How to Tell Your Parent You Want to Live With Your Other Parent
Preparing for the Conversation
Understand that your parent may feel sad.
As a child of divorced parents, you probably already know the tug-of-war that goes on for custody, and it may be painful for you to watch and deal with. Try to remember, though, that, in most cases, your parents are trying to do what is best for you, and if you tell them you don’t want to live with them anymore, they may feel like they have failed you, or that you don’t love them.
On the other hand, you don’t need to think that you are supposed to live with a parent if you are unhappy just because you don’t want to hurt them. In the end, it’s not up to you to keep your parents happy. Just try to keep in mind that it may hurt them to hear that you want to move out, so it’s important to try and be gentle.
Think about why you want to move out.
Sure, your other parent may let you do whatever you want, so it will be way more fun, but is that the only reason? Take some time to think about all the reasons you want to move out, and if they are good ones or not. It is very easy for the parent you don’t live with full time to look like the “fun parent,” However, remember that they don’t bear the brunt of responsibility for you, so it’s easy to give you whatever you want one or two days a week.
Remember that the parent you live with is responsible for making sure you are happy and healthy most of the time. This means that they have to make lots of tough decisions about what is best for you.
Will you have to change schools? Changing schools may be the biggest reason you want to move with your other parent, but if you are very happy at your current school, and living with the other parent requires changing schools, then you may have to go somewhere you don’t like.
Try not to say things out of anger.
Has the parent you live with done something that made you angry? If so, it can be very tempting to tell them you want to live with your other parent in the heat of the moment. It’s important to remember that you should not use your other parent as a weapon to hurt the other when they make you angry.
If you really do want to live with the other parent, then you should have a conversation with the parent you live with when you are calm, and have thought out the reasons why you want to do so.
List your reasons for wanting to move.
There may be many reasons why you want to live with your other parent. Many of those reasons may have nothing to do with the parent you live with, but some might. Before you have the conversation, take time to make a list of the reasons you want to live with your other parent.
You don’t need to give this list to the parent you live with, and it may be hurtful for them to simply read a list of all the reasons you don’t want to live with them without hearing you explain these reasons. Instead, make the list so that it is clear for you why you want to leave, and so that you can talk about these reasons clearly with your parent.
For example, maybe you want to live with the other parent because they live much closer to your school, or maybe it’s a different reason altogether. Maybe the parent you live with is dating a lot of different people, and you don’t like being around all their boyfriends/girlfriends.
Know exactly what you want from the conversation.
Do you want to live with your other parent and never see the one you live with now? Do you want to see them on the weekends? Do you want to continue living with the same parent, but spend more time with the other parent? There are lots of ways that custody can be split between parents. Before you tell them you want to live the other parent, know exactly what kind of custody arrangement you would like.
This way, during the conversation, you can show your parent that you’ve really thought about it. Be ready to talk with your parent about when you want to see them, too.
Consider the lifestyle of your other parent.
It may be the case that your other parent does not want you to live with them, maybe because they have a very busy work schedule, and won’t have time to give you the support you need. Before having a potentially difficult conversation, think about whether or not your other parent will allow you to live with them.
Maybe your other parent has some problems they have to deal with. These problems may mean that they can’t take care of you as a parent should. Maybe they travel all week, and are never at home.
Talk it out with someone you trust.
Find someone you trust, and tell them how you’re feeling. This may be the parent you wish to live with, or it may be a grandparent, or someone at school, such as a guidance counselor. Talk to them about your wish to live with the other parent, and the reasons why. Talking to someone may help you understand your reasons for wanting to move.
The person you talk to could also be able to give you advice on how to start this conversation with your parent.
Be aware though, that if your parents don’t get along very well, talking with the parent you wish to live with may not be the best idea if you are looking for an unbiased ear.
Having the Conversation
Ask your parent if they have time to talk about something important.
Don’t just say you want to live with your other parent out of nowhere, this will make them feel angry and/or very sad. If they are shocked by what you say, they probably aren’t going to be able to really listen because they will be dealing with the emotions they are feeling.
Tell them you need some time to talk about something that is important to you. They may be able to talk right away, but if they’re busy with something it may have to wait.
They may get mad, even if you try to ease into the conversation without shocking them.
Don’t ask them to have this talk when you’ve just had a fight, or if you can tell that they are in a bad mood.
Tell them that you love them.
Depending on the reasons you want to move out, you may be afraid that you will hurt your parents. While it might be hard to hear that you want to leave, reassuring them that you love them very much, and that you don’t want to move out to hurt them will help them understand that you want to stay close with them.
For example, you can say, “Before I tell you what’s going on, I want you to know that I love you very much. It might be hard to hear what I am about to say, but please don’t think I don’t care.”
Tell them the reasons you would like to live with your other parent.
Start by saying, “I would like to live with Dad” (or Mom, if that’s the situation). The reasons that I would like to live with them are….” Try to explain each reason calmly and clearly.
If the reasons you don’t want to live with the current parent anymore are because of how they treat you or because they have problems that are affecting you, then bringing up these reasons may make your parent mad or embarrassed. Try to remember that it’s important to be honest.
Give them time to think about what you have said.
It’s hard to predict how your parent will react. They may get angry, they may cry, or they may not seem upset. Either way, give them a chance to think about what you have said. If they want to talk, then listen to what they are saying.
They may ask for some time to think things through. Give them that time. They may say “no” outright. In this case, there may not be much you can do. You can try talking about the matter with your other parent to see what they think. It may be possible for them to convince the parent you live with to reconsider.
If your parent reacts in a way that you don’t like, do your best to stay calm. Don’t start yelling at them. Instead, try to keep talking in a mature way. If they have simply said, “no,” ask them if they can explain