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What to Do when Your Children Don’t Want to See Dad (or Mom)


Many divorced parents look forward to those weekends when their children go visit Mom or Dad and they can blessedly have the home to themselves. What happens, though, when your child doesn’t want to go?

This is an awkward moment for sure, but there are also legal complications. A child custody order gives the parent the right to have the children. At the same time, it’s difficult to force a child to go where they don’t want to.

At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, we help men and women navigate the post-divorce environment. Our Media child custody attorney offers some tips for getting your children out the door.

Promote Good Relations with the Other Parent

Parents have a responsibility for encouraging their children’s relationship with the other parent. When they don’t, they could open themselves up to a custody battle. Parents should do everything possible to keep any disagreements they have with an ex to themselves. Don’t involve the children. Your children might be upset at visiting the other parent because they have taken your side in a dispute, and you should prevent this from happening in the first place.

Ask Why Your Child Doesn’t Want to Go

Your child might have legitimate reasons to avoid going. If they are being neglected or abused in any way, then there might be grounds to go into court and change child custody due to endangerment.

However, many children simply don’t want to visit because they are angry about something that might seem minor to an adult. Some common reasons include:

  • Missing hanging out with friends
  • Feeling uncomfortable in a different home
  • Disliking the other parent’s new romantic partner or children

Very young children might also be afraid that they will never return home to you. You can alleviate this fear by explaining when they will return home and talking to them on the phone while they are away.

Address Your Child’s Concerns

If possible, you can try to put your children at ease. For example, if they are upset they can’t see their friends, try to reschedule whatever activity they are missing. Social media allows children to stay in contact with each other at all hours of the day, so this shouldn’t be a major problem.

Also involve the other parent. It’s his or her job to introduce your children to a new romantic partner and any step-children living in the home. But you might need to tip them off that this is your child’s concern.

Explain the Child Custody Order

Your children might not understand that the other parent has a legal right to see them. Explain what will happen if you do not let them visit.

Modify the Custody Order, if Necessary

A modification might be necessary, especially for teenagers. Older children have active social lives, including extra-curricular activities, dating, and increased schoolwork. They might dislike visiting the other parent because it is inconvenient to do so. Figuring out an alternate schedule could be to everyone’s advantage as your children grow up and spread their wings.

For assistance with a modification, contact a Delaware County child custody attorney at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today.

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