| 8.7°C Dublin

Should children get to decide which parent to live with?

Adrian Kennedy


 Stock image

Stock image

Stock image

WHEN parents decide to separate, it’s a difficult time for any child regardless of how amicable the split is or how much the adults try to shield them.

Even though in many cases it’s for the best, it’s still a huge adjustment for kids.

In most cases, the children will live with the mother and it is the father who moves out, but what happens when a child decides he or she wants to go and live with their dad?

Should they make that decision, especially if they’re very young?

I spoke with a father on my radio show this week, and he’s in this predicament.

He spoke about his young son who has been asking when he can live with his dad.

The caller separated from his wife years ago and doesn’t know what to do as he says his son is unhappy at home with his mum.

It’s very difficult as he says the boy has to stay with his mother until he’s 15, so his hands are tied.

“I think children should have the right to choose where they live, obviously once they’re a certain age when they’re old enough to understand what’s going on around them,” the man said.

“My son is a mature 10-year-old and is able to make decisions.”

It was obvious from speaking to him that he believes his son should be able to make that decision, even at his age.

Many listeners were quick to criticise the caller for “encouraging” this, and said it was very unfair to put this on a child and to expect that child to make such a big decision.

Many people believed a child shouldn’t get to decide something like this and that only the parents should.

Others disagreed, saying that if it’s the child who has to live there,they should be allowed to choose.

I also spoke with a woman in a similar situation, and she believes 10 is far too young for a child to make such a decision.

She had experienced it with her own child after separating from her partner, and said her son simply wanted to go to his dad as he was the “more fun parent”.

The mother believes the rules aren’t as strict when her son is with his dad, because he only has him fora few hours a week and so is seen as the “easy” parent.

I don’t agree with putting a child in a situation where they’re pressured to make that decision at such a young age.

I too have been through a separation.

I do believe, though, that both parents should sit down with the child and discuss the situation and try to work out why the child wants to live with one particular parent rather than just fobbing them off and not even talking about it.

It’s far too big a thing to leave up to young kids. That said, it doesn’t mean their wishes should be disregarded.

Online Editors