- This is an excerpt from Beth Berendt’s book.”Leaving the nest after divorce: Co-parenting at home.“
- Behrendt is a freelance writer, former research librarian, and divorced mother of three.
- In her book, she shares her and other nesting family co-parenting stories and advice from the experts.
This article is an excerpt from Beth Behrendt’s book Nesting After Divorce: Co-Parenting in the Family Home, published by Union Square & Co.
When we got divorced nine years ago, my ex Bill and I made the untraditional choice to keep our children at home. We take turns back and forth raising children. This type of co-parenting is called nesting or bird nesting.
When I decided to get a divorce, I was overwhelmed with fear and worry about what would happen to my three children.
“Children are resilient” is a common saying about divorce. But those who were children of the old-fashioned approach to divorce probably wouldn’t agree.Research in neuroscience and child development shows that children are naturally resilient. Resilience is a trait that develops over time and is most fully developed in a stable nurturing environment.
Nesting gives children a consistent life
When I educated myself on all things divorce, I came across references to nesting. This may be the answer! I thought. And she said excitedly to Bill. Luckily, he was on board immediately. “It’s not their fault we’re getting divorced,” he said. “Why should they suffer?”
When we understand what divorce means emotionally, financially and logistically for all of us, we like the idea of giving our children a consistent routine and the comforts of a family home. First, it was easier to rent a one-bedroom apartment nearby than to find and set up a second home big enough to support three children. Bill and I “shared” an apartment but were never actually there at the same time. After trying nesting for a year, I decided to decide on my next steps.
The thing is, it turned out that Nest made sense for kids. The children didn’t have the typical stress of a double divorce. I never forget to take my dad’s homework. Never miss their dog when they’re at mom’s. The kids were always in the same place, so friends could drop by anytime.
It worked for my ex and me too
Less stress for us too. None of the hassles I’ve seen other divorced parents deal with. No more unexpected afternoon drives to deliver basketball uniforms to school that have been forgotten at the other parent’s house. No early morning frustration with the other parent packing or not packing their clothes. No duplication of costly bikes, Xboxes, favorite toys or clothing.
With less stress and more time and resources, I had more opportunities to pursue my career and interests when I was off duty.
Of course, there were collisions along the way. Especially early on, Bill or I struggled with feelings and issues that still lingered from our marriage. When it comes to debating whether we should stop building nests, we have to ask ourselves.
Nine years later, one is in college, one is in college next year, and the youngest is still in high school. The logistics of where Bill and I lived outside the nest have evolved over time. After the first year of “sharing” an apartment, we tried renting two small apartments each. bottom. I raised my children as he traveled for work. He was parenting when he wasn’t traveling so I went to his apartment.
With pandemic lockdowns canceling business trips, we were at home with our families and had to figure out how to share parenting time fairly with our children. When not raising nestlings, he lives with his new wife. When he’s off duty, he lives with his fiancée.
Lawyers, therapists and financial planners also helped
A support team is essential to establish and continue nesting. For us, this included a lawyer who supported our idea of nesting and a financial his planner who understood our goals and our unusual situation. We have also turned to a therapist to help us through the feelings of divorce and co-parenting. I relied on my family for emotional support, and stepped in and helped with the logistics of parenting in this new way.
I believe that one of the most important roles of parents is to prepare their children for success in life. Experiencing parents’ willingness to make the most of difficult situations through creativity, flexibility and hard work will help children appreciate these skills and apply them to the challenges life will undoubtedly face. I hope you will apply it.
Behrendt is a freelance writer and single mother of three. She has written articles on nesting for The New York Times and She’s Psychology Today, is a regular contributor to Divorce Magazine, and is also a guest her blogger for Laura Wasser’s It’s Over Easy website. She created her Family Nesting to share her own experience and offer advice to other families considering this approach to separation and divorce.