As children grow and mature it is normal for them to become more resistant to going back and forth between their parents’ houses during visitation time. And while this is sure to hurt a father’s feelings who just wants to have a good solid relationship with their child, dads should rest assured that in most situations it isn’t that their kids don’t love them anymore, it’s more that they are just now more concerned with being with friends and their growing social life.
Sam J. Buser, an author and therapist, said that typically when children are still young – toddler and elementary school aged – they don’t mind going to visit their dad on the weekend. However, as they get older visitation can be viewed as an “interruption” into the social life they now have, causing them to seem disinterested or even annoyed when they come to visit.
For dads this is hard, especially for those who feel that they’ve already missed so much time and opportunities to be with their children; however, Buser recommends not taking the resistance personally and for dads to just talk with their children about what’s going on.
When talking with kids about wanting to spend time with them and continue to be a part of their life, it’s also important to remember where the children are coming from and understand that they too are busy with their social life, which is a huge concern for young adults and teens.
One way to ease the tension and have the visits be less combative is for fathers to make sure they are doing things that fall in line with their children’s interests and also even possibly rearranging scheduled time together in order to more fit in line with the child’s events. When it comes to overnight visits, allowing the child to bring a friend to stay the night may also make the visits more pleasant.
Along those same lines, if a child has a movie they want to go to, or an upcoming soccer game, those events and activities could be a good time for dad to give them a ride.
In general, as children grow into adults, fathers may have to make some real sacrifices and have to change around their own schedules, but in the end it will be worth it for the relationship that is maintained with the child.
Source: The Kansas City Star, “Divorced dads: What to do when your child doesn’t want to see you,” Aisha Sultan, 16 May 2011