Benoît Hachet is very familiar with the subject of joint residency. “Alternating” himself, he conducted between 2011 and 2018, a quantitative survey unique in France, both through an online questionnaire sent to 20,000 Cnaf beneficiaries and through individual interviews.
The result is an alert and tender book, titled Every two weeks. The author portrays a mosaic of lives, efforts and boondoggles, with in his sights a question: “How to succeed in my work-study program when I am a separated parent”?
→ INVESTIGATION. Growing up between two houses
Concretely, this method of family organization is often given as an example after a divorce. Parents can decide to bring up the children on an equal basis, taking turns welcoming them every other week. Still rare, since it presupposes a minimum of understanding and geographical proximity, it nevertheless concerns 14% of the children of separated couples and 3% of all children.
Alternate residency seen by parents
The originality of the book lies in its point of view. The author observes the alternating residence on the side of those who often fight to have it or refuse it: the parents. “I wanted to know what they did when they had their children and when they didn’t have them, how they organized their commuting life and how they managed to link these two times”, he justifies. Benoît Hachet indeed shows the fortunes and misfortunes of these adults capable of compromising in their personal lives to maintain a bond with their children through thick and thin. Thus, over the pages, it is often surprising modalities, sometimes touching efforts, which come to life.
We discover for example the parents “LAT”, from English “Living appart together”, or separated couples who choose to continue living under the same roof, each at one end of the family apartment, for lack of financial means to take on two dwellings, or to ensure continuity in the lives of the children. The reader also discovers “nest residences”, a system in which “Each parent alternates, while the children stay all the time in the common home”, describes Benoît Hachet. It is then the adults who pack and unpack their suitcases at the start of the week, even if they generally give up very quickly.
Sunday night loneliness
There are those, even more numerous, who remain for years stranded in a city they do not like, in order to be closer to their children. Or those who, for lack of space, sleep on the sofa during the week when their offspring is there. Benoît Hachet also recounts the loneliness of Sunday evening, widely shared by the parents questioned, when they handed the children over to the other. And the attempts to furnish “this empty nest”: too much work, too many parties, too much boredom …
The survey does not say whether joint residence is a good solution or not. On the other hand, it shows everything you need to be ready to achieve. Such an approach is rare in a field which quickly turns into a war of the sexes; it shows by example that it is never easy to repair the addicts of the emotional life.