Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 28 00:54:04 UTC 2005

An article about this practice appeared in the Times Style section
today, and Nexis has a slightly earlier one from the Chicago
Sun-Times.  Don't know how far back it goes, but it might be reckoned
among the WOTY-worthy.


Chicago Sun Times
November 6, 2005 Sunday

  HEADLINE: Let's get honest about children of divorce: Even a 'good'
split can profoundly harm them

  BYLINE: Elizabeth Marquardt, The Chicago Sun-Times

  'Bird nesting'

  "Bird nesting" is a recently coined term that refers to a situation
in which two divorced parents, recognizing that traveling between two
homes may be rough on their children, instead share one home where
the children live all the time while the parents move in and out.
Each parent spends the remainder of his or her time in a separate
house or apartment nearby.

  "Bird nesting" could be seen as a compassionate move on the part of
divorced parents to provide one home for their child, as married
parents do. But few manage to stick with it, because adults find it
is extremely burdensome to travel between two homes. Of course,
children of divorce travel between two homes all the time but our
society tends to minimize how difficult this arrangement is. Like any
"good divorce" arrangement, bird nesting is much more unstable than a
married, intact family; and it's doubtful it could last more than a
few years. If a parent starts dating or remarries, would the parent's
new partner or spouse be willing to travel between two homes or live
without his or her spouse for half the week? If a parent is offered a
great job some distance away, would he or she turn it down to keep
bird nesting with his ex?

  Bird nesting also does not resolve one of the major losses of
divorce: being with one parent always means not being with the other.
In "bird nesting," Dad arrives, but Mom disappears, and vice versa.
If you need Mom for something, well, you have to wait until Thursday.
Bird nesting, like all "good divorce" arrangements, puts the
children's needs on an adult timeline, while in a married, intact
family the family functions much more often on the children's

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