Two Divorced Parents Create One Unique House So Their Kids Feel at Home

Today in the United States, approximately 40% of kids have divorced parents. Being a child of divorce is no picnic, either: one eigh-decade study of kids of divorce found that divorce kids died, on average, almost 5 years earlier than kids from intact homes, a stronger predictor of mortality than even the death of a parent.

While there are many causes of stress for kids after a divorce, frequently one major issue is switching houses. My parents divorced when I was 11 and one of the hardest parts has been the weekly trauma of walking from one parents’ house to the other, reminded over and over again that neither (or both? or just one? but which one?) is home. This pain is almost impossible to imagine for those who don’t have divorced parents, but divorce kids the world over recognize the loneliness and isolation that come from not having one safe place to put down roots.

For two kids in Canada, however, that isolation is lifting due to one pair of divorced parents. Edmonton parents Monica McGrath and Kent Kirkland, parents of Sean (10) and Audrey (8) divorced four years ago. After trying to make it work in separate houses, Monica had an idea – what if they made a house that worked for both of them? Luckily for her (and for Audrey and Sean), Kent is the owner of a home construction business.

So, Monica approached her ex with a wild idea: two houses, one for each of them, connected by their children. Kent, after talking to the city to make sure building codes worked out, built the “transformer,” a duplex connected in the middle by a small hallway which has rooms for their children. The hallway has two doors, each leading to one parents’ house, and depending on the week one is opened and the other closed. This setup works well for the kids, who don’t have to worry about switching houses; now they each have their own room, no matter which parent they’re with.

This living situation might seem odd to many divorced parents, but Kent and Monica promise that it’s not as hard as it looks; in fact, Monica states that, many weeks, the parents don’t see each other for days at a time. Additionally, the financial burden on the parents is lower when sharing a home. The most important thing about the new arrangement, however, is that the children like it. According to Monica, they’ll say, “Mum we like living in one spot. We like having our things in one place. We like the house.”

Despite what parents tell us, every kid of divorce knows that it’s not about us, and that parents are far more concerned with their own issues than with making things easy for us. More people would do well to take a page from Monica and Kent, and put their children first after a divorce.


Photo from Thinkstock

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Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson2 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

wish this could have worked with my ex, but it wouldn't/ he is too controlling and possessive. he rarely wants our son, rarely takes advantage of "his time".. he's allowed every weekend but sees him about once a month. as I type this my son is snuggled up to my leg and his dad (who is supposed to have him) is at the beach partying

Sonia Minwer-Barakat Requ

Kudos to Monica and Kent,it's a great idea.Thanks for sharing

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom2 years ago

Sounds logical to me. Kudos to these parents.

Angelus Silesius
Angelus Silesius2 years ago

Yay! divorced parents thinking about the consequences to their children!

Heather M
Heather Marv2 years ago

Whether it is separation or divorce or just not getting on I believe when things get rough one has to put the children first and work around that.

Connie T.
con t.2 years ago

I wonder if anyone actually ASKED the KIDS how they felt?

Robyn Bashaw
Robyn Bashaw2 years ago

what a great idea!

Stathi Stathi
Stathi Stathi2 years ago

Love to me is the key!!

Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy2 years ago

great idea ... but i'm sure it would not work for every case.