Divorce complicates the lives of children just as much as it does the parents. When they have to divide their time between two parents, they will often resist. If your child is resisting visitation with his or her other parent, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on everyone. Above all else, you cannot let your personal feelings about the child’s other parent interfere with his or her visitation.
When Your Child Resists Visitation: Make sure there isn’t a serious problem.
In some cases — though this is far from the norm — a child will resist visitation because he or she is experiencing something bad at the other parent’s house. It could be abuse, neglect or a discomfort with the other parent’s significant other. Whatever the case, you should make sure that there isn’t a serious reason why your child doesn’t want to follow the visitation schedule. However, don’t convince yourself that your ex is being abusive or neglectful; if you’ve never suspected anything before, it’s doubtful that this is the issue.
When Your Child Resists Visitation: Ask about the reason.
Many children are painfully candid and will explain their point of view when asked. Others require a little bit of coaxing, but will usually spill the beans eventually. The problem could be something as simple as forgetting a favorite teddy bear every time he or she visits; it could also be that visiting the other parent causes a conflict with a hobby or sport. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to make visitation easy on your child. If the other parent is refusing to take the child to soccer practice, rearrange the schedule so that your child can participate in activities.
When Your Child Resists Visitation: Be firm about the rules.
Even if your child has a legitimate reason for resisting visitation, you are still the parent and you have to make the rules as clear as possible. The child’s other parent has been given visitation, and should get it for the time you or the courts have allotted. Stress the fact that the other parent misses your child and wants to spend time with him or her. While you should try to make it as easy as possible, your child will eventually regret not honoring visitation, and should be required to comply.
When Your Child Resists Visitation: Call your child
When your child is visiting his or her other parent, maintain phone contact. Make sure that your child can reach you at home or on your cell phone and stay as available as possible. The reluctance to observe visitation may mean that your child is just missing the custodial parent (you), which can be easily remedied by staying in contact. If the other parent resists that contact, explain your dilemma and agree not to call the house, but to wait for a phone call when your child wants to talk to you.
When Your Child Resists Visitation: Make sure you aren’t instilling guilt.
Children are rather perceptive and will pick up on any emotions you put out. If you’ve given your child the idea that you don’t like it when he or she visits the other parent, this could be a major reason for the visitation resistance. Let your child know that you want him or her to have a relationship with the other parent and that while you miss him or her during visitation, you don’t mind. Don’t let your child feel as though he or she needs to “stick up” for you regarding visitation.