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michaelsmom
michaelsmom asks:
Q:

My 3 1/2 year old son never wants to go to his dad's house on the weekends?  It's always a battle.  What should I do?

My son's dad and I have never been married or lived together.  For almost two years now we have been doing regular visitation (alternating weekends and holidays) but my son always cries when it is time to go.  He even cries when I mention him going to his dads.  Do I continue to force my son to go?  How do I discuss this with his dad without him getting defensive?
In Topics: Single parent families
> 60 days ago

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Expert

ShirleyCressDudley
Oct 31, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

My son's dad and I have never been married or lived together.  For almost two years now we have been doing regular visitation (alternating weekends and holidays) but my son always cries when it is time to go.  He even cries when I mention him going to his dads.  Do I continue to force my son to go?  How do I discuss this with his dad without him getting defensive?

It’s tough to go between houses, but usually kids are pretty adaptable, if the parents work together, and both positively encourage the child to have a relationship with both mom and dad.  There are two approaches you should consider:

Talk with your son and ask how he feels about going to dad’s house. Since he’s only 3 ½, you can draw faces and label them, and then ask him if he feels any of these feelings (scared, angry, sad, nervous, happy) when going to dad’s house. Once he points out a few of your simple-drawn faces- then ask questions about those feelings:
-what makes you nervous at dad’s house?

It’s easier to discuss this when your son is involved in some simple play, or eating a meal with you, so the focus is not completely on him. If there truly is a reason he is afraid or scared- then this needs to be resolved.

The other approach is to carefully consider how you talk about his father around him. Do you say, “Two more days until you go to your dad’s house” with a frown on your face or a tear in your eye?  Or do you say it with a confident smile on your face?  Kids want to know that it’s O.K. to spend time with both mom and dad, and that time with dad does not mean he loves his mom any less.

If both parents work to speak positively about the other parent in front of the child, life will be less complicated and easier for your son.

If neither of these approaches work, then I’d recommend taking him to see a play therapist to get to the bottom of the issues. Your son needs a relationship with his dad and mom.

Kindest Regards,
Shirley Cress Dudley, MA LPC NCC
Blended family and single parent expert
Director of the Blended and Step Family Resource Center

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