Bird’s nest parenting is one option for parenting during separation and divorce. This concept gives children figurative custody of the family home. Rather than the children going from one parent’s home to another, the children stay put in the family home. The parents on the other hand each move into their own residence and split their time between that residence and the family home. In some families, the parents share the second home and move in and out of the family home due to economic concerns.
The overall benefit of nesting is that the children keep the consistency of their home. The children are able to keep their belongings in the home and maintain the same bedroom and living space regardless of which parent is spending time with them. A benefit for the parents comes with the fact that it eliminates the need for shuffling the children’s homework, books, sports equipment, etc. from home to home.
Yet family experts warn that bird’s nest parenting is not for every separated couple. It comes with its own unique challenges, and while it can be useful during the transition to divorce, is rarely sustainable in the long term. Having belongings in two places can be stressful, and the parents must also discuss any communal items that will remain in the family home. Because the children will be remaining in the home, items like furniture, appliances, and electronics (like a family computer) will usually be remaining. When parents elect to share one second home, there are other considerations such as privacy and how moving in and out of the second home will be managed. Expectations regarding personal property, cleaning, purchasing food and cooking in each home need to be clarified in advance and memorialised in the written plan.
Although nesting can provide a more comfortable situation for the children through a divorce, it is not considered to be a permanent solution. Many parents find it useful to agree on a time-frame for the nesting process. As the children grow, they will become more comfortable with their new family situation and adjustments can gradually be made to the living arrangements. As discussed above, nesting requires each parent to essentially maintain a separate residence or share the separate residence in addition to the family home. Depending on the circumstances, this situation may not be sustainable for an extended period of time.
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