It is often painful to find that as your children grow up, they are more interested in their friends than they are in you. As hard as this transition is for parents and children, it is especially hard for non-custodial parents who are already limited by a visitation schedule in how much time they get to spend with their kids.
Many parents assume that if their children seem not to want to spend time with them, that the attitude must have arisen from the negative influence of the other parent. In truth, though, there are many reasons why many children object to visitation and parenting time.
The issue does not typically arise with younger children, through elementary school ages. Young kids are usually oblivious of the child custody process, and are satisfied to go where they are taken. They usually look forward to visitation time.
As they get older, though, and more involved in activities in and out of school, and have closer friendships, they may begin to see visitation as more of a chore than a treat. The visits may start to feel to them like an interruption of their life.
It is also strenuous for kids to move from household to household. It can serve as a reminder of the divorce, and it is experienced repeatedly. But it is wise to remember that the children are unhappy with the situation, and not with the parents.
Explaining your situation and your feelings about it, directly to the kids, is a better plan than forcing them to visit. Some other suggestions include:
- Letting the kids' friends come along for overnight visits
- Being flexible about the visitation schedule to accommodate the kids' events
- Doing things with the kids that match their interests
- Being the one who takes your kids to their activities, whether they are school activities, extracurricular, or activities with friends.
Source: Sacramento Bee "Divorced dads: What to do when your child doesn't want to see you" 5/16/2011, excerpting "The Guys-Only Guide to Getting Over Divorce and on with Life, Sex, and Relationships" by Sam J. Buser and Glenn F. Sternes