What to do when your parents ask you to choose between them

Super dooper asks: My parents are split and now my mum is angry because my dad is taking me for holidays for a week during the time she is meant to have me and now she is making me choose. Please help! I do not know what to do.

Hi super dooper –



My friend, you are in an absolute stew of unfairness.  It’s always unfair to kids when parents split up, it’s unfair when decisions get made about where they’ll have to be at what time, and oh boy it is especially unfair when the parents make the kid take responsibility for their choices.  You are absolutely living this, and I am so very sorry.


I don’t know where you live, and don’t know the specific custody laws there of course, but most likely what they’re doing is legal. Dad is asking to do something outside the custody agreement, and your mum is asking you to make the choice.  She probably thinks she’s doing you a favor, giving you the right to decide.  But of course, you’re stuck in a situation where you’re feeling that whatever choice you make will make a statement to your parents about all sorts of things – who you prefer, who you’d want to spend your vacation with, what you want to do – that you’d much rather not make!  And I don’t even know your parents, so I don’t know what consequences you’d fear from this decision!


You know what I’d advise?  Refuse.  Say that you can’t make the decision.  Tell them that it’s unfair for them to put you in this situation.  And then flip a coin.  Right in front of them, pull a big coin out of your pocket and call it – heads you go with Dad, tails you stay with Mum.  And whatever way it lands, do that.


Now – here’s the hard part.  When I said that, did that feel good or bad?  Did you feel “But I’d miss out on that fun vacation with Dad?”  If that’s the case, maybe what’s going on is that you really want that holiday, but you don’t want to hurt your Mum’s feelings.  If that’s the case, then my advice would be to sit down with her, explain to her that you love her very much, and want to do some special things with her, but that you also don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to travel.  Make a plan for something really fantastic with her after the trip.  And she’ll probably be okay.


But if you’re not sure what you want – go for the coin.  And if you do, there’s no way either of them can guilt-trip you for your decision.  Hopefully, it will actually make them realize the difficulty of your position, and they’ll treat you better with it in the future.


Good Luck!

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