9 Year Old Wants to Live with Her Dad and Stpe-mom--

Updated on June 08, 2010
L.O. asks from Schwenksville, PA
16 answers

Hey Momma's, just want to say soory if this is long winded.
My daughter is 9 yrs old. I have 50/50 custody with her dad, we were never married. I am now married and have another daughter that is 1 with my husband. So, my 9 yrs old live wed-sat with me and my husband and sat night - tuesday night with her dad and step-mom, It is a very wonderful relationship that we all have together. We all hang out with each other and get along great! (weird, i know). Her step-mom and i grew up on the same street and have been friends since we were 7.
Anyway, my daughter now says that she wants to live all the time with her dad because it is too confusing going back and forth between the two houses. She says that she loves us, but she thinks that it would be better if she was just at one house .She does not like it that her stuff is spread out between 2 houses and she is upset that she cant remember what house she left things at. that includes her school work too. She is very mature for her age and explained other reasons she wants to leave. I know that she has more freedom over at their house and that she gets to go and do a lot of things,( i partitally blame my self because i am very over protective and paranoid about a lot of things, i.e. going out, being around a lot of people and have been dealing with depression for a while, but i try really hard not to let it effect my kids in anyway,) but I am just heartbroken that she would want to leave me. I know that i am being selfish for wanting her to stay so that I am happy, but I cant help it. now she wants to go to her dads and just come and visit me, my husband and my other daughter. I want her to be happy and if that means that she lives with her dad all the time, then i should let her go, and i will just have to deal with it. I am having a very hard time dealing with it. Does anyone have any suggestions or ways to help me out?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for all the suggestions and advise. We, meaning me, my husband, her dad and step-mom and her and have a discussion about the situations as soon as school is out for the summer. We do have a custody order, but we really dont follow it . There is no child support involved. We all agreed to split everything equally. I love my daughter and just want her to be at peace and happy and will do whatever to help her achieve this. Thanks again. love and blessing to all

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it's great that you all get along so well.
I've got another twist on the situation.
This child didn't ask to have split parents. She didn't request to live in two houses half the time. Think of it from her perspective. She may feel second fiddle to the child whose father you ARE married to.
Personally, I would let her do it. After the summer, try it for a school year. Then see if she's happy. After all, that's the main concern, right?



answers from New York on

I think weekdays in one place, weekends in the other (with exceptions as needed) makes sense. But whatever you decide to do, maybe you can do a 3 month trial and see how it works out.

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answers from Augusta on

I can agree with all of her reasons. I am the child of divorced parents and I chose to move in with my father where I would be an old child , have all my stuff in one place , being an only child there I was able to avoid the chaos in my moms house with the 4 other kids. It was a lot more peaceful there.
You can go to the every or every other weekend arrangement.
Let her go and support her choice.
She will likely be back and then when she turns into a teenager she'll want to go back b/c she'll be being a teenager and moms and teenager girls clash more than Israel and Palestine.

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answers from Dallas on

As a child of divorce, it can be very crazy, but when the adults work well together it makes such a wonderful difference. It totally makes sense that she needs the stability of one location during the school week. Try to do Sunday night through Friday day at Dads, then Friday night through Sunday day with you. It's almost 50/50, but has the stability she needs. Go to all her school functions, etc. Be totally involved in all her activities. Also, summer is coming up, so work together to have a summer schedule that helps her feel like she belongs everywhere.

You are doing a WONDERFUL thing by listening to her and trying to help her. You're not letting her go - you're working with her to make her life more easy to function in.

You need to take care of yourself as well and deal with the issues you mentioned - which you ARE doing. Take care!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You might propose a compromise:

I have never seen this except with my BF from gradeschool (possibly because all her parents got along famously, and that's not the norm)... but she had 50/50 custody with her parents split this way from k-12.

During the school year:
M-F with Mom & Papa
F-M with Dad

Her dad would pick her up from school on Fridays and take her to school on Mondays.

M-F with Dad
F-M with Mom & Papa

Then they each got her for a couple of weeks vacation.

Because the school week wasn't split up, and friday's homework was done at the same house it would be turned into on mondays... things weren't lost and all her parents got to stay really involved with both her and her education, and she wasn't going crosseyed and having to constantly make adjustments during the school week and alternating weekends.

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answers from Chicago on

I am the stepmom to a almost 9-year old and we did the 50-50 split for a while so I understand your daughter's frustration. It is confusing going back and forth between two houses and my SD loses things all the time between the houses. She'll leave something at our house and miss it at her mom's and vice versa. She also gets upset when she misses out on something with us when it's her mother's weekend and the same when she misses something at her mother's because it's our weekend. We have a great relationship so we always do what we can to assure that she gets the best of both worlds but it IS hard going between two houses!

I don't think you should let your 9-year old make the decision. We would not let my SD choose one house or the other because at that age they will want to go to one house for reasons that shouldn't be reasons. For example, you said her dad is more lenient. That's not a reason to live at one house! Also maybe she wants to be the center of attention at the one house and doesn't like to share the spotlight at your house with her sister. These are issues that she needs to deal with, not run away from.

If I were you I'd work out a better way to keep track of her stuff. Right now we have a backpack that goes back and forth. I also help her by reminding her to remember her phone, her iPod, her asthma spray, etc.

You could also try a schedule where she's at your house a little less but you still get time with her. We do every other weekend (Sat-Sunday) and Mom always gets Mondays no matter what. That way she's a week at our house with a overnight at Mom's, then the next week she has 4 days with Mom. That would give her more time at Dad's (for stability) but you'd still get time with your daughter.

It's important that she spend time with her mother. And it's important that at this time in her life the adult decisions are made by adults, with her input of course. When she gets older and more mature then maybe she can work out a new schedule based on what she wants.

Good luck!

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answers from Harrisburg on

I can't imagine how you must be feeling, but I do have to agree with your daughter that one stable home, a main home, is best for her. That was the first thing I thought of when I started reading, why split the child? The fact that she chose her dad is hurtful, but it's not against you, it's for her, and not for him. She's 9, she's beginning puberty. She's bright. She loves you both but if a choice is going to be made someone is going to be hurt. She's also going to choose the home that is going to make her the happiest. She isn't thinking about anything but herself, because she's 9. She's not going to choose a parent who is more strict, and believe me, I'm with you about being more strict, lol! But obviously she's choosing a home she'll have more freedom. She obviously loves both equally but the more freedom she can have at her pre-teen age is better.. for her, lol, so she thinks. She may not get that same freedom if she's there most of the time though. Dad may not have as much guilt, so to speak. Dad may suddenly feel more responsibility and start tightening the reins, especially as she starts to develop physically and Dad starts freaking out, lol.

If you allow this, and this girl MUST remember that this is not HER choice, it's her request. And if things doesn't work out the way she plans, she cannot just jump back to the better option, and go back and forth as she pleases. What does Dad feel about this? Are there other children with Dad? You didn't mention. That may be a factor too. She can have Dad's full attention with no other sibling pulling the parent away, and not having to help with a baby at Dad's.

You can at any time say no, especially if you are legally bound. Talk to Dad first. Really look at all the angles, even in a cynical way as a child would to be sure you have all the bases covered. Have her be honest. She may love her younger sibling, but it's harder on the older child. Make sure you're making the right decision for her and for YOU. Sometimes life doesn't go the way you want and if you say no, she needs to accept it.

You also need to look at the legal aspects of this. Will you have to go to court to change things? Will you suddenly need to start paying child support to Dad? If not now, down the road if things get a bit tighter for them? Once things are legally changed, it'll be a fight to change things again if she's not happy or something else comes up. Really talk it through with everyone. Maybe let her try it at both places over the summer, one month just with you. One month just with him. See how things go.

But she does need to have a base home. You all need to decide which one.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

events and chat within 2 hour radius

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answers from Washington DC on

I was also going to suggest the M-F with Dad; F-M with you shift. I wouldn't let her move in 100 percent with him. You'd miss her.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, L.:

I think that it is great that you are open to a discussion on the
best option for your daughter.

Before you hand her over, I would suggest that you go
to a family mediator and do a process with a memorandum of
understanding so all parties know what is expected.

check the web at:


for a referral

Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear L.,
I am very impressed with you, your daughter, and her father and both of your new partners. You all are trying to do your best in a very common but still difficult situation.

I have a rather unorthodox suggestion. What about trying to change your housing situation so you all are closer in proximity? Or even retro-fit a twin home with one bedroom for your daughter or if the funds are available retro-fit a large home to accommodate the needs of two families.

I wouldn't think this would work in many situations where the split/ divorce has been messy but you said you all were friends and hung out together. Why not use this to your advantage in giving your child the sense of stability she is saying she wants?

I know this sounds highly unusual. I am not a child of divorce, nor am I divorced, so I may not understand the underlying emotional turmoil in seperation. And I do have a different outlook than many others on lifestyle. And I see an opportunity here for your daughter to have you all nearby and you and your husband would have the opportunity to co-parent with your friend and your daughter's dad. It would take hard-work, compromise, and much communication but it could be a wonderful opportunity for all of you.

ann m.


answers from Miami on

i think i would let her go...somewhere i heard "when you love someone let him/her go" maybe when she realize what is living with a step mom maybe she will come back....in times of fun dad is the best but fun is not everything taking care of her in sickness and sadness counts too and a mother is always needed in these kind of stuff.
i think in 3 months she will be back to you... may be she is just jealous of the new baby what is perfectly normal...i would like a lot have some other house to go for a while when my baby sister was born ( i was 7) and i love her so much but i just need a little of peace.
i know is hard but maybe is the best for her and you wont be always the "bad guy" in the story
p.s. i am not sure but i think if this go to the judge decision anyway the judge is going to do what the girl want for her best. So don't get depressed and let her be her self where ever she like it.



answers from Washington DC on

Just by reading your post I too would get confused as to where my stuff was and which day I was to be where. See if you can have her on weekends and holidays. Make sure you are invited to all her school functions. She si soon going ot be in middle school and high school. These years are filled with projects and major tests. ONe house, one bed, one room to go to is probably much better with a very soon to be preteen.
Maybe she can stay at dads every weekend and summers and holidays. Maybe your house. I would go to the judge and get an order first before you make it so then when things go south you can blame the judge.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would do as she pleases and just remain very active in her life and go to all her school events etc... Since you all get along so well you will see her often. It would be very hard to split your own week in two places. You and her father have already created the split in her heart - I would make her life as simple as I could for her and consider HER happiness first. And I commend you for keeping such a good relationship with all parties so that she has the best possible situation considering the circumstances. Not everyone is that mature with an ex. Make sure you spend one-on-one time with her every week.



answers from Sharon on

Your daughter sounds like an amazing little girl. Don't forget she wouldn't be that way if you hadn't had some influence over her too! You are setting a great example by showing you can get along with her dad and step-mum. Don't take this too personally. It sounds like you really trust her to make the right choice. If there is anything you still need to work on in your relationship maybe this will give you the time and space to do it.

Personally, I think you are doing a great job of keeping your family together!



answers from Joplin on

I know how torn you must feel, but I just think 9 is too young to make that choice. Parents make the big decisions for a reason. I know you want her to be happy and what is best for her, but before you decide to go that route I would try other ways first, maybe every other week would be less stressful? I am used to my son just being gone once a moth over the summer, we had some bad behavior issues and we tried him living Full time with his dad and it was a MISERABLE 6 months for me, and actually drove my son further away from his dad, now I realize the circumstances were dramatically different, but just wanted to let you know we have had some issues with placement as well.
Lots of luck, whatever you do keep your lines of communication open, and make sure any road you go down you have a trial period as a safety net.



answers from San Antonio on

Oh my heart breaks for you. But she made her case, didn't she? Wow. I'm impressed by her. You are all doing such a great job of raising her.

I would have a hard time letting her go, but I think that it might be right to let her go anyway. I agree with Mamalu, be very active in her life.

Maybe you can make a deal with her that for one year she lives with him, then moves in with you? Maybe that's a good place to start and then she can choose after that which house she lives in permanently?

If she goes and you are very intentional about the time you spend with her, you might end up closer than if she lived with you. A dear friend of mine had parents who divorced when she was very young and she lived with her mom. Her dad lived across the country and they spoke on the phone for hours every week. She said she's closer to her dad than any one she has ever met because they were forced to talk to each other in ways that most parents and children are not.

It might end up being a great thing. I don't think I'd be able to stop her, even though I'd want to with all of my heart.

Hugs to you.

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