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'Can I Live with Dad?'

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Single Mom Seeking: When single moms hear this question, they often feel confused and unnerved -- and respond with stunned silence.

girl looking at picture

If that describes you, we understand: The "Can I live with Dad?" question is among the most perplexing that a single mom can be asked. And you're not alone -- we've been hearing from LOTS of solo moms wanting to talk about this unsettling experience.

So, what does this question really mean? Many single moms automatically assume it means that their kids want to pack up all their stuff and go live with Dad permanently. Not so.

The phrase "live with Dad" means different things to different kids, depending upon their ages and their family circumstances. Sometimes kids are really asking if Dad will ever be stable enough or somewhere permanent enough for them to even consider his house a "second home."

Maybe your child would like to spend more time with Dad? You'll want to know why. Maybe Dad has a new girlfriend and your kid feels displaced? Maybe work demands have made an involved Dad less available? Some kids ask about living with Dad as a way of ascertaining whether or not they can somehow become a greater priority in their dad's life. Kids might reason that if they lived with their dad, the attention and affection they crave would be available.

So, how should a single mom respond to this difficult question? Figure out what your kid is really asking. This question is the beginning of a conversation, and this is the perfect time for you to listen. It's not a time for you to feel threatened, angry or unappreciated. Sometimes the "live with Dad" question is simply about your child wanting to do something he or she has heard another kid talk about -- simple curiosity, and nothing more.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lissa May 18, 2010, 9:42 AM

I really think the bottom line is kids want to make both parents happy… Even if I hate my ex, those are my feelings and I keep them to myself. The truth is you have to let your children see on their own… and at 11 my son is getting to see.

Erica May 19, 2010, 1:11 AM

What is so wrong with a child wanting to live with the other parent (mother or father)? Why does it have to be some deep psychological yearning to find their other parents true priorities or because they feel displaced. I understand that this is momlogic but fathers have just as much right to raise their children as mothers do.

Lorren May 21, 2011, 1:11 PM

It’s spooky how clever some ppl are. Thknas!

Davion May 22, 2011, 9:29 AM

Such a deep anwser! GD&RVVF

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