It’s increasingly common for children of divorce to live between two homes as shared parental responsibility and equal timesharing(visitation) become prevalent in Florida divorce actions. While these arrangements provide the benefit of meaningful relationships with both parents to children, they can also result in increased stress, as children may feel th
they are living out of a suitcase. Children may struggle with feeling out of place, and the lack of permanency can negatively affect their relationships with their step or half siblings, as well as with their parents.
Parents can help their children adjust to these changes by offering love and support in a variety of ways. It’s important for a child to know that they are a valued and respected member of both households, and not merely a visitor. To ease the frequent transitions your child will face, consider some of the following:
-Establish an arriving ritual. Rituals provide an emotional connection so children can integrate themselves into a different environment. It could be something as simple as a special handshake, a high five or a hug.
-Value and protect each child’s space and belongings. Assign individual storage places, and instruct siblings not to touch other kids’ belongings, even when they’re away.
-Give kids choices when appropriate. Choices empower children and allow them to feel as though they have some control over their lives.
-Assign chores and responsibilities. Children feel welcome and valuable when they contribute to a functioning household.
-Keep a calendar on the refrigerator so there is no confusion on who is coming and going. It may help to sync calendars with your former spouse, as well, so that everyone is on the same page.
-Aim for a time when all the kids are together when planning big family activities. If that’s not possible, take lots of pictures and share memories so your child still feels like they were part of the event.
-Allow children to spend quality alone time with their birth parent. Realize that some extended family will be partial to their biological grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
-Explain what is happening to the children who may feel left out, and let them know that they are special to you.
By making an effort to be sensitive and mindful of the constantly changing dynamic in share, you can give them the stability they need, even when they’re growing up in two different homes.