The great thing about being a parent is that it never changes. No matter what happens between you and your ex, you will still always be the parent of your children. That means, to a certain extent, there is always the opportunity to improve the relationship you have with your children.

Going through a divorce can be just as difficult on you as a parent as it can be on your children. Asking everyone to transition to a co-parenting situation can make life difficult and leave you feeling like you don’t have the same relationship with your children that you had before the divorce.

Just because the relationship has changed, doesn’t mean that it can’t continue to get better, no matter what your parenting situation. Here are some ideas for reinforcing the bond you have with your children for the new year.

Showing love in a meaningful way

It’s one thing to tell your child that you love them, it’s another to be able to show them that you love them in a way that they understand and is meaningful to them. Author Gary Chapman has written extensively about the five love languages. The love languages are:

  • Giving and receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Affirmative words
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch

When you are trying to determine what your child’s love language is, pay attention to the ways they try to show love to you. Often people will show love in ways that are similar to how they best receive it.

Avoid cancelling plans

Make it a goal this year to, as much as possible, follow through on what you say you will do. It can often be easy to get children to “understand” when you aren’t able to make something happen and it can get easier and easier to take advantage of that. Unfortunately, the more often you ask them to understand why you can’t do what you said you would so, the more your child will be inclined not to trust you.

The best way to do this is to be aware of what you can do, be honest and set a realistic expectation. If your child wants to know if you can come to his soccer game and you aren’t sure, tell them the truth; that you will try, but you don’t know if you will be able to make it. If you already know you can’t, don’t set the expectation that you can and then not show up. It is far easier for your child to understand the truth from the beginning than to process a lie after the fact. No matter how disappointing that truth may be.