Your child means everything to you, and you cannot begin to count the sacrifices you have willingly made for him or her. If your child was young when you and your spouse divorced, you may have gone through a difficult period of adjustment. If you were fortunate, those challenges passed. On the other hand, you may still struggle to connect with your child.
Now that your child has become a teenager, you can’t help noticing his or her needs and interests are changing. You may even find that you have less in common, no matter how hard you try to keep up with the latest trends. It is understandable if you feel hurt and confused because your teen has announced his or her desire to live with the other parent. You may be uncertain how to react or move forward.
Take a deep breath
Your instinct may be to refuse to honor the request without a discussion. You have a court order, after all, and there may be a perfectly logical reason why you have primary custody and your ex-spouse does not. However, this issue could be a critical turning point in your relationship with your child, and digging in without a discussion may backfire in unthinkable ways. Parenting advocates recommend taking the following steps:
- Show your teen respect by listening calmly to his or her reasons for wanting to move.
- Insist on the same respect when you express your views to your teen.
- Hear what your teen says, and allow yourself to see his or her point of view.
- Involve your ex in the conversation.
- Don’t take the request personally.
- Don’t use the opportunity to tell your child negative things about your ex to try to persuade your teen to change his or her mind.
- Take the time to think about the request and the reasons your teen gives before jumping to a hasty answer.
Even if you know that living with your ex is a bad idea for your child, it may help you to talk it out with a professional and obtain some sound advice for your emotional and legal options. Getting a neutral opinion may be enough to give your own arguments some sway with your child. However, if you and your ex determine a move would be good for your child, it is wise to make the change legal by modifying it through the Colorado court system for your own protection.