There are many changes and transitions that must be dealt with by Illinois families in the midst of divorce proceedings. The earliest stages of the process can be especially confusing for children as they adjust to the idea of two separate households. Moving from home to home can seem like an upheaval in the day-to-day lives of children of all ages, but parents can work together to ease the transition and ensure that children feel comfortable whether they are at mom’s or dad’s home.
1. Let the child have an opinion
When the courts determine child custody arrangements, a child may feel out of the loop. When establishing a new home, it is important to include that child in some of the decisions. Allowing him or her to help with the decorating of a new bedroom can provide a sense of control and ownership for the new space.
2. Maintain familiarity
Whether setting up a new household or changing the arrangements in an existing one, it is important that a level of familiarity is maintained. Too much change can be overwhelming for children. Incorporating some favorite items that a child recognizes at both homes can help with reassurance.
3. Prepare the child for change
Depending on visitation schedules, a child may be required to move between houses rather frequently. Talking openly with a child before leaving one parent’s home for the other can help him or her anticipate the change, making the transition easier on both parents and child.
4. Resist competition
It is not always easy for divorced parents to listen to their child speak excitedly about the other parent’s home. However, trying to one-up the other parent can cause more change for the child to have to deal with. Competition between parents is easily noticed by children, so it is best to resist feeling jealous or making a child feel guilty.
5. Establish a routine
Children thrive when a routine is in place. Parents should work to establish routines in both homes that let the child know what to expect no matter which home he or she is staying in. A favorite meal each time the child return or a special game played each time he or she visits can help to create a sense of normalcy in both the family home and the new home.
Dual residency is not always an easy transition for children, but divorced parents can create comfortable homes for the family by being aware of the special needs of each child, and by being conscientious of the other parent.Go Back <<