Seeking Advice on 13 Year Old Daughter Wanting to Live with Dad

Updated on October 10, 2009
M.M. asks from Racine, WI
11 answers

This could be a very long request for advice but I will try to keep it short. I had primary custody of my daughter for 13 years..her father and I are both remarried and have he has a 5 year old and I have a 2 year old. My 13 yr old started jr. high (public school-she was in parochial for 6 years), hubby quit job to be a SAHD and we had a new addition to the family all in the same year. It was a tough transition for everyone but especially for my 13 yr old. She has always been close to her father but now wants to be with him and only with us every other weekend. This is just killing me but I just keep trying to tell my self that she is happier there and it's just the age. She also does not want to have anything to do with the 2 year old which makes the weekends with her uncomfortable as well. This is my baby and I feel like I don't even know her anymore. Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

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answers from Appleton on

It sounds like a 13 yr old girl thing. You don't say how far she would be moving or how her relationship is with her step-mom. At 13 a girl is going through a lot her body is changing and I believe that she needs her Mom to guide her through the changes she is experiencing. I would recommend family or at least mother/daughter counseling to see what is really going on with her.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Because your husband is a SAHD, and you're a working mom, does your husband then spend more time with your daughter than you during the week?

If so, this might be why she's wanting to be with her dad. She's either feeling guilty, or angry about the arrangement. Especially if she feels she has to "share" what little time you have at home with her younger sibling and your new husband.

She may or may not have expressed her real feelings about your husband, and she's probably at that critical pre-teen age where she's needing her father more any way. Maybe she's feeling guilty if she's spending so much time with her step-dad, and perhaps sad if she doesn't see you as much if you if you have the sort of job that keeps you on a busy schedule, or your toddler takes a lot of your time. So in her mind, she probably thinks she'll get some quality time with her father.

Try to talk to her about her feelings. See if this is what's up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Is the 5 year old a boy? Could she possibly be jealous and think that your other little girl took her place. She has been the only child for over ten years. Could be why she doesn't want anything to do with her little sis



answers from Minneapolis on

I am stepmom to two kids who came to live with me and their Dad at age 14 and 16. It seems that in divorced families, this age triggers change. I would ask her to talk through her reasons and listen without emotion or judgement. Please don't take this personally, and do maintain as much time and communication with your daughter as possible however this works out. If she does switch, I would request more than every other weekend if the distance between households makes that possible. There are many ways to stay in touch through phone, text, Skype (video), etc. also.



answers from Wausau on

I completely understand your situation. I myself am in a similiar one. Is your ex a good role model? will he be there for your daughter? does he live in safe living conditions? financially, is he able to care for your daughter? does he live close enough, that her world won't be flipped upside down? will he treat her the same as the child that lives at the house. These are some of the questions you should consider. Unfortunately, she is at that age, and she thinks living with dad will be better than mom. you may have to let her go on a trial basis to start and maybe she'll realize the grass isn't greener on the other side. I know my daughter would love to live with her dad. He's in California and we're in Wisconsin, but as much as he loves her, love doesn't buy food, clothes, or a safe place to live. That is why I won't let her go. Consider sitting down with her and discussing why she wants to go, maybe will give you insight on what's going on. Could be going to a public school, and having a hard time with new friends?? Sometimes, dad is a little more loose with the rules than mom??? Jealousy over the new baby??I hope that things work out for you. It's always hard to make a big decision like letting your baby go. Good luck and if you need someone to talk, I am here for you. Good Luck!!



answers from Madison on

This must be so hard. My 50-50 6 year old is always saying she wants to only live with me someday and it makes perfect sense to me, but what about when she goes through a phase where she gets closer to her Dad and says she wants to only live with him? Then should I let her go as I wish he would let her live with just me? Try to put yourself in his position too, and good luck with your decision making. (I honestly don't know what I would/will do in that situation. There is no right or wrong answer here, and no one is to blame.



answers from Rapid City on

At 13, life is hard and she is going to start making decisions based on easy routes rather then harder ones that will teach her to work through problems. I don't know how long you have been married or how your husband gets along with your daughter but those are things to concider when dealing with her. If he is paying a lot of attention to your younger daughter, she may just be feeling the need to be daddy's little girl, which is a good thing to be. Whatever the reason she decided to move in with her dad, when she comes to your house make sure you have a one on one time with her. Take her shopping, to lunch, to a movie... it doesn't matter, just so long as it is just the two of you. This will keep her wanting to come over more then if you are so wrapped up in family stuff and she is feeling like an outsider. Also make sure you let her know how much you love her and take interest in her friends, what she does with her dad and how school is. Make sure your ex tells you when there is special things to go to at school and take an active part in activities in interests that she has whether it is scouts or sports. Most important, never ever say anything against your ex or his wife, even if you don't like their parenting style. Together you and your ex will raise a happy and self assured adult, if you are at each others throat all the time or let on that you are feeling hurt or betrayed by her chosing to live with daddy, she will grow up not trusting to be close to you and it will effect every relationship she gets into.

Rmember, she is your daughter and you love her and that won't change no matter where she lives.



answers from Minneapolis on

M., as others have said, this certainly must be challenging to accept. If your ex is within a reasonable distance from you, perhaps you can make arrangements to have dinner with your daughter during the week (sort of a "girls night out") and perhaps this would take away from the strain on the weekend, plus give you another opportunity to see her. If not, then try to make some time for just the two of you during the weekend w/o 2 year old or new husband.

If your weekends with her now are always around the schedule and routine of your existing family, then this may be disappointing to her since you are her mother....Is she expected to babysit the 2 year old? Does she have to share a room with the new baby? She just may not want to be a part of this "new family" right now... or at least not completely a part of it. This can change over time, so give her some space.

Give your ex a book entitled, "How to successful Father a Daughter" or "How to Father a Successful Daughter" (title is something to that effect). He really needs to know how important his role is into his daughter's self-esteem and consideration of relationships as she gets older. If you ex understands his role, he may then be a good advocate to help strength the relationship of you and your daughter.

Show and tell your daughter how much you respect her. I remember being 13 and not feeling like my parents heard what I had to say. I was old enough to babysit other kids in the neighborhood, but not old enough for my parents to realize that I was growing up and deserving of making some "pre-adult" decision.

Open up the channels of communication without being critical of your daughter, her father or the situation (this does not mean you turn friend instead of parent), it just means you start expressing an awareness of her feelings and actions and ask that she share them so you are better able to make changes or work together to develop reasonable solutions together.

Don't make her feel guilty about staying with her father either...that is where going to my first suggestion of having some separate time with your daughter on a different day may allow for some special experiences and moments that your daughter is craving.

good luck.



answers from Milwaukee on

As long as her grades stay up and there are not any behavior issues I'd put your hurt feelings aside and just be there for your daughter.

I am young and don't have a 13 year old, but I have a troubled 15 year old sister who we took in last year. There were many issues before she came to us, but when she was with us it was HELL! Ultimately she left our home and there was a big divide between us. I had to make an effort to remember that she was the CHILD and I was the adult and therefore I owed it to her to be patient. It took her about 6 months but all of a sudden something clicked and she is grateful for my patients, understanding and for not "giving up on her" like many of the other adults in her life.

Now I know your situation is different -- but this was my long way of saying this is all part of teenagers figuring out who they are. Just be there for her when she is around, call when she isn't so she knows you care, and give her time to "grow-up".

Best of luck!

P.S. My Mom and I didn't fight until I went to college and then it was REALLY bad for about 3 years (didn't speak for almost a whole year). Now she is my best friend. I think favoring Dad and fighting with Mom is almost a right of passage for a daughter.



answers from Chicago on

Hi M.......sorry to hear what you are going girl is 19 now....we went thru this daughterl is a daddy's girl only by guilt....she was miserable the 3 months she ived with him but still didnt want to come back only because i had strict rules & a very stable ex's home was very destructive but he guilted her into living with him.....if your ex has a stable home with rules that you can have a say about then i suggest letting her go a mother i feel your pain hearing those words.....she is at an age were she really needs her dad right now...please DONT take her wishes personal but do let her go if her father is a good wishes



answers from Minneapolis on

Can you compromis to split joint custody where dad has her one week you have her the next week. So she is with you every other week?

Otherwise if she truely wants to be with dad I guess you let her go. I can't imagine doing that it must be hard for you. I myself could be in that situation some day.

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