Was “Improve Co-Parenting” one of your New Year’s resolutions? If so, kudos on your good intentions to address this important aspect of your life (and your child’s life!) after divorce. Unfortunately, most resolutions are a distant memory by February. What’s the difference between those that fail and those that stick?
As author Deanna Conklin-Danao, Psy.D, points out in her article “Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution” in DivorceMagazine.com, research shows that people fail at resolutions that are overly broad or complex. We are much better at keeping resolutions based around a few goals that are small and time specific.
It might not seem as though this approach is “enough” to make a difference, but having small, manageable goals could prove more successful than you think. That’s because small things tend to add up to the big things.
When it comes to improving co-parenting, Conklin-Danao recommends that you:
- Identify what you can control. We are responsible for our own actions, with limited control over many situations.
- Be specific about what you intend to change. Good examples are “I will be less emotionally reactive to my ex,” or “I will be on-time for my parenting pick-ups.”
- Understand obstacles and work them into your plan. We can hope for best-case scenarios in which the world cooperates with us, but usually, we can anticipate common hurdles, such as rush-hour traffic.
- Create a plan. What are three ways of handling each goal and staying on track? One might be “I will reply to my ex with short, emotionally neutral responses focused on the question or task at hand.” You could also try waiting for a set number of minutes before replying and find ways to reduce your own feelings of irritation.
- Measure progress. Keep a log to track each and every success and note where you fell short. Monitoring helps us identify patterns.
- Make adjustments. After tracking your progress for a while, maybe you realize leaving 5 minutes earlier is not quite enough on Fridays. Or you discover it’s helpful to distract yourself with music before responding to an irritating text message.
By following this approach, by the end of the year you should be able to look back and see progress toward your overall goal of improving how you co-parent.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Raza & Jones, LLC, can answer the questions many co-parents face during and after divorce. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.