Refuses to See Dad
My seven year old is refusing to see his dad. Whenever it's his weekend, my son
curls up in a ball, hides under the bed, holds onto the banister and cries his
eyes out. I still make him go, but I am worried there is something going on
there. What should I do?
There are many reasons why a child refuses to see a parent when it is that
parent's turn to care for the child:
- The expectations from one home to the other can be very different
and typically with greater expectations at the home child is refusing to attend.
Greater expectations may not be the problem though. It may be the expectations
in the first parent's home are inadequate;
- The child may have concerns the for the parent left behind, worried
perhaps that parent will be lonely, or worse may be at risk due to another
relationship that parent has. So if the parent is depressed or at risk of being
hurt from an abusive relationship, the child may feel a need to stay home to
take care of that parent;
- There may be better toys, games, computer or video game consoles at the
preferred parent's home and thus the child is more attached to things than even
- The child may be subject to poor parenting by the parent he is going
with and as a result, the child is seeking to stay away.
- It may be the child is receiving mixed messages about going with the
other parent. This can come from either parent and so the child is simply not
invested in going;
- The one parent while superficially facilitating the child's time with
the other parent, may at the same time be sabotaging the relationship between
child and the other parent.
As you see from the above, the reasons a child may refuse time with a parent can
vary greatly. Typically to get to the root of the problem though, both parents
must be involved in counseling with a therapist who can assess the situation
properly to best advise the parents. Asking the child directly rarely yields any
meaningful results and more typically adds to the problem.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario,
Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child
relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations,
social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a
Section 112 (social work) report.
Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters.
Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques
information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane,
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