One day, he is caring and loving and wonderful, and the next he is hateful and raging and mean. You are afraid to talk, or when you do talk you feel like you are never heard, your words are taken out of context, misunderstood, or blatantly ignored. In the beginning of a relationship they might seem like everything you ever wanted….usually this is because they are trying to act like everything you ever wanted. You have no support group and therefore your partner gains more power. He or she might be mean to people they think are “below them” or people who are defenseless, like babies or children.
Like flipping a switch, he can change drastically from one extreme to the next. He or she acts one way when they are around you, but completely different around your parents, and completely different around their friends. Slowly, you lose your friends until you feel like your partner is the only person you have left. Your partner cycles from mean and vicious to sweet and loving, then back again. He might set traps for squirrels or rabbits and then torture them.
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However, children rarely know all the details of how a parent decides to do something or what both parents talk about regarding their decisions.
Sometimes the decisions are financially impacting one parent differently than the other.
When parents cannot have these conversations, even with help, they often find themselves bringing their indecision to court for a judge to intervene.
Some parents try to influence their children to see the situation as they do.
In general, the older they are the more their preference might be considered.
Their preferences are not usually considered in a vacuum, however.
The child may only know that Mom or Dad is not taking them where they want to go but not that it is not affordable.
Whatever the reason, by early to mid teens, a court is likely to take the child’s concerns into consideration in making an order while being very careful not to ask the child to make a decision and learning as much as possible about the context of that preference.
On a fairly regular basis I am asked by a divorced parent how old their child must be before they can choose which parent they want to live with.