Hi Dr. Laura,
My husband and I are getting divorced. Our son is only four months old. My husband has decided to keep the house, and I agree with that, so that our son will have a "home base", a yard to play in in the future and for financial reasons.
I will be moving out in the near future. I will continue to be at the house when he is at work to care for our animals and bring in the mail, shovel the driveway/walks, etc. To make things easier on me and to keep the house familiar to my son, I would like to stay in the house on the nights my husband is not there.
My question is, as long as my son is with his mother every night, can he sleep in two different homes? I'm just not sure that this is okay for him at this age.
I'm saddened to hear about your divorce. I hope you are taking good care of yourself during this challenging time.
I'm not sure from your letter whether your son co-sleeps with you or sleeps in a crib by himself. If he sleeps with you, then he will be fine sleeping in two different homes because your presence will reassure him. If he sleeps in a crib by himself, then you will want to make things as similar as possible, or you might find his sleep is disrupted. For instance, make sure both rooms are dark and quiet, that he always has his favorite blanket, etc.
As your son gets older, you may find that he has a hard time spending nights in two different homes. But then, you may also find that you don't spend nights in your ex's house after some time goes by.
The most challenging part of divorcing when you have a baby is actually the visitation arrangements. It is important for your son that his dad and he stay connected, and that means spending time at dad's, including nights there without mom.
That can be very hard for a baby or even a toddler or preschooler. You may find it helpful when your son gets a bit older for you and his dad to see a counselor together who has experience in this area and can help the two of you to set up your visitation arrangement so that your son feels secure and connected to both of you.
I wish you all blessings as you embark on your new life.
Dr. Laura Markhamn
As both a mom and a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Laura Markham offers a unique perspective on raising kids. Her relationship-based parenting model has helped thousands of families across the U.S. and Canada find compassionate, common-sense solutions to everything from separation anxiety and sleep problems to sass talk and cell phones.
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Dr. Markham is the founding editor of www.AhaParenting.com, where she regularly takes on a wide range of challenging questions from parents who struggle with "the toughest, most rewarding job on earth." In private practice, and as a speaker and presenter at parenting workshops and seminars, she enjoys connecting face-to-face with parents to help them transform their relationships with their children, regardless of age.
She is the author of an upcoming Q&A e-book series, Ask Dr. Markham, which will have editions for all ages from birth to teens, and of the soon-to-be-released, The Secret Life of Happy Moms, which lays out her relationship-based approach to raising kids who turn out great.
Dr. Markham received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York. She's held many challenging jobs, including running publishing companies with 100 employees, serving on corporate boards and coaching business leaders, as well as counseling families and children. Bottom line, she says, "Raising children is the hardest, and most rewarding, work in the world." Dr. Markham lives in New York, with her husband, 14-year-old daughter, and 17-year-old son.