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Why you should not ask kids which parent they want to live with

When some couples divorce, they may find it a good idea to ask their children which parent they want to live with. On the surface, this does not seem like such a bad idea. After all, children deserve a say in their futures. 

However, such requests tend to put children in the middle and cause undue stress and conflict. This is true even if the child is a seemingly well-adjusted, independent and bright teenager.

Parental responsibility

Children are young and do not always know what is best for them. As the default, the state of Florida urges that both parents have time and frequent involvement with their children. For whatever reason, perhaps anger at one parent and blaming him or her for the divorce, a child may choose to live with one parent and all but ignore the other. Often, this is not in the child's best interest.

It is the parents' responsibility to weigh many factors their children are unaware of as they work together to co-parent and to encourage healthy relationships all around.

Undue stress on the child

Asking your children, "Who would you rather live with?" also puts them in a precarious position. They might worry about hurting one parent, or both. A child could even worry if he or she replies, "I want to live with you both," because what if one parent blames the other for the divorce and is upset the child wants to live with that parent half of the time?


Co-parents should be as flexible as possible. An arrangement that works now might not in five years. If a child chooses to live with one parent now but wants to live with both three years down the road, he or she may feel locked in. Unless the situation is extreme or involves abuse or violence, it is a good idea for parents to follow Florida's example. They should make every attempt for both parents to be as involved as possible.

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