What to do when kids don't want to stay with other parent
Question: How old do children need to be before they don't have to go see the other parent if they don't want to• My kids are telling me they don't want to go see their dad, and now that they're older, I'm thinking about honoring their wishes.
Answer: It's seductive when a child starts to balk at going to their other parent's home. What divorced parents hear is that their child would rather stay with them, and they start to believe the child prefers them. But there might be more to the story.
When a child starts to complain, rather than saying something like, "Your time with your dad (or mom) is very important, it becomes, "I know you don't want to go, but it's only for a couple of days. You'll be home soon." At face value, that sounds like a parent trying to help a fussy kid put things into perspective -- but, in actuality, it's openly trivializing the child's time with his or her other parent and singles out one "home" over the other. It will not make your child more secure if you teach him or her to think their time with their other parent is less important than their time at "home."
The law regarding a child's "right" to choose which parent to live with is murky, and varies considerably by state and jurisdiction. Although not a standard by any means, many states have begun to give consideration to a child's declaration of custodial preference when children reach their teen years. In these cases, a judge, or a mediator who reports back to the judge, interviews the child. The judge then decides how much weight to give to the child's wishes.
In short, there is no specific "age" at which a child can say with whom they want to live. In most cases, it's the reasons behind the desire to live with one parent or the other that matters more than the child's age.
We are not sure why a normally conscientious parent who would not think twice about making their child do their chores or finish their homework, would consider letting the child do exactly what he or she wants to do when it comes to visiting their other parent.
A child has the right to be with both parents and, unless you believe the child is in danger, it's your obligation to abide by your custody agreement and support the other parent's parenting time. Even at that point, keeping the child home based on whim is not good ex-etiquette.
As parents, of course, we always want to protect our kids, but there are agencies to help you. When you suspect a problem, call Child Protective Services or the police and ask them intercede. CPS will conduct an immediate investigation and if it is determined that there is a problem, they might suggest visitation stop. This is particularly important if there is suspected abuse of any kind. You need as much documentation as possible.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates’ outfield may have few defensive peers
- New Castle-area racino remains in limbo
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Speck device monitors indoor pollution
- Penguins slip past Sharks, 3-2, in shootout
- Westmoreland County Transit Authority to buy 12 minibuses
- 17 Pennsylvania veterans inducted into Hall of Valor
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- Penguins notebook: Five defensemen dress against San Jose
- Players, casinos pan IRS idea to track more slot payouts
- ATV rider injured in Stewart Twp. mishap