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SuperMouse's avatar

Should my son have a choice or should I force him to visit his father?

Asked by SuperMouse (30733 points ) December 22nd, 2009

According to our current custody arrangement, my kids spend one evening a week (along with other times) with their father. Today my oldest son did not want to go with his dad. I am torn on this. Part of me doesn’t want to force the kid to do something he doesn’t want to do. The other part of me says I’m the boss, these are the terms negotiated and he has to follow the terms. If I go with the first he gets to feel empowered to make his own choices but he is forced to make a choice and do what he perceives as hurting either his mother’s or father’s feelings. If I go with the second he doesn’t get make his own choice, but he isn’t burdened with feeling like he has to hurt someone’s feelings. With the second choice he is also given structure, routine, and limits. What would you do, force the plan or give a choice?

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30 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I think it is crucial for your children that both parents speak with one voice when it comes to issues like visitation. If you allow your son not to go, he will never face whatever issue he is having with his dad, and that will be to his own detriment.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Before i answer, how old is he?

i went through the whole divorced parents visitation shit myself. Not fun.

Jeruba's avatar

Is there any chance that something is going on at his father’s place that he doesn’t want to face but can’t tell you about?—for example, that his dad is badmouthing you or that something is happening that hurts him?

El_Cadejo's avatar

jeruba makes a really good point. I went through a lot of that too. My mom would bad mouth my dad all the time. It really made me not want to be around my mom at all and just live with my father.

augustlan's avatar

Your son’s age and his relationship with the father play a role in determining the best way to go, here. Can you give us a little more information?

Shemarq's avatar

A lot of it has to do with the age of your child. It also depends on why he doesn’t want to go. I would talk to the father and your son and maybe come up with an alternative plan (different night where he can go alone without his siblings, etc.) I feel strongly that kids need to be able to make SOME of their own decisions (within reason and age related), but when they are still minors, the parents are ultimately responsible.

tinyfaery's avatar

Waiting for more info.

srmorgan's avatar

You have a court order to comply with.
The consequences of non-compliance could include your ex dragging you back into court in order to get his negotiated visitation rights.
It also sets a bad example for the other children and as mentioned here, sets you up for a major fight with your ex. In that case everyone gets affected in some unpleasant way.

Is this an issue of “I don’t want to go on Wednesday because of…..........”? Sometimes the night has to be changed to accommodate the needs of one child.
Maybe one child wants to go every two weeks because they see some conflict?

But overall as mentioned the parents are responsible to live by the terms of the custody agreement as best they can.

SRM

elvenjade2's avatar

I go through this alot with my kids. One of my older boys doesn’t want to go to his dad’s at times and sometimes he does. He’s 15 so he does have the right to choose so i don’t push if it if he doesn’t want to go. he dosn’t have any problems with his father he just finds it boring there.

HighShaman's avatar

Since you are under a Court Order ; You need to make him go…

BUT; perhaps you also need to have a visit with your attorney… take your son , and ask to have the visitation CHANGED / Modified…

IF a child is of a certain age; MOST judges will abide by the child’s wishes….

Silhouette's avatar

I need to know why my son doesn’t want to go before I decided. If he had a valid reason I’d back him 100%.

Pandora's avatar

Boys go through stages of loving and rejecting their father. If you were not to make him go, in the future he will only blame his dad for letting their relationship slide. You have to help him forge a relationship whether he wants to or not. Unless you know for a fact that your ex is a bad influence. He probably just feels rejected by his dad and wants to hurt him as much as he feels hurt. Find out what his real reasons are an talk it over with your ex. and your son. It might also be trivial. Like he likes to hang out with his pals on the weekend and dad is boring. You may make another arrangement that will make all concerned happy. But for now I think a court order is a court order.

HighShaman's avatar

@Silhouette Then; why don’t YOU just ask him ? Tell him about the Court Order and what can happen IF he does not go like the JUDGE ordered….

Then; make your decesion and stick to it ..do it SOON before it YOU in legal trouble.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Pshhhh, court orders are BS. My parents never went by their for one second, and we were all a lot happier. I say let him talk to his dad about it, and if he doesn’t want to go, and it’s okay with dad and it doesn’t interfere with plans you’ve already made, what’s the difference? Let him stay home.

dpworkin's avatar

@La_chica_gomela‘s solution isn’t at all unreasonable. If dad and son talk, and both agree this visit can be put off, why not? Just try to remain neutral for your son’s sake.

HighShaman's avatar

Well; if you totally ignor the court order and a problem arises between you and the father later on…. all he neeeds to CLAIM is that YOU refused to allow your son to visit as per the agreement / court order and you CAN go to jail or be fined…

It might be rare; BUT it DOES happen !

Silhouette's avatar

@HighShaman I don’t ask him because he isn’t MY son. IF he was my son and he had a valid reason I would stand behind my child and I would tell the JUDGE my son has a valid issue and would like the court to hear him out. I’d do this as SOON as my son told me what his valid issue was, the very next business day if not SOONER. Legal trouble wouldn’t be an issue for me if my son were in peril, I’d do what I had to do for my boy. What about YOU?

HighShaman's avatar

@Silhouette I am SORRY; got you confused with the asker of the origional question….

Yes; IF it were my son; I do whatever I needed to see that everything was handled as need be… and if he did not want to have the visits ; then we’d go to court and have the order Modified ..

Silhouette's avatar

@HighShaman Not a problem, thanks for the apology.

minolta's avatar

Does his dad want to see him?

If he does then he should make sure he makes contact with your son.

The son can’t be forced to see him in my opinion. But if the dad wants to improve the relationship, then he has to put some love in the equation and make his son love him back.

cookieman's avatar

With a few exceptions (bathing, homework, manners), I’m not a fan of “forcing” my kid to do anything.

If after explaining the arrangement with the court, and how you think he should visit his dad (and why) he still doesn’t want to go – I would:

1) Ask him why he doesn’t want to go (and work to get a sincere answer).
2) Get the dad over to discuss it (making sure, in advance, that you and the ex are on the same page about it).
3) Assuming his reason was valid, he talks it out with his dad, and dad’s OK with it – then I’d let him make his own decision.

thriftymaid's avatar

Your son has no choice if you have a judicial custody order. When he is older he may petition the court to be released from the order. Any change will require cause.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@SuperMouse, there could be a lot of reasons why your son does not want to go, ranging from your ex-husband not talking nicely about you, to not wanting to miss out on things going on in your house, to his father dating someone and your son not knowing how to handle it, to wanting to feel like he has some control over his sense of family. I suspect that this is probably the case; if this is the Christmas break since the holiday, then not going to his father’s is a way of keeping the old sense of family. How will his dad feel about his not coming? It would probably be preferable to let him feel like he has some choice in the matter, and lead him to choose to go, because his father wants to spend time with him.

The court order is in place to make sure that the parents have time with their children. But being a family doesn’t stop because the marriage ends, at least not for the children. If your ex-husband is more of a “do as I say because I said so” type of parent, then this could be an issue for your ex-husband. Perhaps you two can talk about it apart from your son, and reach a consensus about what’s causing him to not want to go, and how you both feel that you are comfortable handling it.

SuperMouse's avatar

After I posted the question and went to bed I realized that knowing his age might be beneficial! He is 11 and he has a decent relationship with his dad. He has always been a mama’s boy, but he and his dad get along fine. Thanks for all the great feedback so far!

Pandora's avatar

In that case SuperMouse he may feel like he is abandoning you. As the man of the house (boys tend to feel that way, especially if you depend on him more than his brother) he may worry that something may happen to you while he is gone. He may feel dad is more self sufficient and capable of taking care of himself. I know my son use to worry about me when I would work at night. He would stay up till I got home. Everyone would be in bed but him. I told him he should go to bed but he said no one would know till morning if something happened to me. I asked him about his dad and all the late nights he would work. He pointed out two things. One I would stay up and wait for him and two that dad was a guy. Its just the way boys see things with mom.

SuperMouse's avatar

I want to add a couple of things that impact the situation. (Especially for @uberbatman and @La_chica_gomela and others who have dealt with this as children).

This kid has thought he is a grown up since the day he was born it seems. He always wants to be where the adults are and wants to listen in to every single thing that is said. He wants to be the one to tell his younger brothers what to do and I have to remind him often that I am the parent.

Also, my ex is pretty emotionally stunted, is still very bitter about the divorce, and he does not seem to be putting much effort toward working through these feelings. He swears that he doesn’t bad mouth me to the boys, but who knows.

Finally, we just began renting a room to a young man in his 20’s (a good guy, I know his family well and did all the background checks etc before I let him move in), and he was here last night with his brother (who is also in his early 20’s). The novelty of having a roommate has not worn off and I suspect that played in to the boy’s desire to hang out at home.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

I was also one of those children that was an adult from the day she was born. Unfortunately, my father was not on his best behavior during supervised visits. Fortunately, they were stopped within a couple of years. My Mom handled visitations really well. Before she dropped me off, she told me that I could leave at any time and gave me money for the payphone in case I wanted to leave. That way, I knew I had to at least go, but could leave if I was still uncomfortable.

Since your son is 11, my suggestion would be to take him the first time, but write yourself a note of the date and that he didn’t want to go. If it continues to happen, let your lawyer or arbitrator know that your son no longer wants to attend these visits and ask for suggestions.

Also, since your son is 11, ask if he would like to have the visitations on different days of the week or at a different location. At 11 he probably has homework, favorite TV shows, etc he might even be tired from certain classes. If he’s anything like me (and I hope he isn’t), he may feel bad for his father and his living environment. Maybe a different location would help.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Will your boarder be there during the time your son is gone, or will he be at his parents’ house? The allure of the “older brother” is really hard to compete with. Perhaps talk to your ex about what his plans are for spending time with your son, and see if he would agree to plan some sort of special holiday thing for just the two of them to do—go play laser tag, go to the movies, etc. to make the visit a little more festive. You might enlist your boarder to talk with him about how important it is to spend time with his father, in a general sort of way.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Most children like some consistency in their lives, particularly being where all their belongings reside.

How far away does their dad live? When my brother divorced, he moved into a place a couple of miles away from his ex and 3 children. And while they ended up spending more quality time with him than they had in the past (one of the reasons for the break-up), they would have preferred to have slept in their own beds.

Then there is the friend who lives a couple of states away from his 2 sons. They LOVE to go visit their dad, but it is usually for a week or more at a time.

Please find out why your son has reservations about going. Then talk to his father about it. Depending upon the situation, you might want to renegotiate, be it verbally or legally.

tearsxsolitude's avatar

If he’s only eleven I’d make him go. He’s too young to realize the impact this decision could have on the rest of his life. If he were to continue to not want to go then contact with his father might cease. If he’s fifteen and wanted to stop going I’d want to sit him down and inform him of the possible consequences and then let him make up his mind. At eleven though I think you should just make him. If he has a really valid reason for not wanting to go then okay, but the likiness of that seems poor. But I’d ask just to make sure, you know.

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