It’s a shock to hear but as parents we have to cope when this occurs. It may never occur but the reality is, it does occur. It can be a very difficult thing to hear but how you respond is what really matters. The best advice I can offer comes from my own experience.
When my oldest son turned 12 he told me he wanted to go live with his dad. I was adamantly against this move. My first instinct was to say NO and end the discussion. Instead I told my son that I needed to know why he wanted to make this change. He hemmed and hawed and couldn’t really provide any reason other than because he said so.
So instead of saying NO outright I told him that he needed to have a viable reason to and when he could articulate something we would discuss it. Lucky for me he couldn’t come up with any good reason or reason at all other than I want to. I did later find out he was being promised “gifts” if he went to live with his dad.
The next year my son approached me again with the same request. This time he came armed with some very logical reasons as to why the move would be good. He also made it clear that he wanted to try it and wasn’t sure if it was what he wanted permanently. I let him go on a temporary basis for 1 year with two main rules:
- There would be no moving back until the year was complete
- He would come and visit every other weekend
In my case my son went for 1 year and then decided to move back and now is very happy in my home. This won’t happen for everyone.
As parents we have to recognize that our children will leave us. Not the easiest thing to accept but our job is to raise them well enough to leave us. If/when the times comes, you have to trust that you have done your job as a parent properly and let them go. Make sure they are making the move for the right reasons and if they are able to articulate those reasons then you have done your job.
It is important that you maintain contact with them. Just as you made sure they visited with the other parent you need to communicate clearly that now the other parent needs to help ensure you are visited regularly as well.
Just remember you will always be their parent. They may leave for now but as long as they know that they are loved and always have a home they will come back…just accept it may only be for a visit from now on.