There are times as a child gets older that he no longer wants to go and spend the entire weekend with the other parent. Kids have things to do, and they don’t want to spend the entire weekend. To be honest, they probably don’t want to spend any time with you either. So what can you do?
First, there is no law that permits them to say no. Kids don’t have any right to say that they are not going. So when they won’t go, it looks badly on the custodial parent. The custodial parent can be held in contempt by the judge and fights start with the non-custodial parent, who often blames you for the lack of enthusiasm that your child has about the visits.
There is no easy answer to the problem. Sometimes a therapist is in order, but more often than not, the child is growing up and wants some independence. He wants some say in what he has to do. How the parents handle that independence will determine the level of discord in the family.
I often hear the non-custodial parent say that this is not a problem they created and they don’t want to force the child to go. To be fair, parents force their children to do things all the time. Think about all the things that your kids want, or don’t want to do, and your reaction to that. If your child doesn’t want to go to school, do you entertain the thought of not letting him go? Do you let your child eat pizza every night and drink beer? Have guests of the opposite sex overnight in their room? You are the parent, and of course you exercise your will on the child. Otherwise you’d just be the roommate, and not the parent. So stating that you don’t want to force your child to do something isn’t the answer.
What can be the answer however is a modification to the parenting schedule. If there is more than one child, the schedule which once included all the children can be modified. Perhaps the younger children will continue with the every other weekend, but a different schedule can be worked out for the other child. The non-custodial parent can stop in and see the child for shorter periods of time, but more often. The custodial parent has to be flexible, and allow the non-custodial parent to arrange a schedule that works for both the child and the non-custodial parent.
It makes life more difficult on the parents, that is a given. There are more pickups and drop offs to negotiate. But if everyone is invested in what is in the child’s best interest, give the child a say as to his parenting time with the other parent. The child has no legal right to this, but if both parents can agree to give this child some input into the schedule, he is more likely to go without a lot of fighting. Which should make everyone happy.