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I have an 8 1/2 year old boy who doesn't want to have any

Hi. I have an...

Hi. I have an 8 1/2 year old boy who doesn't want to have any visitation with his father. We live in Canada. The visitation order states father has reasonable access from time to time as agreed upon by both parents. visits are every second Friday & Saturday (he and his 3 year old brother refuse to sleep over). Originally my ex had every second weekend from Friday through Sunday, he said he could not commit to this schedule and wanted it changed to the current order (which is court ordered). My ex was not physically abusive while we were married but his abuse was neglect (he literally never bathed, put the children to bed, took them anywhere unless I was there to watch them, fed them, etc). Since the divorce (2 years ago) the relationship has not improved with my eldest child. He has lied to me about his father (claiming that he had yelled really loudly at his little brother and punched the couch right by where his little brother was sitting), I was about to confront the father on this matter and then my eldest admitted he lied about it. When I asked him why he said, "Because you are not listening to me and I thought if you thought Dad would hurt us you wouldn't send us anymore". I explained that I have no choice. A few weeks later my son came home from a visit and said that he had been being rude to his dad. I asked him why and he said, "Maybe if I am rude, he will not want me there anymore and he will decide to cancel the visits". The father refuses to listen. He says that the children have fun when they are at his house and he is pushing for overnight visits to start. I believe that the children probably do have fun because he buys them things and takes them to fun places, but when it comes to actually taking care of them the children do not have the bond with their father that should be there. When the father lived at home my son would never allow him to come near him at bedtime, he would scream at him to leave him alone and ask for me and the father would simply walk away and let me handle it).   Also, my ex now has said that he thinks the bond between my two boys is too strong and he wants to break it up.  He wants to bring my eldest son's friends (friends he made after the divorce) to his house, so that my eldest doesn't play with his brother so much.  My son doesn't want to bring his friends over.  He says, "I just want my friends to be special for home".  What should I do?

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Answered in 42 minutes by:
3/6/2013
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

The situation with your son and ex husband is complicated. From what you have written, your son does not seem emotionally and physically safe with his father and is willing to go to some lengths to make the visits stop. Meanwhile, your ex does not have a good parenting history and it is reasonable that you are concerned about overnights. Also...the court does not give him overnights so that order would have to be changed...right?

Dr. L :

I encourage you to sit down with your ex to talk about the children and what is in their best interest. You might want to bring in a neutral party to help - a professional mediator for example.

Customer:

Yes, you are correct, the order would have to be changed. The way that my ex gets me to agree to anything he asks is through manipulation. He is extremely good at twisting anything I say to him so that in the end I end up tongue tied and can't convince him of what I am seeing in our son.

Dr. L :

You can refuse to change the court order - correct?

Dr. L :

That is something he cannot talk you into - right?

Customer:

I have suggested seeking some kind of family councelling, but my ex said that he would not see the councellor with me. He wanted to see a councellor alone so that he could use it as a forum to make himself seem like the victim, but it is my son who is the victim here. If I truly believed that my son was not hurting I would push him more, but I see alot of fear in him.

Dr. L :

Another strategy would be to take the boys to a child psychologist for an evaluation. The therapist could help your older son talk about why he does not like visitation with his dad.

Dr. L :

Yes...the victim here is your son and he's the one who would benefit from therapy.

Dr. L :

Do you need your ex's permission to take your son to therapy?

Dr. L :

Family therapy is not going to be helpful...your ex is unlikely to be truthful as he has his own agenda here.

Customer:

Yes, i can refuse the order and have said that I would, but my ex always controls the situation by using veiled threats, like "Maybe I should get the order changed and have 50/50 custody". He knows that this threat works with me as I worry for the children if he ever did manage to change the order. Also, I do not believe he wants that much visitation, he just uses threats to control me.

Customer:

I have to have my ex's permission to bring my son to therapy as we have joint custody. He said he would only sign if he was there too. My son said he would not go if his dad was there.

Dr. L :

Yes...he is threatening you because it works. It might be beneficial to talk to your attorney to find out what real ability he has to get what he wants.

Dr. L :

Then...what if you go to therapy and you have your son join you?

Dr. L :

Would that be a way around this?

Dr. L :

He is probably afraid that a therapist will discover the truth .. and then that therapist could provide testimony in court.

Customer:

I never thought of that, I'll give it a try. We did see a psychiatrist about two months ago for my son's issue with possibly being diagnosed with ADD. She wrote in her report that she did not believe that my son should go for overnight visits.

Dr. L :

Yahoo. That helps!

Dr. L :

But yes...if you are the "identified" patient...then your ex can't get involved.

Customer:

Thank you, ***** ***** given me a direction to try. I appreciate it. It scares me to let this go for my son, I do not want to ignore his worries and fears.

Dr. L :

Absolutely...you cannot ignore the reality that your son does not feel emotionally and physically safe with his father. Since you cannot stop the visits, then you have to provide as much safety as you can for your son. Is he allowed to call you while on these visits?

Dr. L :

Can you call him?

Dr. L :

Perhaps you can skype? That might really be one of the best alternatives.

Customer:

I have been told by my ex not to call him as the visits are his and not mine. I do give my son a cell phone and he does call me quite often. This has helped him a bit, but he asks me often when he will be able to cancel the visits on his own.

Customer:

I do not know what to tell him about cancelling the visits on his own.

Dr. L :

That is something you can ask your attorney about. I would imagine that he can cancel them when he reaches what is considered "the age of reason". Here in the US that would be 18. But it could be 16 or even less depending on how the courts view this.

Customer:

I figured as much. It's going to be a long haul for my son.

Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
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Dr. L
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
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