But think broadly about what makes a place home.
“The main thing for the child visiting is that they feel like they are part of the family, and other members of the family see them that way, too,” Dr. Blackstone said, explaining that you should give your child chores, even if they are only visiting occasionally.
My parents divorced when I was little, and as a kid, it bothered me that when I went to my father’s house, we had only grape jelly and white bread, presumably what my stepfamily preferred. I am a strawberry and whole wheat kind of person, and not having that available made me feel like I was a visitor, not an integral part of the household. A request from the 11-year-old me: If you become a stepparent and do the grocery shopping, ask your stepchildren what kind of food they want in the fridge.
Don’t battle over rules
This may be a tad controversial, but forget about having the same rules in both houses. If you and your ex could agree on how to parent, you probably wouldn’t be getting divorced. Also, while I may be slightly traumatized by the grape jelly situation, I can confirm that I grew up with totally different rules in my parents’ homes, and it didn’t affect me. My dad let us stay up late, watch R-rated movies and shower not so much — awesome.
Ms. Ross said that other than safety issues, when parents try to have the same rules at both houses, it leads to unnecessary conflict. Parents battling about things like chores or bedtime, she said, risks forcing the children to choose one side and possibly feeling disloyal to the other parent.
Some worry that this could cause confusion, but Ms. Ross said she thinks children can handle that.
“Children live all the time with different rules,” she said. “The rules at school are slightly different than the rules at home, and they adjust to that.”
Consider college-age children
A reader asked that we address how divorcing parents who have young adult children should handle this.
Dr. Blackstone said that it can be upsetting and confusing for those whose parents separate when they are off at college. “Imagine coming home on the holidays and not knowing where to go,” she said.