"Throughout this book, I felt Bruce had a secret window into my own life and private thoughts. Many private feelings I am currently dealing with were addressed and revealed in a manner that made me feel it is not only normal, but I am truly not alone in this. I was surprised that I cried while reading it and the comfort that the words brought me. I read tons of self-help books, among other types of books, and this book actually gives me hope and things to look forward to. My tears were from the fact that I am facing the words I read. I have been getting negative feedback from outside sources and these words reassured me not to listen, keep them out of your life and do what is right. The section on the other home/parent opened my eyes and freed me. I did not go into reading this book thinking it would help me on such a deep emotional level." ~Dorothy Justice, Vice Chair-Community Action Partnership

December 1, 2014

12 Steps to Freedom - Based on a True Story

One unforeseen benefit from encountering and embracing these points will be the growth in your relationships with your children.
One of the most, if not thee most difficult times you will endure will be during a marital separation. Going through my divorce with children tested every part of my being and while my divorce wasn't particularly nasty, it wasn't a walk in the park either.  Unknown to me at the time was the real test hadn’t come yet. The larger ordeal would come after the divorce.    

After a one-year separation, it took roughly an additional two years after the final divorce proceedings to work through emotional healing, coping with challenges from their mom, and helping my children acclimate to "
change." The following list is a compilation of steps that I learned and accomplished with my children over the first three years. Achieving this list won’t be easy, but while working through the nonsense and staying your course is vital to your success, the overall outcome with your children is worth it.

One unforeseen benefit from encountering and embracing these points will be the growth in your relationships with your children. It’s hard to see now, but the depth and awareness you find with your children will be profound. Eventually, I went to court and brought my children home full-time. By this time, fortunately, I had already shared mutual understanding, trust, love, and respect with my children. It's the points below, that got us there.

Here are the 12 points to success as you transition with your children:

1. Preparing for Change- LIFE may look disheartening on the surface, but a little deeper, closer look and there’s more than meets the eye. Nothing quite prepares us for this period, but it’s best to do with integrity and dignity. It doesn’t matter how the ex responds to change. It’s now your life moving forward while you go solo.

2. New household status- YOU are the boss of your own domain now. If you haven’t realized this already, this is now the time to take notice. One of the benefits to new single status is doing things your way and for your kids- release the inner voice held over from your ex that says otherwise. Buying new furniture or moving furniture the way you like or buying food for your diet and your cooking preferences is the new you. Change it up!

3. Adjusting to new life- BREAKUPS don't end well, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The pains are still there which may drag up fears about your future, but you’re in a new place now with your new life and new heart- creating new habits, practices, and disciplines is your new norm. A good healthy distraction is your kids. Your children are your primary focus now along with you and career. They are depending on you now more than ever.

4. Integrating into your kid’s lives- RELATIONSHIPS with your children have new meaning regardless of your status prior to divorce; you have new opportunity to build deeper bonds merely from the additional individual closeness and time together. Your consistency here will develop a connection naturally over time.  This is irreversible. Eventually you will see how your relationships with your children deepen and you grow into a changed person with your new perspective.

5. Working past the ex, negativity, and games- DIVORCE means the negativity can stop now- this was your married life, there's no reason to funnel or amplify the past. You went through the hassles of the divorce negotiations, so don’t get entangled or prolong the anxiety. Don’t react, but rather respond. No matter what you hear through small lips, defuse immature tactics with your warm persona, hugs, kisses, and smile with your children. It’ll be hard to hear, among other things, but do this as a rule and show your loved one through example- no muss no fuss.

6. Moving forward- HORIZONS are your new outlook. If you put too much emphasis on the other camp or keep looking back, you’ll only distract yourself from what’s really important in front of you. Stay focused on your kids in your household. It doesn’t matter what the other party is doing or saying- play out your new life designed to benefit your children and you. Play by the rules and play nice with the ex- honor the decree and enforce when necessary. When it comes to holidays or that special parenting day comes around annually, be flexible.

7. Building structure- PROCESSING divorce is a time that is confusing for everyone. Add stability back into your kid’s lives by developing and building a framework of consistency and predictability into your home life. Structure is vital to your child’s long-term emotional health. Allocate times for important milestones in your day- such as playtime, meals, homework, bath, bed, etc.

8. Developing rituals with your children- DEVELOP your family rituals. Here are some examples. By developing and bringing rituals into our home, we develop an accord. Family rituals provide opportunity for re-affirming and developing family values, faith, and life experiences. These experiences are a hidden reinforcement everything is going to be ok.

9. Being a reliable resource – PRIORITIES are your children first. Share your intel: cell#, email, skype id, facetime id etc.. Communicate frequently and often with your children on your plans, travel, work, and schedule changes as though nothing has changed accept your living arrangements. Show through example, you will be there when needed. It may help to inform your work in advance you have a new household status and last minute notices may occur for daycare or school, etc as you adjust.

10. Teach your children well -- DIVORCE isn’t the end of the world, obviously. It may bring fears and pains, though don’t let it project onto your kids. You are allowed to grieve as you accept the reality of your situation.  However, your kids have so much more to learn from how you accept change and define your life as you move forward to a brighter, deeper, future together. 

11. Staying positive – EMOTIONS mean you will and should grieve from loss. Be selective when choosing your battles- look inward for insightful personal change and ownership. You will know when you are whole and complete again. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but you’ll feel it eventually if you employ many of the tricks and tips within. 

12. Sticking with what works – TRUST your parenting. Identify with your personal and parental gifts. If you don’t know what those are, here are a few to consider- love, patience, hugs, smiles, positive notes, holding hands, cooking, learning together, growing together, taking ownership, leading by example, not playing the victim, humor, and thoughtful acts of kindness.

The other camp may not appreciate the bright spots you will develop (and there will be plenty) with your children, but stay the course as outlined above, ignore the chatter, play nice, and everything will be ok- my personal guarantee and stamp of approval lies within.

My book, "Parenting After Divorce: Rebuilding Your Life and Reaffirming the Relationships that Matter", is based in whole from these concepts and therefore my successes. Join my awareness program that correlates and supports the same strategies and philosophies. You can learn more about this program here and provide input or feedback based on your very unique circumstances. 

Bruce Buccio counsels and mentors single and co-parents professionally in Parenting, Relationships, Personal Growth and Life Changes. Bruce is Mediator, Court Appointed Child Advocate. Bruce writes today about inspiration, growth and love.

© 2014- Bruce Buccio


  1. One of the foremost benefits that the parties to mediation achieve is the communication skills necessary to effectively achieve agreement with their spouse. This may sound simple and not that meaningful an achievement, but the process of learning how to “get to yes” is just like any other talent. The way it develops is through 3 key elements.

    Practice, practice, practice. Once the parties to a divorce have been through the process, have spent the time reasoning with one another, they oftentimes find that there is a carry-over and they can more easily deal with other issues as they present during their ongoing relationship. People often tell us that they have never before experienced this sort of give and take with their partner. It is a great set of skills to cultivate.

  2. I realize this recent comment is only spam, but lets appease this situation if only for my readers on the subject of mediation. For those who've been through a divorce know things aren't all that they seem going into divorce. The other party will have a vast array of emotions and stories as I learned going through mediation. All I could do was watch with disbelief. Im not saying mediation is bad. Just in my case, After the divorce, things turned for the worst when the other party didn't appreciate my healthy involvement with my kids. This unforeseen occurrence couldn't and wouldn't have been broached in mediation. It was these kinds of challenges which allowed my personal growth with my children and determined our path together is the message this blog post is truly about.

  3. Reality bites. However, as parents, we have to get back on our feet after a huge ordeal for the sake of our children. The first stages of being divorced are naturally tough. You will be vulnerable and emotionally unstable at some point. The only way to pass by these stages is to focus on the things that matter most. Prioritize your kids, your parents, your friends, and yourself.

    Louisa Matsuura

  4. Yes! Change and Challenge = Growth. Keep things which matter most in front of you. Life really doesn't stop for anyone. Keeping moving, grieve yet stay focused. Its difficult to see early on, but things get better and most importantly we become a bigger, better person.

  5. After going through a divorce, it’s your children that you need to give the most priority to. Of course, you were not the only who was being affected by the situation. Your kids were probably the ones who are most affected by it. It may really affect them psychologically, so you must give your full attention to them. Make sure they know that you are and always will be by their side.

  6. Great article and detail on how to get through this rough patch. I know clients tend to struggle with how to move forward post-divorce. Laying it out and sharing how you coped will help others move forward!

  7. Fantastic article on transitioning after a divorce. Particularly enjoyed the segment on moving forward, "HORIZONS are your new outlook. If you put too much emphasis on the other camp or keep looking back, you’ll only distract yourself from what’s really important in front of you. Stay focused on your kids in your household."