You are a newly divorced parent and managed to survive the holidays. Now it is one month into the New Year and it seems like there are a whole new set of obstacles ahead. The magic of the holidays is over, the kids are back in school, homework needs to be checked, deadlines at work need to be met, and maintaining civility with your former spouse has been a challenge.
If the divorce did not go as smoothly as either one of you hoped, now is a good time to sit down and think about what it is you want to accomplish and how to handle the challenges you are facing. As co-parents, it is imperative to create the healthiest environment for your children, especially during family transitions. The following are a few helpful tips on how to create some post-divorce resolutions and stick to them:
- Make it your goal to speak respectfully with your former spouse even when your children are not present. This will help to create a healthy habit for communicating while co-parenting. If you always assume your children are aware of the words you are exchanging with your former spouse and the emotions you are experiencing, you will not only prevent unintentional exposure to name-calling and other undesirable communications, but also you will set an example for your children to follow.
- Remain open-minded about scheduling time with your children. If something comes up and needs to be changed, make an effort to remain calm and civil about the situation, especially in front of the children.
- Give your children credit where it is deserved. If they live with and maintain relationships with a step-parent or siblings, make sure to remind them how loved and important they are to you and your former spouse.
- Counseling is never a bad idea. It is common for people to struggle with emotions and relationships during and following family transitions and often the help of professional counselor or social worker can help work through such issues. Children are very perceptive and may pick up on tensions or emotions and counseling may help better equip you for moving forward in a healthier way.
- Do not talk badly about your former spouse in front of your children. This can lead to confusion for the child, a lack of trust of both parents, and feeling like he or she needs to choose a side.
- Remain open-minded and listen to your children when they express feelings about the divorce or separation. They are entitled to opinions and expressing their feelings is healthy.
- No matter how upset, sad, or stressed you are, it is important that you continue to put your children’s needs before your own. There will be days where this will seem near impossible and that’s okay– just keep pushing forward. Whether they show it or not, your children will be thankful.
- If you are moving to a new home, keep in mind the time your children will be spending with their other parent. Living within a short distance may be easier on everyone.
- Keep your children’s teachers up to speed with what is happening outside of school. The teachers don’t need to know every last detail of the divorce, but can certainly be more helpful inside the classroom if they are aware of what your children are going through at home.
- After you are done putting your children’s needs ahead of your own, make sure you are finding things to do that you enjoy. Whether it is picking up a new hobby, meeting with friends more often, treating yourself to a day of relaxation, or simply having some quiet time to yourself–you deserve it.
Family transitions are never easy and can be quite difficult on every member of the family. Keeping a few of these tips in mind may help to keep you and your children healthy and happy.