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The thread about the older stepdaughter starting to choose not to visit her father's house got me thinking. At what age do you just let the kids decide when they want to visit each parent (assuming they live close enough to get the child to school on school days and both houses are a safe place for the child to be)?<br><br>
When I was in high school, I stopped visiting my dad. For a complicated list of reasons, we didn't get along that well. For a time my parents lived across the street from each other, so I stopped spending the night or weekends at my dad's. It shifted to Wednesday dinners. Then after I became involved in activities and got a part-time job, I barely saw him. Often not even on holidays. Neither one of us made that much of an effort to keep the relationship going.<br><br>
Fast forward to adulthood. It took several years to repair my relationship with my dad. He had been married to my step mom for over five years before I got to know her. Things are great now - we visit every chance we get and my stepmom is going wedding dress shopping with me tonight (my mom went once, too, but she is 6 hours away).<br><br>
I can't help but wonder, though, if my parents had been a little more adamant about me keeping the visitation schedule, would I have had to spend all of that time repairing my dad's and my relationship as an adult?<br><br>
What are your opinions on letting the kids decide the visitation schedule when they are older?
 

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I think there's a difference between "keeping the schedule" and "not seeing one another." Her mom's at work when SD is here, so until she's old enough to stay by herself and get herself where she needs to go, "keeping the schedule" is not up to her.<br><br>
I suspect when SD is old enough to have a job/sports/etc., tight adherence to a schedule will become impossible. We're 60 miles apart, which will also complicate things -- right now it's not impossible for her to attend Saturday afternoon events in her mom's city without changing the schedule (we can drive her back for the afternoon and just hang out in the city for a couple of hours) but I can't see her making an 8:30 a.m. work start or an all-weekend soccer match from here. So things will need to give.<br><br>
That said...I can't imagine either parent will allow SD's relationship with the other to substantially deteriorate. Both of them were estranged from their fathers for a long time, due in large part to their fathers' lack of effort -- both have made up but it doesn't take away the lost time -- and they don't want history to repeat itself. It may not be on a formal schedule -- honestly, I can't imagine I'd have wanted to be away from my friends every weekend or even every other weekend when I was 16, and I'd never have been able to keep a job -- but it will be frequent.
 

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Where I live, legally, a child can decide with which parent to live at the age of 12. As for visitation, I think that's entirely personal. I tend to agree with the previous post which mentioned that when a child slowly turns into a busy teenager/young adult, it's not always possible to adhere to a visitation schedule.<br><br>
My DH's situation is complicated a great deal by the fact that his son's mother lives in another province. We're the ones who made the choice to move away, and it's definitely been a positive move, in terms of offering SS stability. As for visits, we always consult with SS about when he'd like to visit his mom. We've reserved all holidays and summer vacation for her, as well as a few long week-ends during the year. SS travels by train, on his own. Strangely enough, he hasn't missed her much at all and hasn't asked to speak to her on the phone much, despite only being 10. The distance allows him to appreciate his mom (and not to be nagged constantly by his stepdad, whom he despises). In the future, I can definitely see him refusing to go back to his mother's in the summer, so that he'll be able to spend more time with his friends here. Eventually, who knows? Their relationship has never been a strong one.<br><br>
As for the original post, which mentioned a long period of absence before mending a relationship, I'd like to propose that perhaps the absence was necessary...Perhaps the relationship couldn't have been enjoyed had those years not passed by. My relationship with my parents has improved in adulthood because I've been able to appreciate them more and find the right place for them in my life.
 

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My SD is 8 and both her dad and I, and her mother and stepfather work hard to create an environment in which she feels comfortable and loved. So as far as our situation goes, I dont see a reason why we would ever let her choose to not go to one house or the other just because she didnt want too.<br>
We all feel that is is important for her to spend time with both of her families, and she feels that way too.<br>
We live in the same town (about 5 miles apart) and she spends 3 days a week with us and 4 days a week with her mom and stepdad. That's the way it's always been (her mom and dad were never married) and I'm pretty sure that's the way it will stay.<br>
We are all pretty flexible, so sometimes she will change the days that she spends with us. But for the most part we feel that she needs to be with both families equally so that she has a strong relationship with all of her parents and siblings.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mama parrot</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9865720"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My SD is 8 and both her dad and I, and her mother and stepfather work hard to create an environment in which she feels comfortable and loved. So as far as our situation goes, I dont see a reason why we would ever let her choose to not go to one house or the other just because she didnt want too.<br>
We all feel that is is important for her to spend time with both of her families, and she feels that way too.<br>
We live in the same town (about 5 miles apart) and she spends 3 days a week with us and 4 days a week with her mom and stepdad. That's the way it's always been (her mom and dad were never married) and I'm pretty sure that's the way it will stay.<br>
We are all pretty flexible, so sometimes she will change the days that she spends with us. But for the most part we feel that she needs to be with both families equally so that she has a strong relationship with all of her parents and siblings.</div>
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</tr></table></div>
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:
 

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i think once kids become teenagers they should have some choice in who they live with but not total choice. i mean it would break my heart to never see my son if at 15 he decided he didnt feel like living with me.
 

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Legally speaking, kids don't generally get that choice. Some judges may allow the child to choose other activities over visitation, but then they're going to expect a hell of a lot of flexibility from the custodial parent for make-up time if the NCP wants it.
 

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17 or 18 at the earliest I dont think children should get a say. the kids dont gt to decide if they visit grandma why would they get to choose if they visit a parent. Rarely is there activty or event more important than spending time withe the other parent.<br><br>
In reality mt son who is almost 17 doesnt always want to hang out at home, but he has to because we are his folks given the choice most days he would rather hang out with friends.
 

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Personally, I've become very weary of "negotiating" a "fair trade" when it comes to my dd wanting to change her schedule to participate in a family event or something during her time with her dad (I have tons of family here and he has none). He's particularly hung up on the minutia of so many hours/minutes for so many hours/minutes.<br><br>
So, what I've started to do is tell my dd1 that if she wants to have Thanksgiving with us, for example (she's with her dad on Thursday), she absolutely can and I will ask her dad or she can discuss it with him. He has to give her the OK, but I'm not going to change the schedule to accomadate (sp) this. This takes the potential conflict out of the parent realm and puts it between the two of them.<br><br>
I realize that this may seem radical, but it works well for us and keeps me out of abusive situations with my dd's dad.<br><br>
And, I agree with what a PP said about your relationship with your dad needing some space. Sounds like it all worked out well for you and the distance might have played a big part in that.
 

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I had one rule about my girls wanting to "move in with daddy". They both said that wanted to at least once each while they were teens ... usually when I had insisted that they deal with the unpleasant consequences of something they had done that they shouldn't have. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br><br>
I told them fine, if that is really what they wanted I would not stand in the way, but that would be the one and only move. There would be no ping-pong ball custody depending on who they were pissed off at or in trouble with. That if they moved out, they were staying with their Dad until they were ready to be on their own. I would still love them, miss them horribly and would see them on the same schedule as they saw there Dad ... but under no circumstances would there be any kind of "I change my mind!" two months after the thrill wore off.<br><br>
In all cases, understanding that I absolutely meant what I said about that resulted in neither one of them actually going through with the threatened moves.<br><br>
As far as visitation in the teen years, once they were old enough to drive (16 & 17) I became very hands off. When they were young, I made sure they were at visitation, often being the only one dropping off and picking up. I often felt I was the <b>only</b> one that cared if they saw their father.<br><br>
But at some point, I think people need to be responsible for their own relationships. I stopped being the person driving visitation. It was time for the firls and their dad to decide what kind of relationships they were going to have going forward. I had done my job, it was up to them at that point.
 
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