Because I'm the Mom

How mothering pervades all relationships in life.

Top 10 Divorce Resolutions

It's the Jewish New Year: Let's resolve to have the best possible divorce!

I Resolve to:

1. Breathe First: Whatever you want to say, do, text or post to or about your ex – and in front of your kids – breathe first.

2. Communicate Clearly: So much nonsense gets started because of miscommunication. Share a Google Calendar you all check regularly. Remind each other of important dates or deadlines so nobody messes up and wrecks family rhythm. If you want to say something tricky, send an unemotional, judgment-free text message. We have so many modes of communication these days. Use the ones that best fit your relationships.

3. Don't Let Resentments Build: Something bothering you? Nip it in the bud. Bring it up BEFORE you fight about it to PREVENT fighting about it. If you two can't communicate without professional intervention, ask for a meeting with a mediator or therapist. Having a professional guide you through triggering issue is a great investment in time, money and emotional energy. Write down your agreements and use that as a model for more conflict resolution.

4. Eyes on the Prize: What's your goal? Kids' best interest? Rebuilding your life? Keeping the peace? Is what you are doing and saying, how you are behaving and acting moving toward that goal or pushing you far from it?

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5. Have (Broken) Family Meetings: Remind yourselves and your children that you are still a family, still a team working together, depending on each other. Show your kids you are a united front, unable to be divided and conquered. Meet regularly as parents and as a unit. Raise issues. Solve problems before they explode. Sync your calendars and keep the lines of communication open and flowing.

6. Hold My Tongue: (See Breathe First) Is it worth it? Will saying or doing it help the situation or make it worse? Choose wisely. If you feel yourself slipping you must hang up or walk away. Choose silence. Nod. Smile wanly and SHUT THE DOOR.

7. Respect Time (Even if you don't respect your ex): Don't be late for drop offs and pick ups. If you say you'll call by 8, call by 8.

8. Use 'I' Statements: I know you know this. It's in all the self-help books. So I'm saying it again. When you have to raise a tricky issue related to, ugh, feelings, use 'I' statements, not 'You' statements. For example: "I feel stressed when I haven't heard from you and you are an hour late dropping off the kids," instead of "You are such a jerk about being late."

9. Watch Your Face:Especially the eyes. We all claim we didn't say ONE MEAN THING about our ex to the kids but WHO READS AND EYE-ROLL BETTER THAN A KID?? DUH!!

10. Write It Down (The Divorce Playbook): We are all imperfect human beings who overreact, who forget, who get triggered and act badly, who change our minds and regret decisions. It's just how we're wired. Given that, write everything down. Have a clearly written out Divorce Playbook that outlines specifically all of your joint decisions, made during reasoned discussions. Don't make any new policies or rules in the heat of an argument or crisis. Work together in the spirit of your best parenting partnership to create a Parenting Plan that outlines all the specifics of who pays for what, what holidays are whose, what are all the custody details and what are contingency plans if something changes. Outline clear consequences for anyone not abiding by the rules. And either of you imperfect human beings mess up, when things inevitably break down, try a little tenderness. Chances are if you give it, you'll get some back.

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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