what to do when they don't want to see dad?

(24 Posts)
biscuitfreak Sun 08-Dec-13 07:34:28

Have 2 dcs, my son is primary school age, has asd, and mostly ok with going to his dads. If he doesn't want to go it's normally because he thinks he is going to miss out on something like computer time.

DD is starting to complain every time. She is 6. They go alternate weekends, and he takes them out after school once a fortnight. The last one of these after school visits, dd got so upset. She was screaming, kicking out whilst her dad tried to strap on her seatbelt, so I said I thought it best if she didn't go.

Me and dd had a bit of time together, which I thought maybe that was all she needed. I said she would be going to dads on Friday. She didn't have to do the after schools if she was too tired, but when it was her weekend at dads she needed to go.

I can't talk to ex about this, as understandably he wants see his dc, so thinks she should be made to go. If she really doesn't want to go that much it doesn't feel right to force her. There have been a few issues with an older brother recently but as far as I'm aware it's been sorted.

I had always thought the point would come where they didn't want to go back and forth, but I thought they would be at least in secondary school before that happened.

At what point/age do you stop making them go to their dads if they don't want to? And what alternative arrangements do you set up to keep their relationship going?

Admiraltea Sun 08-Dec-13 07:45:44

If there is no DV backstory/ court involvement then they go.

They are not old enough to be making their own decisions...as they are split parented you need to make it as easy for them to go as possible..i.e lots of chat about their time with their father (who cares enough to want contact) and how it is important to spend time together and that you are so so so happy that their dad wants to spend time with them because they are so lovely etc etc

It is very important that you facilitate contact and btw I do not think allowing a 6 year old to dictate after school contact by having a tantrum and being rewarded by mummy time is helpful.

Tuckshop Sun 08-Dec-13 08:59:17

I'm not sure I'd be giving her the option at 6. She's very young to be calling the shots.

I'd be talking to her about why she didn't want to go. Do you have any idea what's behind it?

If its just the usual getting near the end of term tiredness thing, then really there's no reason why her Dad can't deal with that.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 08-Dec-13 09:01:18

What are the older brother issues?

summermovedon Sun 08-Dec-13 09:02:50

Actually, I think that they are old enough to have a voice at 6. If it were to go to court, it would be listened to, as I understand it from professionals I have spoken to.

If she doesn't want to go for a whole weekend, I would sit down and chat to dad about perhaps an alternative, like a day out somewhere interesting for her, so that she is hopefully encouraged to continue her relationship with him. Yes, it is a sort of bribery (deflection), but I am just imagining being a little girl being told what I am doing and having no autonomy at all, that can't be good either.

Admiraltea Sun 08-Dec-13 09:14:40

Summermovedon you are seriously suggesting that a 6 year old has to be bribed to spend time with her other parent by a day out???

That is precisely the disney dad parenting that so many are anti as it is not real parenting.

They surely need the consistency of a regular pattern and the boundary that it is what just happens.

And if dad is doing school pick up he can do it on his own surely???

Sasquatch75 Sun 08-Dec-13 09:25:53

What is this older brother issue - is it the son of your exes girlfriend? If it is, and your dd doesn't want to go because she knows she'll see him, then you need to talk to your ex. I remember not getting on with one of my cousins throughout childhood. I was quiet and just didn't tell anyone what he was doing (giving me horrible looks, laughing at me, whispering nasty things when noone else could hear)... No one knew anything about it until years later... I used to dread seeing him.

biscuitfreak Sun 08-Dec-13 09:27:03

It's tricky, as life isn't so black and white as it sometimes feels on mn.

Yes there were issues in the relationship, I left due to EA. I don't want to go into detail about the older brother issues, but basically he is an adult, but behaving in an appropriate way, and scaring dd (not sexually inappropriate by the way).

Ha to school pick ups! That made me laugh actually. No, I pick them up, he comes over about 5, from what I can tell he gets a takeaway pizza, they sit in the car and watch the same dvd as last time (this is what she told me, she said it's too cold).

There is another issue with an incident with ex recently, concerning my ds, too sensitive to post on here. I'm trying to get an official opinion on whether it is something to be worried about, or just a one off albeit slightly odd.

admiraltea if 'real parenting' is not working, then surely the Disney version is better than nothing? I have always made a point of encouraging their relationship with their father, trying to make it sound fun and lovely and exciting to go and stay at his. Not going on about missing them etc.

If she genuinely doesn't want to go, I have to ask myself why?

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 08-Dec-13 09:31:57

Yes you do have to ask why...and perhaps listen to her. Not just her voice but her desperation not to go.

biscuitfreak Sun 08-Dec-13 09:38:21

sorry, re the older brother should say 'not behaving'. He is her older half brother, ex is single as far as I'm aware.

Admiraltea Sun 08-Dec-13 10:30:02

As the back story does seem to be heading towards court involvement then you are in a very different place to general reluctance by a 6 year old.

Mine were/are super good at figuring out how to get the best deal by playing me and ex against each other but it was mostly re eating mcdonalds or getting extra treats and sometimes very funny but this does not sound remotely like a regular contact issue.

You sound very concerned for their welfare and divorce for EA is serious.

Maybe some other wise mumsnetter can point you in the direction of some experienced/professional advice?

If EA has been involved then matters can get complicated very quickly.

biscuitfreak Sun 08-Dec-13 10:36:41

Thankyou. I didn't want to dripfeed, but rather get a more general sense of when the children are considered to be able to know what's best for themselves (even if that is purely on an instinctive level rather than any awareness as such). At the moment I am concerned, but there is nothing concrete really, so wanted to get feedback without that info, as I am now considering that I may need to take some action without any professional backing.

I know what you mean about playing the parents against each other! She gave this a go in the past, but luckily we both as parents ignored it and told her it was up to the other parent what they wanted to do. Eg chocolate breakfasts are banned in my house, but they have cocopops etc at dads

Tuckshop Sun 08-Dec-13 10:47:06

Yes I agree the EA and serious concerns throw a whole different light on it, and the reasons why need to be listened to.

I think in general though Summer that at six there are age appropriate choices you can give them. And while in this instance the reason why she is not wanting to go needs to be listened to, I think when there are no such issues then its not something a six year old should have an input to.

Minime85 Sun 08-Dec-13 11:40:21

is it the staying overnight she doesn't want to do? could he compromise and have her in day time of weekend but she comes back to u for bed?

Notcontent Mon 09-Dec-13 17:52:03

I think being the mother in that situation can be very difficult.

Admiraltea says that the OP needs to do everything possible to facilitate contact. But it's often not that simple. My dd's father left when she was a baby. She has had regular but not frequent contact with him - every three weeks or so. He hurt me very badly (no dc but simply fact that it was a horrible time for me) but notwithstanding this I used to always say good things about him, had photos of him up on the wall with her as a baby, etc. Yet - dd, at nearly 8, now suddenly doesn't want to spend time with him. Even though he has a lovely house, takes her out, etc.

Sometimes it's not black and white.

lostdad Mon 09-Dec-13 19:36:39

Are they old enough to make major decisions about their life? What would you do if they said they didn't want to go to school? When they go to bed? What they eat?

What would you say if they didn't want to see their grandparents?

titchy Mon 09-Dec-13 19:46:01

If your ex suddenly became super-Disney dad, took them wherever they wanted to go, fed them whatever they wanted, let them go to bed when they wanted, and your dd turne round and said she didn't want to come back to yours after the weekend would you think she was old enough to make that decision?

In the absence of concrete evidence of abuse no court will order no contact on the say-so of a six year old.

OptimisticPessimist Mon 09-Dec-13 20:03:42

Those are pretty simplistic comparisons lostdad. There's plenty of varying parental choices regarding sleeping/eating, all of which are valid. If one of my kids refused to go to school to the extent that on a regular basis they were kicking and screaming and having to be dragged to the car, I'd be working with the school to find out why that was and I'd expect the school to take some responsibility for helping to rectify the situation. They see grandparents with me, so I am the one in charge and if something was to happen that made them uncomfortable I could step in. If they didn't want to stay with grandparents alone I wouldn't make them, and if their grandparents behaved in a way that I found inappropriate I wouldn't leave my kids with them unsupervised anyway.

Similarly, if my kids had contact with their dad and were reacting in such a way (kicking, screaming, having to be physically manhandled to make them go) then I would be finding out why and expecting my XP to recognise his responsibility in the situation and assist in rectifying it. I wouldn't make them go in the face of clear distress, because I think it would be counter-productive and in the long run it would cause damage to their relationship with their father. If their father chose not to help in rectifying the situation then I would see contact breaking down as his choice.

OP, it sounds like your ex will not engage in discussion about this issue and the after school contact doesn't seem particularly good (why does he sit in the car with them rather than take them to his home?) How long has your daughter being showing signs of distress?

lostdad Tue 10-Dec-13 09:55:33

* OptimisticPessimist* Passing the responsibility for such a large decision to a child who is not old enough to make such a decision is false empowerment. IMHO it is tantamount to child abuse.

I see children day in day out, who are weighed down the consequence of decisions they have been forced to make because their parents refuse to, well, parent. This is why it is so crucial for parents not to fight over them nor put them in a position where they feel they have choose one or the other.

Being a parent means making the best decisions for them even if it means they don't like it sometimes too. If they don't want to go - find out why. Attempt to resolve it. Speak to the other parent. Understand that a good relationship with both parents is the best thing for them.

In my situation right now my son continually tells me he doesn't want to go back to his mother (he's 7). I tell him that he needs to because he loves his mum. She clearly loves him and cares for him. I don't agree with all that she does - but the overall benefit he gets from spending time with me and her outweighs the problems.

If I suited myself he'd be with me all the time.

CheckedPjs Tue 10-Dec-13 11:46:22

LostDad I completely disagree to think it's anywhere near child abuse.

If it is distressing her DD so much that she has to be manhandled then the courts (If it comes to that) will be taking notes and looking into it, it will be counter productive to send someone kicking and screaming in distress for "happy" contact. It may in fact only make them resist more.

OptimisticPessimist Tue 10-Dec-13 11:50:54

If they don't want to go - find out why. Attempt to resolve it. Speak to the other parent. Understand that a good relationship with both parents is the best thing for them.

I'm fairly certain I said similarly lostdad - where we disagree is that I think continuing to force a distressed child into the situation causing them distress is counter-productive. My motivation in that case would also be for preserving their relationship with the other parent, just coming at it from a different side to you - I think forcing a child to go in the face of repeated and extreme distress will damage the child's relationship with the NRP and potentially with the PWC too. Just because my opinion is different doesn't mean it's not child-centred.

If the other parent refuses to accept responsibility for their part in the child's distress and will not take action to help resolve it, how exactly does the family move forward? Because I don't think forcing a kicking and screaming child into the car at each contact visit because "it's best for them in the long run" is an appropriate or long term solution. I would feel the same way if you were talking about school or grandparents too - just because you think people see those things differently doesn't mean all people do.

I am not talking about a child being asked to make decisions, or sometimes being stubborn and saying they don't want to go. I am talking about reacting to a child's distress and finding ways to resolve it which is only possible with the co-operation of both parties. If one party won't co-operate then the other is left to react as they think best.

cestlavielife Tue 10-Dec-13 13:29:47

you need to find out why.

if a school refuser then jno you dont jsut drag child to school -= that can jsut exacerbate the problem.

if you need help/support with with this ask go to refer to family therapist - this could be sessions with you and dad ans well tog et to teh nbottom of the concerns dd has.

my dds did some family tehraoy sesions and it was useufl. when i spoke with therpaist on my own we discussed about deiscion amking and yes sometimes dc jsut want/need adults to make the decison and say this day tyou go tod ad en d of.

however - as with when a child refuses to go tos chool -you need to find out the reason if any and work with it. so compromises yes might work. if specific concerns over someone in dad's house - address those.

if dsicussing between the adults is a problem seek outside help like a mediatoor or better involve the dc and get a family tehrapist/psychologist to work witht the child thru play and find out the concerns. if a school refuser - you would involve CAMHS. the general view is that dragging a child to school against their will wont solve the issue long term.
same with seeing the other parent.

cestlavielife Tue 10-Dec-13 13:32:40

have a read of teh school refusal manual https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/idoc.ashx?docid=1aa4057c-00b6-4722-ba4f-38e524f931b9&version=-1 and subsitute "seeing dad" for school .

https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/learning/west_sussex_grid_for_learning/management_info__services/inclusion_and_sen/advice_and_guidance_on_additio/emotionally_based_school_refus.aspx

seek outside help - there are family therapists psychologists etc who can help long and short term. a few sesssions with a family therapist for the child can really help. let the child know she is being lsitened to. tehre my be something she isnt wanting to tell either mum or dad about the "why" and her concerns .

summermovedon Wed 11-Dec-13 07:15:49

Admiraltea: I dislike Disneydads/mums as much as anyone, believe me. But the thought, and maybe I am projecting quite a bit, of forcing a 6 year old to go to their dads when it distresses them, is far worse imo. I have a 6 year old and she would jump at a chance to go and see her dad, and doesn't often (his choice). But I would absolutely never force her and was advised by my solicitor that by her age the courts start listening and she has a voice. Note voice - not that they decide everything, but that they aren't railroaded either, as boundaries are two-way. I unfortunately also am imagining a situation in the future where my daughter will start to refuse, and it will be her father's doing because he is unable to prioritise her (and that is putting it very politely).

I personally would, in that situation that I am imagining in my mind, and bearing in mind that in my situation the nrp is not a parent as he opted out, see that my daughter could be happy skipping around a zoo and see him than get upset. But hey I would also rather he wanted to see her.

I think that also I am imagining the trip out to basically mean a daytrip (wouldn't have to be something with bells and whistles) rather than overnight, making the assumption that the child is objecting to being away from their own home/toys/friends for a few days, so that they might be happier with that situation.

I think optimisticpessimist said all of this far more eloquently than me.

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