New Year’s resolutions are important—especially in families touched by divorce. Here are a few more to consider.
Resolve to make new friends
The friends you had before your divorce may have disappeared after it. Or chosen sides (and not yours). Don’t waste your energy trying to win them back—they aren’t worth it. Now’s the time to make new friends. Throw a block party, invite a neighbor for coffee, get involved with the PTA, join a Sunday School class, volunteer for a charity. Find your niche and fill it. The new friends you make along the way will be a bonus.
Resolve to travel where you want to go
This is the best part about being divorced — you can go where you want, when you want, and with whom you want. No one can throw a wet blanket over your vacation suggestions. Go it alone if you have to, but go. Go forth and see the world, even if it’s only the next town over.
Resolve to make sure your children know they are loved
Reassure them often that your divorce is absolutely not their fault. Don’t make unrealistic promises out of guilt that you can’t or won’t keep. Your children must know they can trust you to keep your promises—which will go a long way towards helping them to adjust to the divorce. If you make a promise and later realize you can’t keep it, be honest and direct about it. Your children need to know they are loved and can count on you.
Resolve to be consistent
Children of divorce need routine, consistency, and structure. Don’t uproot your children or make too many unnecessary changes to their schedules and daily routines. If your children share time between two households, it is important to put aside differences with your ex-spouse and maintain similar rules in both homes. Resist the temptation to relax or bend rules while your children are coping with the divorce because in the long run, it can cause more problems. Minimize change as much as possible.
Resolve not to use your children as pawns
Don’t enlist your children as messengers regarding custody, visitation, or financial matters. These issues should be addressed directly with your ex-spouse or through your lawyers. Don’t pump your children for information or use them as spies. This will cause them to feel undue pressure and put them on edge. Most important, don’t use your children as pawns to hurt your ex-spouse. It is bad form that will make you look bad as well. Not only is it unfair, it can cause resentment and emotional issues down the road. It also can negatively affect parenting agreements or cause legal issues.
Sonya B. Coffman is a Board Certified divorce, custody, and family lawyer in Beaumont, Texas. She regularly tries jury and non-jury divorce, custody, and property cases—including those involving New Year’s resolutions that have been broken.