What if your child doesnt want to go to his *other house?* - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 12-22-2007, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for the long title. Do you force your child to go to his other house, if he doesnt want to go? My son is almost 14 and is getting to where he would rather be at my house than his dads, even though we have joint custody at the moment. They get mad at me because I tell them I do not want to force him to go back over there, and then he gets mad at me if I do. I want him to spend time with his dad and to go back over there, but I dont want to seem like I am getting rid of him, especially since he doesnt want to go. How to handle this?

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#2 of 24 Old 12-22-2007, 10:27 PM
 
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14 year olds are buttheads. That's the most important thing to remember here.

Next.
The child needs to understand that it isn't a choice to go to see the other parent. He has 2 parents, and since you didn't mention anything about it being a loser-ex type situation, I'm going to assume his dad wants to spend time with him and parent him and sending him over there is not a danger or safety issue.

Also, depending on your agreement and state laws, you could potentially be breaking the law by NOT sending him. You are legally bound to give the other parent whatever amount of parenting time/visitation is stated in the agreement, and failure to do so can result in YOU getting into legal trouble. In my state, pretty much the quickest route to losing custody is "custodial interference", which means you don't send the child to the other house whern you are supposed to. Saying "but he doesn't want to go" will not earn you points with the judge.

All that being said..all situations are individual...WHY doesn't he ant to go? Talk to him? Does he have more fun at your house because your rules are more lax, or he has more toys there? Are more of his friends close to your house? Try to see if there is something resolvable about the situation.

Dh's older boy tried to play the "i don't want to go to dad's house" card (at 14, coincidentally!). It turns out, his HUGE, HORRIBLE problem with coming over was that here, we have 1 computer, and all of us (total of 5 people) have to share it, whereas he has his own computer at his mom's house and is basically allowed to veg online all night long and here, he gets a turn at the computer but has to spend the rest of his time doing..something else! *gasp!*

The middle boy also tried it, and it turns out his huge complaint was that he doesn't like the food here. Well, the drinks actually. We don't drink pop here. At his mom's house, pop is ALL they drink (his mother actually believes she HAS to drink pop because it's the only beverage that supposedly doesn't give her heartburn!!) and he hates water and juice and milk and tea, etc, so he caused us MONTHS of grief over this issue. *sigh*
now, if he has some issue which is a bit more legitimate, then you should take appropriate action. Perhaps a stepsibling is bullying him? Something more serious, then act on that.

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#3 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 09:37 AM
 
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I agree with bondajess, that it depends on why he doesn't want to go.

It was very hard when DSD decided not to come over for a few weeks this summer over an argument (buying jeans and going to the mall kind of argument). So... "He loves you, and misses you" kind of discussion is in place during teenage years. Maybe a compromise? Going for just one day instead of two?

I hope that helps.

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#4 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your replies.There are several reasons why ds doesnt want to go there or be there.1) He does not get along with the stepmom at all. 2) His dad and step mom fight alot and he hates it. 3) I am pretty lax with the rules 4) He has more friends in this town and they are closer. and 5) His dad is never there, I mean he works ALOT. 6 days a week, from 6am to about 7pm. So he is with his stepmom most of the time he is there, and he does not like her.

I agree, it should not be a *choice* to see his father, but they are wanting him over there when his father is not even there, and then they get angry with me when I point this out, ds dad is not even there, why should ds be there?

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#5 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 10:26 AM
 
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Well.. by that logic, DSD's mom should not have her when her husband is home during the week? I mean, she's not there when DSD goes to school, she works nights ocasionally, therfore DSD is left with her stepdad, or even on her own. (she is 14).

I hope you see that that logic is not working the other way around, and will not apply it to his dad's household. His dad is married, and has a life, and your son is a part of that life (which includes stepmom). I don't know what kind of conflicts you are talking about, and I don't know how his stepmom treats him, but if it is in the realm of normal family life - I'd still encourage him to go.

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#6 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 12:55 PM
 
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Unless he's being mistreated or abused, you should not interfere with his time spent with his Dad. Of course he's not gonna be happy all the time there. He's probably not happy all the time at your house, either, but would you want him to refuse to come back to your house because he got in trouble at your house or because you had to work or had a new boyfriend/Husband and his Dad backed him up and told hims he didn't have to go back to your house?

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#7 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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I just wanted to add... sometimes my stepdaughter doesn't want to come to our house because we don't let her watch tv all day and because we don't let her do whatever she wants whenever she wants, which she gets at her Mother's house. And there are times when she wants to stay with us and gets very upset that she has to go back to her Mother's house, because she's in the middle of a project or she knows we're going to Grampa's later that day after she's at her Mother's house. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with either house, just that what she currently wants is what's at one house or another.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#8 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 01:05 PM
 
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To be blunt.... court orders are just that - orders. They are nut "suggestions". If the kiddo doesn't go, the CP is the one who will reap the consequences - which could run from a slap on the hand, to a fine, to jail time, to a loss of custody. Unless the child is being abused or neglected (AND that is followed up with proper authorities), the kid has no choice in the matter.
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#9 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 01:06 PM
 
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I agree with much of what the PPs said, with a caveat:
If your son is getting into activities (sports, work, extracurriculars) that he's missing by being at his dad's (because either Dad lives too far away or Dad doesn't take him to them), it may be time to revisit the schedule (through official channels--not by simply telling Dad things have changed). Parenting plans agreed to when a child is little may not make as much sense when he's a teenager.

As for the local friends thing...Most teenagers will naturally want to hang out with friends rather than Mom OR Dad (or Grandma or etc.), and if that's what's keeping him from wanting to go to Dad's, that's where the tough-cookies thing comes in (unless the custody schedule is such that your son cannot have a reasonable social life).

My SD's mom lives about 70 miles from here, which means when my SD has a weekend full of soccer and a job and prom (or whatever), the every weekend thing probably won't happen (even now, it's tough because of birthday parties, but 70 miles isn't Siberia, so we can still take SD to a party from here if absolutely necessary), but at the same time, my SD won't be allowed to skip going to Dad's because she wants to go to the mall every weekend with her girlfriends. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck.

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#10 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 09:25 PM
 
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I would add that leaving it up to the kid, in addition to being illegal, is also undermining both your and his other family's parenting. If it's up to him, then he has crazy leverage to use whenever he doesn't want to do something. "Oh yeah, well I just won't come over any more!" I bet you wouldn't like it if his dad "let" him (defied a court order) stay there and not come home to you, right? I don't see it as your or his option. He doesn't get to pick his parents anymore than any other kid.

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#11 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Transitions View Post
Thank you for your replies.There are several reasons why ds doesnt want to go there or be there.1) He does not get along with the stepmom at all. 2) His dad and step mom fight alot and he hates it. 3) I am pretty lax with the rules 4) He has more friends in this town and they are closer. and 5) His dad is never there, I mean he works ALOT. 6 days a week, from 6am to about 7pm. So he is with his stepmom most of the time he is there, and he does not like her.

I agree, it should not be a *choice* to see his father, but they are wanting him over there when his father is not even there, and then they get angry with me when I point this out, ds dad is not even there, why should ds be there?
The parents fighting and him not getting along with his step mom yet having to be with her the majority of the day are perfectly valid reasons for him not wanting to go. And at 14, he should have some say.

My boyfriend's 14 yo daughter has decided not to come up for a visit this Christmas because of certain things [edited for privacy.]

My point is, that maybe your son could talk to his dad about why he feels uncomfortable visiting and they could work out a schedule so that his dad is working less when he is there. It may be that the stepmom would be happy with this arrangement, too. Perhaps the couple could agree to get counseling for their arguing before he'd return for longer visits.

I think if a 14 yo has a serious and valid concern about visits, those should be respected.
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#12 of 24 Old 12-23-2007, 11:20 PM
 
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Children of intact families don't get to pick and choose whether or not they will be with the family. They don't get to decide they won't see one parent or another because it is inconvenient or annoying or they have decided they don't like mom too much right now. So in my opinion, no, 14 year olds don't get to opt out of visitation.

On the other hand, I don't know why this is your issue. As far as you are concerned, he goes unless you hear otherwise from his father. Don't be put into the position of being the gatekeeper between the two of them. Father and son need to work through their own issues, just like they would if you were all still living in the same house. And you should not be stuck refereeing their discussions nor butting into them.

I was always surprised how many issues that were soooo important when Mom was going to fight the battle suddenly aren't worth the effort to my girls when they had to deal with it themselves.
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#13 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 12:17 PM
 
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I agree with Fek&fuzz . . . he's 14. If he doesn't want to go why should he have to? Yes, if he lived with 2 parents he wouldn't have a choice however he may also be spending a lot of time at a friends place if he doesn't want to be at home. . . My dsd didn't want to go to her mothers place for a while. I won't get into the reasons however imho they were valid. She was 15 at the time. She goes to see her mom when it works for her. When SHE wants to. Her mother,btw, has also cleaned up her act a bit to see her daughter . . . Children should also be heard. They don't have a lot of control. Your son will miss his father and want to see him. One weekend of no visitation is not the end of the world. Maybe this is a good time to open dialogue with his father about him working and not being around for his son.
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#14 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 02:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anitaj71 View Post
Yes, if he lived with 2 parents he wouldn't have a choice however he may also be spending a lot of time at a friends place if he doesn't want to be at home
Not without his parent's permission he wouldn't be. And that is kind of the point. Of course 14 years olds should be heard ... by his father. The decision to ditch visitation isn't the custodial parent's or the step parent's decision to make*.

Plus, I think it sets a really bad example that if you are having problems with someone the answer is to run away and avoid them instead of dealing with people and working things through.

* Add the usual disclaimer about it being a different situation if there is abuse involved.
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#15 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 02:57 PM
 
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I didn't read the replies, but I wanted to say that it really depends on the relationship he has with his father, the family dynamics over there, and why he doesn't want to go.

If his dad isn't a very nice person, ignores him, or not a good parent, I wouldn't force him to go.

If he's just wanting to put friends above family time with his dad, then he'd have to suck it up and go for the sake of family quality time with his dad.

My did doesn't want to visit her father but it's because he's a jerk and his new girlfriend treated her pretty badly when she was there last time. I won't make her go. I feel like her choice not to visit someone who doesn't treat her right is valid and forcing her to go would be subjecting her to more crap that she doesn't need in her life right now.
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#16 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the interesting views. DS says step mom treats him pretty badly, (yells at him alot, cusses at him, records his phones calls, etc) and she says she does not do this and he is lying. I am not there, so I dont know. His father is never, hardly home, so I have asked him, and he tells me he does not know. He isnt a BAD dad, just working a lot, thats life. I have tried talking to ds, talking to his father, having meetings with all of us, etc. Bottom line is, ds does not like step mom, and feels uncomfortable around there most of the time. This is why I do not push the issue, but I still feel like I am being in the wrong, even though I feel ds' reasons are valid.Whew, this is so hard!

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#17 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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Sounds to me like your ds has a valid reason. Also, he's going there to spend time with his dad, right? But if dad isn't even there most of the time then what is the point of going? Why does he need to go and spend time with his stepmom. Obviously they don't get along, so why should he have to go?

I'd probably encourage dad to take a few days off work and then tell ds he needs to go spend time with his dad on those days. Explain to dad that there is no reason for ds to visit if dad isn't home anyway and if/when dad is willing to take some time off ds can visit then.

Of course this is coming from me, I was a single mom doing 95% of the child rearing for my dd until I married her stepdad. Her bio dad was never really involved and wasn't really a presence in her life for more than 3-4 hrs a week since her birth, so I don't really count him as an equal to me since he chose to be such an absent parent. I'm sure my opinions are skewed but this is what I'd do.
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#18 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 04:50 PM
 
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Well, his stepmom is part of his family too, and if they have issues then they need to address them. This idea that he should only go if his dad is there, I think denies the idea of a family. She is his family.

I don't know the characters involved, so I have no idea if her behavior is appropriate or not, but I agree with offwing that you don't need and should not be in a position of being gatekeeper between your son and his other family. That's not your role, your responsibility, nor your right. It'll take the stress off of you to just remember that and let your son and his other family work out their own issues without your involvement.

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#19 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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I don't have this issue in my family now. But, I thought I could share my perspective from when I was in the position of your son. I NEVER wanted to go to my dad's. It wasn't that he was abusive or mean or anything like that. I just, frankly, didn't like him because he was 1. depsressed, 2. had the worst, most pessimist philosophy around. I was an idealist with a life affirming philosophy. We clashed.

He was gone a lot when I was young too ... and by the time I was older, he was a complete stranger to me.

The one thing I absolutely loathed about my childhood and teenage years was that I was forced to go to my dad's for visits. I so resent that. No one listened to me either when I said I didn't want to go. As soon as I turned 18, that's pretty much the last time I saw my dad. I could not take it even more, especially when I was constantly being forced into it.

So, I think, you're right in not wanting to force the issue. Every child is different, but it has caused so much resentment on my part ... to the point where I'm dead set against ever seeing him again.
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#20 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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I don't have this issue in my family now. But, I thought I could share my perspective from when I was in the position of your son. I NEVER wanted to go to my dad's. It wasn't that he was abusive or mean or anything like that. I just, frankly, didn't like him because he was 1. depsressed, 2. had the worst, most pessimist philosophy around. I was an idealist with a life affirming philosophy. We clashed.

He was gone a lot when I was young too ... and by the time I was older, he was a complete stranger to me.

The one thing I absolutely loathed about my childhood and teenage years was that I was forced to go to my dad's for visits. I so resent that. No one listened to me either when I said I didn't want to go. As soon as I turned 18, that's pretty much the last time I saw my dad. I could not take it even more, especially when I was constantly being forced into it.

So, I think, you're right in not wanting to force the issue. Every child is different, but it has caused so much resentment on my part ... to the point where I'm dead set against ever seeing him again.
That is exactly why kids shouldn't be forced. But also why they should communicate with their parent about why they are not coming. It may have been that had things been brought out in the open, and had you been taken seriously, your dad would have gotten treatment for his depression and dealt with his issues, and then you could have had a better relationship.
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#21 of 24 Old 12-24-2007, 05:17 PM
 
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That is exactly why kids shouldn't be forced. But also why they should communicate with their parent about why they are not coming. It may have been that had things been brought out in the open, and had you been taken seriously, your dad would have gotten treatment for his depression and dealt with his issues, and then you could have had a better relationship.
I totally agree. I must have said "I don't want to go because ..." listing all my reasons so many times. And it just fell on deaf ears. He was my dad, thus I had to go was the only logic I ever got. I didn't understand that logic, and the resentment just built and built and built and built.

I'm 25 now, and it still hasn't gone away. We email sometimes, but whenever he asks me to come visit, bam, that resentment slides right up. Nothing has changed either - except, by now, he's clinically depressed, and still we clash with our philosophy. And, still, when I say I don't want to visit, it's like falling on deaf ears. The only difference is that, now, no one is forcing me to go. Thus, I don't go, and we only exchange the obligatory birthday/xmas emails. All from his side, too, as I simply don't care to make the effort.

It's sad on the one hand. On the other, I had a great father figure for the first 5 years (my grandfather). And then I lucked out and got a wonderful step dad. Mainly, it's just sad for my dad. But, I can't overcome the resentment to see him and make nice.
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#22 of 24 Old 12-27-2007, 12:55 PM
 
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I am in the situation where it is our home SS doesn't want to come to. It is very hard on his dad who is loving and kind. The reasons he doesn't want to come are because we have rules (no cussing, no disrespectful talking, pick up your trash etc). He does not have rules at bm's house. He also doesn't want to come because his mom is not over the divorce (5 years ago) and talks trash about his dad. Some of it is overt as in "your dad is a liar" and some not so clear as in "if your dad really loved you he would buy you that $200 football jersey." All this is done in the name of "honesty." So really the child suffers because of this type of talk and so does dad and by extension so do I. All cps need to be very aware of the way they talk about the ncp and vice versa. Sometimes what can seem innocent is actually alienating the child and hurting them deeply. Where I live it is illegal to let a child "choose" not to go to their parent, if that parent is a decent person. The CP can go to jail for it. That is why vistation is court ordered and not a choice. SS's bm tells him all the time he can "choose" and that really means that his "choice" is what she wants him to and that is to not go to his dad's.
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#23 of 24 Old 12-29-2007, 01:58 AM
 
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When dss was younger, we did make him go over his cries because he was safe there and there was a custody agreement that we didn't want to break. I think he was usually fine once he left. Now that he is 12, when he doesn't want to go to his mom's we say, "You can ask her if you can stay here." Sometimes he does and they don't make a big deal about it.

A few months ago there were BIG issues with her drinking and cheating on his stepdad while he was there. We told him that in order for him to go there less, we'd have to go to mediation and possibly court. If he was serious about this, we could go forward with it and he could explain to the judge/mediators what the issues were. We'd support that decision and do what ever we could, but it had to come from him (in our state at 12 they have say in visitation). He did decide to go forward with adding lines about her not drinking to the vistation agreement.
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#24 of 24 Old 12-29-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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The reasons he doesn't want to come are because we have rules (no cussing, no disrespectful talking, pick up your trash etc).
I'm just curious about what the "etc." rules entail. This is one of the issues my oldest has, as well.

At his Dad's, things are very regimented. From the time they get up to the time they go to bed, every little thing is dictated. At 16, he is expected to go to bed at the same time as the other 3 (13, 12, 9). Which is 9pm on a weekend. He is not allowed to wear any shirt that has any sort of writing on it (i.e. band shirts, "saying" shirts, etc.). He is not allowed to make or receive any phone calls from friends or family from home, regardless of the circumstances (he's not one to spend a lot of time on the phone anyway, but he'd kind of like to call his g/f in the evening - and is willing to use his cell or pay for the call from their landline). He's not allowed to wear any jewelry (including his cross, a single earring). He is not allowed to listen to the music he likes, either so everyone can hear it or using headphones. Heck - he's not even allowed to even mention the name of his favorite baseball team! And the list goes on. He's essentially required to become a different person when he's at his father's.

Yes, I am more lax than his Dad/stepMom in some areas, but it's not that he lives without rules at home. However, I do choose what hills to die on. Generic cussing is allowed (for example, if the computer decides to shut down in the middle of writing an email) while cussing AT someone isn't (so, he's not allowed to tell me to eff off or call his sister a b****). He's expected to shower daily (weekends? eh, unless we have plans). He has chores. As long as his clothes fit reasonably (i.e. pants aren't falling down his butt), are clean and have no offensive sayings? Fine. Music? He can listen to what he likes - heck... I take him and his friends to concerts. I don't want the phone ringing after 10 on a school night.

So, anyway.... I don't know what your "etc" rules are, but it might be worth seeing if there's anything there that could be seen as excessive.
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