Mothering Forum banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is really hard for me to talk about. After our divorce, my daughter's father and I did the 50/50 thing for about a year before I moved away. I've had full custody of our daughter ever since, though she visits her dad extensively throughout the year. Her dad is awesome (honestly, he's probably a better parent than I am), and she loves him very much.<br><br>
She's been missing her dad, her extended family, and our old town (we're in a new country). Ever since we moved here she's been wanting to go back and live with her dad. I figured she'd adjust, and for the most part, she has - she's a happy kid. But she still wants to move back home. She understands that she would live without me.<br><br>
I never questioned where she would live (with me, of course!). But now I feel selfish, like I'm keeping her here just for me. Her dad would be thrilled to have her and she'd have a wonderful step-mom and step-sister. I would visit her several times a year, just like her dad does now. There isn't an option for me to move back there at the moment, but my grad program will be done in a few years, and then I may be able to (or at least move a lot closer).<br><br>
Is this insane? I feel guilty just thinking about it, but then I also feel guilty keeping her here away from her family and, apparently, everything she ever loved (she talks about it constantly - it's hard for me to hear). I just feel like it makes sense, and would be better for her, but at the same time goes against the grain of motherhood - you don't just let your children move away.<br><br>
Help me. If any of you have children who live with their dads, how did you decide on that arrangement? Did you ever get over it? Do you worry about them?<br><br>
Thanks in advance...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,599 Posts
I don't have any really good advice, but couldn't read and not reply. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
309 Posts
My ex(s) and I all share 50/50 custody and for the most part have made the unspoken agreement to remain within close proximity for the kids sake. I grew up in a situation where my mom moved us across country from my Dad and honestly, I also wanted to be back with him, it was the idealistic unknown. I did have issues with resentment and anger that were related to what I felt like was my mom denying me access to my dad. I have a six year old dd and her dad sounds much like your ex, hes patient with her, a lot of fun and devotes his complete attention to her when they are together. Even with equal time there are moments when she prefers being at his house, where she is the only child and gets a break from our somewhat noisy, chaotic home. I respect her wishes as long as they work out for her dad. There are times when he is busy and we say no, which is no biggie. I think its important to find a way to honor your dd feelings, maybe she gets to spend all summer with him? I found in my situation it is sometimes very difficult to be honest enough with myself to know when I am making a decision based on my selfish desires or because it is in the best interest of the kids. I have failed several times at seeing things clearly because of my fear of losing a connection based on time with them...this gets much easier as they are older and better able to articulate their desires.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, frolick. I have the same trouble - I can't quite tell whether she should really stay with me for her well-being, or whether I just want her to stay because she's my daughter. I don't really know how to tell, especially when we're both good parents.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,426 Posts
Another <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"><br><br>
I applaud you for listening so well to your dd. In your shoes, I think I'd probably try to honor her wish by making a commitment to locate yourself closer to your hometown once your grad program is done, rather than taking any action that could be construed in a child's mind as "mommy gave me up."<br><br>
For perspective, my ds was almost five when we moved across the country and were separated from dh for several months (not marital trouble, a physical separation for work reasons). My ds became fixated on moving in with his grandparents who lived down the street from our new place. I had to physically haul him out the door every time we visited. He said that they has a "happy house" (familiar, secure, a place he associated with the whole family being together) and we had a "sad house" (a new and unfamiliar place where we had never lived together as a family). But I guarantee you, he did NOT truly want me to give him to his Grandma - even though he said so. What he wanted was to be able to retreat to a place of security, and he hadn't been able to create that in our new home yet.<br><br>
You don't mention how long you have been in your new location. A year? Less than a year? Transitions can be very hard for little folks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, Smithie. You raise a really good point... we've been here for about a year. Part of it is that I worry whether I can offer as much stability as her father can (I've got a serious inferiority complex about this at the moment), and whether he's just more fun in general, etc. It's clear that the best solution is to move closer to her father as soon as I can, but it's really rough in the meantime.<br><br>
At what age (on average) can a child decide where she wants to live? Five just seems too young!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,276 Posts
I think I'd set aside that particular grad program and opt for another closer to 'home'. I gather though, that you can't see that as an option.<br><br>
I've raised my daughter without her father's involvement for over five years, and I *still* am reluctant to relocate somewhere that would be inaccessible because it just doesn't feel like it's right. If he were involved? I would not move out of the area.<br><br>
** I just reread this, and I apologize if it came across as a judgment of your life/choices. It absolutely is not. You make the best choices for your child and life, and you know what will/won't work for you. While I wouldn't make the same choice, I can understand doing so for the right once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.<br><br>
FWIW, I think five is too young to make the choice. 15? Maybe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I totally agree with you. It was a long and twisty road to get where we are now. Originally, her dad was on board to move here with us, but backed out at the last minute. I would have had to drop all of my plans and my funding to stay where we were, and it wasn't really an option. Sadly, there are no programs close to home that are an option. Post-doc will hopefully present wider choices.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,214 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,276 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SoulCakes</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15465731"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I totally agree with you. It was a long and twisty road to get where we are now. Originally, her dad was on board to move here with us, but backed out at the last minute. I would have had to drop all of my plans and my funding to stay where we were, and it wasn't really an option. Sadly, there are no programs close to home that are an option. Post-doc will hopefully present wider choices.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I can absolutely understand. I edited my post when I realized how blunt it seemed. Sorry!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,733 Posts
Could you arrange for a visit? I wonder whether she's just missing everyone and everything?<br><br>
DS1 is 4.5yo and although he sees his Dad every weekend and usually during the week too, he will say sometimes that he wants to go live with him, but honestly I just think that it's a matter of him missing him and wanting to see him everyday. Also that I'm 'mean' (you know, because he doesn't actually get to do whatever he wants!). I think if I said he could go live with his Dad he wouldn't really want to, or would want to come home after a week.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@confustication: No worries! I knew what you meant and, like I said, I agree with you. This isn't quite how I planned it to turn out, but it's hard when life pulls you in different directions.<br><br>
@Learning Mum: Fortunately we have a great visitation schedule, given the cirumstances. She spends two months with her dad over the summer, a month at Christmas, and this past year he came here for a month over the easter holidays. I think we'll just have to see how this summer plays out and whether she still wants to live there after two months of no mommy-time!<br><br>
Philosophically, though - are children always better off with their mother (if there's no abuse, of course)? It's my instinct to say that children and mothers should never be separated, but logically I'm not so sure. She has a large and lively family back home that she would get to see on a regular basis, which she loves. She has a stepsister. Her dad is more outgoing, always planning fun adventures, etc. If she truly wants to live with him, is it selfish of me to keep her here?<br><br>
Thanks again for everyone's responses. They've been really helpful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
i dont think children are always better off with thier mother unless they are nursing babies. fathers can parent as well and sometimes better then mothers, she is young if she still wants to stay after the summer i would let her, on the understanding that if she changes her mind she can come back to you. of course you would miss her but if its whats she wants why not let her? shes not old enought for it sidrupt her schooling and you can travel and see her. I do belive it is the hardest thing for a mother to let her child live someone else but you doing it for her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
309 Posts
I agree with above poster, and I think the shift within our society and the way a lot of custody agreements are these days encompasses that shift. In my area the court systems are very family friendly and unless there are reasons the father should not have 50/50 custody or does not want 50/50 custody, most couples I know who divorced have that arrangement. In fact the school district even caters its busing to one week on one week off schedules within the district. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
708 Posts
I have to say that I moved my daughter a 35-45 minute drive (and hour subway ride) away from her old school and neighborhood and for the first year and a half she was miserable. We realized that her school and friends and neighborhood were the most secure things in her life; they were the constant through the big changes of divorce, new stepdad, etc. My daughter is super-attached to me; my ex is not as great a parent as I am (though he loves her) and she has a really hard time being away from me. Nonetheless, she has agreed and has been living with her dad during the week in order to have that old life back and it's made the world of difference for her. I don't know that kids do always adjust to big moves- and a new country away from all family is a pretty big move.<br><br>
I guess I'd lean towards reversing the custody schedule. She could live with her dad during the school year and be with you all summer and all the breaks. That's still something like 1/3 time. And you could skype daily or near daily. And send letters and care packages back and forth. And have an understanding (written if necessary) that you will move back in a few years (anyway to make that sooner? do dissertation research from back home?) and resume a 50-50 custody schedule. I can't imagine how heartbreaking that would be and I don't think it's about whether you're a good enough parent; you sound like an amazing parent and you don't need to be an extrovert to love a child. But I think this isn't just about whether it's better to live with mom vs dad; it's about whether to maintain the whole continuity of her life with a loving parent and extended family or move and start over with just one parent. This is even more true if you plan to move again after grad school; because then you can't even say she's sinking roots for the future; she'll have to relocate again.<br><br>
I think you should feel NO GUILT about letting your daughter live with her dad. Dads have the capability to be just as wonderful parents as moms. It'll be hard for her in a lot of ways because almost everyone has a mom they live with as many people don't have dads. But it sounds like she has a lot of support. And if she's 5 and has been continually asking for this - and handles the 2 month separations well - then I think she should have a say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,131 Posts
I also don't think kids are better off with their mother than with their father. It absolutely doesn't make you a bad parent to consider having your daughter live with your husband. In fact, it makes you an AMAZING mom for considering making a REALLY hard choice to put your daughter's needs before your own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,237 Posts
My niece lived with me for 2 months when she was 5 yrs old and for 1 1/2 years when she was 7/8 yrs old. We had a wonderful time and she spent winter holiday, spring break, and summer with her mother. She missed her sometimes but they kept in touch a few times a week on the phone. You'll also have skype or a webcam to keep in touch with your daughter!<br>
Why not try the summer out and see how she feels?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
First of all, thank you everyone for your replies. They really soothed my mind and gave me something to think about.<br><br>
So, I need to know how you feel about this, whether I'm completely off-base given all that's been said above and how I handled this:<br><br>
First of all, I've changed my mind. Or rather, I've clarified my position. I was hurt before, and not thinking very clearly about my own capacities as a parent and I certainly wasn't giving myself enough credit. I'm a good mom. He's a good dad. But regardless, she's five, and not yet old enough to make her own decisions about something so major. Secondly, we've only been here for a year and another major move would only add further instability, something she doesn't need. A sense of continuity is good for young children, and so long as my home is happy, healthy, and stable, I don't think that she should have ultimate say about where she lives. When she's older and better capable of making her own decisions - that's different.<br><br>
However, I ran the idea past her father to get a grasp on whether it's something he would want (he would). When I wrote the email (we communicate best by email), I was careful to put in clear thoughts like, "It's something I'm willing to CONSIDER" (yes, "consider" was in all caps, just to be clear). Afterwards we chatted online and explored how it would actually work, etc. I never, ever said that I had made up my mind or that it was a done deal.<br><br>
And now... I've changed my mind, and he's upset. And I totally understand - I would be heartbroken if I thought she might get to come live with me and then I found out she wasn't going to. But I'm trying to find out if his anger is justified. I feel that I couldn't know what to do or if it was even a possibility if I didn't discuss it with him beforehand. And, as I said, I made it super clear that it was ONLY a possibility. But, knowing him, I know worry that he went out and told everyone - his partner, his parents, everyone - that she was definitely coming. And I'm just kicking myself for even bringing it up without letting myself come out of my hurt little shell and thinking it through more thoroughly.<br><br>
Did I totally screw up by discussing it with him? Or is this one of those things where he's just upset and I just need to be understanding? I feel really, really bad about disappointing him, but again, I repeatedly said it was only a possibility.<br><br>
Mrrrph. I went from feeling rotten to feeling good to feeling rotten again. I hate upsetting other people.<br><br>
ETA: For the record, there's been no history of waffling on my side. He's changed his mind about several things (moving here with us, for instance), but I've never done anything like this before.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
I think you've made the right decision. Deciding where to live is way too much responsibility for a 5-year-old.<br><br>
I also think that it was perfectly reasonable of you to discuss the possibility with him before reaching any kind of decision.<br><br>
And, I think that it is perfectly understandable that he would be disappointed--extremely disappointed--about your decision after getting his hopes up. And how could he not get his hopes up, no matter how clear you were that it was only a possibility you were exploring?<br>
It is also understandable that he would feel angry now, as many people do when faced with a big disappointment.<br><br>
Even so, you did not "screw up". He is not irrational. It just is what it is--understandable feelings on everyone's part, given the situation.<br><br>
He'll get over it. You'll be more careful in the future to not discuss similar "possibilities" before they are closer to "probabilities".<br><br>
If, when it's time for you to make another major move (after your grad program is over), then you can still re-visit the question if she has not adjusted and still wants to move "back home with dad" in function of where you can move (closer or not, etc.).<br><br>
Adjusting the modalities of your custody agreement could be something that needs to be done anyway then if you are moving closer...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ione, thank you so much for your response. It's hard to see things in perspective when I'm feeling like this. Part of the problem, at least for me, is that he harbored so much anger towards me after we split up, and it's only really been the last six months or so that our relationship has gotten to great place. I really don't want to do anything to mess with our relationship now that it's on a solid footing. That and I have a serious problem with trying to please people, and I absolutely loathe disappointing them.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top