Kristine F. was co-parenting amicably with her ex — until her teen moved out of her home and into his. Now this Circle of Moms member is feeling a mixture of anxiety and sadness about her role as a parent. Unsure how to stay connected to her daughter from a distance, or how to navigate parenting from afar, she laments, “I miss her very much. I have managed to talk to her on the phone a few times and I e-mail her constantly. I want to be there for her and share the milestones."
There are fewer things more painful for a parent then when your teen chooses to live with your ex. Here, Circle of Moms members who have faced this painful situation share both words of comfort and key strategies for coping with the change.
1. Don’t Ever Give Up Being "Mom"
It’s hard not to shrivel up in pain when your teen leaves you, says Rhonda C. But she stresses that you need to continually remind yourself that you are still the mother: "Continue to be there to ‘mother.’ Insist on quality time several times a week. If you support [your child's] decision, instead of making her feel guilty about it, she'll be open to compromises to make this work.”
Rose G. echoes the sentiment that you will always be "Mom." She feels it's critical not to abandon or forfeit your role or to believe that it has been stolen away. Maintain your confidence in yourself as a parent, she says, and “Don't let [your child] know you are lost without her. Give her space and encouragement," including encouragement in her relationship with her father, which is important to her.
To ensure that distance does not separate you from your role as parent, make sure your ex keeps you informed about your teen, says Jane S. “Prevail upon her and her dad to keep you up on what is going on in her life,” she says.
2. Maintain Regular, Positive Contact
A teen who moves out of your home may not initially want a lot of contact with you, but it's still important to be there for her as much as she will allow, advises Renee P. The first step to keeping the lines of communication open is to put aside your hurt or anger. Commit to a daily phone call or some other way of meeting and talking regularly, she suggests, to encourage "a positive relationship."
Frequent communication assures your teen that you love her, "regardless of where she lives and that she is still as much a part of your family as she was before,” adds Cheryl D.: “Take her out to the movies or dinner or something." Spending time together outside of your home will reassure her that "you aren't going to force her to come home."
It was a long six months for Fiona D. when her teen daughter lived with her ex-husband. She worked hard to regularly “stay in touch by phone and arranged to be able to meet with her for lunch and shopping.” Fiona had to switch her focus to enjoying the time she had with her daughter. Learning to become a good listener was key. "Try not to jump in. Just listen," she advises.
Rose, who agrees that continuing to be available to your teen is critical, cautions against trying to relate to her as a peer might: "Be her mom, not her friend; she doesn't need another friend. She needs a mom who is there for her when she needs you."
3. Remain Firm About Your Rules
Chriss D. understands that her daughter left at least in part beacuse she hated the house rules, but hopes her teen will someday want to return to the order and structure those rules provided. Although you may be tempted to compete with your ex by changing your parenting standards, adds Lori C., stay firm about your rules and expectations. “Show [your child] you are are there for her as someone she can count on. But don’t try to manipulate her or let her manipulate you," she says.
Charity B. also found it was important to stick to her rules in her interactions with her daughter. “You just can't allow your house to have a revolving door. Your teen needs to accept responsibility for her own actions,” she says. A mom named Dawn agrees: "The real world is full of rules," she says.
And some Circle of Moms members, including Mardi M., say moms should never try to bribe a teen back into their homes. “You could easily turn into a Disneyland parent and try and win her back. But I strongly suggest supporting her choices and starting to get to know the person she will become in the future. Keep the door open (emotionally), then it won’t matter whose house she lives in; she will have a good relationship with you.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.