My marriage ended when my children were in their teenage years.

My son was 13 and my daughter was 15.   Our “parenting plan” was that the children would live with me for the majority of the time.  My ex would have them for dinner one night a week and every other weekend.

I thought that this was not enough time.  I thought that the kids would feel deserted by their dad but he was adamant.

We argued a lot about it but he thought that this was the best situation for the children. And by best, what he really meant was that he felt it would be best for ME to make sure that his children were disciplined, stayed on track at school and deal with the emotional ups and downs of two raging teenagers.  He felt his role was to have a lovely dinner once a week with them, and to be a Disney Dad every other weekend spoiling them rotten. No rules, no curfews. They could do whatever they wanted. And he could did whatever he wanted.

Tired of fighting, I agreed.

This worked for the first year. However problems started to arise with the kids. My son was drinking, smoking drugs (and dealing I think), doing poorly in school and not respecting me or any boundaries I had set.  My daughter found a new boyfriend and skipped school constantly.

Every day the school called about one of them and every night there was fierce fighting.

My life was again turned upside down.

I started seeing a parent coach and my focus was to parent my kids with both love and boundaries. I asked my ex to come with me so that we could be a united front.  He told me I was overreacting and didn’t think there was a problem.  He actually told me that this was normal adolescent behaviour and that I was the problem!

Frustrated, sad, alone and exhausted, I knew how much I loved my children and how important it was that I was there for them as they were spiralling off the tracks.

And then one day, they both came home and told me that they didn’t want to live with me anymore. That they were both going to live with their dad. He was more chill, and he let them be.  Shocked, I said that is not happening.  And they proceeded to tell me that their Dad was fine with them moving and that it was their choice.

They have recently moved and I don’t even know how to navigate this chapter. I know moving in with their Dad will be the worst thing for them.  I have dedicated my life to raising these kids, and now at the most crucial point where they really need strong parental guidance they have gone.

They are slipping through my fingers and I am unable to stop it.


Lauren, 46

101 Responses to “My teenagers have chosen to move out and live with their Dad”

  1. Anonymous

    I have been where you are now and it is a tough situation. I think if they do move in with their dad it will be a wake up call for all of them. Just be there to continue to support them and love them and maybe help pick up the pieces if it doesn’t work out. Take care of yourself also.

      • Anonymous

        I am existing through this – but have realised I HAVE to keep
        living ….and see what happens if they choose to come back ….

      • Anonymous

        I am also in this situation and it’s extremely difficult…a lot of people say give my son space but I find it hard not to even send him a text.

  2. Cricket

    I have been through something similar. As a mom, it can be devastating. Just know your not alone. Take this time to really focus on you… counseling, self-care, and anything you’ve put off doing because your focus has been your kids. Continue to love them and support them while continuing to provide healthy boundaries. The day will come that they will respect you for that. I am in the place now that I can look back and see the silver lining. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been in my adult life. I wish the same for you… that you can look back five years from now and be proud of what a great job you have done not just moving through this, but in creating a stronger, happier, healthier you.

    • Lauren

      Thank you Cricket. I actually don’t know anyone this has happened to. I feel like a failure – first my marriage now my kids. What is wrong with me?

      • Mother of4

        I my opinion ..let them move in have him finally see what you’ve been dealing with call the school and tell them to call him if any problems come up…believe me your ex will be changing his tune once everything gets out of control in his life..sit back and watch!

        • Frank

          Why would you assume that a man can not handle this? I am tired of this shovanistic thinking towards men. My boys are 10 and 15, both moved in with me after the divorce. I have a full time career, maintain a very clean house, take care of school activities, sports on the weekends and cook meals for them every night execept Friday. Women feel empowered by this way of thinking. We can take care of ourselves and our children, just like any mother can. I want to be able to take care of any problems in school, I want to be tere when they are sick. Sit back and watch a real man take care of his life and children! There are men that can do this!!!!

          • MINDY

            RARITY!! Good for you . We do fall into the stereotype view that a man cannot achieve what you are doing.
            Maybe you can run some workshops for the rest of the lame male population that are fathers,

          • Colleen

            Yes, but You are few and far between. We know You exist. Just not in our worlds nor the worlds of our Children. And, it is the Children that really matter to Us.

          • Anonymous

            Totally agree with you, I preferred my father myself, especially in the teen years as I wanted to become a man…

          • Bob

            Hey Frank, I just want to say that I agree 100% with you. Not to say that all women are discriminatory towards males in this manner. But certainly there is a significant population and these are deep rooted stereotypes but honestly no different from the stereotype that women should stay at home to cook, clean, etc. So it actually goes both ways so we are all equally discriminatory!!!

            For me personally, I provided everything for my daughter who is now almost 17 years old. Full financial support of her mother (who can’t hold a job for longer than a year & it emotionally abusive to our daughter), maintained primary custody (while paying full child support VOLUNTEER to help her mother…which directly helps me daughter), nice & clean house in a top ranked school district (I moved & commuted 120 miles per day for 7 years so my daughter could be close to both parents), etc, etc, etc. So women are NOT more capable than men. Now some might argue in the first 12 months that’s not the case & I wouldn’t argue against that. But for the life of any child…..both genders are equally capable.

            To all, it goes both ways! But assuming that a men will fail is pure stupidity. And I would never be foolish enough to bet my children’s mental and physical health on that. “Mother of 4” is obviously still angry in life about her situation. Simply ignore her! Terrible advice either way. She has her own internally issues and demons that continue to haunt her.

      • Benji

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. I am in the same situation, though the dad made this happen, and I see that the kids need someone who holds the balloons. This is the phrase that came to me early on, because who is going to say, “I am not discussing the divorce with you.” or about money “that is not your problem.” to an eighteen year old? Me. Because good boundaries have to be modeled and life really is a learning ground. I am learning to take really good care of myself, make sure the bullying stops on all levels, and practically moving forward. The best part for me is seeing that I am fun to be around, easygoing, and the more time I spend doing ME stuff, the better it is. When I create a strong and ethical life, I move forwards, and I say no to my ex strongly, and to others who have his opinion of me, and amazingly, this has halted much of the negative experience. The courts have proven faulty to someone who manipulates and I have found that being very strong helps me, being very honest and not candy-coating it, but also I am not discussing this with the kids. They then can see for themselves what is happening, and quiet, not having to wonder how mom feels about it clears some space for them. This has turned my relationship with them right around, but it has been really hard, still is really hard at times too. I can be a mother bear, and a very strong me as well, deciding “What would I do if I have all the resources I need?” What would _____________ do?” (my name here) Where do I want to live, what do I want to do? Benji (maybe travel?)

      • Donna

        I get how you feel. As they say these days, “it is what it is.” I found your article when I googled for advice on this subject . My three went to live with my alcoholic narcistic ex three years ago. I just saw on social media he had a large part in a concert he didn’t even tell me about. I’m learning to let go and just leave a nice comment. The older two in college visit when they can. I’m busy working toward a lisence and take care of myself. Let me tell you, it does get easier day by day, but in some ways I still grieve what used to be. I’m not sure if sharing my pain helps you but I just want to let you know you aren’t alone.

        • Joanie

          Thank you for being honest. It really helped me to read your story. My teenage daughter moved out two days ago and I am simply devastated. The thing is, we lived in NY and she always begged me NOT to see him. Crying episodes and epic meltdowns. I peeled her off my legs and would put her in his car. I always told her that she will develop her own relationship with him and when she becomes an adult, she can make her own decisions on that relationship. I fostered her relationship with her Dad all these years! Then to my surprise, she and he moved her stuff out of my house while I was on a business trip. He, as an adult, didn’t have the common courtesy to tell me or wait until I came home. I didn’t even know it happened until I called her. She wanted to be there now. This happened last summer. She moved in with him then became suicidal. I, of course, intervened but my ex never called to tell me and she never said anything, since she doesn’t really share.

          I know she struggled in school with the girls and only had a few friends. She persisted with her desperate acts of self harm if she didn’t get out of NY. I quit my very successful career and within a few weeks moved out of state (with her Dads approval) in search for a better environment for her. It seemed to have worked for the first few weeks, then COVID hit and schools shutdown. She didn’t have time to bond with anyone and we live 45 minutes from the school so her new friends didn’t think to reach out to her ever. Now she doesn’t have any friends again.

          She went to visit her Dad in NY for 2 weeks, then returns home to me to say she is moving in with him again and she was gone in 2 days. Now I sit here in a new state, without a job, during COVID, by myself.

          I am heartbroken. I am usually a strong person but this has done me in. I have been ill since moving and feel emotionally and physically drained.

          Any suggestions on how to start to move past this. I have never been so sad and hurt! I don’t know what to do. No family or friends.

          • Laura

            I wish I had a way if connecting with you. I would love to be able to talk to someone with a few similarities as my life. See if you can contact me….laurabice718…at the G. Mail.

          • T

            I had my phone on auto reader & when I heard your story, I scrolled through every comment to find you. I’ve never done this before & not sure exactly why I’m doing it now. I think we should talk, email, text, whatever. I felt every ounce of your pain as every word intensified the very pain I feel from the hell Im forced to live in every day without my Son. This is not living, I pray everyday for God to please take me, I don’t know how NOT to be his Mom!!

          • Heartbroken

            My three went with their dad during COVID. I had no one. I wanted a better life I found a better job in a nicer place. The kids decided not to move with me and in fact told me I’m dead to them. I have no contact with them they ignore me. I have no family no support I grieve daily. I don’t know where it all went wrong. I devoted my life to those kids.

          • PK

            My 14 yr old son has gone to live with dad 2 hours away. I knew it was coming but I couldn’t stop it. I have lost my 2 oldest boys to their father. Yes I am grieving because a part of me has died. My partner of 10 years is recovering from 6 months of chemo. Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma. It’s been hell for everyone and just too much stress for my son. He saw an easier life and to be honest I don’t blame him for taking it.I just don’t want him to ignore me. The pain in my heart is very real

      • Anonymous

        I have the same feeling. My ex left me 13 years ago and now it feels like he is taking my son.
        I see you posted 2 years ago. Tell me how are you now?
        I keep hearing from people saying he will be back if I let him go but honestly, I don’t think he will be back.

        • Cami Nelson

          Im in the same situation. My heart is broken. I would love to hear how you are doing.

        • Kemi

          This is currently my situation. My ex is a narcissist and he somehow convinced my ONLY child that it would be better if he came to live with him. To say the least, I am devastated. I miss my son. I walk past his room and cry, I look at other children waiting to ride the school bus on my way to work and cry, I come home and cry. My life has revolved around my son because I wanted it to. Even though I can see him when I want and he can come over, it is not the same version of him.

          I am receiving the same advice that he will return. I do not think so. To hope that one day he will awake and change his mind I think is out of the question now. I am just hoping this gets better.

          • Brokenangel

            I also am in the same situation. My ex had sued me since he threw us out of his house cause I didn’t perform good enough for him (though no one can). He sued and sued and sued u TIL I had no $$ left and emotionally broken down. My son is five and he has him full time as of two weeks ago and I feel so lost. I don’t know what to do. He stole my son my dreams my job as a mother! He will get a nanny and already has a cleaner. He has never really worked that hard. So I don’t know how my son will fair but I’m so worried. It’s a sick and twisted situation. He is also very perv so I don’t know if he’s grooming too. But he is so narcissistic and secretive. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m so sick of thinking about it that I feel I’ve lost some of my marbles. Never to come back. I know I’ve lost much of my formal cheerful happy self. I’m pounded down to a pitiful minced meat with barely enough determination in me to get up and go out and see people. I hate people right now amd don’t want to see anyone. What is my point now. He has completely wrecked me. Well maybe it’ll be better in a month or so. Judges lawyers and the like do what they do for mo why and status quo.They don’t like hearing uncomfortable things and don’t believe mothers and Young children. Six and twisted world we live in.

      • Jomama

        Nothing! I am in the same boat but never see my daughter now. She refuses to see or speak to me, i think because i wont/cant admit to the crimes my ex has accused me of ( reasons for divorce). She was 3 then, 18 now, been living with him for 8 months.

      • Amanda Roberts

        I would love to know how you’re doing now, I just stumbled upon this blog, and I’m almost a year into my son living with his ‘chill’ dad. It’s shaken me to my core at times, and I’m so relieved that the fighting has stopped at other times. I’ve stayed busy and prayerful, but it seems like it will never change. Everyone keeps saying that ‘he’ll come back when he’s ready’…..well I wish I knew when that was… I hope you’re situation improved, I hope your kids are back in your life and doing well. Teenagers…uuuggggghhhh!

        • Stacey

          Currently going through the same with my 15 year old son whom I’ve had custody of since he was 2. He began asking to live with his dad who lives about an hour away when he was 11 or 12. It was a firm ‘no’ from me. Just before his 14th birthday (October) I decided to allow him to move in with his daddy on a trial basis and enroll him in school. I just wanted to keep my son from resenting me. All the while knowing his dad wasn’t responsible enough to take on the task. I was also told by family and friends, “He’ll be back. Give it time”. Not even 2 months after he moved in, he started missing school, being excessively tardy, his grades started dropping, etc. Before the move, my child never missed school and was one of the smartest kids in his class. He played baseball and was also a member of an honor society. To make a long story short, it has now been 1.5 years and nothing has changed. In fact it’s worsened. My child is having sex, dipping tobacco, running the roads, just no rules. In March when schools closed, I had my child withdrawn from his school in his dads town and re-enrolled in the school system where he had been since pre-K. He and his dad were furious. So one Sunday in July when I went to meet his dad to pick him up after a schedule visitation, he refused to come back. His dad wouldn’t make him. I went to the police dept in their town with my custody papers and an officer “supposedly” went to his dads residence to retrieve my son. He didn’t. He claimed his hands were tied due to a document with my sons name on it with his dads physical address. So here we are, end of August, haven’t seen my kid in over a month. I’ve hired an attorney and have to wait for a court date. Meanwhile, I was forced to enroll him back in the school system where his dad lives so that my child wouldn’t be behind. It has been an uphill battle. It’s hard to get through to a teenager, even more so when one parent is cheering on this type of behavior and filling his mind full of garbage. I truly understand how you feel. I’ll be praying for your situation.

        • Karina

          I am relieved to find this blog, by googling “My teenage daughter wants to live at her dad’s house”. I am heartbroken too. But dad is rich, there’s a step-sister and a car, and a horse at a fancy barn with expensive lessons (which I bought and taught her to ride and he absconded.) Sigh. Everything I’ve done and suffered these past 11 years (she was 4 when we got divorced) has been for her. Now I am “free” to go somewhere else, but I know she’s been brainwashed by Parental Alienation and quitting is just not my style. Sigh. I know we will all make it through, but man, this sucks!

          • Missingyoualready

            This totally sucks! My 17 yr old daughter just told me this news over text. My heart literally sank. I got so upset at the moment I read the text but then I started crying and decided I will not fight it. My daughter was born with a heart condition. She has had 4 open heart surgeries. I have dedicated myself to her. I would do anything for her. I left her father 5 years ago but I guess im tainted as the bad guy because I broke the family. My ex is very abusive. Very narcissistic and manipulative. As much as I want to protect my daughter I just think she needs to see it for herself. I feel like a failure and not wanted by my own child. Im so upset that she couldnt talk to me as her mother instead sends me a text while at her dads. I have an 11 yr. old daughter also and I keep thinking at least I have her love but I miss my first baby already. I was not ready for the news today.

          • Amanda

            i’m dealing with my 14 year old daughter who won’t contact me at all. We had a fight- about dad’s girlfriend. She’s said she hates being with her dad and the gf and I found all kinds of cute fun pics and texts with the gf that she had under a different name. She was lying to protect me – I know that. She walked out, called her dad and has cut off all communication. I’m heartbroken and I’ve reported it to the police that he’s violating the custody orders, but they can’t do anything. He has a history of not allowing her to communicate with me when she’s with them. She’s now got two F’s in school and is missing 22 assignments. I don’t know where she is or how she’s doing.

        • Lynne

          I am currently dealing with this . I am struggling as well. There are no rules at dads and she seems to be happier there . But now won’t talk to me . It’s tough. Fit 3 years she refused to go to dads and now he is the good guy, I really could use someone to talk to as non of my friends can relate. They say leave her there and wait it out.

          • Luna

            As a deserted mom, I can relate to most of you here, it really helps me not feel alone. My first son left to go live at dad’s when he was 13, he is 20 now. My youngest went later on when he reached 14, it’s been 3 years now. What makes it more difficult is that I don’t really communicate with them. They do’nt enjoy coming at my place. My eldest son never comes and does not answer most of my calls, my youngest makes some efforts ad tries not to show that he does’nt enjoy coming to see me. And he comes from time to time. The fact that we no longer live together and that they don’t answer the phone and never reach out to me, led me to focus more on my career. Before Covid-19, I was very busy with work and I could tolerate more the broken bond between me and my children. Now, things have changed and i found myself pray to thoughts like: if I die noone will notice. I have always loved, cheriched and cared for them. But their father have always been pretending he was a victim and i was the one responsible for divorce.

            I’m 46 today, no kids, no man, no family and I couldn’t care less about living or dying. But this is what i would tell to my younger self who divorced 12 years ago, If I could meet her : Please focus on yourself and go have a life. Find a good person and marry him but don’t stay alone. Life is short and extended loneliness makes it gloomy.
            Having your chlidren go away to live with the other parent is a big challenge in life that can make you feel unlovable… I hope everyone who’s going through this can stumble on this blog, just to find out that there are others who are going through the same challenges as you.

          • Lilly

            I feel exactly the same way. This the 3rd week in a row that my 14 year old decided to stay with her dad. At first it was only 2 days in the week to be able to enjoy her dance class online but then it turned into every single day. We live only 10 min away from each other! Never would I have imagined her going there and staying!
            From Disney Dad he became The Dad (he has a car and drives her wherever she wants, I don’t so of course I suck, his apartment is huge and I only rent a 2 bedroom apt ) and it’s just hard for me to understand her sudden change of attitude towards me without any explanation. Of course he wouldn’t say anything about it. He seems to enjoy the situation as is.

            I’m devastated, he “dares” giving me advice such as stop having an attitude, change the tone of your voice and stop yelling! I must admit that I raised my voice at my daughter a couple of times especially when she was disrespectful to me, just snapping back at me but to a point of him not supporting me in this, it drives me nut.
            When they are together, they always whisper and I feel like I’m bothering them so I just leave and that’s the thing that is interpreted as a run off while I clearly understand that I’m a burden more than anything. They make fun of my accent, my manners (which can be ok once or twice but each time I see them?!.

            If I don’t reach out, I never hear from them. I just don’t know if I have to give them space without him finding the excuse to destroy me in court to get custody of our child. It’s the other way round now, he drops her to my place on Saturday night to pick her up the next day in the afternoon! She doesn’t seem upset by the situation so I pretend everything is ok, but then when I ignore them just for my own sake, here come the attitude, bad mom comments.

            The guy treated me like crap and spent thousands of dollars in the divorce that he filed to try to make feel as an unfit mom and I was granted full custody. I lived in a shelter with my child before getting back to my feet.
            I’m so sad right now, it’s not a good time with this covid going on, I’m literally alone (I’m from Scotland and all my family and friends are there). I’m 44 and my life revolved around my child and now I feel drained and empty. No man, no family, no friends around. I honestly don’t know what to do with my life now.

          • Janice

            I am in the same place.My 15 year old daughter sent a text when I was to pick her up from her visit with dad that she’s not coming home.We have not been together since she was 2, and in the last 6 months she wasn’t going for visits because she doesn’t get along with step mom or grandma now all of a sudden she’s living there.Everyone says to let her go she will be back she has to see it for herself. I don’t know how to feel nor what to think.My kids we’re my world now I have none left at home

          • Michelle

            Oh Lynne I can understand. My now 18 year old daughter chose to live with her dad at 15. She got tired of the back and forth back and forth (we had 50/50 since she was 7) Once she started high school she no longer wanted to have “two” rooms, plus she had a boyfriend and friends in her dads area. She fought me and fought me to stay there. I think I got to see her maybe 1x on a weekday and usually on Sundays I would get her and we would go for a drive or run errands. Now that she is 18 though, she doesn’t really want to do anything. She barely texts me back when I send her things. Her dad just kind of lets her do whatever (she can have her boyfriend over 24/7) she is depressed and unmotivated. I get upset when friends are “sad” their teen is spending the night at a friends or on a trip. I am thinking “you basically have your child EVERY DAY living under your roof” I have not slept in the same house as my daughter 3-4yrs. They just do not get the sadness 🙁 Its hard to keep communicating even though I send a message or joke (like TikTok) every day. But I always feel like I am barely a mom. 1/2 a mom. I don’t really “know” her anymore. Her dad gets to see her every day and they get to just chit chat about things. I don’t know how to deal with this. It has saddened me for years. and years. I feel like I had a baby and that whole part of my life is just done.

      • Carshalton Dad

        Ok so I have read the original post and I am Father of two girls 11 and 15.

        Obviously I dont know the personal situations and no one will ever know what happens behind closed doors but I would like to give my view and a loving caring a responsible father.

        My 15 yearold and her mother are nit getting along at all to the point it’s nearly come to blows and in fact once it did. I am strong believer in that a child should benefit from having both parents in there life and I just find reading all these articles that mothers believe it’s there God given right to raise there kids and especially teenagers with this militant and over protective mind set.

        My wife who I am currently going through a divorce with is not a bad parent at all, well I dont think so but she keeps treating our 15 year old like a child and whilst in the eyes of the law she is…I believe with the modern age of social media and the added pressures on teenagers in this day and age it’s time we adapt our parenting skills and we have to accept that at 15 now they are young women and getting that balance right is essential.

        I’m 34 and have a beautiful balanced relationship with my kids…they never miss school I make sure there homework is done and are they are fresh and clean and prepare them in every way possible for school.

        I have always worked and have the added benefit of having a loving mother who can assist me with childcare.

        My point is that I believe we are going through a generational change in terms how are kids are growing up and I get and encourage a relationship with her mother but she is so medieval in her approach to parenting that its having a negative reaction on the relationship and my daughter feels she can approach me and have a discussion about the difficult things she is going through more than her mother. I have tried to discuss this with her mother and explain that she need to start doing more things that the child wants to do rather than doing things she wants to do and thinks thatd quality time spent.

        I would love to know what people think to the above?

        I would like to end by saying let’s keep things real…15 these days isn’t like being 15 when I was a child…we were allowed to be children a lot more without the influence of social media and mobile phones and I from experience believe that its mothers that find it hard to adapt this change.

        Maybe the above is because with out being stereo typical or sexist…in my community the men are mostly builders and most of the wives are stay at home mums and are not exposed to the reality of life and changes that have happened over the last 20 years.

        Anyway there is good dads out there and good mums…and it’s tough to agree when separated especially when as in my situation her mother completely refuses to listen to my opinion and even discuss it with me and thinks I’m calling her a bad parent everytime I try and give her feedback into how my daughter feels.

        Anyway my daughter keeps wants to stay with me and I feel it’s best situation for her at this current stage..does anybody know what the laws are on childcare for parents who are on the birth certificate are drug free and good dads and there child has stated they want to stay with them?

        Can the police intervene or is 15 an age where she can decide for herself?

    • Tay

      Thank you so much for this. I’m experiencing the same situation and just wanted to say we’re not alone. This too shall past. Blessings to all hugs…. I needed this empowerment today.

  3. Angella

    Disney Dad now gets to be a real dad… and the kids get to see that. I’m not sure this is the worst thing. Dad will have to step up to the plate. Kids will get more Daddy time. You will get you time.

    Go with it. Be supportive, loving, and a good mom.

  4. Shereen Diaa Hassan

    Happening to me this week 🙂 .. I am enjoying taking good care of myself now .. while the kids will see the real dad that was before just a friend 🙂 .. enjoy your time & by time the relationship will be balanced.

  5. Lauren

    Thank you all for your comments. My concern is that he will NOT step up to the plate. That the kids will run wild with no supervision. My anxiety is out of control! I am finding it impossible to let go.

    • Donna

      Your choice is to let go or be dragged. I just now realized this post was from last year. I hope things have calmed down somewhat for you.

    • Kelly

      I am in almost the same situation, and the only sure thing I’ve learned is that it stinks horribly.

      I don’t feel like I will ever get ‘my son’ back. At least not the sweet, thoughtful, compassionate, brilliant, and academically advanced teenage kid who moved to his ‘cool’ fathers house about a year ago. I hope that one day he will mature enough to see that in multiple areas, he has handled things very poorly, in large part I feel due to unhealthy adult influences. I would be totally okay with putting the past behind us and starting fresh as the ‘good-time’ parent, but my ex won’t agree to being the primary parent on school issues (attendance or DSS for lack there of, grades, graduation plans, making sure our son prepares for and takes the necessary standardized tests for college (SAT/ACT/etc). At this point I continue to regularly reach out to my son, trying to keep our communication ‘open’ (Lol-not very effective so far), while also making sure not to ‘bug’ him. I actively work hard to avoid bringing up any issues that have the potential of causing stress or conflict (basically I am restricted to idle small talk). However, while still thinking about everything I say to my son, before I say speak, it still ends up that almost EVERY exchange with him, wether it be verbal, text, or in-person, he is verbally abusive to me, to the point of being cruel. I love my son, but I don’t deserve to be treated like this by anyone, and his father refuses to help in anyway….like for instance, talk to our son about the fact that his behavior is inappropriate, rude, and unacceptable in any situation. It’s so frustrating, and although I try not to, I get in my head after he’s been especially cruel or mean to me. I try to figure out where it all ‘went sideways’ for my son, causing him to behave like this.

      Throughout his childhood, up until his 17th birthday when he moved to his dad’s, he did not speak or treat ANYONE in this unacceptable manner, much less someone who loves him and who he says he loves as well. He definitely knows right from wrong, but has exhibited zero desire to be a nicer person, to me at least.

      Per our official divorce and custody paperwork, from 2009, I have full custody of both kids, and their father has supervised visitation only, with me as the court designated ‘supervisor’. This custody arrangement, and the grounds for divorce, were due to habitual drug use and drunkenness by my ex-husband. Since moving to his dad’s, about a year ago, his ‘good-time’ father has not stepped up his parental ‘game’ in ANY way. When my son moved, he went from always being an honor roll student in all advanced classes (through 10th grade), to regularly failing classes and subsequently being moved out of advanced level classes, stopping attending school on a regular basis (like truancy became an issue), stopping consistently taking his medicine regularly and as prescribed (psychiatric meds), has absolutely no schedule (bedtime, wakeup time, meals, etc), has NO household responsibilities or ‘chores’, etc.

      I am at my wits end with voluntarily subjecting myself to abuse from my son, while attempting to maintain some resemblance of a relationship with him. I can’t find any exceptional websites, forums, articles, case studies, books, etc that can give me some professional guidance on my situation. I’d live any feedback anyone has to offer! Thanks, Kelly

    • Ann

      I have court on October 29 for custody battle. 2 weeks ago my ex and daughter came with the police to get her things.I was in shock! She had never mentioned to me that she wanted to live with him before. In fact she had asked me a few times this year how old will she have to be before she didn’t have to go to his house anymore. I have always pushed her to be a part of his life and respect him.He works out of town and only comes home on weekends. It will be his new wife (married last week) caring for my child. My daughter has told me so many times before that she hated her.She has a daughter a year older than mine. That’s the only reason why my daughter wants to leave. The new wife didn’t even raise her 3 kids. She just got her daughter back almost 3 years ago. This woman is an ex druggy prostitute who got a dui after wrecking with her daughter in the car. My daughter is also a bad diabetic and I’ve always been the one who cared for her. I have never even dated after our divorce because she didn’t want me to. This woman has been after my child since she moved in with him. Always asking my daughter to come live with them. The sad thing is my daughter left out of here Thursday will be 3 weeks ago and knew she wasn’t coming back. They had already been to the lawyer and she hid it from me. My ex drinks all the time,they argue and fight around the kids and he’s so racist and toxic. But because my daughter wants to be wild and not have to answer to her mother my world is shattered. Plus he changed her phone number which is against divorce papers. Haven’t spoken to my child since the 9th.

  6. B

    Same thing happened to me, and kid returned within 3 months. Try not to worry – the kids will be ok, most teens act out at some point.

  7. Christine

    I know how you are feeling Lauren. My 17 year old daughter left my home in June to go live on the streets of Toronto with her boyfriend. Then when that didn’t turn out very well she went to live with her Dad’s brother’s family because I had too many rules. There was a point that I really did not think I could handle all the anxiety and could not possibly handle my daughter not wanting to live at home anymore. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. I kept the lines of communication open. I respected her decision to not come back home even though it hurt like hell and I cried a lot! Now I feel stronger and more confident in myself than I ever have in my life. People told me when she left to take care of myself but that seemed impossible to me at the time, I felt like I was on the edge of having a complete breakdown. But you will make it though this…your kids will see one day when they gain some maturity and life experience that you were a great parent and we’re only trying to do what was best for them. And you need to remind yourself of that about a hundred times a day but it will get easier. You will soon see the life lesson for you in this and you will grow as a person and even though you may not be able to see it now there will be positive things that will come out of this very difficult situation. Have faith they will return to you so you can finish your job as their Mother. And yes work on yourself and know you are much stronger than you think you are, you will get through this!!

    Stay strong Lauren!

    • Joy

      Thank you for this. I’m going through this and so far your comment is the most positive I’ve read. I am trying to find my own peace in this situation but its a daily struggle.

  8. Been There

    I went through something similar when my son decided he wanted to spend equal time with both parents. I hated the idea, though I knew it wouldn’t last because my ex was doing it for the wrong reasons, but I agreed to it. It didn’t take long (only a few months) before my son realized his dad wasn’t really the same fun person he saw every other weekend and he quickly turned back into the person he was when we were married. One year later my son was back with me full-time. He is flourishing in school, is respectful and even appreciative of the rules I impose. Being a teenager, he still tests the limits, but always still respectful. I know it’s because of the time he spent living with his dad and seeing the difference between “weekend dad” and the “real” person. You never know, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

  9. Ashley

    I see this is old… but daughter moved in with dad at 16 for car and to run wild. She is doing that and now refuses to even speak to me. Sleeping with girls and boys, shaving head and dying it blue, all over the place all hours of the night. No structure.

    I have two teens with my current husband. I feel guilty when I try to just let it be. Every time I call her dad he curses me calls me a bad mother and says she has panic attacks because of me. 🙁

    I have been there while he screwed off! We were never married THANK GOD!!! My current husband and I have been together since she was 3 months old and raised her like our own.

    Not even a text message for mother’s day. She wants to punish me for making her go by rules and not allowing her to run wild.

    I’m giving up and just letting go… maybe.

    • Jodz

      I am in a similar boat, when my boys turn that 12/13 age my ex gets in their heads and turns them against me. He is very manipulating in a very clever way. My 17 year has just starting speaking to me again after 3 years. My 12 year just left this week without telling me ! My ex will not encourage him to return😞
      I also have an 8 year old so I’m expecting the same in a few years

      • Heart broken

        Did you have a court agreement? Mine is the same age as yours (13) and wants to go to dad’s but we have court documents for 70-30 (my way). Is it worth the fight to keep him with me?

      • Anonymous

        I had the same thing happen to me. I dreaded teenage years because my eldest child left at 13. I expected it will happen for my other child, and I was scared like heel from getting to teenage years, and when he got at 13, he left. Please try rather to expect your 8 year old will stay.

    • Jackie

      Ashley, I am so sorry but relieved to find someone who is going through exactly what I am right now, it’s making me so tired and sad. I hope that you’re ok with you family and have had some relief from letting go, sending you hugs. 💜

  10. Hated

    Sad to read all these but nice to know i am not alone. My 17 yr old daughter left a few months ago. She decided i was not worthy because of rules that were not even close to being strict. She has had is still has a 21 yr old boyfriend. She and i were fighting a.couple months ago and she anouced shes going to move out with him. Shes in grade 11. So my husband tell her he also hates me and they can move out together! Husband thinks hes the hero here. His mother has always hated me and guess where they alsways visit. My daughter deleted and blocked me from all media. I felt and still feel suicidal. She says hates me and that im toxic. I really am super healthy and just had a few chores for her. My hisband would undermine me and say she doesnt need to unload the dishwasher or have a curfew at nite. Do u guys think one day i will be in her life again? I doubt it. 🙁
    Im not a mom any more.

    • Kate

      You will always be a Mom….the ex’s that undermine are just totally immature and are Destroying their own children…..and guess what ….they don’t care. That is the heartbreaking part of all of this. I have a strong belief inGod and believes that He sees everything, but it’s hard to go thru and it’s hard to see the kids manipulated and emotionally abused

    • Denied

      Hated, the details differ only slightly but I am walking the same journey with you. I feel exactly like “Im not a mom anymore”. I do think (kinda) they will come back to us. I wish we could exchange emails, be supportive for each other!

      • Heather

        My boys dislike my boyfriend and his kids because there have been domestic issues in our home. I understand, completely because I don’t like the way I’ve been treated either. Now, at ages 15 and 18 they want to live permanently with their dad. His house is only 10 miles from mine, so it’s not a distance issue. It’s that I feel like they’re choosing their dad over me. He has more room and more gadgets and it’s much quieter there. I have tried to get my boyfriend to leave – because I choose my children over him and his – but he won’t and can’t. He hasn’t worked in many years due to PTSD (for which he refuses to seek social security disability benefits). He has nothing but the clothes on his back; that I purchased for him. He has no family to go to either. My only hope is to put my house on the market and find another that is smaller so that there will be no room for them. I want to live in the town where their dad is again so I can let my son take the bus to and from school instead of having to drive him and pick him up at his dad’s after I leave work. It’s as though their dad is the main parent – he’s #1. My 15-year-old barely speaks to me but I think that might be typical teenage stuff. My 18-year-old has Asperger’s Syndrome and talks to me about everything. However, he decided that now that he’s in college, about to get his license, and working, he is going to choose where he lives permanently. My boys relate better to him because of all the gadgets and games. He’s a good dad but I don’t think they’ve seen how good a mom I am. They don’t see me as being a good person for caring for people and taking them in when they were down and out. They see me as a sucker and everything I’ve done has been a waste.

        It’s heartbreaking and I feel like I have no control. Will I even hear from them? When will I see them? I can’t force them. I’m stuck, however, with the knowledge that my boys want to leave because of my boyfriend and his kids. They think I’ve chosen him and his family over them. It sure does appear that way, doesn’t it. I’m at a loss.

        • Victoria anderson

          I am going through the same thing. I have a 14 and 16 year old who want to stay with my narcissist ex husband. I have given them everything they insult me everyday and now my daughter is hitting me. I am going to leave and hope god forgives them for what they have done to me. Out of control teenagers. Never thought my life would end up this way. 50 and alone

          • Karma is your friend

            Hi, you’re not alone. My 14 yr old pulled a fast one on me and my fiancé. He raised her since 3. She wanted NO RULES or consequences. Im also realizing that the school system we have has a lot of influence, let alone , my narcissistic, manipulative ex. He was a car salesman. He has no rules and spoled her with every name brand, where I kept her level headed and bought feo. Thrift stores. Went to court, she got her way. What use to be 50/50 went 80/20. I originally gave her dad 50 because little girls need their dad. He got away with 86$, but with the 80/20, I now have to pay 490$/😧. He even makes 3x more than me. She doesn’t call or text, thanks to my fiancé, he kept me calm. He said, God saw this coming. It hurts, but it’s a blessing in disguise. She will learn one day, keepnpeaying over her( that’s all we moms can do) in the meantime, fix yourself, kids aren’t ares permanently. Nothing in this life is. So focus on what is positive, stay strong. Prayer works for me, I hope it will work for you. Helping others ,like the elderly is medicinal. We too will be in their shoes. This will work out. God sees everything. I also know that karma visits everyone. 🙂

        • Sad and Angry

          Hello everyone!
          Wow! I know at least…I do not feel alone now. My 15 yo son (almost 16) has decided to live with his dad who has been in and out of life the entire time, hasn’t been a real reliable father. He never works, loses cars, gets evicted. Pretty much everything listed above sounds about the same, my son hates my rules and now that his father is “better” he questions why I didn’t stay with my ex (it only took decades). He’s dad is the more easy/chill one with less rules. So he’s leaving behind a nice house in a good area with a loving step father (been around for half his life and done way more then his own father), half sister that adores him, my family that’s close, super close grandparents, to be hour and a half away in a worse neighborhood. I am so sad and so angry! I’m the one that’s sacrificed all these years for him and taken care of him…it’s just mind boggling. My son saw my ex abuse me in the past and he said he’s traumatized from that…yet he’s going with him! I feel like I am screwed either way! B/c I am not going to force him to stay or it will be more toxic for all of us but he might resent me later for not making him stay if things aren’t greener for him. Anyway… I could go on and on but any updates from anyone would be greatly appreciated!! Did kids come back, relationships get better, etc? Right now I don’t even want to talk to him and have resentment but I am sure I will forgive. But any advice would be great. Thank you!!

    • Heartbroken

      I am going through the same thing right now. My daughter went to visit her dad for three weeks this summer and decided she was never coming back because I was “toxic” All I have ever done is push her to do her school work and do chores. I told her she didn’t have to work during the school year and could just volunteer. I have had primary custody for 13 years. My daughter is 16. It is heartbreaking. I know she is being manipulated. She doesn’t want to speak to me or see me. School starts Monday and it will be the first day of school that I haven’t been there for. The worst part is her dad lives 10 hours from me.

  11. Anonymous

    I thought I was the only one..I a,
    M so sorry for all the other mums out there who are not with their kids. My 19 year old son was my world …and that is probably the problem. He is choosing to stay with his dad while I move out as I am so unhappy. All I ever wanted was to have a family and be a mum and now I have nothing and I am no one. Everyone will know and know what a horrible person I am.

  12. Caroline

    I need some words of wisdom and encouragement from those who have gone through this. My son moved with his dad two years ago at 14 and now my daughter wants to move at the end of the year at 15. I am beside myself. I am hurt beyond belief. I expected my son to want to leave, but never my daughter. I am going to miss out on the remaining milestones as they will be on the other side of the country. I’ve dedicated my life to them. I recently divorced because of stepkid/stepdad issues and I will be on my own. I want to run away and start over, but my dad passed recently and now my mom needs me.

    • Deb

      I have gone through this with my beautiful amazing 15 year old daughter just 2 years ago. I’ve had custody since our divorce when she was 5. He married and moved an hour away just 6 mos after our divorce was final. We had a solid agreement as co parents then – until he met the current wife. Our daughter is an amazingly mature and faith filled young woman. I was completely devastated when she said to me “momma, I think I’d like to try living with Dad.” As you know, the feelings of pain, hurt, betrayal are beyond anything one could imagine as a Momma. But I also knew in my heart, she isn’t like every other teen who just wants to get out of living under rules. Her dad didn’t come to anything. Not a single awards program, choir concert, field day event, cheer competition, volleyball game… not one unless it was on his weekend.
      Yet… she wanted to move in with him??
      As difficult as that time was… I had to LISTEN to my daughter. What HER needs and desires were. Step outside the realm of my own desires and emotions – and really understand her reasons for wanting to try this.
      Especially because of the controlling, lack of co parenting, complete disrespect I consistently received from her dad and step mom…….
      I had to let go. But doing that DOES NOT mean you are no longer her momma! SHE NEEDS YOU. And always will! It’s been 2 years now (she was 13 at the time). And she’s still thriving and still the amazingly mature, intelligent, loving daughter / only now… she sees. The manipulation that occurs. The control the step mom tries to have..
      but I have NEVER STOPPED being there 100% for her. She realizes the sacrifices I make to BE THERE for her.. just as I was when she was home. I’ve never missed a game, an event, or a single visit. I drive two hours in city traffic to get to her NO MATTER WHAT.
      And she NEEDS me…
      It has brought us even closer – if that was possible.
      She knows she can be honest w her feelings and she can TRUST me to still be her #1 support. She has “the best of both worlds” by having us both in her life.
      She has since told me “leaving my momma was THE ABSOLUTE HARDEST thing I’ve ever done.”
      She cries.
      She has difficult days.
      But we get through them… together.
      God truly does have a plan for us all. Focus on self awareness. Self CARE. Learning to heal and learning to give up control of things that we cannot. Seek counseling, Talk about it with people who understand and suppprt you. The hardest thing is thinking “what will people think?” “What did SHE do to make her daughter want to LEAVE?” … the JUDGEMENT…
      It took me a solid year to be able to talk about it openly. To be able to discuss it without crying….
      remember: YOU DONT OWE ANYONE ANYTHING. Take your time in letting yourself get to a point of acceptance and PEACE.
      It won’t be easy.
      And it won’t be painless…..
      But you are doing for your children … to give them the chance to have a relationship and “see what it’s like” on the other side.
      They will love you and respect you for it.
      I hope this msg gets to you…..
      Prayers are with you & would love to know how things are going

      • Anonymous

        Super helpful advice and so much of what I am feeling today. Thank you.

      • Elizabeth

        My 17 year old daughter is staying with her dad, brother and her dad’s live in girlfriend. She’s in the process of moving in with them this week. I really needed your post and thank you for it

      • C

        Deb —- Thank you so much for your wonderful, kind, thoughtful passage of growth, love, and understanding. Your entry made me cry out, of all the other ones here. It hit me hard (what you wrote) and I know it’s so very true. I realize this thread is old and I’m replying to your entry during these pandemic times, and you were replying to the original poster, but you’ve made it hopeful and full of love. I thank you for helping me see it more clearly. My daughter’s birthday is today. She is now 15. No one ever told me that as a single mom to two daughters that the teen years would ever be this incredibly challenging. It all hurts at such an incomprehensible level, to know that your own kids don’t want to live with you and be with you after you’ve nurtured, supported, provided, and loved them with all your heart and soul all their lives. I pray for all of you and for me. xoxo

        • Nancy

          I thought my daughter and I were close. We had one big fight because I caught her in a lie about her dad’s girlfriend. She walked to a friend’s house and called her dad to pick her up when it wasn’t his custody day. My daughter has always said she wanted to be with me more than 50%- her father insists it’s 50/50 no matter what she wants. He often takes her phone and prevents any communication with her. Right now I don’t know where she is. I think he may have taken her out of town with him. She was mad at me. The only communication I have is from my ex and he says she hates my guts and never wants to see me again. He says he can’t force her to contact me. I think it’s good we have 50/50 custody and I’ve never tried to ask for more because I know in the state of California, it’s useless. I’m trying to be patient and give her some space. I can’t reach her at all and I’m heartbroken. Maybe it’s better she lives with her dad and his girlfriend. I’ve reported his many violations of the custody order- failing to return her to me- to the police to document it. Right now there’s nothing I can do. She’s supposed to come back to me on Monday, but I don’t hold out much hope that she will. She’s now failing 3 of her 6 classes in high school and she’s missing 23 assignments. At this point if she comes back she will be so far behind and I’ll get to be the bad guy to make her catch up!

      • Austin

        I really appreciated your response on this blog!! I am hopeful I can go through this with the grace you had during a similar situation.

    • Colleen

      I have and am going through this myself. Son left a year ago (now 18) and has not spoken to me. He and daughter (almost 17) wanted to move over to their dads in middle school so they could walk and be closer to friends and childhood house/neighborhood. Long story short, Dad provides cars, phone, and they can do whatever they want. No chores, no respect for their or other belongings, a complete mess. I see my daughter about once per month for dinner. Son doesn’t talk to me. He posted a cool rapper photo with my boyfriend of 4 years automatic rifle (son managed to break through 3 locked safes to get to it) and I tried to ground him for it…ran to his Dad’s. He also decided after playing Varsity basketball, he would sabotage that opportunity and is barely graduating highschool.
      Today, received a text from my ex that he’s selling the house, cutting them off asap, and go see your Mom if you need to open a bank account, get a phone, or a car.
      I don’t blame him, but now we (bf and I) have some out of control teenagers to wrangle. He has always been their “way out” of every consequence I have made at my house. They go to his house and get away with murder. They also live like slobs.
      So I wanted to get an opinion on how to open my doors back up? I love my kids, but they (and their Dad) steamroll me and my rules. If he takes everything away, that could help me to set actual consequences that matter…but my ex will come into the picture and steamroll it all over again to take control. My kids are also getting too old to do anything we tell/want them to do. This is a lack of respect issue and them learning to live on their own is probably the best lesson, but they are still too young.

  13. Rachael

    I was just trying to find some supports on line and stumbled on this thread. Sad to read everyone’s situation, and yet thankful you have all shared. My amost 13 yr old and his dad sprung this on me recently. Like many of you, he thinks his dad is so cool and fun and never gets angry etc. His dad has been selfish and not made the kdis a priority over the years we’ve been divorced, but I certainly have. The kids havent seen it on the surface and I have never spoken poorly about him (as much as I wanted to many times). I worry his dad wont foster the extra-curricular or social encouragemnt my son needs and that he wont be the best he can be. I am trying so hard to be okay. I also have an 8 year old and am not sure how/what to tell him. I worry he will feel rejected by his dad somehoW. I worry the boys will have resentment for what they do/dont have with the other parent. I so wish we could all communicate in some sort of group. Does anyone know of any group on Facebook maybe? Love and happiness to all…

    • Cortney

      There are many Facebook groups on this…
      It’s called Parental Alienation. It is the cruelest form of abuse/domestic violence, towards the child and the targeted parent. The first time this happened with my daughter 4 years ago, I didn’t know it had a name. Now with my son… I’m smarter now. Doesn’t make it hurt less.
      Look up PA… There are support groups and Facebook groups, books…

  14. Anonymous

    Today feels like the worst day of my life. I can hardly believe when I finally said ok to my boys how quick they packed their stuff. I have met ever single one of their needs and to come to terms to let their dad give it a shot because it’s not working here is heart wrenching. I feel such shame and sadness like never before. I will pray they will come home but have to come to terms if they decide not to. Just heart broken. Thank you for being brave to write this I’m dreading telling anyone like it’s a dirty secret. How are you all doing now?

  15. Saira

    I’m in the same boat as most of you. Maybe things happen for a reason. Maybe there is a reason God is allowing this to happen, and we just don’t know it yet? Every dark cloud has a silver lining, I firmly believe this. May God bless us all. Hang in there all of you.

  16. LIs B

    In a nutshell .. I co-parented our son after divorcing since the age of 5. Thru the years I had my son most of the time since he traveled a lot for work. Once he remarried and all of a sudden he demanded 50/50 even if he was out of town. Instead of going to court I agreed but ever since they it felt like they wanted to control everything while our son was with me because they knew better than I . At any case we ended up sending our son to boarding school do to some behavior issues which in a way it was really good for him, he could joe think for himself and become himself not what controlling people with their settle manipulation tactics to convince him what is better for him to fit their agenda . He recently came home and right away they talked him into living with them when to pick him up they said they already had plans, it felt like I have to ask permission to see my adult son that I love. . He is over 18 now and I know I can’t control Controlling people so all I can do is hope that all my sons decisions are his and not forced by manipulation and I’ll have to trust and respect his decisions. It is very hurtful and painful that his parents sit with him decide his journey in life and act as my husband and I his mom don’t exist and than my son throws the bombshells of his decisions afterwards. At any case any advice on how to handle the sadness and disappointment ? After all I was with out him for 2 years as well , paid 1/2 of the cost of his schooling and I love him just as much as they do. It’s been this way for so long I thought that when he turned 18 things would chance and they would ease up on their control/micromanaging ways. All I want is quality time with my son!

  17. Mollie

    I am going through this same thing and experiencing exactly what you all are! . My daughter last summer decided she wanted to leave to live with her dad at 17. I said no then her dad calls and basically talks in a way that made me cave He is not a bad person but he doesn’t really have any rules. Not like I really did I mean she needed to go to school do dishes and a curfew. I think she was annoyed I asked her too many questions and how she was doing probably to my demise. Anyway when I finally agreed to it she left so quick. We were still going to abide by the parenting schedule except I would get her every other weekend now. Well.. once she left she has never come back. When I talk to her dad about having her come here he says , “he can’t make her”. I am in constant pain and so sad. She is my last child. I was looking forward to senior year. Etc. I just feel like it was ripped from me. She never texts , she didn’t come on Xmas it’s just horrible. Sometimes I feel God wants for me to give it all to him and trust him but it’s so hard! I am scared that she never will ha e a relationship with me. I wish We al new how Lauren’s situation turned out. Lauren?
    This board is so refreshing. I know I’m not alone in this.

    • K

      My situation is exactly the same as yours, even the “I can’t make her” from the ex. It is soooooo hard. Everyone says to me that she’ll come back but I’m so scared my daughter won’t too. We can only keep the door open for them and let them know we’re always here even though right now they don’t want us. Hardest thing I’ve ever been through and my heart aches for my beautiful daughter just like yours does. In the meantime we just have to do things to look after ourselves and put the energy we’ve been putting into getting them back into ourselves and yes hand it over to the universe, God, etc and keep living life as best as we can. Big hugs to you Mollie.

    • ATX

      Mollie, this is almost exactly my current situation. My son is going into his senior year and I really wanted him to stay with me bc he will be going off to college after this year. He does still come to family events and doesn’t come across as angry with me but there has to be a reason he’s moved out. Like you said, I know I irritate him with all my mom questions and my “checking in” texts but I am his mom, I love him, I worry about him… I have a broken heart over this. I don’t know how really process it. I see you posted back in Feb and was wondering if it’s gotten any better for you?

  18. katelyn

    My two daughters chose to live with their Dad 3 years ago. He lives down the street practically. i chose to be supportive and allow them to make their own decisions. They were 15 and 11 at the time. He is remarried with a child and I remained single. I was struggling against his narc personality, the fact he was more financially stable and had more of a home life, I let them go. I let go of the power struggle and focused on myself. I went back to college and got a second degree. I worked on myself. I see them less and less. no more overnights. it’s like a part of you dies. I suffer from depression and anxiety over it. They are full blown teenage girls now and don’t communicate. I have felt the weight of grief that just won’t go away. I hope they come back to me one day. But it’s the hardest thing i’ve ever gone through in my life. i was/am an excellent mom. maybe they just felt safer with him and saw me struggle a lot. it feels like abandonment. it hurts like hell. i reach out to them all the time. i see them maybe once a month for dinner. We have a 50/50 but we have been divorced 9 years. i am not going to fight anything in court. What do you do?

    • Colleen

      Thank for sharing.. I am and have felt exactly like you. Prayers for you and yours. It’s so tough, but you’re not alone.

  19. Krista

    Wow these stories are so familiar to me. Had my now 18 year old tell me at almost 16 it didn’t serve her living here after a fight she was always difficult to be honest just had to push the grade. Albeit at 18 after first year university she is a great kid just not connected to me. My ex cheated on me 12 years ago my girls were 2, 4 and 6 at time broke my heart. He lied, deceived all the same. We had an amicable split as best we could but 10 years later not so great. My middle left to live with him broke me, my oldest all great and now my youngest told me the other after not listening about seeing her boyfriend during the covid that she is going to stay at her dads a while. Guess what she now see her boyfriend every day. So I can’t win it hurts but i know and they know I love them what 15 or 16 year old doesn’t want any rules. Anyways this is a journey that I completely hate but I know it time it will get easier. Hang in there. My 20 year old is amazing so time and patience.
    Thank you for the stories love to all

  20. Anonymous

    I would love to know how you’re doing now, I just stumbled upon this blog, and I’m almost a year into my son living with his ‘chill’ dad. It’s shaken me to my core at times, and I’m so relieved that the fighting has stopped at other times. I’ve stayed busy and prayerful, but it seems like it will never change. Everyone keeps saying that ‘he’ll come back when he’s ready’…..well I wish I knew when that was… I hope you’re situation improved, I hope your kids are back in your life and doing well. Teenagers…uuuggggghhhh!

  21. Mel

    This is the scenario I came here for. Thanks!
    My ex and I have always had open doors to each other and our kids. We could all come and go as respectfully as possible. Not to say he hasn’t driven me up the wall in terms of care and finances at times, but we’ve tried to be extremely amicable for the kids which has worked great!
    The boys are 16 and 18 now and are both really well adjusted, driven, empathetic and family orientated. They’ve been with me since separating 13 years ago. Whilst they catch up with their dad regularly, they haven’t stayed there for over a year.
    The oldest boy’s girlfriend has lived with us for a year also.
    Now, the boys have decided they’d like to move in with him (the gf is just going to be with my son haha).
    I’m feeling empty nest years before I thought I’d have to experience it.
    They’re not far and I know we’ll catch up heaps, but not having them in my space 24/7 is going to be heartbreaking… I’ll even miss the times I’ve had to scream and yell at them! 😉
    The music that drowns mine out will be missed.
    The smell of wet disgusting footy boots will be missed.
    The kisses and hugs when either of us walk in the door will be missed.
    Discussions of current and past events will be missed.

    But… I’m ok knowing I’ve given them everything I could and now is their time for independence. If they need me EVER, I’ll drop everything, just like always.
    My advice, just love your kids and even when they’re acting up, support them, guide them and again, love them.
    They’ll always been your kids, no matter where they live!!!

  22. Frustration Fear of Future

    After receiving a text message from my 16 year old saying that he would be by in an hour to pick up his stuff because he was moving in with his father, my world was shattered. I knew that he was fighting me against the rules and the structure of doing his homework and my encouragement to find a job as well as his frustration with his step father who was impatient with his lack of effort and his lying but I never really thought he would just up and leave. I thought if I could get him to 18 and help guide him to make positive choices then he would stand a chance to find his way. Now, because he is 16 he gets to choose where he lives and all he seems to care about is his technology and his father who he describes as his “buddy”. For years, his dad has been the fun, relaxed, chill buddy that he eats pizza with and plays video games with. I want my son to see the good that I once saw in his father but unfortunately I also see the consequences of his live for the day don’t worry about the consequences lifestyle. Now with Covid 19 and isolation my worst fears have come true. Not only do I not get to live with my son and guide him through this crisis and support him with online learning. I have witnessed him completely checking out and spending 18 hours a day online playing video games, watching Youtube, or other online activities. Although, I have always believed in supporting my child and providing for him. It really burns paying $900+ a month and getting his report card which basically says that since moving in with his father he has failed his classes in school. He used to achieve 70% when he put in minimal effort and 80-90% when he actually tried. He has grown out of his clothes that he took with him when he moved out and he just recently had a hair cut because his father ordered him a pair of clippers to shave his head. I get it with the pandemic hair cuts are self serve but then I hear that “Dad got a professional hair cut because he needs to look good for work”. It hurts that he choose a life of no rules at his Dad’s place (just happened to be a Dad thing but I’ve met many males who are excellent fathers) in a dirty small hot apartment, instead of the home I have worked tirelessly to provide for him with his own space, love, routine, and support (emotional & social). It scares me to think that he is being taken advantage of by his father and that because he is gullible and desperate to please his buddy that he will sacrifice his future and his own well being. He has made comments like “Dad needs me” , ” You have lots of money Mom you should look after us” , ” Dad and I are the same we love gaming and watching Anime together”. My ex has even encouraged our son to fail because that will mean another year of support from the Mommy money train. I feel powerless, used, and scared for my son’s future. I would rather hand the money over to my son rather than his father because then at least I know he has the choice of how to use it to look after himself. Right now I feel like I am nothing but a bank account and a nag. It has helped to read that I am not alone- It is just so frustrating that if his father and I were together then he would be living at home and would have rules to follow but because his dad moved out on his own I have no say and now I am paying for it with my $, loss of time with my child, and my own stress. It is so freaking lonely to sit here knowing I would have done anything to support and guide my child but it doesn’t matter because I have rules and expectations for him.

    • Stacey

      Did you and his dad modify the custody agreement? Or was there an agreement in place prior to him leaving? I’m in the exact same situation minus the child support,YET. I’m fighting it. I have countless emails, text messages, and documents from the high school teachers and counselors stating my son’s consecutive unexcused absences, almost daily unexcused tardiness, poor grades, etc. His dad can’t even get him to school, much less take care of him. His dads just recently gained employment after 4 years. In Georgia, the judge decides who is in the child’s best interest regardless of the child’s wishes. He takes it into account but it isn’t the only deciding factor. I’ve said all that to say that you may have a good chance of the judge making him return to your home. His education is at stake! I’m awaiting a court date for my situation and I’m praying it all goes well. I hope the same for you! It’s tough. It hurts. I’m angry. I’m broken. But I will not go down without fighting for my baby.

    • Dawn

      Wow! So many experiences shared speak to me. I’m in the thick of it right now. My 15 year old son has decided not only that he wants to live with his dad when we have been doing 50/50 for 6 years. His Dad has been the fun parent without bedtimes, without checking on homework, without following through with consequences for poor behavior. Ironically, his Dad is the one with a short temper and swears at him. I have tried to get my son to do his homework, be respectful, hold an appropriate bedtime, follow through with enforcing consequences for the time I say (or his Dad says). And, picking up the slack of helping him get homework done that was pushed off the weeks while at his Dad’s. Sadly, now that my son is 15, he has started to go down a very bad path with disrespecting adults, etc. His Dad’s house is the, “chill,” house where the, “approach” is lighter, and almost nonexsistent. My son has left me completely and it is the WORST pain I have ever felt. My lawyer says that it is not worth the large costs to fight it as my son will end up being able to chose and resent me even more for forcing it. My ex makes 3 times as much as me, and I will now have to pay him likely $900 a month. This will result in me having to sell my home and move into something much less than what I have now. I’m distraught and so so very hurt. Everyone says focus on me now… That is very hard to know how to do. I have zero contact with my son now as he deletes any text from me and won’t pick up the phone if I call. He refuses to see me at all. I feel as though not only did my son die, but a part of me did as well. Yet, work goes on, I’m supposed to try to still be happy for my relationship I am in now, etc. I don’t know how to do that. I feel like my World will never be the same.

  23. Ann

    In 2001 my 14 yr wanted to live with his dad, 750 miles away. And how could I refuse. He lived with me 10 years since divorce. And as such, I could not separate my sons, so my joyful 12 yr old went too.
    I drove there monthly during middle school and high school. And every 6 weeks ( or so ) when they were in college.
    Ive been traveling there every 8 weeks (or so) since then.
    My sons and I have a good solid relationship.
    But even all these years later, I am filled with emotions of sadden, regret and loss. ( as well a pride and joy as they are wonderful men).
    Life got by and I missed so much.
    But I did the best that I could do .
    If anyone know of books or support groups- please share.

  24. Fi

    All these posts I’m reading!! I am going through the same situation..the father doesn’t really want her in with him because I can control her more, but my teen is making my life a living hell and doesn’t even respect …. I think she can go and be happy with the dad. I’m done… and I remind myself that our children are given to us for a period of time only …… they will move on .. we need to live our lives to the fullest…

  25. V

    You’re an exception. Most men are not like you. If the kids moved in with you right away that meant you took better care. That’s it. In my case he put someone else before them. Put all of us through hell. Seriously if he would have stepped up and fought he may have his children. He makes more money and has family support. He chose his penis over his children. Now he wants to step up after 4 years because he knows our son is of age. Not having it. He’s a selfish prick that only thinks of himself.

  26. Karma is your friend

    Hi, you’re not alone. My 14 yr old pulled a fast one on me and my fiancé. He raised her since 3. She wanted NO RULES or consequences. Im also realizing that the school system we have has a lot of influence, let alone , my narcissistic, manipulative ex. He was a car salesman. He has no rules and spoled her with every name brand, where I kept her level headed and bought feo. Thrift stores. Went to court, she got her way. What use to be 50/50 went 80/20. I originally gave her dad 50 because little girls need their dad. He got away with 86$, but with the 80/20, I now have to pay 490$/😧. He even makes 3x more than me. She doesn’t call or text, thanks to my fiancé, he kept me calm. He said, God saw this coming. It hurts, but it’s a blessing in disguise. She will learn one day, keepnpeaying over her( that’s all we moms can do) in the meantime, fix yourself, kids aren’t ares permanently. Nothing in this life is. So focus on what is positive, stay strong. Prayer works for me, I hope it will work for you. Helping others ,like the elderly is medicinal. We too will be in their shoes. This will work out. God sees everything. I also know that karma visits everyone. 🙂

  27. Nick Adams

    There are reputable studies out there that show statistical facts that children of divorce are much better off with the father, rather than with a single mother. When children reach a certain age, the role of the mother becomes more obsolete as the nurturing phase ends and the rearing phase begins. Women are not biologically equipped to properly rear a child and every household/family needs a father figure (preferably the real father) to steer everyone in the right direction, including the mother. The best thing you can do is fully support the ex-husband instead of fighting him and then once the children are on the right track and on cruise control, they will want to choose to spend more time with you.

  28. Tay

    Thank you so much for this. I’m experiencing the same situation and just wanted to say we’re not alone. This too shall past. Blessings to all hugs…. I needed this empowerment today.

  29. Amanda

    i’m dealing with my 14 year old daughter who won’t contact me at all. We had a fight- about dad’s girlfriend. She’s said she hates being with her dad and the gf and I found all kinds of cute fun pics and texts with the gf that she had under a different name. She was lying to protect me – I know that. She walked out, called her dad and has cut off all communication. I’m heartbroken and I’ve reported it to the police that he’s violating the custody orders, but they can’t do anything. He has a history of not allowing her to communicate with me when she’s with them. She’s now got two F’s in school and is missing 22 assignments. I don’t know where she is or how she’s doing.

  30. Anonymous

    I had the same thing happen to me. I dreaded teenage years because my eldest child left at 13. I expected it will happen for my other child, and I was scared like heel from getting to teenage years, and when he got at 13, he left. Please try rather to expect your 8 year old will stay.

  31. Nancy

    This is my situation too. Almost 14 year old son. Divorced since he was a baby. His Dad moved a 10 hour drive to another state 3 years ago, and despite promising to move back twice, changed his mind. He has recently moved into a new girlfriend’s house. I feel like 13 is a difficult age for boys and they do need their Dad’s more, but the bullying, verbally and in emails I’ve had – for the last 14 years made motherhood hard to deal with, and now he’s convinced our son his “life will be more amazing” at his house. It’s so hard, especially since I have had to deal with domestic violence, I am really only feeling stronger now the last few years and increased self esteem. I got taken to a private mediation and all I have to say is that the system (in Australia) is messed up. No consideration for child’s best interests, history of domestic violence, Father moving 4 x in 3 years.
    To save my relationship with my son I agreed to let him go and now he is being so much more loving with me. He is leaving in 3 months. No matter what my ex does I know he cannot break the bond, and I think my son really needs to know who is Dad is…. the good and the bad. And I know I’ve instilled enough morals, virtues and values in him for him to have a good compass inside him.
    I’ll pray for him everyday, Glad I found this page. Am seeing a psychologist already and getting support and a plan on how I will cope and fill my time when I’m alone. Wish all you Mother’s peace and happiness. Like another lady said on this feed, my advice to my younger self would have been = do more for yourself, put yourself first, do more study when the child was younger.


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