16 answers

My Son Wants to Live with His Dad

I have a 13 y.o. son who just informed his stepdad that when he turns 14 he's going to go live with his dad. My son has significant learning disabilities and some autistic tendencies. In a nutshell my ex was very abusive mentally and emotionally. To that end my two older children ages 22 and 15 refuse to have anything to do with him and do not speak to him.
I want my son to have a relationship with his father but living with his dad just isn't a good plan. He works 45 minutes from his house in a rural town and is an incredibly permissive parent. Added to that the high school our son would be attending ranks in the bottom 25 % statewide, whereas the one where we currently live is #9 in the state.
I don't want to fill my son in on all the lousy things dad did so I'm at a loss as to how to refute the lies he's telling this impressionable 13 y.o. Complicate the whole issue by making this a long distance visitation (we moved 1800 miles away from my ex) and you have the makings of a nightmare situation.
Advice would be appreciated. I want my child to be happy but not at the risk of his safety.

What can I do next?

More Answers

SO, long long ago, when I was a disrespectful teen, I pulled the same thing on my mother. Now, my son is seven (his dad left for another relationship when he was 1) and his dad always tells him that he can come live with him whenever he wants. So karma has bit me in the butt...BUT, I now use the words that my mom used on me, so here it goes.....

"Over MY dead body!" Seriously, she said, "I brought you into this world and I fully intend to raise you." She had strict rules and high expectations, and it wasn't until way later in my life did I appreciate all that she did for me. As for your son, just say NO...he will be mad, but too bad. If your ex wants to push it, push back...the courts will not likely change his environment. YOU are doing a great job!!!! Smile...hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello M.
The only issue you should have is just where your son is going to live. Let him go and he will come back if you leave the door open in a loving way. Regardles of how you feel about his dad your son has a right to know his dad. We can't controll the rest of our kids lives and how they will turn out. It could only be healthy to let him do what he wants. My son moved out and in a years time was just relieved to come home. Yes it was very hard on me and I cried for myself because I missed him.
He is so wonderful now and we have the best relationship. Knowing his father can only make him feel compleet and balanced if you are not so mad at his dad. He needs to be able to love the only biolagical father he has without guilt from you. Things always workout and the school and what ever argument you have all sound like valid complaints but it also sounds like you are a loving mother that feels like she is the only one who knows best for her son. I am sure his father loves his son also. I can say I dispise my x with a true passion and he makes me sick to my stomach to talk with him. I found I cant talk with his father but my son also sees both of are flaws and loves us each equally. I must say my son did take my side after the divorce but it only made him angery with his dad because it tore us up. I talked with him and told him to let it go and the issues between us were just that. Letting your children hold on to your gudge will be his anger when he gets older. If his father lies he will figure it out. Children just love us unconditionally with all our faults. I don't know a perfect person out thier including myself. I am just glad my son loves me back.

Wow! This sounds like a frustrating situation! I'm wondering if you have asked your older children for their take on this? They might have some insight into how their brother is perceiving his dad, and also some perspective on what it is like to be the kid between 2 parents. If they have a good relationship with your youngest son, maybe they would talk with him?

Also I think maybe allowing an extended visit for your kid so he can see what it is like to live with his dad could help. It might also show him that you are willing to let go a bit (this allows him to feel like he has some power here too).

Best to you!

What is your ex husband's opinion on this? Does he want his son to come and live with him? Depending on the extent of the delays your son has, it is very likely a court would respect his wishes and allow the change of custody. If your son is delayed to the degree that he cannot make reasonable decisions for himself, you would probably be able to retain custody.

It is INCREDIBLY common that children want to live with the other parent. In part, this is the "grass is greener on the other side." In part, it is because children have a desire to have both of their parents. When a new spouse enters the picture, it becomes that much harder on the kids.

Perhaps a summer vacation visit would be enough to change his position on living with his dad? Maybe your 22 year old could also step in and be a mentor?

I'm sorry about your creep ex, there are so many of them out there.
I would tell your son... the truth. He's old enough to handle it and it will make him feel like your trust him enough to handle it. If it takes telling your son the harsh reality of this creep then that's what it takes. The best defense for liars is the truth and your son may or may not believe you, but you cannot control the creep. The best tactic is to neutralize the threat. If a liar cannot successfully lie, what else can he do?
Be aware, doing this will not be pleasant. Eliminating threats never is. However it is your job to protect your son from the things that can do irreparable harm, and sending him to a evil teacher to learn how to be a man qualifies. Take whatever steps necessary to destroy the threat. You will look like a witch doing it. That is good. feel free to contact me if you need any more help as I have had extensive experience with exactly this kind of thing. Sometimes I wish I was ignorant of these things, but if I can help people like you, it was worth it.

Hi M.,
That's a tough situation, but there is always an answer. You say he informed his stepdad of this...not you? That would sound like he's wanting his stepdad to take a stand, maybe. It's good that "stepdad" hasn't been agressive about being the father figure, but perhaps your son needs stepdad to assert himself just a liitle stronger(in a GOOD way!). 13 is a difficult transistion time, as you know, and your son may be having a slight identity crisis? I don't know how long your new husband has been in the picture, but maybe it's time that he and your son got to know each other better. You know, bonding type stuff. Give the kid a sense of permanent roots and security. You sound like wonderful parents, and I feel you should stand your ground on this, he belongs with you, and hopefully the law would back you up on that. Just another Mom, sending you positive energy, ~D

Your son probably wants to live with his dad because his dad is permissive, and because he is desprate to please his father to gain his love. He is at a hard time in his life and really needs some extra attention. Maybe his step-dad or older brother could spend more "guy" time with him. Also, talk to him about what he likes better about his dad's house. Maybe it is something at school he wants to get away from, or maybe he likes his room better at his dad's house.

Normally, a 13 year old would have a lot of say in court about where he wants to live. If your ex does take you to court to try to get your son, then you can site the autism as a reason why your son does not know what is best for him.

For the short term, I would just tell your son that this is his home, and this is where it was decided long ago would be the best place for him to live. Maybe you can arrange extra visitation with his father. Eventually, your son will see who his father really is, but nothing you say will make him view his father as anything short of a hero.

Dear M., This has to be the most difficult issue we as divorced parents have to go through. Many things motivate a child to want this (been there!) curiosity is the biggest factor though. It doesn't matter what you tell him, but the worse it is, the more he will want to go! Can't explain it, but seems to be the case in most of these situations. Hard choices for you, but I would suggest that you contact the father, without your son's knowledge, and see where he stands on having to be responsible physically and financially for his son. If there is a new wife, she could become a key figure in this. You and your new husband can plan a summer "vacation" give him the opportunity to spend some time with the POS dad with you right there as a safety net, just stay in a nearby hotel. When I went through a similar situation with my daughter, I predicted she would be gone a month, 2700 miles away it was killing me, but I let her, she held out for 6 months, called me every day, and after seeing "daylight" she came home. Don't see this as a do or die situation, he just has to know for himself, once he does he will feel differently. Give yourself some credit, you are a good mother, and your older children are proof of that!!!!

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