Son prefers not to go to see his father…

by Rod Smith

“My son (13) will not visit his dad as he has done for 5 years since our divorce. He won’t give reasons. I think the visits are an inconvenience and he prefers to stay where his friends are. What should I do?”

USA

USA

Rod: Your letter contains no hint of inappropriate behavior occurring at his father’s home. Therefore, I’d suggest you leave the matter of his visitations squarely in the hands of father and son. When either tries to recruit your support I’d suggest you say things like, “This is a matter for you to sort out with you son/dad and it is best that I leave it up to the two of you.”

My rationale is neither uncaring nor unreasonable and my suggestion is not focused on the immediate. Leaving children to face their own dilemmas, to talk face-to-face with the key players in any conflicted scenario (with teachers, parents, step-parents, neighbors) steels children for future success.

A child who can address, or learns to address, his or her father about such matters will develop life-long helpful skills that will equip him or her to address any matter with anybody.

This is his issue. Unless you want to spend a lifetime saving and delivering the boy from everything tough and uncomfortable, avoid it now.

{I invited, James 15, to share his views…. see below…..}

South Africa

South Africa

James: It is during the divorce the father may have caused you, his mother, considerable pain. Boys are often very protective over their mothers and care for them deeply. Your son may be trying to be spiteful towards his father for causing you to suffer. This could be a reason for your son not wanting to see his father.

As for what to do now, have you talked to the father about his relationship with his son? The father should extend his hand to his son. If he is maybe lonely at his father’s house, why not let him take a friend along when he visits?

ACT, Australia

ACT, Australia

As you must have valued your son’s visits to his father, because of the dynamic of shared parenting responsibilities, is it possible to talk to your former partner about this situation? I agree so strongly on the value of friends at this age, and the fact that he has some good friendships can help so much as he grows through the adolescent years. For your son to recognize that both his mom and dad want the best for him would communicate that you value his needs as he sees you putting into place an arrangement that would release him to spending more time with his friends. However, visits with his dad that are fewer and further between, might also be included in the new plan.

Scotland

Scotland

Joe: I cannot help wondering why a young man of 13 wants to stop visiting his father. Is it really just the “inconvenience”? Have you tried really listening to your son? Have you asked him how things are between him and his dad? If he has been visiting happily for 5 years, what has changed? Is there a new partner, or are there new step/half siblings? And how is your relationship with his father?

Being a teenager is all about having friends, and the beginnings of gradually moving away from family, but not to the exclusion of family. One of the examples your son has had of what happens when relationships get tough, is that you separate and give up. Are there other people that he trusts who can show him an alternative to this? How he can have a more grown up relationship with his dad? He needs this example too!

India

India

Gideon: Without knowing all the details, if your son is like most 13 year olds, he is probably finding more social interaction and stimulation among his peers. Peer influence is strong at this stage in a young boy’s life. They’re eager to play, hang out with friends at the mall, go to movies, playing sports, and talk to girls. He is a young boy trying to enjoy life and the impact of your divorce may or may not be revealed until later. He is in a period of tremendous growth and change and allowing him the “room” and time to be with friends, or to interact with others apart from his parents, is not entirely a bad thing. If you have had a steady and open relationship with him in the past, trust that a time will come when he’ll be ready to communicate more openly.

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