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Childhood challenges: When kids don't want to visit their parents

Most people know that their children are going to develop more independence as they age. It's a normal part of growing up, but it doesn't always make things easy.

This is particularly true when you live in a divorced family. Children of divorce may have to travel back and forth between homes and probably have their own opinions about what they want to do versus what they're asked to do.

As a parent, how can you handle a child who doesn't want to see the other parent?

Divorce is hard. Kids adjust differently, and some may complain that they don't want to see the other parent. There are dozens of reasons why a child might not want to see a parent, and not all of them are a result of a parent's negative influence or poor parenting skills. Sometimes, kids don't want to see their parents because they:

  • Are strict and require respect in their home
  • Have new family members that the child doesn't like or want to be around
  • Blame their parent for the end of the marriage
  • Don't want to travel
  • Want to spend time with friends at the other parent's home

Every situation is different, and there are times when poor care or poor parenting can be responsible for a child refusing to go to a parent's house. However, more often than not, children are simply trying to assert independence and make their own decisions.

As the other parent in this equation, it's important that you listen to your child's reasoning. Something like a complaint about not getting enough to eat or being hit by your ex-spouse's partner would draw concern, but complaints about wanting to stay home to play video games is another thing entirely. If there is no neglect or abuse taking place, it is as much your responsibility as your ex-spouse's to make sure your child goes through these visits.

You have the ability to sit down with your child, on your own or with your ex-spouse, to talk about why they don't want to go through with visits. As children age, the way you arrange the custody schedule might need to change, and a good discussion is where you'll be able to see if there is a need for that. If you and your ex-spouse can work together, you'll be able to resolve this situation and get your child back into a normal custody and visitation schedule without further disputes.

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