This is a guest post by author Ellen Kellner.

Have you ever had a "first day of school" nightmare? Dream analysts cite that "first day of school" dreams are common throughout a person's life. That feeling of being unprepared or lost is powerful. So, while your child appears fixated on supplies, clothes, and friends, remember that these may mask underlying concerns or insecurities. For kids dealing with divorce on top of worry over teachers, peers, and whether or not they have the right notebook, back-to-school can be especially stressful.

What does divorce have to do with back-to-school?

Of course you'll communicate to your child that you will make sure he or she has the needed supplies and the clothes to wear, that you'll keep track of important information like the bell schedule, bus information, orientation time, and cafeteria offerings. By acknowledging to your child that all of these things will be handled by you, you allow your child peace.

Divorce should have nothing to do with any of that, right? Good parenting skills are absolute and are not corrupted by marital status, but be aware that "ex" distractions can happen. Be purposeful in keeping your focus on your child. Through all of the back-to-school situations, make sure you purposefully listen more to your nurturing heart than to the divorced chatter in your mind. Here are some back-to-school situations and the options you have for dealing with each.

School Supply Shopping

When you're divorce focused…

You send an email to your ex in front of your child, prodding your ex to do something involving spending his or her time and/or money. Your child understands, without your saying a word, that you're focused on making the other parent step up and do the right thing (or demonstrating once again that he/she won't). With no plans and no supplies in hand, your child feels vulnerable.

When you're child focused…

You say to your child, "I promise you we'll get everything you need so that you're ready for school." You make arrangements with your child to take him or her supply shopping and you keep the date. Privately, you update your ex on your plans, making room for any involvement that he or she may want to have. Your child smiles and feels secure.

School Orientation

When you're divorce focused…

You check the visitation schedule to see if the school event falls on your night or your ex's night. You tell your child that it's not "your night" and you send an email to your ex telling him/her that he needs to attend (or demonstrating that his failure to attend is noted). You may or may not mention to your child whether or not you'll be going. Your child feels wholly unimportant and is uncertain whether someone will be there for him or her.

When you're child focused…

You check the school calendar to see when orientation and back-to-school nights are scheduled. You put them on your calendar and tell your child that you'll be there. You also send a link to your child's other parent so that they have the same opportunity to schedule the event. You tell your ex that you are planning on attending. You offer to pick up copies of important information for him/her if he can't make it, and you offer to take your child if it falls outside of your regular night. You can't make your ex attend and you can't make your ex take your child, but you can make it a priority for you to attend and share important tidbits. Your child is secure in knowing that you'll not be missing out on important information and you will be meeting the teacher and friends.

Back-to-School Night

When you're divorce focused…

You spend the entire school function glaring at your ex. You make it abundantly clear to your ex, and to your child, that you are not pleased. Maybe you're not pleased that he invited his girlfriend along. Maybe you're irked that he wore the shirt you bought him when married. You go through the motions of the event and may even get some satisfaction out of your ex missing the sign-up sheets. You comment to your child that YOU signed-up for snacks but her other parent did not. Your child leaves disappointed and drained.

When you're child focused…

You attend the school functions fully focused on your child. You smile. If your ex is able to attend, you include your ex (and any others) in your child's world. You have your child show all of you her classroom, teacher, and friends. You pay attention to any parental sign-ups for field-trips, snacks, or conferences and share any opportunities with your ex and significant others. You then tell your child, "I signed up for snacks in March so you'll have to let me know what you'd like, plus, dad and I scheduled your conference time for after work so that we can both attend." Your child feels loved.

Your child needs you! She needs you to say, do, and keep track of the right things. Remember back to your school days and look at your child with compassion. You have been there, you do know what it was like, and you do know that feelings of uncertainty are mixed in with the excitement. Do everything you can to support your child through this life transition and assure him or her that you will say, do, and keep track of the right things. You don't do this because you're divorced, you don't try to make your ex do this because you're divorced, you do this simply because you wish to nurture your child — and through divorce, you'll be extra mindful to stay focused on your child.

Ellen Kellner is the author of The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex, which focuses on mindful-divorced parenting. She is currently busy buying back-to-school supplies and keeping school schedules straight. Learn more on the Pro-Child Way website .