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My parents divorced when I was 4 and my brother was 1, but even being that young I can clearly remember the day my Dad first took us to his new home. It was a one-bedroom apartment in Jamaica, Queens, and coming from our sweet suburban house on Long Island, it seemed very shocking — like we had just been taken to a foreign country. I remember thinking that I would really have to look after my little brother now that we were spending weekends in "the city". When we got into the elevator, I remember that it was painted bright yellow; my Dad looked at me and said, "I told them to paint it yellow because it is my daughter's favorite color." And I felt better. We were still in the scary city, but I felt that maybe my brother and I would be OK here. (Years later that comment would come back to me and all of sudden I would realize that my Dad was joking and that of course they hadn't painted the elevator yellow for me — and I'll admit, I was a little disappointed at that...) What I realize now is that, in that comment, my Dad made me feel that I was a part of this new place too.

Whether it's a house in the 'burbs or an apartment in the city, that new home, at first, will be totally foreign to the kids. And it's important to accept that. Don't try to force the kids to love it or to feel like it's their 2nd home. It's going to take time — the way it would for any person in a new space.

My Dad could only afford a one-bedroom, which meant that, at first, my brother and I slept in the living room. In sleeping bags. Not the best of situations, but to my Dad's credit he did make it pretty fun. We went to the store and each picked out our sleeping bags (Being a little girl of the 70's I naturally chose Holly Hobbie), and when it was time for bed, my Dad would build this tent contraption — attaching a blanket from one of the dining room chairs and then hooking it to a peg on the wall — and we would pretend that we were outdoors camping. (Being that my Dad was never much of the handy man, inevitably the tent collapsed at some point during the night, and by morning we were just two little kids sleeping on the floor.) As kids, this was totally awesome, and it made going to my Dad's house fun — but there's the kicker — "my Dad's house". I can't say that it ever felt like my home, not in the way my Mom's house did.

I think it is really important, in establishing two homes, that kids have their own space and their own things at the new house. Even a small space that they can make their own — part of a bookcase that is their books and toys, a chest of drawers with clothes that stay at that house — and that these spaces exist even when the kids are not there. They should be permanent fixtures in the home, not just items that come out when the kids are there. Soon after my parents' divorce was final, my Dad re-married and moved into a larger apartment and then a house. We always had a place to sleep (we even moved into beds!) but that space was always used for something else when we weren't there. It was the baby's room or the office, or the guest room. Even allowing those rooms to serve other functions, i.e. office, guest room, etc. — I think that had we been encouraged to also make them feel like ours — by putting posters on the wall, picking out furnishings, etc., would have made us feel that we had a permanent space in this new home, and were a permanent part of this new family...not just weekend guests or visitors.

That being said, while my Dad's House never felt like home in the way that my Mom's House did, it didn't feel entirely not like home, either. It's a different type of home, and maybe that's ok. As the adage goes — Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in — and my Dad's House as always been that for me.

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