At the beginning of the year, I wrote a blog article on why I let my daughter move out. She had been hounding me for months, trying to get me to agree that she could move in with her father who lived four hours away. I refused at first. I was the one providing for all my daughter’s needs. I was the one who gave her all my time. I was the one who had consistently been there since the day she was born. How could I let her move in with her father when I had dedicated my whole entire life to being her parent? Plus there was the hassle of switching her school, her doctor, her whole life from Sonoma County… But more than anything, how was I going to be able to let go of the girl who had taught me everything there was about being a mother?
In the end, I let her go. She moved in with her father, went to a new school, made a few new friends, and lived a life that was totally separate from me, her brother, and her stepdad and stepbrother. And at first it was really hard. I cried on the way home from dropping her off for the last time.
But I survived.
I called or texted my daughter almost daily to keep in touch with her. Sometimes she even initiated the conversation. And our household kept going despite the lack of energy from my teenage girl. It was a different house without her, that was for sure. It wasn’t a bad change, it was just different.
I made plans to visit her around her birthday in February, reserving a hotel room just a few blocks away from where her father lived. But before that weekend ever happened, my daughter finally admitted she wanted to come home.
She lasted two months at her dad’s house. The life she thought she was going to live didn’t exist. Before her move, her visits with her dad had been a fun vacation from every day life. But living there was a whole different story. It just wasn’t what she expected. She learned quickly that vacation dad and full-time dad were two totally different people.
I share this story now because since I told about how my daughter moved out, a bunch of other parents have contacted me with their own stories of children wanting to leave one parent to live with the other. Some don’t know if they can let their child do it. Others are already in the process. And every one of them are hurting.
Here are some examples:
Kay: “As I sit here, typing this comment, my daughter is finishing packing. She is 11 1/2 yrs old and today I take her to the airport to live with her Dad a few states away. I want to cry. I hate her Dad right now, even though I know he is a good parent. We get a long and put our differences aside a long time ago in order to put our daughter’s needs first.”
Angie: “As I made cupcakes for my daughters honor ceremony, still it was on my mind. This afternoon as I sat with my daughter, waiting for the principal to call her name for her straight A certificate, I suddenly felt my eyes well up with tears. I have molded my beautiful daughter to what she is today.”
Marie: “I am going through the exact same thing with my 14 year old daughter. I can’t imagine her not being with me on a daily basis but I have to remember whatever is best for her is best for me.”
My message for parents going through this:
1. Your child’s decision to live with their other parent is not a slight against you. And to be able to separate your feelings about your child’s father away from their relationship with their father is huge. Not many divorced people are capable of doing that.
2. You are a good parent for putting your child’s happiness above your own. And even if your child doesn’t recognize this now, there will come a day in the future when they will understand how much you loved them to be able to let them go.
3. No situation is the same. Some situations include a parent who is NOT in a place where they should be caring for a child full time. Some situations will have the child realizing the grass really isn’t greener on the other side. And some situations will have the child truly happy after the move. Please do not make any decisions on your future and your child’s future from one person’s account of letting her child move away. This is not a decision to be made lightly. But it should be a decision made with unselfish love.
4. Remain a constant in your child’s life. If you and your child have come to agree that they can move in with their other parent, I want to express how much I feel for you and your situation. Go ahead and mourn. Get in a good cry. But then, understand this is not the end of the world. Even if your child doesn’t live with you, it doesn’t mean you can’t remain close. Contact them via email, phone, text, etc every few days. Send them care packages in the mail. Plan regular visits with them.
Who knows, this change might be the very thing that brings you closer together.
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