Common Mistakes Made When Your Child Does Not Want to Visit

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**Note: This article was written for divorced parents. However, it can be applied to any situation where visitation is involved.

A divorced parent must deal with many issues no matter what side of the divorced parental equation you are on. A troubling problem and sadly a very frequent one, is when the child refuses to go to visitation or would rather be with the other parent.

A very good friend of mine's daughter was supposed to go visit her father this last weekend. This visitation coincided with Mother's Day. Per the court order she was supposed to have this day with her child but the child did not want to come home to be with her mother on this day. The mom was understandably very hurt. The mom knew how important it was for the child to see her father, since the visits were few and far between, so she let the child go. Right decision? For this mom, it was but it was a very hard one. Can this be avoided? Probably not, but dealing with the emotions might make the hard decision like my friend had to make a little easier.

Here is a list of common mistakes. By avoiding these mistake the parent can help to make the visitation easier in the future. If the problem continues or visitation stops, seek legal or professional help- there might be another option like contempt or maybe a change in visitation in extreme cases.

1. Withholding things One of the first instincts in order to get a child to see it your way, especially one that wants the opposite of the things they should, would be to withhold something from the child. For example, don't say "Well, If you don't come to visit me or stay with me, I'll not let you have that video you wanted." This is a common mistake and only makes the child feel bad.

2. Bribery By the same token, don't bribe the child to make the visit. For example, "I'll have a video game that you like and you can only play it at my house". This is often used by both parents. Avoiding this mistake can tell the child that you provide rules and love and are not the "Disneyworld" parent.

3. Pettiness Don't resort to childish petty actions. This is best illustrated by the parent who rips up the child's clothes so the other parent can not have them. Usually this type of action is aimed at the other parent rather than the child. This can only make matters worse between the parents.

4. Withholding love Be patient-love them unconditionally. Many divorced children feel that their parents separated because of them. Telling a child that "you will not love them unless you see them" will only emphasize this fallacy.

5. Not dealing with the rejection Many parents take the child's unwillingness to visit personally. Dealing with the hurt feelings can help to get to the reasons behind the unwillingness.

6. Saying negative things about the failure to visit Telling the child "since your father does not want to see you" or "since you did not want to spend that holiday with me, I think it was _______'s fault" or insulting the other parent by making disparaging remark. Such behavior should be limited in all aspects of a child's life. This is even more true with the divorced family. Disparaging remarks only promotes negativity and hatred to the child. Every parent should emphasize love and affection for the other parent regardless of your feelings toward that parent.

C. Annelies Mouring, J.D. is a Contributing Editor for Divorced Parents @
This article was reprinted with permission from author. Copyright 1999
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