My ex and I are working together to set up a bedroom in his home for our son. We asked our son for input since it is his room. The problem is, he wants the same things in his room when he is home with his Dad that he has in his room when he is home with me. The problem is, a lot of the things he has in his bedroom here we are not able to duplicate. His lamp is one that my mother had as a child, his bed was my bed as a child. He wants us to wave a magic wand so he can have the same set-up in both homes.
I wish I could do that for him but I can’t and am at a loss for what to do instead that will help him feel just at home with his Dad that he does here. Any suggestions?
First of all, I would like to compliment you on your willingness to accomodate your sons needs in setting up his new room in his Dad’s house. I admire both of you for the fact that you are working together in the best interest of your child.
Setting conflict aside and working together as parents is very important to help children of divorce adjust to the new situation and prevent long term effects.
It is indeed important to involve your son in decisions regarding his bedroom. I understand that an exact duplicate of his current room is impossible, especially since you have furniture with emotional attachments that have been inherited from previous generations. Keep in mind that the goal is to make your son feel safe and comfortable in his new room at his Dad’s, just like he does in his current room. This goal is more important than duplicating the furniture exactly.
With an age appropriate explanation, most 6-year-olds will understand that, although he would like to, he can’t have exactly the same bed or lamp in both houses. Together you can look for something similar, or maybe something different that he likes just as much. You may find some sheets with his favorite superhero character (superman or spiderman?) or find a bed in the shape of a car.
Whatever he likes or feels drawn to. Children need familiar things to feel safe and superhero’s give children an extra sense of safety because they save, protect and help people. If your son has a favorite toy, stuffed animal or a night light, he may want to bring this with him to Dad’s house.
Keeping the same, predictable bedtime routines and rituals are also important to give him a sense of security. Remember that no matter how hard you try to keep things the same, your son will need time to adjust to the new house, his new room, the divorce and living in two houses.
Children’s book ‘Nina Has Two Houses‘ is a great book to read to your son to help him adjust. This book shows how Nina struggles with emotions of sadness, separation anxiety, anger and guilt as a result of the separation. It shows the ambivalence of Nina towards the parent she is visiting and the parent she is leaving behind. These are feelings that most children experience while going through a divorce. Most children will indentify with Nina.
The story of Nina shows your son that he is not alone and it will help him adjust to the new situation. A comforting thought is that children are resilient and with your help and his fathers help, in time he will feel at home in his new room.