06 Jan Having the Comforts of Home in Each Home Your Children Live
What child doesn’t have a favorite blanket or a beloved teddy bear? We all find comfort in the familiar but it is especially important to children. When parents divorce, children often cling to the things that represent the safety and security of their pre-divorce environment. Forming attachments with physical objects, pets, places, and even plants is totally natural and it is not limited to just children. Visiting the home of my birth, with the trees and surroundings I grew up with always gives me a feeling of strength and warmth. Giving your children the same sense of strength and safety in each of their parent’s homes is vital to their emotional development.
When a parent relocates it is impossible to virtually recreate the surroundings of the family home. But there are things you can do to bring the familiar to your new home and provide an environment for new attachments. Obviously, the first step is to allow children to travel with the more portable things that they are attached to, such as blankets and pillows. But duplicating their bedroom color schemes, bedding, and pictures can be an easy way to make their new bedroom a safe place. Even small details like plants, posters, and rugs can minimize the confusion children feel when introduced into a new place.
Continuity is so essential in a child’s life and every parent should remember that each choice they make when choosing and furnishing their new home should consider what their children are used to. The upheaval of having a second home can be mitigated by still having a green bedroom or still having a poster on the wall. Sometimes the relocating parent, in an effort to create a special place for just themselves and their children, bring a lot of new influences to their new home. Indeed, there should be some elements that do reflect the new family dynamic, like a new living room color and decor can make Mom or Dad’s new place a special place. But care in preserving continuity in the bedroom and bathroom should be a priority.
One of your children’s attachments may be more difficult to maintain in their new second home-the family pet. The attachment your child has with their pet is probably only second to their relationship with their parents and siblings. The strength of this relationship should never be underestimated. But this does pose a special problem for the parent who is moving. Not all residences allow pets or are pet friendly. Traveling from home to home is not always the best decision for pets. One solution is to get your child a new pet in their new second home. If your child’s dog or cat has to stay home and your new place is not pet friendly, give your child a chance to bond with a new pet. Going to a great pet store together to choose a fish tank, a hamster, even a small lizard can be a wonderful bonding experience and introduce children to new pets.
Making choices that provide continuity to your child’s life should be a priority, not a sacrifice. Just as you choose a safe car or a good school, continuity is essential to your child’s development and emotional well-being.
Brian Connor James