More and more children are being raised in split homes. For some children, having different rules in the two homes causes anxiety and difficulty adapting. The two homes may be different with new lives and new families of their own. Where one home may emphasize academic achievement with quiet intellectual conversations; the other home may prioritize family time and bonding.
In Texas, and especially in Dallas County, divorce court judges prioritize keeping the parents in close geographic proximity to encourage frequent contact between the child and both parents. This geographic restriction is placed on virtually all families who seek court intervention in their reliationship, whether married and divorcing, or not married and seeking definitive court orders. These geographic restrictions permit both parents to attend ball games and dance recitals and remain involved in their child’s activities even when it is not that parent’s period of possession.
But as these children grow into adults, going between the two parents’ homes helps develop important skills for adults. One of those qualities instilled as a byproduct of shared custody may be the desire for stability. The instability of their childhood creates adults that value and want stability. Also the grown-up children have a knack for agility – adapting, switching gears, blending in. Families need to be strong but flexible to accommodate the changes in lives.
Some people may view shared custody arrangements as a negative, providing that the child never has a sense of “home” in any one spot. But, viewing the positive side, children can benefit from experiencing different environments, adapting to new rules, shifting from one set of priorities to another. These experiences can build skills that help adults adjust to life experiences that others who had different upbringing might not be prepared to deal with.
Hat tip to Rachelle Bergstein’s The Secret Superpower of a Shared-Custody Kid from the New York Times Well Blog.