Can "nesting" help kids of a divorced family cope better?
Change is hard for emotionally healthy and mature adults in divorced situations. Moving from what was a normal daily life to a new normal always takes adjustment and compromise for the whole family. It also takes time and effort and a willingness to adapt. Is "nesting" a better solution for all involved?
Kids don't have the luxury of time to adjust or often a voice in the decisions that affect them. Their emotions are raw and their life skills are limited. They like their own house. They know their friends in the neighborhood. They know the way to school. They don't have to worry about whether their backpack is at Mom's house or Dad's house. They need the structure of the known when the unknown is occurring all around them daily. 8 Ways To Help Your Children Through Divorce
Shared Custody and Parenting Plans
As I work with families as a parent educator, the hardest time in the day is transition time. It is the the time when the kids are dropped off at day-care, go from dad's house to mom's house, when schedules are interrupted or changed. Some divorced couples have come up with a parenting plan that puts the needs of the children above their own. They recognize that while they may not be able to live together, they are still a family and they work to find ways to make this transition easier on the kids.
Kids Stay in the Nest
To reduce the trauma and transition of the divorce on the children, the parents shuttle back and forth and the kids stay put. This allows the kids to feel that they have some stability in their lives while the parents make major life changes. They maintain their own environment with their things in familiar places as they adjust to the idea that the parents are no longer a unit, but they are still a family.
As I have the opportunity to talk to children who are shuffled from one school, house, neighborhood and group of friends during a divorce, I feel their very real pain and anguish. There has to be a better way. It is not the children who decided to change the family dynamics...so why should they uproot from everything that is familiar?
Divorced or Separated Adults Visit the Nest
A shared custody, nesting arrangement indicates that there is always a loving adult in charge. Many of the parents who are trying it are doing so to lessen the harmful effects of uprooting the kids and also because they can't sell the house in this economy. As parents shuttle or fly back and forth to the nest of children, they are also going through some transition times. It gives them an opportunity to take some time to spend one-on-one bonding with the children, often for the first time in their lives.
Ground Rules for Nesting
This arrangement helps the kids feel more stable and secure, but often involves problems for the parents. It means that three rents or mortgages must be paid, rather than one. It means a civial working relationship and communication between the parents because all sorts of practical considerations come up.
For instance, who buys the groceries? Who gets kids to help at chores and do homework? Who decides curfew times for older kids? Who takes the baby to the pediatrician for shots? Are significant others allowed sleeping over privileges?
Recognize that in all families, plans need to be changed, adjusted, tweaked and started again. There is not one right way to do anything and nesting and co-parenting will be filled with opportunities for compromise and adjustments. If the divorce has been a friendly parting of ways and respectful conversation can be had, the family may be able to set up their own rules together. If not, then either a lawyer or a family counselor needs to be involved to make sure that everyone agrees to try to get along and work towards making this transition as easy as possible for all family members.
1. Is nesting a possible solution that will benefit your children, even though the adults no longer want to live together?
2. Can you and your ex work out a co-parenting plan that will respect the needs of all involved?
3. Are you willing to be the ones in transition so your children will keep the stability of the nest?
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