Starting a New Year as a divorced parentJanuary 5, 2015
For a constructive beginning to the New Year, consider starting it with a family meeting. A meeting to discuss arrangements for the upcoming year will decrease uncertainty and anxiety for you and your children. Ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak and that their opinions are heard, so that no one feels excluded, and make sure to keep it short. Create a positive atmosphere when arranging the meeting with your family, and present it as an opportunity for genuine progress.
- Decide which key points throughout the year may cause tension in the family and make plans for them in advance. This may include potential holidays abroad, or to other parts of the UK. Time spent with grandparents and the location of the children during school holidays could be included. Family birthdays and other significant events may also need to be planned for and considered in advance. The attendance of parent’s evenings and school meetings could also be discussed with your children.
- Consider asking your children which aspects of the past year they enjoyed the most and which parts they would like to change. This gives them an opportunity to voice their own thoughts and ideas. They will feel that their opinions are valuable and that they have an amount of agency in their family schedule, which is particularly important for older children. It will also demonstrate to your children that you have an interest in their opinions and will give you valuable feedback from them. Try and incorporate, if practical, their wishes into the schedule throughout the year.
- Make sure that someone records the progress made throughout the meeting and notes down the ideas that were discussed. Following the discussion, you and your ex-partner may want to produce a ‘parenting plan’, incorporating the conclusions made between you and your children.
- You could use the meeting as an opportunity to discuss each other’s New Year’s resolutions with regard to your family relationships. You may wish to try to resolve future conflict in constructive ways, spend more time one-on-one with the children, or resolve to keep arguments away from them. Make sure that one-on-one time with your children is prioritised and made a part of the schedule.
- Finally, expect to have to make compromises throughout the year. It will seem difficult at the time, but will ultimately be rewarding for you, and for your relationship with your children, when the conflict between you and your ex-partner is minimised.