5 New Year Habits of Mind for the Divorced Dad

As divorced dads we have survived the holidays. Whether we were with family or trying to make it through on our own, we are now on the other side. The New Year has begun. Here are 5 things to consider when planning out our new beginnings. These are not resolutions. Resolutions tend to be broken. These are habits, frames of mind that can guide our choices in the new year.

One. We will be better about NOT reacting when triggered by our ex.

As the old saying goes, “They know which buttons to push, because they installed them.” And we know that low down feeling we get in our gut when they say just the right thing to raise our ire and our defenses. However, in the New Year, we will get better at recognizing when we are triggered. We will get better at taking a pause before hitting send. We will get better at ignoring those interactions that create conflict with no real benefit to us or our kids.

Two. We will make our kids’ needs the focus of our choices.

If we are in a high conflict situation with our ex, we should keep our communications to a minimum. They should focus only on the needs of the kids, and/or shared finances. Remember to view any potential decision from the point of view of the kids. What do they need? Remember that you do not have to be right, and your ex does not have to be wrong. The only thing that matters is that the kids’ needs are met.

Three. We will take better care of our own needs.

Very often our marriages fall apart because needs, on both sides, have not been met. In the New Year you will no longer ignore your needs. Your kids are the priority, but you come in at a close second. Take care of your mental health needs. Take care of your physical and health needs. Take care of your professional needs. Take care of your spiritual, sexual, and relationship needs. Make the new year the “year of you”.

Four. We will find at least one way to grow.

Taking care of our own needs often requires a level of discomfort. It is in discomfort that we learn and grow. When I first separated I pushed myself to join a few new social groups in order to rediscover my social self, which had often been suppressed during my marriage. What will you push yourself on this year? Where will your learning take you this year?

Five. We will blog more and bitch less.

As life happens (taking care of the kids, work, depression, laziness, conflicts with the ex, etc.) our positive mind sets disappear. We begin to fall into bad habits and cycles that are unproductive and unhealthy. For me, one of those bad habits has been ignoring my blog. Like Dubledore’s penseive this blog was one way to remove ruminating thoughts and protect those around me from the small types of complaints. The types that build up over time and begin to poison relationships. What will you do to keep bad habits at bay?

Recovering from divorce takes time and effort. The New Year is an opportunity to take stock of where we are in our recovery and make proactive choices about what we want out of our new life. These aren’t resolutions. These are self-reflective habits of mind that can lead us into a healthy future. Where will you start your new beginning?

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