How to Make Kids Feel at Home in Both Houses After a Divorce


But think broadly about what makes a place a home.

“The main thing for the visiting child is that they feel part of the family, and that other family members see them that way too,” Dr Blackstone said, explaining that you should entrust chores to your child, even if they only visit occasionally.

My parents divorced when I was little, and when I was little, it bothered me that when I went to my father’s house, we only had grape jelly and white bread, probably what my beautiful -family preferred. I’m a strawberry and whole wheat type of person, and not having that made me feel like a visitor, not an integral part of the house. A request from the 11-year-old self: If you become a step-parent and do grocery shopping, ask your step-kids what kind of food they want in the fridge.

This can be a bit controversial, but forget about having the same rules in both rooms. If you and your ex could agree on how to parent, you probably wouldn’t divorce. Also, while I may be slightly traumatized by the grape jelly situation, I can confirm that I grew up with totally different rules in my parents’ homes, and it didn’t affect me. My dad allowed us to stay up late, watch R-rated movies and not shower too much – brilliant.

Ms Ross said safety issues aside, when parents try to have the same rules in both homes it leads to unnecessary conflict. Parents who fight over things like chores or bedtimes, she says, risk forcing children to choose a side and possibly feeling disloyal to the other parent.

Some fear it could cause confusion, but Ms Ross said she thought the children could handle it.

“Children live with different rules all the time,” she said. “The rules at school are slightly different from the rules at home, and they adapt to that.”

A reader asked that we explain how divorced parents who have young adult children should handle this.

Dr Blackstone said it can be upsetting and confusing for those whose parents separate while they are at university. “Imagine coming home on vacation and not knowing where to go,” she said.


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