Reassurance for Different Families
“When my husband and I first separated, my daughter was barely two-and-a-half years old. She made the transition to suddenly having two rooms, two sets of toys and clothes, and two houses - Mama's House and Dada's House, as we still call them - with admirable equanimity, and we all breathed a big sigh of relief. Now that she is older and more aware, however, she sometimes asks questions about our living situation that stump me, leaving me unsure whether my answers are helpful or only furthering muddying.
As common as divorce is in America and as unflappable as my daughter generally is, I worry occasionally that the choices made by the adults in her life will challenge her sense of security or jeopardize her emotional stability, and I seek out tips on how to speak to her about her family in preschool-appropriate language.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel is a lovely and soothing book about a small child named Alex - the gender is left purposefully vague - who lives with both of his/her parents, but in separate homes. With each page, the book catalogs the different domestic details of their lives -- Mommy lives in an apartment building in the city while Daddy lives in a house by the shore; Daddy has a dog while Mommy has a roof deck -- while gently making the point that Alex is loved fully and equally by both parents.
The life of the family is portrayed as integrated and calm, despite the different homes, which I believe is crucial to helping small children weather separation with a minimum of disruption to their lives and pysches. In bright and cheerful watercolors, the book so closely mirrors the way in which my daughter lives -- speaking on the phone with the parent who isn't present, enjoying activities with whichever parent she is with in a given moment -- that it brought tears to my eyes when I first read it. For any family going through separation and divorce, this book offers a gentle vision of how a childhood in two homes can be lived happily and peacefully.”