Words matter...


They are both home.

I think words matter.

When my ex and I split and our sons had to begin trekking back and forth between houses, I was intentional about a lot of things. I'm not sure what they noticed and what they didn't.

For instance I was the one leaving what was the family home. There were things, like art on the walls or a certain chair, that I'd like to have. I also wanted as much normalcy and stability for the boys as possible. I didn't think gaping holes on the walls as they walked through the house was going to feel very normal. So I tabled it. My ex and I agreed when he leaves that home or the boys age out, we will re-visit some material possessions and perhaps re-home them.

Another example is Christmas: we kept Christmas in the home that the family had Christmas together in, keeping it as the same as possible, trying to offer some continuity to their memories. That means the tree in the home I live in doesn't have any ornaments from pre-school or from annual treks to get an ornament. Again, we will re-visit distributing those things later. I still have a pretty tree that I love, it just doesn't have that family history element. My boys though, they have a tree that looks just like it always has.

That brings me to words:

Dad's house.

Mom's house.

That's a nope for me. Hard pass on that:

This house.

Your other house.

Your house on Oak Street.

The house with mom.

All are acceptable terms. Not Dad's or Mom's.

Here's my logic:

These boys had a home. If suddenly their home becomes 'Dad's house,' aren't they losing something?

I didn't move into a house that is mine. I moved into a home for my sons and myself. It's ours. As much theirs as mine.

They gained a second house, a second place where they should feel 100% at home, just like they do at their original house.

So we can all tease about Gwyneth and her 'conscious uncoupling,' phrase, but conscious to me means thoughtful, and I think when children's parents split it's very important to be thoughtful about the process and the words we use.

The boys are 'staying at their house with Dad,' or 'home with Mom' this week. Early on I even asked the carpool parents to refer to the boys' homes by street name or using the term 'with' instead of 'at.'

Does it make a difference to them? I can't really say.

Is it a little annoying to think of the right phrasing sometimes? For sure.

Is it a learning curve? Yes.

Do I slip up occasionally? Yes.

I mean, I think people resorted to the "Mom's house" and "Dad's House" because it conveys the information and is easy, it get's to the point quickly.

Why the rush? If we can take an extra second to say something that conveys to my sons that they 100% belong in each home they inhabit, that's a win.

Parents splitting is tough, the kids miss out on having two parents in the house at the same time.

They shouldn't lose their sense of home and belonging as well.