By Melanie Ford, from www.bonusfamilies.com
My parents are getting a divorce and they have come up with this idea that I am supposed to move back and forth between their two houses. I think it’s a stupid idea, but I want to see both of my parents as much as I can. This sucks.–Amber G.
There’s two ways you can look at this. Quite frankly, the fact that my parents did the exact same thing is what taught me that there is always two ways to look at problems. You could get really angry about having to move back and forth. I can’t say I haven’t experienced the frustration you’re feeling, but I missed both parents when I wasn’t with them, too, so I went with it. It did teach me to adjust to new things well. I hate “change” and there it was staring me right in the face every other week.
When my parents divorced about twelve years ago, their big decision was where my brother and I were to live. They decided that they were going to share custody of my brother and I equally, and neither parent could leave our community until we both turned 18.
My brother and I were very young and equally attached to both parents so at first we moved back and forth every other day! Slowly, our parents extended the time away from each of them to a week at a time.
My parents do talk just about every day to coordinate our schedules, but sometimes I felt like I was living two separate lives.
We switched on Fridays. Every Thursday night my brother and I packed our laundry basket and moved to the other house the next afternoon. As we got older, a week at one house, then a week at the other, got very disrupting. It was perfect when we were ten, but 15? Forget it. We changed it to every two weeks and that worked out much better. We also have a very open door policy, so if anyone, parent or child, has a special event they want to attend, we just make the arrangements.
When I turned 18 last October I decided to stop going back and forth and permanently moved in with my mom. She lived alone and it was very crowded at my dad’s house. My brother still goes back and forth, and he will continue until he turns 18. Knowing him, he’s done this since he was two and he gets antsy when he’s at one of the parent’s houses for too long–the only way he will stop going back and forth is if he moves away to go to college!
So, what’s the down side? Moving back and forth can get difficult and be a real hassle. Your friends never know where you are. Sometimes I left stuff behind or took towels or socks or the wrong underwear by mistake, so I had to make a special point to stay organized. Sometimes my favorite shoes were at my mom’s and my favorite shirt was at my dad’s and that got old. Or, more likely, my bonus sister hid my shirt so I couldn’t find it when it was time to leave.
Both of my households are very different–different chores, different foods. Nothing’s really the same. My parents do talk just about every day to coordinate our schedules, but sometimes I felt like I was living two separate lives.
The upside, and here’s the other way to look at it–I was able to live and be loved by both parents equally, and even though I no longer go back and forth, I have grown to be an active member of both families. Going back and forth forced my parents to talk to each other and they have worked through some problems I’m sure they would have not discussed if they had a more conventional divorce where each parent goes off to their separate corner and never talks again. When I was ten, my dad and bonus mom had my little sister and living in both houses has allowed me to form a very strong bond with her. Honestly, I can not imagine my life any different and I feel like it was for the best. It taught me to adjust to change easily, to be independent, and to have an open mind.
My suggestion to you is to try it for a year. If you absolutely hate it, tell your parents and I am sure they will make the necessary adjustments. I understand it may be hard to speak-up because you don’t want to hurt one of your parents with your decision, but it was their decision to divorce and you may have to make your own decision to cope with it.