I Want to Live With Dad!

By Todd Cartmell
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Learn how to determine what your child really wants when your kid says he or she wants to live with the other parent.

“Joey, turn the game off and do your homework!” Samantha shouted at her son in exasperation.

“I hate you,” Joey snapped back. He threw down his controller. “I want to live with Dad!”

Six little words: I want to live with Dad. Samantha had wondered if Joey would ever say them. Would  this mean there’d be more legal battles? She could already feel her heart beating faster.

When a child says he or she wants to live with the other parent, it can mean several things. Perhaps the child is frustrated with schoolwork, is having problems with friends or feels some of the family rules are too strict.

If you’re not sure what your child is really saying, ask open-ended questions. Depending on your child’s response, you may find that the source of the emotional outburst falls into one of the following categories:

Experiencing anger

In a moment of anger, your child can say words that he doesn’t really mean. These angry words may be no more than a frustration-fueled attempt at simplistic problem solving (e.g., he wouldn’t have to do homework if he lived with the other parent). Once he has cooled down, he may see the fallacy of this solution (e.g., he would have to do homework with the other parent). Then you can discuss positive ways to better handle homework next time.

Feeling disconnected

Your child might be feeling left out, lonely or disconnected from you and his new family. Scheduling some one-on-one times with your child can help increase a sense of connectedness and help him feel he has a voice. But if the negative emotions are strong, talking to a qualified therapist can help your child work through the emotions and provide guidance for you.

Missing the other parent

Your child’s comments may reflect sadness about a lack of contact with the other parent. If more time with the other parent is something your child truly desires (and it is a logistical possibility), then consider carefully discussing it with all parties involved. However, a first step may be to brainstorm ways your child can increase his connection with his other parent. Depending on your child’s age and his parents’ work schedules, solutions may include an extra evening together during the week or special outings.

© 2016 by Todd Cartmell. Used by permission.

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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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About the Author

Todd Cartmell

Dr. Todd Cartmell is a child psychologist who’s been working with children, teens and their families for about 20 years at his clinical practice in Wheaton, Ill. He’s a popular public speaker, a parenting workshop presenter and the author of seven books including 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids, Raising Flexible Kids and Project Dad: The Complete Do-It-Yourself-Guide for …

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