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Helping your children adjust to life in two homes

When families break up, life changes dramatically, especially for the children. They must try to understand why this happened and overcome their fears about an uncertain future.

Add to that a big change through having to transition between two homes, and the stress level for children rises. Fortunately, you and the other parent can help them over the rough spots.

Think “familiarity”

Do what you can to make the new home welcoming. Add familiar touches to help your children acclimate; anything from a nightlight placed in a child’s bedroom, just as it is at the old house, to favorite books or movies, to a basketball net set up on the driveway. Make sure that beloved items like favorite pajamas or a teddy bear are always packed and ready to go back and forth between homes.

Keep matching calendars

If everyone is on the same page, transitioning between homes will go more smoothly. To this end, keep dual calendars so your children can easily see where they will be on what days or dates. In addition to highlighting the time they will spend with one parent or the other, put down events they can look forward to and extracurricular activities they will participate in plus any appointments that are coming up.

Set rules

Children thrive on routine and need to know what each parent expects of them. You and the other parent should establish rules to be followed in both homes. For example, set the same time for dinner at both homes, and the same time for doing homework. Also, make it clear that when children want approval for something, they should not seek permission from one parent when the other parent has said no. Outside of the rules that are common to both households, children should follow the rules and routines established by respective parents.

Seek support when you need it

A family law attorney will tell you that serious misunderstandings and unexpected obstacles can turn up even in the best laid plans for dealing with children in a post-divorce world. Remember that you can reach out for legal counsel to help you help your children.

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