June 16, 2009,
L.C. asks from Houston, TX on June 15, 2009
Should I Send Son to Live with Dad
I'm trying to decide whether or not I should let my son go live with his father. I'll try to make this as short as possible.
At the end of February my son ran away. I located him at his father's house. There was a huge mess that involved the police and everything. What it boils down to....his father helped him to plan a runaway because he did not want to pay child support. His father was nearly a year behind on child support and they reinstated it. He called and begged me to remove the child support. When he saw that I did not remove it he decided that he could stop paying if he convinced my son to go live with him. He only pays 200 dollars a month. Anyhow, he got my son to run away and say that he wanted to live with him. He got my son to lie to the police and tell them that I had been spanking him with an extension cord. I was shocked because my son and I had been having a great time...he had not been in any trouble and the previous night he was hugged up with me on the sofa watching television at my father's. Not to mention I was also 9 months pregnant...so when the policeman saw me he new that I was not walking around beating my son....I could barely move. Well, after we returned home it has been just hectic. Over the past 4 months it has been a rocky road. I took him to a Christian counselor and he admitted that he and his father had lied and that they had done a bad thing. I kept my son for a month after this incident because I could not bear the stress of this happening again, especially while I was still pregnant. I got married last year to a wonderful man who has been absolutely great towards my son. However, his father is very jealous and tries to do everything with my son that my husband does with him. It's been just unbelievable at times. Now that I've allowed my son to start visiting again...he acts worse and worse after every visit. When we drop him off and pick him up, his father and step mother won't even look at us...they turn their heads and pretend they are talking to kids in the back seat. Anyhow just yesterday my son told my husband not to talk to him anymore because he was telling him that he should be more responsible and start doing his chores, that way he can do more fun stuff. Lately he has been saying he's not my dad, you're trying to say he's better than my dad, etc. During a discussion yesterday I told him that he had hurt me by running away and that I was crying, he said so, you made my dad cry for 30 days because you kept me from him. I then asked, Well, why did you run away...what's your reason? He could not give me one...yet this is why all of this is happening now. He shows that he cares nothing about me or my husband. However, at his father's he has a free for all...no bed time, he get's to do whatever he wants, all the junk food he can eat (entire packages of cookies), etc. So, when he comes to my house where there are rules (bedtime, limit to snacks, etc.) --he thinks we are just mean parents. So it's like we are fighting a losing battle. I initially thought that it was just part of him being a teenager. But then I found out that he does not treat his father and stepmother this way. He has had issues with his stepmother...she use to hit him and she throws things around the house when she gets mad. Yet, he has never said a word to her. However, he disrespects my husband and I. We are trying to give him a good solid Christian foundation. Yet, he is fighting against everything that we try to instill in him. I'm not sure about what to do. After he ran away he just kept saying that he wanted to live with his father ...yet he never previously mentioned anything to me about going to live with his father. Everything was just done in such a deceitful manner. Now he is acting out even more. I am really thinking about letting him go stay with his father. I don't want to regret it later on...but at this point it's like he's too far gone. He doesn't listen to anything we say and he continues to make the living environment awkward. We all had a good relationship previous to the running away incident, I would even have small talk with his father and my husband and him would talk also. However, after their big runaway plot....everything has gone downhill. And the brainwashing that they have done and are continuing to do, is making my son a completely uncaring person towards us.
Have any of you ever allowed one of your children to live with the other parent? Also, it is very likely that his father will try to get all of the money he can out of us if we allow him to move over there. Yet, he only pays 200 dollars a month. Is there anyway that we can ensure that we pay the same amount of child support that he has paid for the last 10 years? Obviously this entire situation was about money, so I can't even imagine what lengths they would go through if we were the ones paying child support. My son is 12 years old and headed down the wrong road. Please share your advice/experience. You all have been such a great help in the past. Thanks
T.C. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I was once in your shoes. When I divorced my husband 7 years ago. My oldest daughters now 16 and 14 wanted to live with their father. Its heartbreaking, but hey, sometimes a woman has to do what a woman has to do. The 16 year old went first and decided it was not all peaches and cream like she thought it would be and the same for 14 year old. My ex-husband gave the kids all the freedom in the world, but he did not spend that quality time they needed him to spend with them. Children will go as far as you let them go, so you might want to put a handle on his attitude before he gets totally out of hand. Let him know who's the adult and who's the child and stand firm on that. If you do decide to let you son live with his father, see if the judge can put whatever arrears owed by your son's father worked out to where he still has to pay you for whatever is owed. If this works, your son's father will probably decided that it is best that he lives with you, if he is still paying while your son is with him. I will keep your family in my prayers
F.P. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I would first of all seek guidence from a family law court about the child custody and support. You would end up paying support to him and some states have a set percentage regardless of the situation. With regards to letting your son stay with his father, I would not. Of course some states will allow a child to decide which parent he wants to live with once that child reaches a certain age and if that is what he wants, let him do so. However, I think once your ex and his wife have to deal with all the problems that acccompany teens, they will realize they had the better bargain. Men are so funny about paying child support and will easily pay for their pleasures elsewhere but when it comes to supporting their kids after a divorce most of them just are plain silly. The fact that they do not have rules makes their home more attractive but we all pay a price for being our kids friends and not responsible parents. Once they allow his lying and irrisponsible behavior to develope, they will be ready to kick him out first problem he gives them and you will be expected to pick up the pieces. As far as your husband is concerned you will just have to insist that your son shows the same respect that his step father shows him and sit down and talk to your son as to why he feels it necessary to put down your husband to build his father up. His father shows low moral character by teaching him to lie and you should point this out to your son. $50 a week is a small amount of support. Point out to your son what expense he causes and ask him what he thinks is fair. Should a real father ignore the fact that his son has needs? Does it make his father a real man to teach his son to lie and run away from true love. Teach your son the difference between just a man and a just man. You did not mention your son's age but I would say that if he is 15 or older, I would just sit down with him and let him tell you why life with his father is so much better and point out why you have your rules. Teach them in the way of the Lord and they may stray but will always find their way back. Good luck.
K.M. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I would say no to living with the person who instructed him to violate the law and lie to law enforcement authorities, possibly causing you legal peril. If the police had not seen through his lie it would have been a very different situation for you!
Also, your new husband needs to not give him instruction or correction. A step parent has to let the parent be the parent. It's not fair to a kid to spring a new authority figure on him. This will be hard on your husband and on you, but better for your son. He can still teach him by example how to live as a good man, and your son needs this right now.
I also think that your son needs to be in regular counseling with someone educated, licensed and very experienced with this kind of matter. Your counselor may be that person, but you may need someone with credentials the court would respect more. The term Christian Counselor is kind of vague and used by some who don't have the credentials we assume a counselor to have. (I'm not bashing Christian Counselors by any means! Just saying to be sure you have someone credentialed that a court will respect)
Finally, have this discussion with the counselor and your son. With kids, and in a volitile parent situation, a little conversation goes a long ways. He needs to hear that you are willing to invest in making the best decision for him.
My guess (and it's only a guess) from what you have written, is that dad wants to hurt you, and he is teaching his son to do it for him. That's no dad. Your son is lucky to have you and your husband to teach him to be a good man.
J.F. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
Twelve is a horrible age. I couldn't stand my son when he was twelve. And at that time, his grandmother was spoiling him something awful. She changed his personality. I think kids must be terribly impressionable at that age. I suggest you tell your son you are not willing to give him up--he is too young and you want to be involved in his life until he is more formed--ask him if he would like for you and his father to split custody. You have him during the week and he can go to his dad's Friday after school and his dad can take him to school on Mondays. You didn't mention how he does in school. Since it is summer, you can divide it up anyway you want, but be sure to divide it equally. No one gets any child support. After all, you're not even getting the $200 you're supposed to get. Take my word for it, you will like him better the minute he turns thirteen. Besides, he needs his mother. And he needs to get to know his baby sister. Tell your new husband to just be supportive. About the new baby, could he be jealous of her? Maybe she gets too much of the attention. Don't give up your kid. Your ex sounds like a horrible person. Anyone who can't look someone else in the eye has a serious problem. And be sure to tell that to your son. He needs to realize these things. Good luck. J.
W.R. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
My advice is no. Teenagers are difficult, remember what we put our parents through, it is just increased by the manipulation of his dad. What I would do is take your ex back to court to limit visitation and order a mental evaluation. I would also start your son in therapy, if he hears what is right or wrong from a 3rd party who cares about his well being, he might listen. If you are truly a good mother, than you can not send your child to an enviornment that is not productive to him. As for child support, his is based upon his income, yours will be as well, it is not what he pays you, you will pay the same. It is 20 percent for one child and if you have more than one child, which you do, it is 17.9 percent.Good luck, I know it is difficult to be in a hostile situation, but your son will thank you in about 10 years! We have gone through something similar at my house with my husbands ex, she bad mouths me all the time and my step son, who is 11 can be very disrespectful to me, he even lied and said his dad hit him in the face, right before his month visitation so CPS came out and she ended up getting repremanded for making a false report. The sad thing is that it really has negative effects, grades, he is disrespectful to other adults and teachers. We have 2 other daughters and this is not the case with them. I just lay out the rules, expect them to be followed, give praise for anything I can and swift consequences for rules broken or argueing. You are the parent, I have come to realize that, I do not get drawn into the argueing at all, it has created such peace with us!
N.S. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
As painful as it might be for you - it might be best for you to allow your son to live with dear ol' dad for a while - like at least 1 full school year.
Of course your son has it easy at dad's now - he's a visitor. A guest is allowed to do things that members of a working household are not normally allowed to do. I suspect once he is a "member" of their household he will be given chores, a bed time, home work time, laundry duty and the list goes on. Rebellion will set in.
And on top of that it sounds like step-mommy dearest isn't a Southern Peach. It sounds as if she is trying to "win" a fight with you - and in the end she will "loose" because have a full time teenager in the house that is not hers is not going to work.
I would highly suggest before you agree to any of this you consult an attorney to work out - at least a temporary - agreement involving visitation and chid support. Do not agree to new living arrangements for your son until you do this.
Tell you son that you need to have an adult conversation with him and you need him to be honest about the situation. Tell him you promise to listen to him and hear him through but then he needs to do the same. Tell him you are considering his request but need to discuss some things with his father and step-mom. Tell your ex and his wife that you need to consult your family attorney first and then go from there.
You can still be involved with your son's life and I'm sure he will be heading back to his "horrible life" as he knows it before the living arrangement time period is complete.
K.K. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
Here's an idea. Tell your ex you will drop his child support if he will drop the whole thing. Your son should be with you and it's not worth the money to lose your son. I think it's all about the money anyway, but your son is going to pay the ultimate price.
C.T. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
God Bless you L.,
What ever you do don't give up and don't give in.
I totally agree with Wendy and Chris you have a strong fight on your hands but that's even more reason why you need to plant your feet and be strong and stand with Absolutely No!
My son will be 20 in Sept/2009 and I feel I made the biggest mistake by letting him go stay with his father when he was in the 3rd grade. His father would not contribute child support he wasn't working selling drugs and cutting hair and would only throw $20 my way every once in a while and he hated my guts for no reason.
He brained washed my son against me to where when he would come home for the weekend or summer my son would act like his father and question me about different things and act like he didn't want to be around me because maybe I wasn't going to church that Sunday or because I had shoes on the floor. I Would have to reprogram him everytime reminding him that I was his mother and he was my child.
I never spoke bad about his father around him because I didn't want to cause any confusion but I figured he would see for himself when he got older. I did everything for my son and I was always there for him emotionally and financially but he respected his father more than he respected me.
Now that he's a young man he loves me and he realizes that his father is a loser but our relationship isn't solid. My son til this day still needs couseling because he's learn to supressed his emotions and now as a young adult he has problems with communicating.
Please don't do it, stand firm do long term couseling if you can because your ex is trying to detroy you through your son and it will wound up destroying your son.
Truth Be Told Faithful 1!
K.V. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I feel for you and your husband. I had the same situation about 21 yrs. ago. My daughter too ran away but with a girlfriend. I spent days looking for her, while her father was out having his fun out drinking. Thank the lord I found her okay. She continued being rebellious, skipping school and having her friends over while I was at work and her friends stealing my jewelry. I had had the last straw when she mentioned that she wanted to live with her father. I had a talk with her and said that if that was what she wanted I would grant her wish. So I let her pack her belongings and took her to her father. Her father and I made
and agreement that he would not have to pay me the back child support and that I would not have to pay him any. I told him if he could not agree to that then she was going back with me. I also told my daughter that whatever mistakes she made in her life to take up with her father because I was through. I would not stand to hear her be
disrespectful to me. That later on she would realize the mistakes she would make and come to me when she was ready. Well, she did make mistakes and came to me. I forgave her and now that she has children has realized what I had told her a long time ago. She graduated from high school and went on to college. It was not easy for her, because her marriage also has failed. She is now trying to raise 4 children alone. But now she tells her father that I have always been there for her and the children. My oldest grandson will be graduating next year at the age of 17. And
my daughter tells him not to make the same mistakes she made. To listen to his grandma because I love them all.
I know that it will be hard on you as a mother. But that is
what is called Tough Love. May God bless you and your husband now. The lord will guide you and give you strengh.
J.J. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I feel your pain, mom. Well sort of...My son didn't act out like your son, but just the fact that he wanted to go live with his father out of the blue was pure misery for me. My son was a little older(15) than yours when he first tried to live with his father and I was the custodial parent, so it was all my choice and he came on home with me(he was just having a lot of fun and didn't want to leave just yet). Then, 2 years later, he wanted the same thing. I gave in, only because he was a little older(17) and I felt like he knew what he really wanted at this point. Besides, I didn't want him acting out on me, because I didn't let him experience life with his dad. But just to give you a little advice, you know a 12 year old child isn't going to know what's best for them. And I see that your're really trying to endure with him, but sometimes mom, you have to let them go just so they can figure out for themselves that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. I know it's HARD, but since he's acting out and you've tried many, many times, it might be best for him to go and live with his dad, just so he can get a true picture of the fella. From what you're saying about the father, it seems like he isn't in his right mind when it comes to your son. A person like that won't prosper long and your son will eventually see him for who he really is. As far as the child support goes, if your husband still owes you back child support, then you're fine. But if he tries to get child support from you, let him do all the necessary paperwork he needs to do to get that. Because, the courts will have to step in and that's like a 6 month process and who know's; your son might be back home by that time. I read your email and I just had to respond, because I have been there and done that. And about your ex bad mouthing you in front of the kid; your son knows better, so don't let that get to you either. Good luck in what ever you decide. Just pray on it and what ever God puts in your heart, make that decision. Take care!!
C.F. answers from Houston on June 16, 2009
I think your son needs you more than ever and this decision could affect whether he has a happy future or one spent in jails, fights etc,
He needs boundaries, guidelines, love, patience, and rules that show him you care and are not giving up on him.
His father is treating him like a pawn in a game and he needs to know it is ok to feel confused and angry but he is not responsible for making his dad happy or help him get out of paying $.
Is this the price your ex puts on his son's happiness? $200 a month, what a sell out.
He is probably acting out to see if its true that you'll abandon him like his father says, y'know?
Also, I am sure they are using the new baby to amplify all your son's normal insecurities.
Please do not give up on him. You'll be handing him over to manipulative people who obviously don't care for his well-being, only their own.
Try family counselling, extra one on one time, enforcable boundaries, rewarding good behaviour and maybe mediation between you and ex? Find support for yourself and your family, and try everything available.
Good luck, please don't give up on him - he'll appreciate it later.