Highlighting the importance of creating a sense of permanency in both parental homes for children after divorce.
After my divorce, the most painful experience was watching my son say goodbye to the home he grew up in for the past 18 years. Although he was an older child of divorce, it did not make it any easier for him to accept. His quiet, sad face was forever burned in my memory…………I soon realized that wherever I moved, I had to design a space that said “HOME”. I needed to make sure that my son had a designated room of his own. I needed to make him feel like he had an anchored, secure place that belonged to him as well. It was equally important that while living with his father or myself that he always felt like he had TWO homes. I never wanted him to feel like he was living with one parent and only visiting the other.
Shorty after Roberta was divorced, she began to have trouble trying to settle her son (6) and her daughter (13) into their new home. As if the trauma of divorce was not enough, the kids had to deal with a new neighborhood and new school. Not only had the real estate of their family changed but so had their childhood landscape. They were spending equal time with their father in their pre divorce home and the other half with their mom in the new location. The 6 year old would not sleep in his new room and insisted on sleeping in his 13 year old sister’s room. You can only imagine how much friction that caused between the kids and mom.
The problem was that the kid’s did not have a sense of permanency in their new space with their mother. They felt uprooted, resentful and scared. It was as if they were visiting her instead of living with her.
The first thing I did was request a design meeting with just the kid’s (no mom). I soon discovered that the boy was afraid to sleep in his room at night because his dad did not live there. I also found out that his favorite super hero was Spiderman. Being a muralist as well as a designer, I suggested that we paint a Spiderman mural over his bed. This would ensure his safety because OBVIOUSLY, Spiderman would protect him while he slept. He was totally exuberant over this idea. We decided to keep his old bedroom set and bedspread because the last he he wanted was anymore change.
The 13 year old girl was wanting nothing but change. She was becoming a young woman and we needed to celebrate that transformation. Certainly she needed her privacy, so she was delighted that her brother would not be sleeping her room anymore. We also decided to make her room over from top to bottom. More grown up, more dorm like to prepare for the inevitability of college living. We choose furniture that would take her through high school. A color pallet that made her smile and a space that promoted a more positive state of mind.
Both kids were involved in all of their personal design decisions. Being involved, helped them to gain some control in situation where they previously had none.
Mom, committing to customize their rooms demonstrated to them that making a monetary commitment meant that they weren’t going anywhere. A “sense of permanency” was restored. The second house became a second home!
END RESULT: The kids learn that TWO houses, TWO rooms, TWO cities is……………… TOO cool!