How do you cope when your child chooses to change custody? This is a heart wrenching experience that many parents face after their divorce, as highlighted by the following question. Read through the suggestions from the life coach for tips on how to handle the transition.
By WomansDivorce | Answer by Gloria Swardenski, Life Coach
Gina's Dilemma: We've been divorced for 10 years and have shared equal time and custody of our children (two boys - current ages 12 and 15) for the last 9 nine years.
He remarried about 7 years ago and his wife has almost completely assumed all responsibility over the kids when they are at his house, shopping for them, taking them to the doctor and to and from friend's houses, being team mom on the ball teams, etc.
Understandably, they have grown very close to their step-mother, especially my oldest one. This past February, he told me that he no longer wanted to live with me. He is 15 and I have no legal means to stop him. My ex-husband and his wife refuse to insist that the custody arrangement stay as it has been and are allowing him to make this decision. I have only seen him a handful of time in the last 3 1/2 months. I asked him if we wanted to go to the mountains with my sister and her kids (nearly same age as him) and myself and his brother this month. He doesn't want to go. I have no way to make him go and know that I probably would not enjoy the trip if he does go because his attitude will be so bad. I feel I am completely losing my son. My ex-husband is too busy to talk to me. I've been trying for several weeks to meet with him.
I am so worried and because of that, even the few times I have to share with my son are strained. I am desperate for help.
Gloria's Answer: As I was reading your story, I couldn't help but completely relate to you. I too had a 16 year old who chose to live with his Dad and I hardly saw him. The times that he did come to visit were filled with attitude and were strained, as you said.
Here's something that I've had to challenge myself with, and I will pass this on to you and the others who have children old enough to choose.
There comes a time in every child's life that a Mom has to let go. We convince ourselves that that time shouldn't come until they are 18 and off to college, and even then it may be hard to cut the apron strings. But for those of us with divided families, sometimes our time comes sooner. We have to learn to let go and accept that his Dad loves him, his step-mother truly cares about him, and that in time (as they move through the teenage years and into adulthood), they will return again to us again in a new and healthy way.
Trust that your son will always know who Mom is. Trust that you've raised him up to this point as best as you can. And trust that he while he will make mistakes, he'll learn from them and become a healthy, whole adult with many people in his life who love him. In every way you can, let him know you love him, and you're there if he needs you. From there, accept his decision, and enjoy the time you have with your younger soon who still needs you more than ever!