Children Moving Between Two Households
Ellie M. McCann, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency
Revised October 2009; reviewed January 2012.
If you have children who are living or moving between two households, there are things for you to consider to help make the transition smoother. For instance, understanding their temperament and how they deal with change impacts how you as a parent should react and respond during transition times. Which of these three types fits your children’s personalities?
- Is your child an easy child, one who responds well to change?
- Is your child one who resists change and lets you know it?
- Is your child slow-to-warm up, one who needs more time to get used to new situations?
Your children may show anxiety before going to the other parent's home. Realize their anxiety is probably due to a new routine. Keeping your children's temperament in mind, look at these tips for helping your children transition to the new routine:
- Help them pack. Let them decide on a few familiar things that will make them feel comfortable in either home.
- Reassure your children. Let them know that both parents love them.
- Tell them you will never leave them.
- Talk positively about time they’ll spend with the other parent. This will help them see the importance of being with both parents and know it's okay to go.
- Pick up your children during a natural transition time in their day. Before or after an activity is a time they are used to switching gears.
- Pick up your children without starting an argument with the other parent. If you can't, find a place such as school or daycare where you won’t have to interact with the other parent.
- Explain how long they will be with the other parent.
- Use a calendar. It helps show when they are in different households.
- Don't make your children messengers.
- Keep the focus on the children. When you ask about their time in the other home, don't try to get information about the other parent.
To help support relationships with both parents, you may also be interested in Creating a Parenting Plan.
Creating a Parenting Plan — Parenting plans are essential tools for coparents in keeping their children’s best interests at heart after a family transition. Get tools, like We Agree: Creating a Parenting Plan, and guidance on creating a parenting plan for your own family. Some resources in Spanish.
Grandparents and Kin Raising Children — Review some of the more common problems that occur when grandparents or kin raise children. Resources are available to help families in this situation.