When a child is born it’s a given that parents think about all of the different experiences they’ll share as they watch their new baby grow…and sending them off to college is one of those. At the time, parents think that they’ll be sending their child off to college together. So when divorce happens it throws a curve ball in the mix.
My ex-husband and I both love our daughter with all our hearts and both of us want the best college experience for her…but we can’t stand to be in the same room together and our parenting styles are very different.
So when it came to sending her to college we had some ups and downs. This article is written in hopes to inspire other co-parenting divorcees on how to send their kids off to college even though they can’t get along.
Agree to Disagree – The first thing that we did was agree to disagree about our parenting styles and to leave decisions as to where our daughter wanted to attend college, live and what to study up to her. We agreed to guide and direct and then stand back and watch her make the final choices. Easier said than done? Absolutely! But I’m glad to say that we were able to pull it off with no blood shed.
Buying the Right Car – Of course our daughter was going to need a dependable car for college. This is how I did it inexpensively and on my own. (more on why my ex-husband didn’t help pay for it later). Sunday morning I packed up my mini-van with our daughters stuff in tow and drove 7 hours from our small home town to Spokane, Washington where, in my opinion, has one of the most beautiful community colleges in the country, namely, Spokane Falls Community College. This is where my baby will spend her time playing basketball on a full ride scholarship all the while studying for a journalism degree. Like many parents, one of the things I promised our daughter before she started college is to buy her a car. So after scouring the internet for used cars I finally found one that seemed dependable and for the right price. You may be surprised to know but it was on Craigslist and being sold by a private party. I have to say that Craigslist came through. I found a beautiful, 2012 Chevy Cruz with all of the bells and whistles..including an OnStar button right in the overhead light area. And the cost? $2,500.00. It had 6 month old all-weather tires, new brakes, new water pump and air conditioner fan. Not to mention its sporty red color and 4 doors. I test drove it and signed the check. I know that many people worry about purchasing a car from Craigslist but when you’re about to spend thousands of dollars on a car, housing, furniture and décor so that your baby feels at home and ready to face the challenges of college you forget about the Craigslist killer and hope for the best. Goal #1, find a car..check!
Housing – As divorced parents, compromise is a word used frequently when co-parenting. So last fall I stayed home and my daughter and her Dad flew to Spokane, Washington to tour the college. After touring the college and dorms, my ex-husband called me and suggested that we get our daughter a house off campus instead of a dorm room. Apparently, the atmosphere concerned him. I, on the other hand wanted her to experience dorm life but I asked my daughter how she felt and she agreed with her Dad. So we went back to the first agreement we made and let her decide. We asked friends and family for suggestions, checked out the college information board and finally found a cute little house for rent. Yes, it’s about a 20 minute drive from the college and at first we thought that it would serve as gas budget suicide but it was a sacrifice we were willing to make. Thankfully I found her a car that gets 35-40 mpg.
One of the things that I’m most proud of during this part of the journey was our ability to compromise so that our daughter didn’t feel like our very different parenting styles was the focus. And we included her in every decision made. Goal #2, find housing…check!
Furnishing Said House – Again with the difference in parenting style. My ex-husband feels that our daughter should buy everything on her own or pay us back for anything we buy her. I disagree. I feel that after setting her up with the necessary items to feel safe and at peace then she can buy the rest…until she needs, not wants something and can’t afford it and then I’ll send her money. True story! So my ex-husband bought her a stun gun, humidifier and did a Costco run for some food, toilet paper and bottled water. I bought her a couch, bedding, dishes, candles, wall decorations, side tables, living room rug, shower curtain, bath soaps and pretty much whatever she found in the department stores that she “had” to have. Yes my friends, that’s the difference between men and women, Moms and Dads. Since we agreed to buy her whatever we felt necessary and didn’t carry an opinion one way or the other it was blissful and we both felt like we were helping her get set up for college life.
Books – Since our daughter received a full ride scholarship for basketball she didn’t need to purchase books. However, we agreed that we would split the cost down the middle if she ended up going somewhere where she did need books. That’s typically what we’ve done with things she’s needed throughout her life and couldn’t see why now would be any different.
There are so many things to think about when sending a child off to college like where to stay, how to buy a dependable car on the cheap and where to shop for the best college housing furniture and décor. But when you’re divorced and co-parenting there are other things to consider like who will fly with her to check out the school and who buys what.
Regardless of what you agree too, please make sure that you think of your child and what they want first…not how you want anything for them other than what your ex wants for them or how much you don’t want them agreeing with your ex. That way you’ll make the experience enjoyable and all that they’ll feel is parental love all around.
Here’s to happy co-parenting to all….ok, civil co-parenting to all. :0)
If you’re looking for some great information on Spokane, Washington colleges and hotels to stay at please check out www.visitspokane.com . It’s a great resource to use when traveling to Spokane, Washington.