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Helping children deal with two homes

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You didn't walk down the aisle thinking your marriage would not work out. Of course, some marriages do reach a breaking point, and the end of the relationship affects more than just you and your spouse. If you have children, they must also adapt to the transition and handle the inevitable emotions that come with it.

Part of the emotional strain for children often comes from your decision to live in separate homes, leaving your children with little choice other than to share time between two homes. While moving from one place to another can be stressful even when a separation or divorce is not part of the plan, moving because of such an event often proves even more emotionally taxing. Here are some steps you can take to help minimize the toll that transitioning between two homes will have on your offspring.

Let the child play an active role in the process

Your child will probably feel more comfortable about transitioning to a new space, at least part of the time, if he or she can play an active role in decorating and arranging their new space. Allow your child to pick out new paint, bedding and furniture to help give a new room personal appeal. The goal is for your child to feel comfortable and be less likely to resist traveling from one parent's home to the other.

Make sure your child does not live out of a suitcase

The less your child's second home feels like a hotel, the better. No one wants to pack up and carry all their gear to and from one home to another at regular intervals. Reduce the time your child spends doing so by making sure he or she has ample clothing and toiletries at both locations. Younger children will likely also feel more comfortable if they have beloved toys, games and stuffed animals easily accessible at both homes.

Place a picture of your ex-partner in the new room

If you are like many people going through a divorce or separation, your ex-partner's smiling face may be the last thing you want to view. If you can look beyond your own emotions, however, placing a photo of your old partner in your child's new bedroom can help your child feel more at ease. If your child is older, he or she may also appreciate the effort you made on his or her behalf and take it as a sign that, no matter what, your child comes first.

As a parent, you want to do everything to protect your child from harm. Following a few of these tips can help, but you know your children best. Do not be afraid to find your own ways to help your children adjust to a new situation.

For more about how to help ease your child into life post-separation or divorce, consider contacting an attorney.

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