One day, your child doesn’t want to go and visit with the ex. They want to be in their own bed over the weekend, surrounded by their own toys, games and stuffed animals. They don’t want to leave the dog, the house or their life. They don’t like it there, don’t have fun and don’t want to go.
This is not an uncommon occurrence, and for all you divorcees, you will hear it at least once in your life. So, what do you do? When my kids first said they didn’t want to go and visit their father, I told them they had no choice. First, it was ordered by a court that they go. Second, even though they might not have as much fun over there, he would be sad if he didn’t see them.
An argument ensued. Do you know what it is like to argue with a toddler? It is a tough argument to win. But, they went, and to this day, they still go, even though they still tell me that they don’t want to go. And, I still tell them the same thing. They HAVE to go. It is not a choice.
I know some divorced parents that have given their children that choice on whether they want to go or not. I do not believe that a child has the capability to make such an important decision. And, of course, the decision for the child always turns out to be not to go, because the parent that has more custody has told them they don’t want them to go either.
And, then there is the other side of the coin. Is it okay to tell your kids that you don’t want them to go? That you are lonely when they are gone? NO. Under no circumstances is that okay to do. You are lonely, and of course you don’t want them to go, but to put that burden of guilt for leaving is not fair to your children.
Think of them, and what is best for them. It is always best to have a relationship with both parents, which is why more and more courts are giving joint physical custody and usually give joint custodial rights. And it always best to send them off feeling good about leaving mommy or daddy knowing that their parent is okay!