Parenting After Divorce: The Bird Nesting Method

In a recently published New York Times article, writer Beth Behrendt discussed the benefits of a relatively new parenting option for divorced families called the bird nesting method. Behrendt and her ex husband have successfully used the nesting method for the past three years to coparent their three children. In the nesting method, the divorced parents each purchase or rent a separate living space from the family’s previously established home. They then choose alternate days or weeks to come and live in the family home with the children while the alternate spouse returns to the separately assigned living space. In this arrangement, children are thought to feel less jostled and displaced by a divorce because they remain in their home with their own belongings.

Behrendt described the living situation as one that appealed to both she and her ex-husband because they desired to place the needs of their boys before their own needs. During a recent speaking event in New Jersey where Behrendt gave a talk about the nesting method, she described her reaction when she first read about the arrangement in a book about simplified divorces. Behrendt stated that she breathed a sigh of relief at the idea that her boys could maintain as much of their original lives as possible throughout the divorce.

Behrends stated that she is frequently asked about her peculiar nesting arrangement by other well meaning parents in PTA groups or school conferences. She advised for parents considering the method to answer a few questions regarding the method. The parents should ask if they can work together to maintain their previously established home, if they can both reasonably find a home to live in during the times when they are not occupying the home, and if they can come to an agreement about the circumstance. If the answer to any of these questions is no, the nesting method may not be suitable. Those open to the nesting method, however, may find it a reasonable solution to their divorce.