Should I want to become a father

Children of divorce: My child does not want to go to the father

Divorce is always painful for everyone involved. But children in particular suffer particularly when familiar family life suddenly falls apart and one of the parents - usually the father - moves away. It is all the more important that the offspring continue to have contact with both parents after the separation. But what if children refuse to visit their father, let alone want to spend the night in Dad's new home? A family therapist explains what is best to do in such situations.

Joint custody after divorce

Every third marriage - in 2012 there were around 179,100 - is divorced in Germany. If children are also affected by the separation, the parents very often agree that both have custody and share responsibility for upbringing. This principle is also favored by the law, where it says in paragraph 1684 of the BGB: "The child has the right to deal with every parent; every parent is obliged and entitled to deal with the child."

However, common parenting is often not easy to implement, even if the divorced parents get along relatively well, as the children mostly live in the mother's household and no longer see their father every day. The most commonly practiced rule of interaction is then the 14-day rhythm, in which the children spend every second weekend with their dad.

When it comes to a weekend at Dad's house, there are often tears

The children do not always look forward to visiting their father: If you believe the countless worried and perplexed comments in parent's forums, it is not uncommon for children to find it difficult to go to the parent who no longer lives with the family. One mother wrote: "My five-year-old son has not wanted to go to his dad for some time. Whenever he has a weekend with him, he cries and says that he would rather stay with me. What should I do. I can him do not force it? "

And a father reports sadly: "I don't know what's going on either, but my eight-year-old daughter has recently been reluctant when I come to pick her up for our weekend together. Actually everything has always worked out pretty well so far, but since then my ex and I recently had another argument, somehow the worm is in it. "

Children often have loyalty conflicts

Michaela Herchenhan, qualified pedagogue and family policy spokesperson for the German Society for Systematic Therapy, Counseling and Family Therapy (DGSF), knows similar problems from her everyday practice. She explains: "If children do not want to see a parent, there is not always a specific reason for this. In such situations, the children often have a loyalty conflict and feel that, for example, the mother does not want them to go to the father . They do not want to hurt their mother and choose the path that is easiest for them to take. "

In order to solve the child's dilemma, mothers and fathers must therefore work hand in hand and coordinate as often as possible, advises the expert: "The child must be clearly conveyed that the parents are in agreement and that everything is fine is when it goes to the other parent and that the mother is coping well with the situation. This way the child can be relieved of the greatest tension. "

New family constellations make it even more difficult for children

In many cases, the children not only burden the sensitivities of their separated parents, they also have to deal with new family constellations - for example, if the father has a new partner and she also brings her own children into the relationship.

"It is understandable that children cannot immediately come to terms with new family systems and dynamics without any problems," comments family therapist Herchenhan. "A lot is demanded of them and they are quickly overwhelmed when they have to adjust to the new life partner of a parent, a new couple constellation and perhaps also to new blended siblings. Parents often expect everything too early to interlock, because their longing for a new, intact family is great and thus idealized. "

Look for alternative handling rules together

But what should be done if the children refuse agreed visits to the father? Herchenhan recommends affected parents to look for new solutions in a joint conversation with the child - without exerting pressure - regardless of the age of the children: "A good opportunity to develop closer is if the father does something alone with his offspring , go on a trip to the zoo or even go on vacation with your child for a few days. "

In the case of younger children who have difficulties going to their dad, one could first try, according to Herchenhan, to find a compromise and arrange time-limited meetings, at which the father, after precise consultation with the mother, can then bring his child at home, for example Visited for two hours: "It is important that father and child then spend time together undisturbed. Such appointments should never be decided over the head of the child. That would increase their uncertainty."

The best interests of the child must always be in the foreground

But how should parents react if such and similar measures do not bear fruit and the parent who has moved away is still shunned by their child? "If you find that the agreed contact rules are not working, the parents should never tire of thinking together how things could get better. Sometimes a lot of patience and perseverance must be applied. In addition, the well-being of the child should always be the focus and not the wellbeing of mother or father, "explains Hechenhan. If that doesn't work, divorced parents can get professional advice from the youth welfare office.

Despite separation in upbringing, always pulling together

Communication is the best prerequisite for problem-free interaction between the child and both parents. "I advise separated couples to get together at least once a month to talk about their offspring. They should not only talk about problems, for example at school, but also about positive and positive things in the child's life", says Herchenhan. Children should also be kept informed about these meetings. Then they would know that their parents were still pulling together in bringing up their children. That is very calming for children.

Constant contact with the child prevents alienation

In addition, the family therapist adds that the parent who has moved away has to stay in constant contact with his child in addition to the agreed visits and meetings: "To prevent alienation, it is most practical to talk on the phone as often as possible." Above all, fathers have to make sure that they actively cultivate the exchange and take care of themselves and do not wait for the child to get in touch.

However, if all these efforts are ineffective and the child continues to keep their distance, the affected fathers should never stop actively seeking contact with their offspring, so the pedagogue's urgent appeal: "Even if fathers are rejected in the long term, they can do so always say with a clear conscience: 'I have done my best, left no stone unturned and always cared for my child as best I can.' "

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