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Helping Kids to Adjust to Living in Two Households

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 19 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Children Kids Parents Break-up

It is not at all uncommon for kids to split their time between the homes of their parents, yet making the transition from living in one place all of the time to having two residences can take a bit of adjustment. With the help of their parents and stepparents, though, kids can learn to feel right at home in both of their homes.

Breaking the News of a Break-Up

Even in households where the adults are always bickering with one another, kids may be taken by surprise when their parents decide to go their separate ways. When they’ve grown accustomed to disagreements, many children learn to accept them as a way of life, never assuming that the disharmony at home would signal the break up of their parents’ relationship.

Because the children may not be able to see it coming, parents need to prepare themselves for a great number of questions and some heartfelt objections when they break the news of their separation to their children. It’s important that they refrain from going into too many details or involving their children in personal disagreements, but kids will need to understand why their parents have decided to end their relationship.

A general answer of growing apart or wanting different things out of life will usually suffice, especially for younger children who aren’t yet able to understand the complexities of adult relation ships. No matter their ages, children need to be assured that they are still loved by both of their parents and that care will be taken to see that the transition is made with as little disruption as possible to the kids’ lives and routines.

Making Gradual Changes to the Children’s Lives

When one parent moves out of the home and kids are allowed to remain, their adjustment is likely to be smoother than if they are uprooted soon after the break-up. Children often take comfort in the familiar, so when possible, parents should try to keep from disrupting their children’s existing schedules any more than is necessary.

Being able to remain at their same school and keep in contact with their friends can help kids to cope with the changes that are happening within their families, so if the parents are able, it is easiest on the children if the two homes are in close proximity to one another.

Giving Kids their Creature Comforts

Most children take pride in their rooms and find them to be places where they can relax with all of their favourite things surrounding them. When one of their parents moves out, their new place will feel strange and unfamiliar to the kids for while, but there are things that parents can do to make their homes more welcoming to their children.

Setting aside a room for the children so that they have their own area when they visit is ideal, but not all parents have the space to dedicate a room for their children who will not be living with them the majority of the time. Even when space is limited, though, it is important for children to have the sense that they are welcome visitors, so parents must make some accommodations to ensure that their children can bring along some of their favourite comfort items.

Working Together as Partners in Parenting

Even after the end of their romantic relationship, parents need to remember that because they share children, they will always have a partnership of sorts. Couples who are able to put their differences aside to work together in raising their children give the kids the gift of a happy family as well as providing them with positive role models for behaviour during difficult times.

With the help and support of both of their natural parents, and stepparents, if they are in the picture, kids can feel welcomed and well loved by all of the important adults in their lives, no matter where they may call home. And after all, that’s the most important goal.

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