13 yo ds wants to move in with dad - Mothering Forums
Preteens and Teens > 13 yo ds wants to move in with dad
paisleypoet's Avatar paisleypoet 09:47 AM 04-24-2013

This is killing me and I need support or advice or something.

My son is 13. His dad and I divorced about a year and a half ago. He and his 7 yo sister have been living with me FT and seeing their dad every other weekend. He recently told me he wants to move in with his dad. 


This is shocking to me for many reasons. Garrett and I have always been very close. Even as a 13 yo, he confides in me stuff he would never talk about with anyone. I am the only person he talks to about being gay. When he is with his dad, he emails me and texts me and sometimes asks personal, difficult questions about boys or other 13 yo confusing problems. We have a lot of fun together, and I mean a lot of fun, despite the fact that he likes to be alone in his room with his iPod and gets grumpy a lot like any other teen. 


He has never been very close with his dad. 

He is also suffering from terrible anxiety with depression and has just started therapy. He has had some bullying issues at this school and is generally not happy there. I am looking to move closer to where his dad lives because of this. All I will have left here is my daughter, and while that is great, she will not have her brother every day and we will not have him with us every day and I can't stop crying because it brings me such joy. 


I can't keep him, and his dad wants him. His dad has a girlfriend and they live together. It's killing me that she will be taking care of him and not me. I can't see how he will be happy there. The school will be about 10 times bigger (if not more) and he has a lot of social anxiety. 


Sorry this is so long. 

sparklefairy's Avatar sparklefairy 09:50 AM 04-24-2013

Has he said why?

paisleypoet's Avatar paisleypoet 09:53 AM 04-24-2013

No, not really, just a vague unhappiness. He said it's not horrible here, and he will miss us. 

mar123's Avatar mar123 10:23 AM 04-24-2013

I'm so sorry; I just can't imagine, as a parent, how I would deal with that.


My parents divorced when I was 1. I lived with my mom my entire life (I am an only child) until my dad married his third wife and they had my sister. I moved in with them, my choice. It truly had nothing to do with my mom. I wanted the experience of being part of an intact family- a dad, a mom, etc. It lasted about 8 months, until it was clear my dad and his wife were headed towards divorce. I don't know if that is impacting his decision, but that was my experience.


With regard to the school: A bigger school may mean less bullying, especially if he is being bullied because he is gay. At a bigger school, there are likely other kids just like him, and he can find his place. While he has social anxiety, he may perceive that being at that school will be easier in terms of acceptance. Also, maybe he knows some people online who go to school there and are encouraging him to be there. In 10th grade I hated my school; I begged my dad to send me to the private school where all of my friends were. He didn't, and I am glad, but at the time switching schools seemed like the perfect answer to my 10th grade self.

paisleypoet's Avatar paisleypoet 10:40 AM 04-24-2013

Thank you. 

I do think a bigger school will be better for him, and that he can find more acceptance. I just wish he would be living with me to experience that. I really do think that's the big draw for him. 


I just worry about the living situation. His dad has only known this woman not quite a year now, and they are living in her house. If it doesn't work, my ex is out on the street with nothing. He sold his house and moved away and gave up everything. Also, the ex has been harassing me and bullying me quite a bit the past couple of months, and he is just not a good person at all. He lies and manipulates and so much more. I have a feeling he has been trying to sweeten the pot for the kids and trying to convince them of how great it will be to live with him. For some reason he is determined to take them away from me. I also think it's more to get back at me and not have to pay me child support than an actual desire to have them. 


I told Garrett that seeing your dad and having fun every other weekend is not the same as living with him. I know that from personal experience. He said he knows that, but I'm not sure he really understands it. 

meemee's Avatar meemee 07:34 PM 04-24-2013
Originally Posted by paisleypoet View Post

I told Garrett that seeing your dad and having fun every other weekend is not the same as living with him. I know that from personal experience. He said he knows that, but I'm not sure he really understands it. 

mama he has to live with his dad and experience this. this is one of the things they have to discover for themselves - not just hear it. he might be holding hope that things will be different at his dads which could be a good thing. dont take his hope away. you will always be there to hold him if he finds otherwise and wants to come back. its is about a normal age to want to do it. 


he has to discover who his father is. right now perhaps he's hoping you are wrong. 

bhawkins's Avatar bhawkins 08:49 AM 04-27-2013
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

mama he has to live with his dad and experience this. this is one of the things they have to discover for themselves - not just hear it. he might be holding hope that things will be different at his dads which could be a good thing. dont take his hope away. you will always be there to hold him if he finds otherwise and wants to come back. its is about a normal age to want to do it. 


he has to discover who his father is. right now perhaps he's hoping you are wrong. 

I absolutely agree with this. My oldest DS, who will be 18 this year, has moved in with his dad twice since we divorced when he was 4. The first time he was 10 years old. I was extremely hesitant but allowed it. I made it clear to him that he was welcome to come back home to us at anytime but that it would not be a revolving door. He came back 5 weeks later. He spent several years not seeing him at all. Recently, as he's working his way into adulthood, he began to seek out a relationship with his dad again and months later wanted to live with him. I allowed it again with the exact same rule. This time it took 4 months before he returned home. 


Both times I think it was just something he needed to experience for himself. His dad and I live VERY different lives and I feel like it has and will continue to help him choose the path that is best for him to have been a part of such different worlds. Letting go, even just temporarily, is very scary. But I feel like holding him hostage, so to speak, will only cause rebellion in the long run. Both times, our relationship has improved and grown closer with his return home. Good luck!

paisleypoet's Avatar paisleypoet 08:53 AM 04-27-2013

Thank you. I know I can't make him stay, but it just hurts. bawling.gif

mamaaz's Avatar mamaaz 11:06 PM 05-06-2013

I understand how you feel,and it hurts. I am going through the same thing right now with my 12 year old son. His father left us four months ago and moved in with his girlfriend. She's been no stranger to the kids she been around for about a year. She's nice to the kids and although I know he's happy there I wish things were different. They act like a family over there and I can't give him that being a single working mom. It's been really hard for his sister too who's ten. Everyone says it gets easier but it's hard, I wish I had some advice for you but hang in there and know there are people here for you and who are going through the same thing.

LitMama's Avatar LitMama 10:51 AM 05-09-2013

Is there a reason that your DS can't live with both of you (especially if you move closer to his dad)? One week at your place, one week at his dad's (or some other arrangement)? That works well for us.


If your ex is manipulative, he may try to interfere with your relationship with your DS (speaking from experience here). If that happens, I think it's very important for you to continue to have an open, loving presence in his life, so he can continue to see for himself what you are really like (despite how his dad may portray you -- expert manipulators can very subtly influence children's opinions of their other parents), and what the value of your mother-son relationship is.


I get what the other posters are suggesting about his need to have this experience with his dad, and maybe that's accurate. But when you mentioned that his dad is manipulative, that just sent up red flags for me, because I've been down that road. If there is any possibility that your ex is trying to alienate your son from you, then you need to continue to be there for and with your son so he can feel that loving connection and see you for you really are. He could have the experience of living with his dad, while still living with you. 

amber3902's Avatar amber3902 12:37 PM 05-09-2013

You know, maybe I'm just a mean ole mom, but I would not let your son live with his dad.  Speaking as a divorced mom myself, I don't think it's a good idea to let a child decide where he wants to live.  Kids that live in intact families don't get to decide they want to live somewhere else.  And he's only 13!  Children of this age lack the maturity to make a decision of this magnitude.


In addition, you state that exH is maniuplative and his living situation is precarious.  You say you are the only person your son talks to about being gay, so does his dad even KNOW his son is gay?  ExH doesn't sound like he would be that supportive of a gay son if his son can't even talk to him about it.  Also, could it be exH is trying to get your son to live with him so he'll have less CS to pay?


And I disagree that moving to a larger school would be better for him.  I don't think moving to a larger school is a good idea for someone who has social anxiety!


I would look into other options for dealing with the bullying issue, be it homeschooling or transferring to another school. 


I hope things turn out okay for you and your son.

Adaline'sMama's Avatar Adaline'sMama 01:27 PM 05-09-2013

As a 10 year old, I decided I wanted to live with the parent I wasnt living with and as an adult, I really wish my parents had not let me choose. It was not the best decision for me to make, and I've always wondered what my life would have been like if I'd just stay put. 


Im not in a blended family as a parent, but that's just my two cents :)

LitMama's Avatar LitMama 07:15 PM 05-09-2013

I agree it's not a good idea to let a 13-year-old call the shots. It's too great a burden for them and very complicated psychologically/emotionally, even if they only see that in hindsight as adults (I have many adult friends who regret having made those "Sophie's Choice" type decisions as children/adolescents). My opinion is that you and your ex need to make those decisions on his behalf. I'm still voting for the best of both worlds... a shared parenting arrangement.

One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 07:49 PM 05-09-2013
I don't think it is in a child's best interest to dictate visitation and custody terms and it isn't something judges in my state tend to do, they tend to go on the child's best interest and status quo regardless of the child's preferences. I would definitely fight to keep my child in a stable and supportive home even if she preferred a less stable and restrictive household.
meemee's Avatar meemee 02:57 PM 05-11-2013

unfortunately there are always two sides of the coin. 


there is no easy answer. there is no right answer.


hindsight teaches a lot always.


you do the best that you can mama. between your son and you you need to do the best that works for your family. on the long run it might not be the right decision... or it just might be the right decision. you and your son have to sit down and decide. 


i have so many friends (being single draws them out i say) who lived in single parent homes. some were allowed to change. some werent. for some chagning worked, for some it didnt. in general the children who had the best homes were the ones where the parents were able to communicate with each other. not like in other cases where the parents just could not talk to each other (for example, in my case - ex is mean and manipulative with me but tries really hard to be best dad with dd) the children really suffered. i have watched a family for the last 8 years. they were in dd's dc together. the parents live just a block from each other and communicate freely and work together for their kids. they are open and understanding when one parent wants to change the schedule. i see what a difference those childrens out look in life is compared to dd's who didnt have that. 


there is no one answer fits all situations. 


no matter what happens - do the best that you can. my parents made HUGE mistakes which cost them heavily. but i dont love them any less. if anything i love them more because they are human and the one thing that stood out ALWAYS - they were trying to do the best. i spent a lot of time hating my mom. what a wasted emotion. later i realised she was just doing the best she could. 


as single families there are a lot of heart wrenching decisions we have to make. lots of hugs to you mama. 

journeymom's Avatar journeymom 09:57 AM 05-14-2013

This thread is almost 3 weeks old, but OP I hope you're still around.  I have some thoughts to consider.


1.  You are not letting the 13 year old call the shots when you genuinely take his request and opinion into consideration.  You're still the one making the decisions.


2.  It is completely normal and developmentally predictable that a 13 year old boy is looking to his father more and more.  He's trying to figure out how to be a man.  This is a normal stage and you would be smart to accept and support it.  The problem is, it sounds like his dad particularly isn't a sterling example of a man.  You want your son to be a man, just not like this man.


3.  His dad is manipulative and bullying and that simply isn't healthy.  It's insidious.  Adults have a difficult enough time dealing with bullying family members, and frequently fail.  Your ex's 13 year old son is particularly vulnerable to getting hurt.


4.  His dad hasn't been with the girlfriend for even a whole year.  That's nuts. That's flaky. Your ex doesn't know the girlfriend well enough and they haven't, together, proven they'll provide a stable, safe home for your child.


The solution is in the last thing there.  Tell your son that if his dad is still with the girlfriend a year from now, together you and he can revisit the idea.  That way you aren't shutting the door in your son's face, but you are also being the adult, using your experience and wisdom to keep your son safe. 

Tags: Teens