It is always painful when a child or teenager wants to go live with the other parent during or after a divorce. Whether it is because they get along with one parent more, or if they just prefer the living circumstances, it is always hard on the parent that has to let go of their child during such a delicate time. If your child or teenager has come to you and expressed that they want to live with Mom or Dad instead, listen to what they have to say.
Sometimes a child can get angry with the parent they are living with and say things in the heat of the moment. Here are some excellent ways to figure out what your child or teen truly wants to do and how you can deal with it in a healthy manner.
Talk it Out
Whether your child said to you directly that they want to live with Mom or Dad, or if they yelled it out in anger and in the heat of the moment, be open to what they have to say.
Teenagers going through divorce tend to have multiple ups and downs from the ages of 13 to 17 where they may want to be with Mom one moment or Dad another moment. They may feel they won’t have as many rules at one home or be treated less like a 5-year-old at another. Practice active listening as they are talking to you and ask them to tell you more about why they want to move.
Is it a Healthy Choice?
If you feel as though your child living at your ex-partner’s home is an unhealthy decision, tell your child how you feel. Avoid criticizing your ex when speaking with your child, and just explain that you feel that where they are living now is the healthiest place. They may not understand this at all if they are a younger child and may ask why repeatedly. Or, your teen may think you are just angry at your ex still and preventing them from going to their home. Either way, you must be honest about your feelings too when discussing this type of decision.
Let Go and Set Rules
If it is your teenager that wants to move out, it might be a good idea to let them try it for a while. If you and your ex set rules regarding chores, sleep times, social time with friends, school responsibilities and visits with you, then you will all feel much better. Then, if your teenager believes that they will have it ‘easier’ when they are with their parent, they will learn to understand that they have responsibilities in both homes and must follow through.
Try to Be Strong
It is important that you don’t fall apart if your child says they want to live with their Mom or Dad instead of with you. Do not take it too personally. In divorce, kids have all sorts of needs and they may want to have equal time with Mom and Dad as they grow up. If you can find a way to work it out with your ex, you can all benefit from the decision.
Have you ever dealt with this situation? How did you manage? Please share with others that may benefit from your experience.