Being a mother is one of the toughest jobs we’ll ever have. There is joy, fun, anger, hurt and a myriad of other emotions and feelings. One of the things that can be the most heart wrenching is when your child or children decide they want to live with the other parents.
Whether you’re a divorced or single mom, your child’s decision to live with the other parent is a possibility that no one really wants to deal with. I’m going to share a few things with you in the hopes I can help you cope if this happens to you.
Your Child’s Decision:
Let me assure you, I’m experiencing this very situation. My son – my second child – has decided to live with his father. I am not going to go into whether I believe my ex-husband has coached him into this or not. Regardless of the path that led to this decision it is now a reality.
I have four children ages 24, 11 (my son), 10 and 8 – all girls and one boy. The decision was made when I was out of town for more than six months going through cancer treatment. That, alone, was an emotional time so you can image my feelings when it was communicated to me, “…and Andre wants to live with me anyway.”
So, your child wants to live with the other parent? Now what?
- Calmly approach your child to discuss why he or she wants to live with your ex. Inquire with open-ended questions. For example: What is your reason for wanting to live with your father? Is there something here that is bothering you or that you don’t like?
- Express how much you love and care for him; do the best you can to tell him your deepest emotions about those feelings. I would suggest doing this without crying, but I must admit this is near impossible.
- When your child is with you, make an effort to do things he or she likes and to spend time with them individually especially if you have multiple children. For me, it’s a piece of cake to come up with girly things to do – I have three daughters and a granddaughter. Although it takes a little effort to figure out male-specific things it’s something I enjoy doing to make my son happy.
- Ask your child what he would like to do when he’s with you. If he doesn’t have an immediate answer, ask him to think about it so the two of you can maximize on your time together.
I have all of my children with me this summer and I’m trying to stay “in the moment” so I don’t think about the day my son goes to live with his father full-time. Deep down I’m dreading the day and wonder how this will change our relationship.
If this is something you’re dealing with, know you are not alone and – like all the other adventures of motherhood – you will come out on the other side of this as strong as ever.