I have written many times about resolutions for the New Year, that are designed to promote better co-parenting with your ex-spouse. It’s an important topic for you and your children, all the time, but for most of us, the start of a new year is the time when we give pause and reflect on how to be better versions of ourselves.
Regardless of how you feel about your former husband or wife, the two of you can agree on the fact that you love the children, the two of you brought into the world together, more than anything. After all, our children are the most important thing in our lives and, thus, they deserve the most attention when we are focusing on resolutions. So, in the new year, while you are making resolutions, to do such things as exercise more, eat healthier, or save more money, why not include a child-centric resolution that benefits your kids? One of the greatest gifts you can give your children this year, is a better version of you. By making positive changes in yourself this year, you will, undoubtedly, improve your relationship with your child’s other parent.
There are no easy fixes for improving your relationship with your child’s other parent, even for the benefit of your child. So where should you begin? As I have said many times, while we cannot change our ex’s behavior, we can change our own conduct. That is where we, as parents, must begin and here are a few do-able resolutions that will help us to, not only be better parents, but better co-parents in the new year:
- Take Stock: It’s a brand, new year; why not be completely honest with yourself and take stock in the qualities that you would like to improve in yourself? Rather than resolve to make more money or lose some weight, why not resolve to improve your character, instead? For instance, if you have a quick temper, why not develop strategies to stay calm in situations that trigger your temper? If you know you are judgmental, why not try to be less so, by understanding that none of us walk in the shoes of another and, therefore, we never truly know why someone else behaves the way they do? If we find we are too critical of ourselves, why not quiet the mind chatter that does not serve us? Brutal honesty, and a commitment to change, is the only way improvement can be achieved. Once you make that commitment, you need to spend time figuring out exactly which strategies to employ, regularly, in order for change to occur. You may decide to employ the services of a therapist, or a regular yoga or meditation practice. There is no “one size fits all” fix to make the positive change occur. Keep in mind that however you decide to make a positive change, you, absolutely, need to firmly commit to living that change, every day. Commitment to self-improvement, will not only benefit ourselves, but it certainly benefits our children and everyone else we come into contact with. That includes our ex.
- Our “Best” List: After you take stock in the qualities you want to change, why not take stock in your best qualities? Ask yourself how your best qualities help you to be a better parent. For instance, if you are a kind person, how can you use this attribute to help your child more? If you are a creative person, how can you put this talent to work in a way that benefits your child? Giving more of our best selves helps us to come from a healthy place that provides our children with a solid and safe foundation, which, by extension, lessens the stress of your child’s other parent, not to mention all of the other people in our lives. Commit to a daily practice that includes building and honing your own, unique, gifts.
- Be Kind: All of us have experienced good and bad times in our lives. Few experiences are tougher than going through a divorce with minor children. So be kind to yourself and recognize that where you are today, is exactly where you need to be in this moment. We all deserve a break, because life is hard enough. Go in to the new year with a kind and gentle attitude about yourself. We can certainly give ourselves some grace, while looking to make changes that put our children, the innocent bystanders of our divorce, first.
Commitment to self-care and self-improvement this year is a goal we should all have. Beginning with a better self will almost always bring about positive changes in everyone close to you. You will be amazed by just how changing things in yourself (improving on the negative and pumping up the positive) makes your former wife or husband a better parent, too.