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Teenager choosing to go no contact with NRP

(16 Posts)
lizzyj4 Fri 07-Apr-17 15:09:21

I wonder if someone could advise me on the legal implications, if any, of a teenager deciding to go NC with NRP. I have a 14-yo who has become increasingly reluctant to see his father. Today he’s told me he wants to go NC. Can he make this choice at his age? Or can exh pursue contact legally?

When we divorced our agreement didn't specify how much access there would be; in practice, for the last couple of years ds and exh have arranged it between themselves. It was supposed to be once a week but has ended up as more like once a month, and then just a quick trip to Mcdonalds and back home again.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 07-Apr-17 17:45:01

I am in a similar situation with no contact order and a 13 year old who has made a choice. There are concerns behind the choice, but all the legal and children's services advice has been that if it was taken to court ( which it could be) DCs wishes at the age of 13 would be at the forefront of any contact order made.

lizzyj4 Fri 07-Apr-17 17:55:38

Thanks Lonecat. I'm really torn, I feel I should respect his wishes, as he has good reasons, but on the other hand, I know my exh is going to kick off big time. Tbh he's only had very sporadic contact with ds since we separated. There have been periods when he hasn't seen ds for 6 - 7 months at a time (exh just doesn’t get in touch, no explanation, it seems to depend on what relationship he’s in at the time). But I know if ds actually says nc he's going to make a huge issue out of it, whereas if we let it just drift along as it is, he might only see him a few times between now and turning 16.

ImperialBlether Fri 07-Apr-17 17:59:21

I'd let it drift on and have your son make excuses whenever his dad wants to see him. It seems that it would be easier that way than having a huge row about it.

lizzyj4 Fri 07-Apr-17 18:44:53

Thanks, yes, that's my inclination, although it feels a bit cowardly leaving ds to deal with it. My exh isn't easy to deal with and he's not above emotional blackmail/bullying to get his own way (I think that's the only reason ds has continued to see him at all). But as long as it's just McD's and back, which is all ds will agree to atm ... I think I'll play it by ear - they're not seeing each other for at least 3 weeks now anyway, so I'll see how ds feels then.

0nline Fri 07-Apr-17 19:07:01

I would suggest seeing if there is somebody he can talk to about why he would prefer to become estranged from his father. Perhaps via the school, somebody on the pastoral side of things ? Sometimes it is much easier to open up fully with a neutral adult who is not emotionally involved in the family dynamic.

It's not a "no biggie". Estrangement, however necessary for some, can leave an unhealed, sometimes stinging, wound. One that can linger for decades. Given he is so young and may have to live with the outcome for a very long time, it might be worth finding him the tools to explore his motivations, and what he hopes it might achieve for him, before he takes any steps to move the estrangement into practice.

Some (but by no means all) things to consider...

Is he sub consciously trying to push his father into making more of an effort in the face of a risk of being cut off completely ? In the sense that he wants to overtly cut off contact in order to provoke a reaction from his dad, getting him to pull closer, as a way of communicating to his son that he is loved, valued and important to him ?

Does he want to hit back ? You don't care enough for me, which hurts, so I am going to show you what that feels like by caring even less about you than you seem to about me !

Is he finding it hard to cope with intermittent, short contact because it underlines a sense of loss, or a feeling of not being loved enough... and he thinks it would be easier not to have constant reminders of what the realtionship isn't providing in the form of sporadic meetings ?

Whatever he decides, it is well worth him having clarity as per the why of his choice. It's far from an easy age to have to deal with the peculiar sort of grief that can be associated with the loss of a very much alive parent. Sometimes the feelings swirl and whirl, and it can be hard to pin down where one ends and another begins, let alone understand fully what they all mean.

<big fat hug> for your boy.

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Fri 07-Apr-17 19:08:47

At 13 my ds moved in with me full time and is nc with his 'd' f. He even sign school forms without a fuss. .

lizzyj4 Fri 07-Apr-17 22:20:20

Thank you, Online, that’s a good idea. From the bits I’ve gathered when he talks to me about it, and from what he has said to my eldest son (who is much older and in some ways more like a father figure to him) I don’t think he feels particularly safe in an emotional sense. Exh is very unpredictable, sometimes he’s lovely with him and other times he’s really critical and unkind. Ds wouldn’t put it into those words, but that basically seems to be the problem.

Exh has mental health issues which among other things sometimes mean he has very poor boundaries and terrible judgement. I’ve had police officers turn up at the door twice in the last couple of years to ask about him re. investigations into his behaviour (relatively minor things, not drugs or anything that would be a risk to ds). My ds isn’t aware of any of this, other than that dad has been very depressed, but I think he’s starting to realise that dad has mh problems beyond that.

Despite the fact that he’s so unpredictable, until the last 6 – 8 months ds has usually wanted to see his dad when given the opportunity and seemed to enjoy spending time with him, so although I’ve felt very torn at times I’ve allowed him to carry on making his own arrangements without interfering. He’s fairly sensible, and knows that sometimes it’s down to him to say ‘no, I don’t want to do that’ – e.g. refusing to drive on the back of a buggy downhill at high speed without a helmet – I know I can trust him to be ‘the sensible one’ and I always ensure he takes his phone with him so he can call me or one of his older brothers/sisters if needed.

I think what’s triggered his asking for NC now is that exh has moved in with his new partner and ds doesn’t like going to the house, hence the trips to McD’s instead. So today he's explained to me that last time he was at the house, around 3 months ago, exh sent him outside with one of his partner’s children (17 yrs old) – he spent his two-hour ‘visit’ with dad wandering around what is quite a rough council estate with a teenager he’d only met once before. Exh also gave the 17 yo (who had literally just passed his driving test) the keys to his car, even though he’s not insured for it. Ds didn’t get in the car but the 17 yo was zooming around the estate, revving the engine and boasting to his friends about driving around in a car without insurance. hmm The whole thing obviously really upset ds and he's asked to go to McD's every time he's seen his dad since then. Now exh is trying to pressurise him not only into going to the house but to begin staying overnight and has started to be unkind because ds is outright refusing (he’s spoilt/over-privileged/being a brat/thinks he’s too good for normal people/doesn't care about his dad, etc.). Trying to talk to my exh about this and explain that it is emotionally abusive is like talking to a brick wall. In three weeks’ time, of course, he’ll be charm personified again. Ds has just had enough.

So regardless of whether ds goes nc or not, given the above, I'm going to have to have a difficult conversation with exh. We’ve had a horrible few years as a family due to exh's behaviour, and it’s only recently that thing have started to calm down, so I really don't want to poke the proverbial hornet's nest, but I think I just need to put on my big girl pants.

Sorry, didn't mean to drip feed, I didn't intend to write all that.

0nline Sat 08-Apr-17 00:05:15

Oh love, that's a lot of issues with a large chunk of physical and emotional risk involved.

From (distant) memory, many years ago once the child in question got to a certain age (think it was 11-ish) their wishes were taken into account with regards to contact. So from my (lay, out of date and potentially wrong) perspective I'm not convinced legalities would cause you too many issues,

However even if that is the case, I think the larger issue is how to manage communicating vastly reduced/supervised contact, or no contact given your ex's potential angry reaction to it.

Again, I think school might be your best first port of call. They may be able to point you to (or collaborate in contacting) internal or external agencies who work with children whose parents are putting them at risk. Having some kind of formal support leading the push against wholly unacceptable parenting choices might function as a buffer between you/your son and his father's anger.

Alternatively, I found the NSPCC to be amazingly helpful when I called them (although this was back in the 80s, and things may have changed). They were more than happy to function as a buffer in terms of underlining which parental choices were going to have to be off the table, or else. And I found them very child centred at a time where it felt like adult needs, wants and preferences were sucking up all the oxygen in the room.

I don't believe that leaving him at risk, which is what his father is doing, is a solution. And as much cushioning between you/your son and his dad as possible might prove necessary while this gets worked through.

Although it reads as a pretty black and white picture of an inadequate parent who should not be allowed to put his child at risk, your son might still need ongoing support (or at least the offer of it if in the future he feels it is needed) to deal with any emotional fall out from full, or semi estrangement.

Life would be so much tidier if kids could just stop loving, or wanting to be loved by, a parent who can't/won't be what they need to be. But for a good chunk of kids it ends up messier than that.

i'm so sorry you and your son are going through this. I wish empathy were a more useful tool that could used to create a solution, but it's not. All the same ...

<proffers massive box of empathy>

lizzyj4 Sat 08-Apr-17 07:29:16

Thank you. smile Yes, I think we need some time to explore solutions. Exh is on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I have a bit of time to work out how we want to tackle it before I talk to him. It's difficult to be objective because as he is now I wouldn't trust him to look after a goldfish. I've said to my ds that we should wait and see how he feels in a couple of weeks and go from there but that either way I'll veto overnights and been kicked out of the house to wander the streets, so he's not getting the grief for that.

Runningissimple Sat 08-Apr-17 07:38:45

My 11 year old wanted to go NC with her dad. He took me to court. The court ordered a couple of hours every fortnight which I thought was pretty reasonable.

I forced/ cajoled/ begged her to comply. It lasted 3 months.

She hasn't seen him for a year. You can't force someone to see somebody they don't want to see, especially when it's so emotionally charged. Forcing contact is most likely to achieve non-compliance. Obvious to everyone except my ex it would seem...

lizzyj4 Sat 08-Apr-17 08:47:40

[flowers} for you Running, what an awful situation to be in.

That's what I'm most worried about, finding myself in a position of having to try to force/persuade my 6'4", more mature than his father, 14 yr old to see his dad when he doesn't want to. It would be ridiculous if it came to that. Thing is, exh genuinely isn't that interested in contact (a lot of it is that his family/mother push for it, even though they never see him themselves), but he would suddenly become really bothered if we stopped all contact. The more drama and angst the better as far as he's concerned.

lizzyj4 Sat 08-Apr-17 08:48:24

* flowers

Runningissimple Sat 08-Apr-17 15:16:29

She's actually better off without the sustained drama. But it's not an easy call. You have to be guided by them. Lots of listening xx

lizzyj4 Sat 08-Apr-17 15:35:32

Sorry, should clarify, by 'awful situation' I meant having to force her to see her dad when she didn't want to.

My worst nightmare having to do that to ds.

Runningissimple Sat 08-Apr-17 16:35:49

Don't do it. It gained nothing and caused my dd a lot of unnecessary anxiety. In the law, children have rights - parents have responsibilities. Teaching your children to have clear boundaries, even around their parents is helpful for them. Hope it all works out.

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