After years of raising your child, you can’t believe that they just said that they would rather live with their other parent. While news like this feels like a punch in the gut, it is important to remember that even older children and teens do not always know what is best for them. Before you start to panic, take a deep breath and use these strategies to get through a potentially life-altering family situation.
Avoid Getting Emotional With Your Child
Responding with anger will make your child shut down or drive them even further toward the idea of living with their other parent. If you already blew up, then calm down and let your child know that you responded without taking time to think. Then, discuss the topic when both of you are relaxed enough to talk rationally. If the conversation gets heated, then take a break and come back to it later.
Get to the Heart of the Matter
While you may feel like your child’s choosing to live with the other parent means that they love them more than they love you, the truth is that your child may have a much more basic reason for wanting to move there. For instance, an older teenager may prefer a different high school or sports team. A younger child may be enticed by the prospect of having their own bedroom or more time to spend with their friend next door. Getting to the underlying reason for why your child wants to live with your ex allows you to determine if it is valid.
Do Not Try to Win Them Over
The last thing you want to do is get into a battle with your ex, where the only winner is your child. While it is fine to help them meet a need such as seeing their friends more, you also want to avoid giving them everything they want. For now, avoid extending their curfew just because your ex lets them stay out late or buying them expensive toys. Instead, focus on continuing to spend quality time with your child which matters more in the end.
Stick to Your Current Arrangement
Child custody agreements are meant to give kids stability that helps them thrive. If your kids currently stay with you, then avoid sending them to your ex’s for a temporary trial, unless it is their normal visitation days. This will only confuse the situation, and it will backfire if your child decides that they want to live there permanently. If your child is splitting their time between both houses, then continue to allow them to do so until you have reached an agreement with your ex. While residence arrangements do sometimes need to be changed, your child benefits from having things stay the same for as long as possible.
Take Lifestyle Factors Into Consideration
There may be no need to be worried that your child’s request can be met if, for example, your ex has a lifestyle that is not conducive to raising kids. Spend a few minutes thinking about their overall daily routine. For instance, a parent who works late nights might not be able to pick up a young child from daycare, or your ex’s small one-bedroom apartment might not even have space for a teenager. It is also completely possible that your ex is perfectly fine with the current arrangements and doesn’t want your child to live with with him or her.
Reach Out For Support
In the best-case scenario, your child just made this claim out of a moment of anger and it blows over. However, you will need to reach out for support if your child is serious about the desire to change the current arrangement. From venting your frustrations to a counselor to figuring out your legal options, our experts here at Cuppls are always ready to support you through any relationship trial.
Hearing that your child wants to live with someone else hurts, especially when you thought that you had years before this would be an issue. While you may not be able to change their mind, you can take control of the situation by keeping a clear head and opening up the doors for effective communication as a family.