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Helping children feel they belong in both parents' homes

One of the most difficult parts of co-parenting children after a break-up is transitioning them from one parent's home to the other for visits or custody exchanges. There's a lot of advice out there on how to ease these transitions for kids. As with much parenting advice, a lot of it is contradictory.

For example, some people emphasize the importance of ensuring that your kids pack their bags well enough in advance of going from one home to another that they don't forget something they'll need. Younger kids will need help, while older ones may be able to do it themselves. If they're going to their non-custodial parent's home, it's important for them to take some comforting items, like photos or a favorite toy.

However, other people resist the idea of a child having to take their clothes and other belongings back and forth between their two parents' homes. For one thing, they can end up feeling like a visitor in both places -- certainly in the home where they spend less time. Further, things are always bound to be forgotten at one home or the other.

One contributor to The Huffington Post is a proponent of having two sets of everything at each home -- clothes, toys, games and toiletries, for example. She says that a child should never have to pack a bag to spend time with a parent.

Of course, many divorced parents simply can't afford to buy extra clothes and shoes for their kids (particularly if they're still growing) to have enough for two homes. However, even if they can have a few necessities, like pajamas, toothbrushes, hair brushes and underwear, at their non-custodial parent's home, that can cut down on the amount of packing and help them feel more like they belong no matter which parent they're with.

Source: Huffington Post, "Co-Parents, Please Don’t Pack Your Child’s Suitcase," Candice Curry, accessed April 19, 2017

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