21 answers

My Five Year Old Wants to Live with Her Dad

My daughter Laila recently decided she wanted to go live with her dad. This is something totally new from her. She wont talk to me about why she is feeling like that, and when she does she says she doesnt want to hurt my feelings. I tell her that she hurts my feelings by not telling me but that doesnt help. I have talked to her dad about it and he wants her to go live with him but I dont think I can handle her being away from me and only seeeing her on weekends. I am very confused and have no idea how to handle the situation. If you have any suggestions or advice please let me know it will be greatly appreciated.

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I TOTALLY agree with everything Bzzymom responded. And, at the end of the day, a 5 year old doesn't get to make these decisions. My heartfelt wishes to you. :-)

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My daughter told me she loved her dad more than me yesterday . . . she was home with me all day and I make her clean up after herself, eat her peas, etc., etc. Dad is usually more fun, so I am not bothered by it.

5 year olds should not be able to make these kinds of decisions because they can and will decide to live with whoever is more "fun" or "less strict". If you allow it now, be prepared for the back and forth until she turns 18.

1 mom found this helpful

I think a 5 year old is to young to make that decision.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello V.,
A close friend of mine was divorced several years ago when her children were 12, 9, and 6. At first they went to their dad's from Thurs. to Sun. every other week. When the oldest was 13 he asked if they could spend one week at each house. When they started that schedule, the kids reported they were much happier. It was easier for them to feel they had a real home when it was a whole week. Each family is different, you have to figure out what works for you.
Good luck,
Wendy

1 mom found this helpful

Well if Laila moves in with Dad, I say you move in too. I would be heartbroken too.

My herart goes out to you. This is so hard on you. I would ask her questions and try to discover why she wants to go live with him. I had primary custody and three times my daughter talked about wanting to go live with her father. The first time she was around 4 and in counseling and the counselor asked iif she would miss me if she went to live with her dad. She said no. I thought my heart would break. Then he asked why not. She said, cause Mommy would go with me. One other time she wanted to be at Dad's where it was fun with no chores. She also wanted to live with her aunt for the same reason after being there for a week on vacation. The last time she was asking to spend extra time with her Dad and was talking about living with him. With enough questioning, I finally found out that it was because he was mainly ignoring her when she was there. She figured if she spent more time there, she would be there if he wanted to spend time with her. So sad.

I tried to make her heard, and she lived with me, still does while she goes to the community college. One other thing that helped was the court related mediatin. They talked to me, they talked to her father, and the talked to her privately. We did it to set up the original visitation schedule and went back to make some changes. It really helped.

Best of luck to all of you.

I can already see mine will not be a popular answer... however I am a child of divorced parents and feel I can offer a different perspective. They split when I was 3, and it was always the courts deciding where I should be and when - oh and my father, who had the better lawyer and was a bigger bully.

My parents thought they needed to do "what was best" for me. Because a child can't possibly have valid feelings and make a wise decision, right? WRONG. It took me a lot of years as an adult to recover from the damage their "joint custody" arrangement caused in my life. My father is no longer part of my life.

What is wrong with trying it out for a week? And if she is happier that way, let her stay there. I think it would be completely revolutionary if they let the kids decide where they live and when. Divorce is difficult enough for a child - they didn't have a say in having their family ripped in two, and now they don't have a say in where they live?

Please, be the bigger person and let your daughter go to Dad's. Put your feelings aside and show her that you really hear her and care for her. At the very least, give it a trial run.

I agree that 5 years old is way too young to make her own decisions about that. My daughter is 7 and she is still way too young in my opinion. Her dad nad I have been divorced since she was 2. I will totally feel the same way as you if / when the day ever comes when she wants to live with him. But, for now, no way she is too young. I also feel like esp having a young daughter it is important for them to live with their mother unless she is of course a bad mom or unfit in some way.

Why not get the help of a child psychologist or therapist, someone who is a neutral party who can help her to talk about those needs without worrying about hurting your feelings? If the child therapist is able to pull out from her why this seems like a good idea to her, that may give you more information about how to proceed. It seems like the most important thing is to figure out the 'why' before proceeding to the solution.

You and Dad need to decide what's best for her. Not her at this young age. There could be many illogical reasons she is saying this. I would just tell her that's a decision for Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad have decided it's going to be this way... Moms and Dads known what's best for us. We can talk about it again in a few years.

Don't let it hurt your feelings or feel disconnected to her. It will pass. Best Wishes!

Hi V., There's a good chance that your ex is prompting her to want to go live with him. Divorce and all the going back and forth is very upsetting, children belong in one home with both parents, that's their birth given right. In my daycare I have seen so much of this, and it's hard. Heather is right when she says children will want to live where it's the most fun and less strict. Usually the parent who has the child the least is the lesser strict. Your ex may have promised your daughter if you come live with me we can do this, do that, go here and go there, children at this age are so easily inticed and manipulated. She's not old enough to know what she wants. This may pass, it may not, you need to talk to your ex about why she may be saying that she wants to live with him. Julia

There is too little information here for any of us to make really good suggestions or help you make decisions. What kind of relationship do you and her Daddy have? What kind of home environment do you provide for her on a daily basis? Are there other children at her Dad's house that makes it more inviting for her?
And then the really BIG question is....would you let a 5 year old make major life decisions for your family in any other area of life? My guess is the answer is no!!! Don't over react to this...you are only reinforcing it in her mind. When she says she wants to live with her Daddy respond with something like "Yes, I know you love your Daddy". If she were to move in with her Dad, then I bet that within six months she would be begging to move back with YOU!!! When the "Honeymoon" was over at Daddy's and the reality of rules and limits set in...she would want to move back with you.

V.,

Oh how I can relate this dilemma! I have a 5 year old girl who has in the past said that she wants to go see daddy on weekends when it is her time to be with my husband and me. It breaks my heart, until I realize why she is saying it. I ask her, well why do you want to go to daddy's? Her response - in a very dramatic and tearful event - is that daddy lets her have doughnuts for breakfast, or that daddy has a wii. After her "irrational" response, I start to calm down and realize how young she really still is.

The bottom line is that she is far too young to be making decisions about where to live. She is probably going through a stage right now, and there is probably nothing you can do about it. When my daughter says things about going to daddy's when it is not "dad's time", I simply say "you will see daddy next weekend", and then focus her attention on something else.

Kids her age are confused and their brains are still forming. Divorce is so hard on everyone. She is testing the waters and creating her own little world. If she only sees dad every other weekend, he is probably the "fun" parent, while you may be the "responsible one", doing dinners and schooling and baths. Try having a "fun night" just the two of you, see if that helps. Or in the alternative, you could try allowing dad an additional weekend every now and again, if that works for your family.

Trust me, I know how heartbreaking it is to hear her say that.....I cried every time my girl said it for the first 10 times....then my husband made me realize how immature at 5 my daughter really is, and that she doesn't "mean" some of what she says. And he also pointed out how often my daughter says "I don't want to go to daddy's, I want to stay here!"

It also took me quite a while to realize how indecisive my 5 year old really is. One minute she cannot get enough of my husband and me, the next she cannot wait to go to dad's! I vividly remember one particular car ride to dad's house where my daughter was crying the first half of the ride that she cannot wait to get to dad's, then when we arrive, she is hugging and kissing me and telling me she doesn't want to go! KIDS!!!

My advice would be do what you feel is best in your heart. I know what I would do, and that is not allow her to go "live" with dad, but try to incorporate dad time more often. But again, you have to do what you think it best, not what someone else would do.

Dig deep - evaluate what you provide her and what dad does too. I did some deep soul searching, and in the end, I truly believe my daughter is better off with me. I put down on paper my thoughts and the results of my soul searching, for my daughter to read later if she chooses to do so. I did what I truly believe is in her best interest, and I think she will appreciate that I thought long and hard about it when she gets older. Making sure she has a healthy happy life is top priority.

I do hope my response has given you a little peace and help.

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk further.......

- Best wishes!

Maybe I'm old fashioned but girls are better off with mom most of the time. Is dad promising unrealistic things to her because he wants to have her more often? Does he want to have her to get at you...I know it's awful but it does happen. If he wants to spend more time with her and she with him then why not work from that angle instead of 'moving' her. Dad may be leading your daughter to think that she can eat what she wants for dinner and stay up late so his house seems more appealing. The bottom line is that you and dad are the parents in this situation so you have to make the decision. My hubby went thru this trying to get the kids to live with us instead of their mom and it was just simply him wanting to spend more time with them and feel like a full time dad not a weekender. Maybe by giving dad more time with her like a daddy daughter night each week would help him feel more involved. Keep in mind that just because your x wants to have her more often doesn't mean that he can just have what he wants. Take a deep breath and try to have a conversation with him about what the root of his issue really is. If he just wants to have a more active role in your daughters parenting then you can probably come to a compromise that's good for all. In my experience when the kids did move to Dad's house because it was more fun they were quickly running back to mom's house because my husband is a totally different full time dad than weekend dad. Weekend dad is really cool but full time dad is strict. If she's afraid to tell you she wants to go to dad then what happens when she's afraid to tell dad she wants to go back to mom's?

I'm sorry but what is wrong with you? Your daughter is 5 and you are going to let her make the decision. I would never let my daughter do that I don't care if she wanted too. I am just shocked that you would even think of that happening.

First off, to all the negative Nelly's out there, shut up! I'm sure this lady is not asking to be beat up by such insensitive people!

That said...V., my heart goes out to you! I'm a step-mom and have been with my husband since his(our) daughter was just a wee baby. During many times in her life she had expressed that it was us she preferred to live with. What we decided was that when she was about 11 she could make the choice and we'd listen to her. It was hard, but we had all four parents on board. Of course as the non-custodial parents we wanted her to live with us so bad, but we felt it was in her best interest not to be able to choose at such a young age. She was way too young and could be influenced way too easily. For now I personally wouldn't not give her that choice on where she gets to live, but let her know that when she gets a bit older you guys can have this discussion again.
In our case, my (step) daughter wanted to live with us because our house was fun and she didn't have the normal responsibilities that she did at home, i.e. cleaning up her room, light chores, homework, etc, etc. She was with us every other weekend and we always had fun. That is all she saw and that's what she wanted.
I'm proud to say that she's now 15 and has been with us a few years. It has been wonderful, but it definitely came with it's own challenges.
Good luck!

Well V.,
She is still too young to make that decision. Is Dad's house a little more fun, not as many rules. Sometimes that is a draw, since she may only see her dad on the weekends, then she may think wow this is fun, so it will always be fun. That is not necessarily true. You also need to ask her if there is something going on in your home that is upsetting her. Take it off of being about you. She may have some feelings about friends or a boyfriend that comes around. These are all things to consider. I still believe she is too young to really make such a decision.

I think this definitely requires more conversation and looking objectively at what is happening at both homes. Your ex may or may not be trying to manipulate your daughter into saying that to you. Only you know him well enough (hopefully) to determine that. But it might be something as simple as him telling her he misses her and wishes she were there more, and her taking that and thinking she should live there. Think about it...you even say, "I don't think I can handle her being away from me and only seeing her on weekends." Well, that's exactly how her dad feels right now too. It's hard for him to only see his daughter on weekends. I am married to a divorced dad of two, who has had a lot of heartache over the years because of only seeing his kids on the weekends, and his ex not willing to work with him so that he could see them more, even though he lived close by and was available and wanted them more.

It seems like moms forget that the kids are just as much the dad's as the mom's, that dad loves them just as much, that he wants to take care of them and help raise them just as much (If he's a good, sincere guy and means these things when he says them. Which my husband does). It bothers me when divorced moms think dad is not as important and doesn't need as much time with the kids. This might not be what you think, but you need to consider your ex's feelings. He's her dad, of course he wants her there, and I'm sure she misses him terribly and wants to be with him, and doesn't understand why she can't be with dad as much as she's with mom.

You have a lot to consider and think about. Maybe all three of you talking to a family counselor of some sort, or a mediator through the courts, can help you make some decisions that would be the best for everyone. Sorry for the length!

It seems like you have 2 choices: let her go or tell her no.
Then you have to think of the consequences of them both.
Personally, I would let her go if she wanted to go and her dad said it was ok and then I would pray like crazy for God to bring her back to me.
You have to do what you think the RIGHT thing is.
If you think that she will not be supervised properly with her dad, then the answer is obviously no.
But if she will be well cared for and supervised properly then let her go if you think that is the right thing. Usually men don't really care to have them on a perm basis. And who knows, maybe she will go live with him and he will find a girlfriend and not pay any attention to her and she will want to come back.
All sorts of things can happen. Only you know what is going on so it will all be your choice. Just tryin to give you things to think about.
Good luck

Hi V., I just wanted to let you know to see if maybe this could be an option.
This has worked out for me and my husband and his ex. My husband has two children and to keep living arrangements in the best intrest for them and to have both parents always involved we choosed with them to be with us two weeks and two weeks with there mom. It gives them visitation and as well as that living feeling that they just dont get up and leave the next day. It seems fair for them and for all that is invloved. Most imporatnaly though the babies that are the main in all this life change. If possible I would set down and explain it to her dad and to her and that way nothing is up to her and to you and to dad. Everything is fare to all parties.
It has worked with us and I wish you all the best. God Bless -Vero-

I TOTALLY agree with everything Bzzymom responded. And, at the end of the day, a 5 year old doesn't get to make these decisions. My heartfelt wishes to you. :-)

Five years olds don't know what they want. Unless there is something that has happened in your home that is scary or dangerous, then I'd put my foot down with my Ex and say no. Are you dating? Is there a new guy around? Do you have new neighbors? Is there a change in a school setting? Children need their fathers but I don't think they should live without their mother in the home. I know there are some exceptions but they are exactly that, exceptions.

God bless,
M.

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