Ask The Expert: When Your Child Doesn't Want To Visit
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By Mandy Walker, Featured Columnist - January 16, 2014 - Updated July 04, 2016

Question: 

My daughter is refusing to go visit her father on his weekends. If I force her to go she is miserable and makes him and everyone else miserable. Here is my problem. She is only 14 and one of the most important things in her life is her relationship with her father. But she is ANGRY.

We divorced due to his infidelity. He made the mistake of introducing the other woman to my daughter before we had filed for a divorce and then he married her immediately after the divorce was final. I know this situation is hurtful for my daughter BUT I don’t want her holding onto anger and making choices now that she will later regret.I’ve had a talk with her and told her that she will be visiting with her father on a regular basis. Her therapist says not to force her to go. And now I’m doubting my decisions to make her. I just don’t believe a girl of 14 should be given that much control over a decision that could have major impacts on her and her relationship with her father. Am I doing the right thing? What would you do in the same situation?

Answer:

This is a problem that many divorced parents face at some point and I want to congratulate you on recognizing the importance of your daughter and your ex maintaining a relationship.

It would be very easy for you to take a step back, stay neutral, and see what happens while enjoying more parenting time with your child.

Here's how I recommend parents approach this situation:

One of the points in my video is that your ex and your daughter are responsible for their own relationship - YOU can't make that happen.

The key to resolving this is understanding why your daughter doesn't want to visit and that means your ex needs to be the one to initiate an open, honest conversation with your daughter and really listen to what she has to say. Your daughter's therapist may be able help facilitate this if your daughter's not comfortable doing it alone. If she is upset for the reasons you've given, your ex can start by accepting responsibility for his actions and to sincerely apologize for the pain he has caused your daughter.

If I was talking to your ex, I would urge him to go out of his way to work on this. Your daughter is 14 now. She'll be graduating high school in four short years and presumably won't be subject to any parenting plan by then. After that, he'll likely see less and less of her which will make working on the relationship even harder.

This time is precious and he needs to make the most of it.

 

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