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Child-Centred Approach to Shared Parenting: Parents’ Experiences with Bird’s Nest Parenting Arrangement
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal  (IF1.744),  Pub Date : 2022-06-09, DOI: 10.1007/s10560-022-00862-4
Rafaela Lehtme, Karmen Toros

The number of children affected by family dissolution is increasing worldwide. Beneficially, a growing number of both parents desire to remain active in their children’s lives, favouring the practice of shared care. Unfortunately, this has introduced new dilemmas that can negatively impact children’s well-being. One example is the controversial topic of travelling children, who have become ‘visitors’ traversing between their parent’s households. The bird’s nest arrangement, a child-centred shared parenting system wherein the child resides in a single home while the parents rotate living with them, can resolve this problem. Despite its unique focus, few studies have investigated its application or the effects of the arrangement. To identify factors related to the child’s best interests, this work qualitatively explored the experiences of Estonian parents who chose a bird’s nest arrangement. Parents recruited through purposive sampling underwent in-depth, semi-structured interviews from March 2020 to January 2021. Bird’s nest parenting was found to be guided by the parents’ desire to act in the best interests of their children, holding the view that children should not suffer due to parents’ separation. The post-divorce physical setting was found to impact the child’s health and well-being as the preservation of a single familiar home was associated with multiple advantages like avoiding adjustment problems, ensuring stability and improving relations. While also viable for long-term solutions, nesting was considered particularly useful for the transitional period following separation, as it minimised sudden, harmful changes. The arrangement was perceived as beneficial for both children and parents.