Spending times in two homes is difficult for children. One of the easiest and most effective ways of making this easier on children is to provide the child with as much consistency differences in rules and routines, but for young children, similarizing the two homes is critical.

Children under six are going 
through important life-shaping developmental steps. They are learning task-oriented behavior, how to regulate emotions and behavior, how to be industrious, and so on. All of these developmental tasks rely very heavily on clear expectations, consistent rules, and predictable routines. A failure
 to make homes similar for young children will very often lead to school failures, conduct problems, and sometimes worse. Having the two homes very similar could make the difference between a successful childhood and an unsuccessful one.

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What do we mean by making the homes similar? Basically, it includes having both homes be fairly similar in the following areas:

1. Routines: Morning routines of getting ready/eating breakfast, nighttime routines of bath time, book reading.
2. Rules: Bedtimes, homework after school, eating at the table, brushing teeth, no electronics at bedtime.
3. Expectations: Think here in terms of how well you expect the children to do at school, how people talk to each other in a family, how good a job is expected on chores, how clean you expect the children to keep their rooms, and so on.
4. Discipline: An important issue here is how you will carry consequences across homes. Better yet, think in terms of rewards for expected behavior (e.g. star charts for chores completed] and not just consequences).
5. Chores and other Responsibilities: Children should know how to be a good roommate and spouse someday, including helping maintain the residence, doing laundry and so on. Put together a reasonable set of chores and responsibilities, but one that is good training for the future. Decide on an allowance and have that be similar too. Talk about these areas and adjust homes to be more similar. Support each other as authorities with the children and, with older children, work out a way to carry some discipline across homes. This kind of consistency is very powerful for children. It is important that present a united front.

The two homes do not have to be exactly the same, only similar. For example, children might have a dinner chore at both homes, but the exact chore might be different. Likewise, styles might be different in how 
a rule or routine is imposed. The bedtime at both homes might be 8:30 p.m. but mean slightly different routines. Parents can have different styles and have the two homes be similar enough.


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About Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.

Allan R. Koritzinsky is a retired partner with Foley & Lardner LLP, where he practiced in the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Estates & Trusts Practices. He was also the chair of the firm’s Family Law Team. As a family law attorney representing individual clients for over 35 years, Mr. Koritzinsky focused on divorce law, alternative dispute resolution and worked with colleagues in estate and business planning. He also has experience in tax, valuation and fiduciary litigation matters.

Mr. Koritzinsky was a leading member and fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and previously served as a member of its national Board of Governors. He is a former national chair of their Arbitration Committee and a past president of the Academy’s Wisconsin chapter. Mr. Koritzinsky also has served as chair of the Dane County Bar Case Mediation Program, chair of the American Bar Association Family Law Section’s Divorce Law and Procedures Committee, and chair of the Wisconsin Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Mr. Koritzinsky was Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system and was named a 2005 - 2008 Wisconsin Super Lawyer by Law & Politics Media, Inc. for his family law work. He was also listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for over 20 years.

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