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

14 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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
      • 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!

        Reply
      • 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?)

        Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply

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