One of the hardest things for children who are in the middle of their parents' divorce is adjusting to their new living arrangements. As frightening and stressful as watching their parents fight and argue over everything may be, it can be even harder and more stressful for kids to adjust to living in two homes.
No matter what happens with the child custody and parenting time agreements, children should feel safe, secure, loved and at home in both households. Fortunately, there are ways parents can prepare their kids for living in two homes.
Give them their own room
Children need familiarity to feel comfortable. Parents should give their kids their space in their homes where they can keep their things. They should be able to arrange their spaces any way they want. Ideally, their rooms should be set up similarly in both households so they will feel less stressed and uncomfortable about staying with either parent.
Keep the conflict away
Though the parents may still be in the midst of a divorce battle, they should work on being polite, respectful and cordial to each other, especially during pickup and drop-off times. Reducing the amount of conflict that is present when the kids switch homes makes it easier for them to adjust to their new routines and going back and forth between residences.
Stick to the visitation schedule
It is important for both parents to stick with the parenting time schedule. When emergency situations come up, they should not call and cancel their time with their kids. They also should not assume that it is okay to leave the kids with their other parent longer than expected without talking things over first. The parenting time schedule must be honored to keep the kids from developing an unfavorable view of or reliance on one parent over the other.
Create similar rules in both households
Parents should work together so they can establish similar rules between their homes. There should be logical consequences in place for when children act out. The children may spend more time at one parent's house than at the other's, but both parents should work towards maintaining a safe and stable environment in their homes to show their kids that they are committed to working together for their benefit.
Raising kids in two households can be difficult. But with the right considerations and adjustments, as well as a solid parenting plan developed with an attorney's assistance, it is possible to make the transition an easier one for the children.