My 14 year old Daughter wants to live with her Dad full time
Please help a very upset and don't know where to turn Mom.
I have 2 daughters (14 & 13) ..they are two wonderful caring children...of course this past year with my 14 year has been challenging with raging hormones and just plain teenager issues...No biggy ...we'll get through this ...love them to death and let them know your there for them even though they don't think they need their Mom anymore....
Their father & I have been divorced since they were 2 & 3 and re-married in the last 4 years ....their step-dad is a wonderful man and loves them to death ...he too has 2 older daughters that are on their own.
For the last 6 months my 14 year old is wanting less & less to come to Moms for our week (50/50 shared custody) due to social commitments & friends ...i live in the country and their Dad lives in the city where their school & friends are.....it's always worked out over the year....i drive them to school and pick them up at their Dad after school on my weeks. If it is a important event I've even let her stay at her Dad's to not let her miss out on social events with her friends, ie. sleepovers, school dances etc.
But now it's just getting worse & worse......when she does come out , she's just miserable and just plays on the computer or texting her friends...doesn't want to participate in anything with the rest of the family...and tells me all the time that she hates it at Moms house and doesnt' want to be here ....this past weekend it was bad...she hated the house, me and what a horrible mother I was for forcing her to be out for the weeks with me. I explaned (for the 100th time ) that staying with her Dad is not an option and that I was not willing to give up my 14 year old daughter that I love dearly . But now the bickering and moods of my 14 year old is affecting my 13 year old .....she is stressed out and doesn't enjoying coming out either due to the fighting and stress that her sister is causing in the house...It's not healthy ...my 13year old is now on Zantac to help with the acid reflux the stress is causing....she doesn't want to change our schedule and enjoys coming out to Moms but her sister is making it very hard for her to enjoy the time with Mom....I'm looking for suggestions....do I let her live with her Dad and me part time ...3 nights a week only and her sister remain on the 50/50 schdule? i don't know what to do ......I'm not happy, Step-Dad isn't or little sis.......Any suggestions would be much appreciate.
Please try to remember yourself at age 14. For most of us that was a time where friends became all important, and families became irrelevant---for a time. Then after a few years, if our parents were able to stay loving but not crowd us too much, most of us "rediscovered" our families and moved back, closer to them.
I tell you this to help you to understand that her reluctance to be with you is likely not a personal rejection of you but rather a powerful wanting to be with her friends, a normal and healthy urge on her part. The fact that her parents no longer live together was not her doing, and thus for her to give up half of her social life because of her parents failed marriage must seem terribly unfair to her. Girls in particular must work very hard to maintain these social connections, and being absent for weeks can cause her to lose ground in those relationships, which again feel all important.
So what to do? I think it's time to lovingly give up time with her now to insure that you have time with the rest of her life. If you try to force her to stay with you now you'll likely lose all contact since most judges allow 14-year-olds to pick their own primary residence and even visitation terms. Plus she may also hate you for trying to strong arm her. Far better to appear selfless and reasonable by telling her that you understand her dilemma and that you're willing to give up your precious time with her to help her out as long as you can maintain some form of regular contact. Negotiate this out calmly with her (perhaps with a counselor to mediate) letting her know that you love her enough to let go a bit for now.
If you can find the strength to give ground now, the odds are huge that you'll cement your lifelong connection with her. Remember that you're not playing this parenting game for the next few years, but for the rest of your life.
Dr. Mike Bradley