default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Teen torn by choosing to live with either parent

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 7:41 am

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16 and my parents divorced last year. I love them equally but I live with my mom because there is more structure here that’s helpful for school. However, now my dad is remarried and is pressuring me to live at his house.

He knows I don’t like switching houses every a week (parents, you try it) so he is pressuring me to move in full time. I do stay there certain weekends and holidays already and often have dinner there, but I really don’t want to live there.

I feel so bad about this! The pressure is making me really emotional and unstable. I’m ready to move there just to solve the problem — even though I totally don’t want to! Why can’t he just be OK with me living where it’s best for me without this big guilt trip? How can I convince him that I love both parents equally even though I want to live with just one of them? — Torn Apart by Guilt

Breele, 20, Dana Point: You’re 16, you don’t need justification, just clarity: “Dad, I love you and this is what I’m doing.” Don’t move because you feel bad for him. He’s a grown man, he’ll get over it. My dad did. I experienced something similar. And shame on him for how much he guilt-tripped me! The strain he created in our relationship was his doing. I wanted to live with my mom — and I did. Despite the strain, my life was incomparably happier in the more stable household. Keep doing in life what makes you feel empowered and strong.

Warren, 24, Nashville, Mich.: Stability is important for school and mental health. Your parents love you and ultimately want what’s best for you. That said: Do what’s best for you. Your father may be upset or sad, but in time he will understand. Just let him know how much you love him and continue visiting him. That’s how I dealt with my parent’s divorce and I have an excellent relationship with both of them now.

Katelyn, 19, Huntington Beach: Tell him your mom provides more structure, and that he provides other things (love, emotional support, etc.), and that you love them equally. Suggest that you’ll call more often or schedule regular “daddy dates” (along with the dinners, weekends and holidays). If he continues pressuring and guilt-tripping, ignore it and stick to your reasoning. He’ll either come around, or he won’t — and neither will be your fault.

Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vt.: To help eliminate the “favorite parent” problem, make it clear that the choice is for you. It’s better for you personally. Most parents appreciate teens making beneficial life decisions, since many don’t. You might mention this.

Carlos, 18, Fairfax, Va.: I went through this. My mom was moving to the U.S. and my dad was staying in Bolivia. It was too much pressure for an eight-year-old, but I told Dad I loved him with all my heart, and it was best to move with Mom because not only did she need me, I needed her. Sit him down and express your love. Then follow with what you know is best.

Dear Torn Apart: The freedom to “choose” between parents can indeed be a major source of stress and destabilization — especially if parents use guilt and manipulation “pick me” cards. I find it easy to support your choice because you want the more structured environment (as opposed to the one with the most toys and/or fewest rules) — AND you’re not excluding your father. Now, if he could just relax and enjoy you! It’s important to be absolutely firm about your decision. When you waver, it makes him keep trying. — Lauren

Ask a question or go deeper in today’s conversation at www.StraightTalkAdvice.org — or write PO Box 1974 Sebastopol, CA 95473. Straight Talk Advice.org is a 501c3 nonprofit. If today’s column has been useful, please consider a donation!

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.


Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists