- Written by Kevin Hickey
Maybe you are newly divorced or maybe you have been divorced for several years the New Year is a good time to reconcile to make things better between you and your spouse. Although the two of you will most likely never see eye to eye on everything and there will always be a bit of tension between you, you can resolve to make the situation better for your children since they are the common tie that will forever bind the two of you.
- Put your personal feelings aside for the betterment of your children. This means don’t talk negatively about the other parent in front of your children and don’t make them feel guilty for loving the other parent.
- Make your children a priority in your life by investing quality time with them.
- Promise to talk civilly to your ex, especially in front of the children.
- Put your children’s needs before your own. One way to do this is by making sure that visitation pick-ups and drop-offs go smoothly without any arguing.
- If scheduling needs to be changed, speak openly with your ex-spouse about making the changes. An open line of communication eliminates the feeling of manipulation and you may be surprised at what an adult conversation will achieve.
- Be a role model to your children by showing them that even in difficult situations with people you may or may not get along with you can still be respectful of one other. Although the high road can feel lonely, it is always best to take it.
- Whatever you do, under no circumstance, use your child as a messenger or spy. Just let your kid be a kid and enjoy his or her precious time with the other parent.
- There is nothing worse than promising a child you will do something and not following through with it. Understandably, things come up from time to time like work obligations, illnesses, etcetera, but if possible, keep a promise you made to your child. It is important for children to have a trusting relationship especially during their formative years that will affect their behaviors for the rest of their lives and future relationships.
- Reassure your children often that they are loved and that they are NOT the reason for the divorce. It is not uncommon that children blame themselves for a divorce. Without going into all the ugly details, tell your children why the divorce occurred in an age-appropriate manner.
- Let your children be honest with how they are feeling. Do not ever dismiss their grief or anger. They need to time to process that their lives are forever changed as well.
- Give your children stability and consistency in both homes. They need as much of their lives to remain unchanged as possible including discipline and routines. Do not relax or bend rules because you are trying to help your child cope with the divorce. This will ultimately lead to more discipline problems in the future, as they may be tempted to test boundaries and play one parent against the other. Children like routines and consistency as it gives a sense of stability.
- Finally, we understand the hurt that someone has done to you will never be undone, but you can resolve to better yourself by not hanging on to bitterness and anger. In nearly all situations, the person hanging on to the bitterness and anger is often the one that is most hurt. I am reminded of the old saying, “Hanging onto bitterness and anger is likened to that of drinking poison yourself and expecting the other person to die.” Make the New Year a year for you to heal yourself emotionally whether that be therapy, taking a cooking class, learning a new craft, whatever it is, you will be a happier person for yourself and your children. Move boldly into the New Year and stop clinging to past hurts.
Divorce and co-parenting are not easy to navigate, but with a little effort, you can make a bad situation good. Oftentimes, people mirror how they are being treated. If you begin the New Year with a fresh mindset, your former spouse may mirror your behavior. Contact Kevin Hickey Law Partners today for all your family law needs.