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#31 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 11:56 AM
 
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I would take things step by step. The ONLY way these girls are going to become alienated from their father is if their father ALLOWS it.

Basically, all that is known at this point is the girls don't want to come to him.

The first step seems like a 'family discussion' is in order. It is important to sit down and see if there is a 'reason' they don't want to come and perhaps that will give everyone enough information to change things, make it better, etc.

There is also the responsibility of the parent to step up and say, 'if they don't want to come to me, I can go to them'. It may not be ideal, but the dad absolutely has rights and can absolutely go spend his time with his children in a way that nurtures who they are.

I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"

I'm more of a consensual parent and I like to get to the bottom of things. If this has come out of the blue, there is some discussion, connection, information to be sought. I have no doubt the OP and her husband love these girls and want to continue to have a close relationship with them. I have no doubt the OP & her husband will do what it takes to keep connected with them. There is something amiss here and sitting down, having a discussion, allowing the girls to express themselves and have their feelings be honored is an important part of that, as it is for the parents.

I wish you all well.
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#32 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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Basically, all that is known at this point is the girls don't want to come to him.



I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"

I'm more of a consensual parent and I like to get to the bottom of things. If this has come out of the blue, there is some discussion, connection, information to be sought. I have no doubt the OP and her husband love these girls and want to continue to have a close relationship with them. I have no doubt the OP & her husband will do what it takes to keep connected with them. There is something amiss here and sitting down, having a discussion, allowing the girls to express themselves and have their feelings be honored is an important part of that, as it is for the parents.

I wish you all well.

I understand what you are saying, and respect the spirit of it, but...
When I was 14, I had a valid reason for wanting to avoid the visitation with my dad, it should have been honored then and it usually was. There is a world of difference between 14, and seven and nine. When I was eight, I wanted to stay at my mom's because That's Cat and Captain Caveman were television programs that we were able to view at my mom's but not at dad's. He simply didnt get the channels that those shows were on. I was pretty adament that I didnt want to go, I remember sitting in the backseat of my dad's car and sobbing. There is no way that my need to watch tv should have trumped my father's desire to see me. It was nothing more complicated than that and it was a problem that started out of the blue, and blew over just as quickly. Once I got there and could play with my baby sister, I was pretty happy! When I was 11, I didnt want to go because my dad made me wear a long skirt to synagogue, and I was going through a pants only phase. That was the dress code at his synagogue, he spoke to the Gabbai and Rabbi and an exception would not be made. Again, just something that I didnt want to do, for no deep seated reason, whatsoever. I was starting to become an adolecent and wanted to express my individuality. That's important, but again, should not trump a father's need to see his child.
AP doesnt mean catering to every whim a child has. Sometimes an adult still has to make a decision that the child will not be happy with. It is nice when all parties can be happy with the decision, but failing to please your child all the time, in no way equals failing to be a good AP parent. Sometimes a compromise cannot be reached.
Even though I fought going at times, they are fond memories for me now, for the most part. I would not allow this to just happen. I think that the idea of a family meeting is great and I think that the children's reasons, valid or not should be heard. I also think that they should continue to go to their father's house, regardless. They can work through this together and if there is a valid reason, they will learn a good lesson about sticking around and fixing a problem, and not just running away from it.
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#33 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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I would take things step by step. The ONLY way these girls are going to become alienated from their father is if their father ALLOWS it.

Basically, all that is known at this point is the girls don't want to come to him.

The first step seems like a 'family discussion' is in order. It is important to sit down and see if there is a 'reason' they don't want to come and perhaps that will give everyone enough information to change things, make it better, etc.

There is also the responsibility of the parent to step up and say, 'if they don't want to come to me, I can go to them'. It may not be ideal, but the dad absolutely has rights and can absolutely go spend his time with his children in a way that nurtures who they are.

I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"

I'm more of a consensual parent and I like to get to the bottom of things. If this has come out of the blue, there is some discussion, connection, information to be sought. I have no doubt the OP and her husband love these girls and want to continue to have a close relationship with them. I have no doubt the OP & her husband will do what it takes to keep connected with them. There is something amiss here and sitting down, having a discussion, allowing the girls to express themselves and have their feelings be honored is an important part of that, as it is for the parents.

I wish you all well.
:

to all of that. Make the effort to go the other way for 5 or 6 hours. Take them to a park and hang out, or ask them if they want to meet some of THEIR friends at the park.

this is a typical age to not want to be taken from what is 'normal' and 'comfortable', and it is one of the things as a parent to roll with the punches. They will eventually want to come back and do sleep overs, but if they are forced to do it they will resent it. I know I did and eventually my parents decided to stop forcing us and my dad came my way. I also, at the 9ish age, got to take my dad around my neighborhood and show him where I explored in the woods and brought him into MY world for about a year or so before I wanted to start goin back to his house.

I remember one time after taking my dad back to a pond he got me a hover craft remote control car for my birthday and we went back to the pond and i drove that thing all over the pond and sand all day. Great memories can be made anywhere if given the chance.

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#34 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 03:44 PM
 
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Has your husband spoken with his kids at all about this? I think the first step is to see what exactly is going on and work from there.

Personally, I never had any problem not going to my dad's house at that age, and in general wanted to see him. However, once I hit high school I started getting involved in activities that took up time on weekends, and it was either give up on somethign I really cared about (marching band or theatre), or miss my scheduled visit with my father. Had I been able to work something out between my parents there would have been no problem; I could have seen dad and done all my activities, but both my parents were far too stubborn and if I so much as asked my dad if I could do a play he wouldn't talk to me for months. And there went that relationship.

So keep the lines of communication open. If it's something as simple as they want to play with their friends, invite the friends over for a sleepover (something that was pretty common at my dad's house at that age). There are probably solutions here, but not until you know more info.

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#35 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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The ONLY way these girls are going to become alienated from their father is if their father ALLOWS it.

I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"


MsChatsalot, this is a common and hurtful misunderstanding about PAS (parental alienation syndrome). It is actually now listed as a mental illness, and fathers (and sometimes mothers, but it is almost always the custodial parent who exhibits this) who are the target have a lot of work on their hands to counter the manipulation their children are raised with. Some decide it's too difficult, or stressful on the children, and give up--and then of course total alienation occurs and those lost years start racking up.
I am a bit surprised to find so many who are cavalier about the father's role. Both parents are necessary to a child's--and adolescent's--life. Families are tough because you don't choose them, you have to work with what you have. If kids get the impression that one can just let go at a whim, whenever it's inconvenient for them, then how good will they be at forming familes themselves later?
They do need their dads, even if they cannot or do not admit it. Dads have to step up and make sure that need is met, esp. if they meet with opposition from their ex.
That said, time with Dad need not be grim or boring. My steps have never missed a single school function, party, sleepover, etc, and they are always urged to invite friends over, and one child takes full advantage of that. They certainly get to exercise their freedom of choice in other ways as well, in how they spend their time here. (How many movies have I watched that I had zip interest in? ) Dads who are being alienated have to "memorialize" the time they spend with their kids, underscoring the fun that is had (we have a lot of pictures on the wall, for one thing) so they are more likely to remember it.
Of course, it's true, we don't know if this is PAS or not in this instance, but seeing that the kids are happy when they are with their dad, it seems suspect and not like some of the other situations people are describing.
Best of luck,
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#36 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 07:21 PM
 
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MsChatsalot, this is a common and hurtful misunderstanding about PAS (parental alienation syndrome).
Please know my comments were in no way or shape related to something like PAS or a situation where I might even have reason to suspect PAS. I understand it and it's complexity and would not ever say it was happening because it was the father's fault. In my opinion, making the leap from 2 girls not wanting to go (which, coincidentally seems to be at an age/developmental stage where that might be 'normal') to PAS is too great for me to make. So please, read my comments in the context of THIS situation only.

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I am a bit surprised to find so many who are cavalier about the father's role.
I don't think anyone here has been cavalier. I believe those of us who have said it's important to honor the children and their feelings have suggested the importance of the dad stepping in and finding another way to remain very involved in his children's lives while they work this out.

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Of course, it's true, we don't know if this is PAS or not in this instance, but seeing that the kids are happy when they are with their dad, it seems suspect and not like some of the other situations people are describing.
I stated in my first post that suddenly, my oldest (10 years) has stopped wanting to go to his dads. His dad claims our son is happy there and enjoys himself. When my ds comes home, he says he had a fun day. But, when it's time to go, there are tears and anxiety. Essentially, my story sounds very similar to the one in the OP. Based on what you wrote, are you telling me, you suspect me of alienating my son from his father?

It seems unfair and dangerous to make such leaps based on limited information.
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#37 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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Saw this on the main page and had to comment.

My brother and I went through this with my dad somewhere along the way and it didn't have anything to do with him. It was that at my mom's I had my friends, my room, my routine and it's hard to pack up every other weekend and go live by another set of rules. My dad usually did yardwork and my step mom cleaned the house on Saturdays, so we sat on the couch watching tv all day, or went along to watch the step siblings' activites (not participate). We had to go to church with them and the Sunday school classes were torture for me. There was also sports, sleepovers, and other things with our friends that we would miss out on at home.

We eventually started going more on specific weekends when they had something fun planned, like going camping on a long weekend. Even working on a school science project together was fun. Another idea is to let them bring a friend along. Do they have bikes? Can they join some kind of low commitment sport team or group?

I appreciated that my dad never forced us to come, and looking back I see how much they worked to make us WANT to come.

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#38 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 10:06 PM
 
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"Basically, all that is known at this point is the girls don't want to come to him."

No. All that is known is that their mother SAYS that the girls don't want to come to him. There is a reason that children aren't allowed to up and decide where they live at such a young age. Yes, children are people too, but their decision making skills are not 100% developed.

I also agree with the PPs who have mentioned the situation being reversed. If the girls were with you and didn't want to go back to their mother's, don't you think that she would be wanting to ask them herself, or find out the details? I am NOT recommending that you all sit down together and say "where do you want to live?" My only recommendation, as a child of divorce, is that you continue visitation as it has been, and get the children to a therapist who can find out what, if anything, is going on.

Also - the girls might have mentioned one little thing about not wanting to come back over, in a totally childish context. Something like "oh I don't want to go back over there because there are no cake and unicorns," and they'll forget why they haven't seen their father in ages. That could turn into them thinking he has abandoned them.

I'm really begging you, fight to keep the visitation as it is. If the girls really don't want to come over, you would know it.

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#39 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 12:51 PM
 
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I agree with PP that this is too young of an age for the girls to decide. And if i were your DH and this becomes a true problem i would exercise my parental rights. As long as they are happy and safe when they are with you they should continue to visit. if its because they are going to miss a party or outing then why not just drive them there yourself. We arent there yet but i would be devastated if DFs ex would prevent DSD from going to a performance or practice.

Good luck with her

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#40 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 01:39 PM
 
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if its because they are going to miss a party or outing then why not just drive them there yourself. We arent there yet but i would be devastated if DFs ex would prevent DSD from going to a performance or practice.


This is the thing that I don't get - just because the kids are at a different house does not mean that their lives have to stop. Even before we had 50/50 custody, if DSD had a birthday party or an activity, whoever had DSD that day would take her or some arrangement would be made. Activities are generally discussed with both houses before we sign her up. So whatever day that activity falls on, that house expects to bring her. The other house usually comes to watch as well.

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#41 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"

I'm more of a consensual parent and I like to get to the bottom of things. If this has come out of the blue, there is some discussion, connection, information to be sought. I have no doubt the OP and her husband love these girls and want to continue to have a close relationship with them. I have no doubt the OP & her husband will do what it takes to keep connected with them. There is something amiss here and sitting down, having a discussion, allowing the girls to express themselves and have their feelings be honored is an important part of that, as it is for the parents.

I wish you all well.
Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
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#42 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Again, thanks to everyone for giving their perspective. This is a really confusing time for me - this whole thing is bothering me A LOT, and by virtue of my position as the step parent, I feel frustrated that I cannot due more. The following I wrote more for myself, it's just my perspective on things, I'm not trying to make a case for anything, accuse their mom of anything, it's just an epiphany I had earlier.

My gut is telling me that something is wrong. My older SD has had issues with leaving her mom for a while…off and on. I think it started when we told the girls that we were expecting DD3. OSD was ok initially, but later had a moment when her younger sister commented that a horse in a coloring book looked like "it had a baby in it's tummy". After that, during Labor Day weekend 05, we went to a joint b-day party for OSD and for some reason she was unaware that the plan was for her to come home with DH and I. So she freaked, and DH and his former wife deceided that she would stay home, and the ex and OSD would come up the next day and we would all attend the Scottish Games the next day. The visit was fine, all seemed ok.

Then their mom, later that year started seeing someone (around Nov) and by the spring they were moving to another state (alothough only about 40 min away from their old house and 2hrs away from us) and that's when she really started having a tough time. She would cry hysterically at exchange time about 50% of the time. But then, her mom encouraged her to go anyway. This was also a time when visitation with the girls was a lot more liberal than usual. We were being called a lot to see if we wanted the girls for some "extra" time. When it finally came time for the move, DH and mom got together, because apparently since it was out of state, DH needed to be aware and be ok with the move. My gut told me that something wasn't right - OSD was having a tough time, and the move would take her away from her grandparents (her mother's parents), girl scouts, their school, dance etc., and the school year was almost done (it was March) - maybe they could move in the summer, after OSD finished up the year. It bothered me that mom told us that OSD "was fine" all the time, when it was obvious that she wasn't. BTW-- the younger SD seemed like she was just going with the flow.

After DD3 was born, things seemed to be ok for a little bit. Occasionally, there were weekends that she would want to call her mom, but it was hit or miss. Drop off seemed to go ok.

Then there was the haircut issue. DH took the SD's for a trim (really, it was a trim) and their mom was really angry with DH. She called him nearly every day for two weeks about it., and about a month later I was doing OSD hair in a braid and I said something like "you're hair is so long and pretty" (because it is!) and she started crying and told me that she was not allowed to get her hair cut or her ears pierced unless her mother was there.

Then it was quiet again for a while. Last Oct/Nov their mom sent an email about OSD not wanting to come. At pick up she had a hard time again, but once she got to our house all went well. Funny, it was a particularly good weekend. Then we got the email, and the reasons that OSD told her mother that she didn’t want to come was because she had to share a bed (which wasn't true) and that my ODD snapped at her (which was true, but something that was resolved by DH and I), and that she wanted more time alone with her father (which we thought was happening, but no big deal, we made it so that there was more time). Everyone talked, DH made a plan to call every Wednesday eve, and everything went well thru the holidays. Then came this weekend, and its just weird.

I don't know if OSD just has a hard time with transition, or separation anxiety, or what. She has said that she wishes her parents were still together a while ago. I don't think or know that there is one cause, but maybe a bunch of things adding together?


Sorry this is long. DH talked to their mom, and everyone's emotions were running a little high, but at the end, they resolved to look into counseling for the girls, esp OSD. The funny thing is after all this their mom told DH that the girls are "really excited" to come see him this weekend! She said that the girls don't have a specific reason for not wanting to come, or at least haven't given her one. So everything just feels in limbo. I'm frustrated with DH - maybe he could have put in more effort, or I wish that both of them could see the problem that was happening a few years back, and maybe addressed it then. I'm frustrated with myself, because maybe I should have said something earlier, but it's just so weird being the stepmother, and their mom and I have periods of getting along with periods of just not talking to each other.
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#43 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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What you've written really reveals a lot about what's going on. You are obviously a devoted, loving and concerned step mom and that is a true gift to your step daughters.

It sounds like there is a lot going on (in both homes) and I know, when my son is feeling most out of control, he really just wants/needs to be where he feels safe until he can work through his anxiety.

Based on what you've written, it sounds like both mom and dad need to really be involved right now and do what they can to help their daughter through this and feel more confident and self-assured.

I think they are very fortunate to have you in their lives and not be willing to just let this lie. I believe it's important to really honor how she feels right now at the same time her dad probably needs to be more involved than ever. And, if she's not comfortable in coming to him right now, perhaps you can find a way for him to go to her. I love how some of the responses here have shown how the child's feelings can be honored as well as the parent's desire to be with their child. There is a win-win way that can be found, I'm sure.

I really hope you can all find solutions that work best for everyone and honor everyone. I believe with the kind of approach you seem to be bringing to this situation, there is a lot of concern and love that will help her through it and emerge a healthier and happier girl.

I wish you all peace, understanding and cooperation to help her through this time.
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#44 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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Sorry this is long. DH talked to their mom, and everyone's emotions were running a little high, but at the end, they resolved to look into counseling for the girls, esp OSD. The funny thing is after all this their mom told DH that the girls are "really excited" to come see him this weekend! She said that the girls don't have a specific reason for not wanting to come, or at least haven't given her one. So everything just feels in limbo. I'm frustrated with DH - maybe he could have put in more effort, or I wish that both of them could see the problem that was happening a few years back, and maybe addressed it then. I'm frustrated with myself, because maybe I should have said something earlier, but it's just so weird being the stepmother, and their mom and I have periods of getting along with periods of just not talking to each other.

I think that the counseling is a great idea and I'm glad that the girls want to come see their dad this weekend. I'm sure that it made your dh feel good. I know that feeling of being in limbo and it is very frustrating. I don't think that you should be feeling frustrated with yourself though, it's obvious that you are doing your level best and a you're a blessing to all involved.
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#45 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
Of course not. Grandma and Grandpa aren't their custodial parents.

However if at 10 or 11 my child says to me "I don't want to live with you anymore dad, I want to go live with my mom" and his/her mom were fully capable and responsible parents, then why wouldn't I take their desires into consideration and talk it over with their mom?

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#46 of 53 Old 02-26-2009, 06:42 PM
 
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Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
i think this is much much different than a custodial parent and non-custodial parent looking at what is going on with children who do not want to visit the non-custodial parent, while making alternative arrangements to support the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent (like meeting in a public place, spending time with the children in the custodial parent's house, altering the access schedule temporarly etc).

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#47 of 53 Old 03-04-2009, 11:03 AM
 
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MsChatsaLot, I was referring to the original situation in the post, not yours. I did not mean to insult you. You're right, it's unfair to diagnose a situation of PAS from cyberspace.
We all speak primarily from our own experience, and my DH has suffered a good deal from PAS and also occasionally from people assuming it must be because of something he did, when he is the most accommodating parent I know.
I do think that people should be more aware of it because the longer they are in a PAS situation without doing anything to counter it, the worse it will get. People in a situation have to assess that for themselves.
Part of Dad's time is for children to spend it in his house--and hopefully, to make it feel like their house too.
I hope the counselling works out. It sounds like a lot has been going on for these children, and it may take some time for them to adjust.
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#48 of 53 Old 03-04-2009, 06:57 PM
 
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I would strongly recommend counseling for the kids, and for the kids and their dad. Having been in that situation, it was really a great experience to have our family sit down in a "safe" place and talk about things. In the end, in my case, there was abuse by my father's wife, so the counselor and then the court upheld my decision to NOT go there anymore. But that isn't the case in your situation, and it is very possible that you can find a way to make them more happy about coming...or at the very least, you can find out what is at the root of their not wanting to come at the last minute.

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#49 of 53 Old 03-07-2009, 01:11 PM
 
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Sometimes my stepkids don't "want" to come, know why? Cause they got a new xbox game at home. Nothing more, nothing less.

Routine is important to children, as are boundaries set by adults.
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#50 of 53 Old 03-07-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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I can only share my personal experience with this...

My cousins decided they didn't want to see their dad. My aunt didn't force it- he wasn't a very responsible parent anyway.

Fast forward eight years. Estranged from both his daughters, my cousins' dad had a stroke at age 38 and died. It's been like a bomb went off in their lives. My aunt lives with regret everyday. It's been terrible.

Within the first year that DH and I married, DSS went thru a phase where he didn't want to spend the night at our house. As he spent 3-4 nights week there, this was a Big Deal. DH was with me thru the ordeal of my cousins' dad, and we both insisted that DSS be "forced" to spend the night at our house. DSS's mom was uncomfortable with this, understandably, but went along because she thought that the consistancy was important.

We found out that DSS didn't want to spend the night because MIL took him to a haunted house that scared the pants off of him, and the window in his bedroom rattled at night. (He was five.) He was scared to sleep. So it was pretty easy to fix once we got to the root of the problem.

If we hadn't "forced" DSS to stay at our house, chances are we never would have known what the real trouble was. How long that would have gone on, and what damage it would have done to DSS and DH's relationship, no one can tell. Over something that, as it turns out, was pretty silly.

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#51 of 53 Old 03-08-2009, 05:39 AM
 
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Kids shouldn't be deciding at these tender ages whether they go to a parent's home or not. Parents' roles are to (a) decide on a schedule in their best interests; (b) keep to the schedule; and (c) assist the children in dealing with their feelings surrounding the schedule.

When my kids were 7 and 9, we definitely had issues with not wanting to go to their dad's. Especially the youngest, who still gets sad (at 10.5) when it's time to go to dad's. But with the benefit of hindsight over the past 7.5 years of separation, I can say that it was in their best interests that we maintain the schedule (tinkering with it here and there).

The kids need to be heard, but they also need to know the adults are responsible for their well-being and will be making the decisions. In CAnada, kids don't get a 'say' in where they spend their time until they are 12, and they don't really get to be the decision-makers until they are at least 15. I feel this is eminently appropriate, based on the extensive work I have done in this field.

I do agree that counselling is important and should be offered to the kids - both of my children benefited a great deal from it when they had rough patches. It's so easy to say the kids are struggling, let's make a drastic change to the parenting schedule. It's harder to say the kids are struggling, let's address those emotions because we don't want to interfere with the important bond they have with each parent.

I would also add that often my recommendation when kids are having a hard time transitioning is to increase, not decrease the length (not necessarily frequency) of visits if at all practicable. Sometimes children can become overly bonded to one parent because they're not given enough opportunities to bond with the other.
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#52 of 53 Old 03-08-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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I think what Joyfulgrrrl says about increasing the length of visits is interesting. When people say things like "it's not the quantity of time you spent with kids, it's the quality," they often don't understand that it's different in a divorce, non-custodial context. It takes time for kids to unwind and transition between homes--it takes quantity of time to get to quality of time. . . .
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#53 of 53 Old 03-08-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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The exwife should not even be telling them that they get to chose. Honestly, it sounds like this is coming more from her than any place else. Do NO give in to this. I am in an intact family and I would never allow one of my children to just opt out of our family. Same goes for split families. They are too young to decide. Really, kids do not get the idea that they have that choice unless someone else tells them that they do which is why I would be so suspicious of the exwife and what she has been telling them.

Keep having them coming and keep being yourselves and do not give in to this.
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