Painful adjustments for the child of divorce when parents move




Have you ever moved to a new home? Remember the excitement of moving into a new place? As you unwrap every item and decide where it will go, you envision your life and your family in this new place.

When my Air Force daughter and my son in-law were transferred back to the U.S. from overseas, I came to help with the transition and the move. It was fun to watch the kids get excited when the moving van pulled up. They wanted to get “their” stuff. As each item came off the truck, instructions were given to each child where to place it. One could feel the excitement that day.

Everyone was joking and laughing. Even the movers were having fun with the kids as they unloaded the heavy stuff. Talk of the future of living in this lovely home could be heard all day. New house, new rooms, new school, and new friends awaited these kids. Excitement abounded for these three boys.

There is a big difference in moving as a two-parent family than as a divorcing couple splitting things up and tearing the family home apart. For the children in divorcing families, it seems like things disappear—one piece of furniture goes one way, and another goes a different way. Dad goes without the TV, while mom loses the coffee maker. Linens and bedding are divided. Dishes, pots, and pans are separated. No one can envision his future life in this divided family.

Take a moment to think about everything in your home. Picture every room and all the things in those rooms. Now imagine that when you walk into your home later today, half of everything is gone. At first, you will notice that certain things you use every day are missing, but because of the stressful situation, it will be weeks or even months before you realize other things are gone.

For a woman, it might be the screwdriver she needs to tighten something. For the man, it might be the blender he wants to use to fix a protein drink. On and on, the surprises arise. Over and over, the realization that you are without a spouse and partner stares you in the face as you realize something is gone.

Many people realize children are deeply affected by the loss of structure and routines, but do you realize how they are affected by the loss of furniture? As the realization that things are being moved out of the family home, the understanding that their home and family life are radically changing sinks in.

Sometimes children’s things are split between two homes.

  • The comforting quilt that Grandma made and the kids used to wrap up in and watch TV is at Dad’s house.
  • The skateboard Josiah wants to ride on Monday when he’s at Dad’s house is at Mom’s home.
  • The favorite blouse Janise wants to wear to school on Monday is at Mom’s house, and she is at Dad’s.
  • Toys, electronics, furniture, and even favorite glasses and dishes are not within reach when the child wants them.

How to help the children and the single parent

  • Tell them God is in control of their lives and even their furniture when they allow Him to be.
  • Empathize with the children and the single parent.
  • Explain that when they look to the Lord, He has something in store for them in the future.
  • Give the children and the single parent hope, hope in the Lord.
  • Don’t tell them God will find them another dad or another mom. No one can ever replace their parents. While many will come to love a stepparent, their original parents will always be their parents.
  • Listen to their stories about things they miss.
  • Don’t tell them things will be okay because when you are living in a house without a couch or a bed, it seems like things will never be okay again.

Moving to a new home with only one parent can be difficult for children. Leaving the other parent or having the other parent move disrupts a child’s life. These children need a church home that stays consistent, loving, and caring. Church can provide a sense of security when children feel no security as the most important people in their lives are in the process of moving.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on August 14, 2014.

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