How do you handle an estranged 16 year old who is the subject of a custody battle?

Paula - posted on 03/27/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )

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My normally sweet and well adjusted 16 yr old daughter is the subject of a nasty custody battle with my ex husband. We have always been very close and have enjoyed a healthy, normal mother/daughter relationship until about 7 months ago when we had an argument. She was upset about the argument and apparently talked to her father and step-mother about it where upon she was invited to stay with them for a couple of weeks. Since then, she has refused to move back with me and has become cold, distant, and has been very angry. She is hardly the young lady I have raised since infancy. She is my baby, my first born; my heart and soul. Now I feel I'm being treated like one of her dad's ex-wives, not her mom. Ouch! I am searching for a way to reach her. Any ideas?

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Tia - posted on 03/28/2010

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Have you seen the Reba episode when her middle child moves out? I think this allows you to have a different relationship with your daughter. Call and ask if she wants to go on a shopping date or movie date with u.. when she agrees dont talk about the custody stuff or the living situation just talk about her and how things are going. good luck!

Iridescent - posted on 03/27/2010

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Honestly, she's 16. She knows what you are like as a mother, she knows what her father is like as a father. She is old enough to choose who to live with and deal with that decision for the whole of less than 2 years prior to her becoming an adult. If things get too bad with a custody battle, she could even apply for emancipation in most states, and have it granted.



Rather than push her away further, why not allow her to live with her decision and try to start fresh on some neutral ground with her? She will continue to see things her way, and you will see things your way, but instead of fighting, see her as an individual capable of making decisions and being responsible for the course of her life, then treat her as such. This expensive, drawn out, angry custody battle will only make things worse on all parts. Maybe it's time to let it go. I asked my dad to let the custody battle go when I was 9, after 2 years of it and tens of thousands of dollars. He did, per my request, although our mom was abusing us to the point of death. And I respect him greatly for it now that I'm an adult, even though I know it broke his heart. The fact was, it's harder to deal with the fighting than to just deal with survival. Now I do not speak with my mother, but my dad, I do. Why? Because even at 9 years old, he respected me.

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Amanda - posted on 07/25/2011

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You can't push her,you have to sit back and wait on her to decide shes ready.I did exactly the same thing when i was 16.I went to live with my dad.It took me about a year to realize I missed my mom and moved back home with her.But the more my mom tried to talk to me tried to get me to move home,the more i refused.i wanted to hurt her.Still don't exactly understand it all myself.But the best thing i can tell you is let her decide when shes ready!I know this isn't what you want to hear,but i'm just being honest.At that age the more you push the more she'll fight against you!And I don't know what your relationship was like before all this.So she may have some anger about you and your ex divorcing she may blame you,or shes listening to them tell her things.Mine was that i wasn't close with my mom and I wanted to get to know my dad.All I ever heard was bad things about him and i wanted to get to know him myself.She'll come around eventually,or it will be when shes grown and out on her own.But regardless don't posion ur relationship that you still may have with her by pushing her to come back and live with you.It will only make things worse for your relationship now.Hope this helps...Sorry that your going through this too!!

Iridescent - posted on 03/28/2010

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Paula, I wasn't saying you're a bad parent or in the wrong in any way here. I was saying sometimes it's better to let even children live with their own choices, and build a life-long relationship that is positive regardless.

The way I read your original post I did misunderstand the part about the angry custody battle; generally children are aware of these, and by 16 judges do take the decision of the child into high consideration. Even if it's not the best choice for her (and it does sound like she's making a mistake), it's seen as her right to choose often.

And as I suggested before, try to meet on neutral ground and build a positive relationship. Depending where you live, there are different options available (community activities, volunteering together - looks great on a college application and job resume for her, too, going out to eat if it's an option, picnics, etc).

Believe it or not, I wasn't insulting you. I was simply trying to explain that although you can see the situation as a whole, she is unable to, but it doesn't make her view any less valid.

Paula - posted on 03/28/2010

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Thanks Tia...I'm hoping she'll take me up on the lunch date I asked her on soon. So many things happening here in the coming months...I sure hope she'll be game for at least one event! That would be terrific.
I wonder if the Reba episode you mentioned can be found on the internet as I have never watched that show. I'll check it out. Again, thanks for the support! :)

Paula - posted on 03/28/2010

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Wow, Amy, that was quite a response. With all due respect, maybe your view of this issue may be colored by your history.

Let me extrapolate: her father and I have been divorced for a full 10 years where the case has been inactive for 7 1/2 of those 10 years. In that time her father has been married and divorced 3 additional times and both my son and daughter have been dragged thru those marriages, one resulting in the loss of the family home. The current home includes a huge family with people her age and lots of "fun", I suppose. My family consists of only myself and her younger half-sister with whom she is close with. Not as much activity and fun.

Seriously, how many moms and teenage daughters have a single heated argument resulting in this kind of issue? Most, I'm sure are able to work it out and move past it. Some fight everyday and this doesn't happen.

Yes, being 15 at the time, it is a tumultuous time for the typical teenager. When she left, she assured me she would return within 2 weeks and I told her altho I didn't like the decision, I would respect it. During that period of time it is obvious her father has worked on alienating the relationship as her attitude toward me digressed over the months. Now he has petitioned the court for child support in excess of $400 per month and knowing his history of mismanagement of money, it is clear to me this is for financial gain as well as a feather in his cap.

9 years ago I had to take him to court, not for custody, but for enforcement of the money and property he refused to comply with thru the settlement agreement. He has been resentful ever since and has now taken advantage of the current situation.

As far as continuing a fight, I'm thinking this is an assumption on your part. I continue to reach out to her in ways which have nothing to do with the current case. Voice messages, picture messages, texts, precious few conversations having to do with light stuff, a happy birthday, happy easter, and of course, I love you's. Always respectful.

My family of origin was similar to yours; I chose my father also. Before I had children I vowed to do as much as I could to not follow in my mother's footsteps; and for the most part I've done well with that. Hence, my daughter and I have enjoyed a close relationship for her entire life up til recently.

Again, as I said in my original post, she is the subject (emphasis) of the custody battle. If she knows anything about it resulting in her involvement of it, it has not come from me.

I'm sorry your mother was abusing you and your siblings to the point of death, however that is not the case with me and my daughter. It is hard to not take that remark a bit on the personal side as my exhusband and his wife have been spoonfeeding this concept to her lately on a regular basis ensuring his victory and financial win...maybe. We'll see. I have resigned myself to accepting that I may lose my home and 25% of my paycheck to him if he is successful in the April hearing. I am not a weathy woman. But you know, I still have many years left to repair the relationship with her...meantime my heart is shattered and I have the need to be supported in this difficult time, too.

I completely disagree I have pushed her away further as I continue to reach out to her in every positive way I can think of disregarding the case. I totally support her in her decisions regarding her ROTC and joining the military upon graduation, her choices in friends, boys she's interested in, her relationships with her brother and sister, volunteer work as she is involved in this season with Relay for Life, school, grades, etc., etc. I certainly do see her as a very capable young woman. I simply miss her terribly and cry for missing her frequently. My ache for my child is private and not shown to her.

Please try to understand that this is an involved and stupid case as it never should have gone so over the top. My initial post was meant to find additional ways to reach out to her to heal the relationship and find support for simply being patient and hanging in there until she comes to her right mind about this and about me.

So there you are, Amy. How about some helpful suggestions rather than suppositions and judgments?

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