How my children deal with their two-household world

After years of post-divorce bouncing back and forth between two households, it’s very interesting to see how each of my children has adapted and learned how to cope with the inevitable disruption in different ways. None have made friends in the local neighborhood, for example, but each has their own strategy too.

My oldest, who is 17 and is just a month or two away from being able to drive solo totes school books back and forth but otherwise has two completely independent worlds, from food to clothes. Her point of commonality is the Internet, as accessed both through her iPhone and her laptop. Once she’s driving, her car — and trunk — will doubtless become her portable house and closet, though it might take a while for her to realize that’s an option.

For my 14yo son, he’s focused more on duplication and on understanding the differentiation between our homes. At Mom’s house, for example, he has a compound bow and various knives that he enjoys on their many untamed acres, while at my house the garage has both his bicycles (yes, he has two), his lacrosse gear, a basketball hoop and about ten basketballs. I still don’t know where they all came from, btw. Our basement has everything you need for a garage band too, keyboard, electric guitar and drums, much to his delight, while the piano we had when we were married and that my ex got as part of our divorce settlement is, as far as I know, still in storage.

And then there’s my little one. Now 10yo, she really has no memories of us being together in the same house, which makes me sad if I slow down long enough to really think about it.


Her entire childhood has been characterized by Mom’s House / Dad’s House and never jumping into bed on a Sunday morning, cuddled between her parents. What a drag. But it’s her normal, so que sera, sera I suppose.

Still, her strategy for coping is the one I figured all three would adopt: endeavor to move everything from house to house every week. Rather than have two homes, she’s endeavoring to create almost a home-within-a-home where her favorite clothes, a large possé of teddy bears and favorite stuffies, books, crayons, craft supplies, etc, migrate back and forth, week after week.

Stability through stuff.

It’s very American, of course, but it’s also extraordinarily human at a base level, a vision of the poor child with a beat-up stuffed animal that they cling to like a lifeline in the chaos of their day-to-day existence.

The Stuffed Animal collection that moves from house to house
The stuffie possé, waiting to migrate to the other house…

Ah jeez, now I’m feeling sad for my little girl having to cope with what we’ve wrought.

Deep breath. I’m ok. It’s just the way things are.

We all have challenges in life, whether it’s unwanted business trips, a living situation where you’re stuck with the worst roommate of all time, or parents who live in separate places. How do you cope with the base human need for stability and safety in your environment?

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