What to Do When Your Child Says They Want to Live With Their Other Parent
The divorce process can take its toll on a family. You might be hurting, but it is important to remember that everyone involved is struggling as well. Divorce can have a major effect on a child, causing them to act out or internalize their negative emotions.
If you have been granted custody of your child, you may, at some point, hear the words “I don’t want to live with you anymore,” or “I want to live with (other parent)!” Here are four tips for dealing with this kind of emotionally charged situation in a way that's healthy for everyone involved.
- Don’t take it personally
Of course, that's easier said than done. Hearing those words can be heartbreaking. You may already feel abandoned by your spouse, so the last thing you want is to lose your child. The thing is, these words are usually said in the heat of an argument and they usually aren’t sincere. Your son or daughter might just be angry or upset and they’re taking it out on you. Saying hurtful things is just one way kids take out their anger since they haven’t yet developed strong coping skills.
- Don’t badmouth your ex
Your first reaction may be to go on the offensive. You might want to try to convince your child that they wouldn’t be happier with their other parent; you may want to paint him or her as a less desirable person (that may even be true). This won’t work and it will only make your rebellious child feel more isolated and angry. The truth is your child will always feel love and loyalty towards both of you, even if they don’t show it.
- Keep your cool
Before you react, take a deep breath and do your best to come across as calm and collected. The last thing you want to do is say something you will regret, too. For instance, if you were to yell, “Fine! Go live with your (other parent)!” it may be interpreted as cold and uncaring. Your child may take it to mean that your love is conditional, as in, “Do what I say or you’re out of my house.” You will not only lose control of the situation, but you will also compromise your credibility as a loving parent.
- Keep an open mind
If you believe that your child isn’t just saying this as a manifestation of anger or frustration, if you believe that they are being sincere, hear them out. At the end of the day, everything you do as a parent should be in the best interest of your child. If your son wants more time with his dad or your daughter needs more girl time with her mom, consider their feelings and make a smart decision with the help of a family lawyer.
The parents of 1.5 million children get divorced every year. Raising a kid after your divorce can be tough. Raising a kidbefore a divorce can be tough.
If your custody situation isn’t working out in the best interest of your child, discuss your options with child custody lawyers or a family lawyer to determine the best course of action. The ins and outs of family law and divorce law can be complicated, so it is important to have an experienced professional on your side.