the parents is that they have a child together and will therefore have a relationship with each other for the rest of their lives. If the parents do not act with respect towards each other, the child will see this and may eventually opt out of inviting one or the other parent to important events like championship games, graduations, weddings, etc.  Parents need to be aware that their actions now will have an effect on their child’s actions later.

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