As a divorcing parent, you’re concerned about how your child will adjust to you and your co-parent living apart and to moving between two homes. You may assume you know what’s most important to your child, but have you asked them?
Not long ago, the New York Times did just that. They asked kids of varying ages what made a difference to them when their parents split up and they needed to adjust to living in a new home part of the time (or maybe two new homes if both parents moved). Some of the insights gained can benefit all co-parents.
Younger kids are often most concerned with what’s going to happen to their most treasured belongings, like their LEGOs. They just want to know they’ll be there and that they’ll have a space to play with them no matter which parent they’re with.
Letting them help decide what their new space looks like
For older kids, having some say in where they live (for example, being involved in the new home search) can provide them with a sense that they haven’t lost all control over their lives. Kids also want to be involved in decorating their new bedroom. One co-parenting expert says, “Physical space is a concrete representation of emotional space.”
Depending on their age and maturity, you can let your child choose anything from bedding to furniture to paint colors and more for their room and for other spaces in which they’ll be spending time. Even if your child will only be in your home on the weekends, it’s important that they don’t feel like a visitor.
It may be helpful to include some provisions in your parenting plan regarding items to have in both homes (such as toiletries, wardrobe basics and electronics) can help. It’s also important to help them feel excited about your co-parent’s new home, no matter how much you might want to criticize it. Helping your child feel at home regardless of which home they’re in can make a big difference in how well they adjust to their new family dynamic.