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should visitation be forced when an 11 year old child does not want it

my husband has always had a strained relationship with his daughter, due to many factors. She is 11 now and has made it clear that she doesn't want to visit on a regular basis. When she comes to our house she finds one way or another to make our lives a living hell. My husband and I both feel that she should not be forced to come here. We started her in counseling and we want to give her time to sort it out for herself. Her mother wants to force her to come. We are after all free babysitting every other weekend. I'm at my wits end...what do we do?

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Asked by graciesmom164 at 3:44 AM on Feb. 18, 2009 in Tweens (9-12)

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Answers (26)
  • I had a similar situation when I was 13. I responded only when my stepmother backed off and my dad stepped up. All I really wanted was to feel special to my dad. Now, at 29, I have a wonderful relationship with both. I think that NOT letting her get her way and being persistant about loving her is what she needs. By telling her that you want to give her time may make her feel like she's not wanted anywhere...especially if the mother is a partier like you implied.

    Answer by KaceesMom at 3:52 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • "Due to many factors...."


    How much does this girl know about the divorce - sounds like she heard some pretty intimate details if she is not close to her father anymore?

    I completely agree with KaceesMom - the girl needs consistent, quality time with her father. He is the adult, he needs to let her know that this schedule is set up so that he can get the regular family time with her that he needs.

    And here's a hint, as a step-kid myself - don't EVER refer to yourself as a "free babysitter". EVER. A father does not babysit his OWN child and his house is HER home too. Geesh.

    As for the mom - you'd better grow and deal with her. You made a choice to have a relationship with this man and if he made a baby with a crazy woman, then she's YOUR crazy woman now too. I would hope that whatever venting you may do about this woman's questionable behavior is done WELL AWAY from her daughter's ears.

    That poor kid!

    Answer by Wimsey at 5:03 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • I'm thinking the free babysitting reference was probably in terms of that's what the mom considers them to be. However, I agree with the others, that she needs consistency and needs to continue coming to see her father. She's old enough to know her own mind, yes, but not yet old enough to fully appreciate the consequences of this action or to realize that her feelings are more than likely only temporary. If she were 16 or 17, I might feel that she shouldn't be forced anymore, b/c that would be very close to being an adult, and as an adult, she may choose not to have a relationship with him, and force would only make that more likely. I also agree that it sounds like mom has told this girl too much about what happened between her and dad. Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done to fix that, unless dad feels it's appropriate to defend himself and tell his side of the story. But, that could make things worse, too.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 6:39 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • Having dealt with this myself, my ex and I had an understanding that we would never force our daughter to go to his house if she did not want to. If you feel it is just putting more stress on the relationship between her and her father then I would look into the laws in your state. Some states have laws where a child can decide at a certain age whether or not they want to visit on a regular basis.... With us doing it this way it has made things better between my daughter and her father and she hasn't ever been made to feel like she is obligated to spend time with him. Also she knows about our divorce and why we divorced and that hasn't been a factor in her decisions.

    As for the babysitting remark, I am pretty sure the OP meant that it was how the girl's mother looked at the two of them. Kind of like well your going to your dad's because I need a night off type of thing.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:22 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • I think that if she no longer wants to come and visit she should not be forced to. I know that in MA, the state I live in, a child can go to court, at age 12 and tell the judge that they no longer want to visit either parent. Hope that makes sense,

    I think that if you force her now then she may never have a good relationship with you. Instead of fully appreciating her father she may start resenting him and her mother.

    I know that my sons best friend was 9 when he stopped going to see his father. He has such bad anxiety about going to see him the court ruled he did not have to anymore.

    Sorry, I do not think she should be forced to go. I do think that the counseling is a good idea. It might give you an understanding why she does not want to come over and her an understanding as well.

    Good Luck

    Answer by cornflakegirl3 at 8:00 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • I'm willing to give a liiiiiiiiiitle on the "babysitting" remark. 5:00 AM answer!

    But really - this is between the father and his daughter and TRUST ME she is at an age where she needs her father, unless he is a jerk.

    I'm still back on the "due to many factor" - kinda creepy.

    Answer by Wimsey at 9:15 AM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • I think she should be forced to go, If things are really bad at your house then that would be different. We don't let kids make rules for themselves for a reason..they lack maturity and a complete understanding of what thier actions might be.

    Dad HAS to step up to the plate, this is his dd he should be fighting to make thier relationship work. If that means you have to step back for a while, then that is what you need to do. His relationship with his dd should come before everyone and everything, that doesn't mean you or anyone else should sit on the curb it just means that she should be the priority. This is so cliche I know but she didn't choose who her parents or step parents were going to be, she is along for the ride and it is all parties responsibilty to make sure that her ride is a good one.

    Answer by luckysevenwow at 2:25 PM on Feb. 18, 2009

  • Dear Wimsey,
    First...I nam extremely offended by your "WTF?" which opens your statement. I shared very few details , so as not to come across as the evil step monster. So therefore you know VERY little about what you are talking about. I joined this group for support, not to have someone jump into my ass with both feet. Factor #1...there is NO divorce here. There was not even a relationship between my husband and this woman. There was some very poor judgement on my husband's part, alot of alcohol involved and some very stalker-like behavior on the part of "this poor kid's" mother. Her father and I have a very positive atttitude. Her mother has a tendancy to run her mouth. my husband has repeatedly told his daughter that he wants her in his life. But he has also told her that there are rules at our home and she is expected to follow them. She is an only child and pretty much runs the show at her mother's.

    Answer by graciesmom164 at 5:28 AM on Feb. 19, 2009

  • (continuing on) Recently my stepdaughter told a teacher at school that her father physically abused her. We had the police and social services at the door within 12 hours. The child was spanked for blatently disobeying and disrespecting her father. (by the way...he has spanked her twice in her 11 years...she is NOT abused) I was there, saw the whole thing. It was nothing even CLOSE to abuse. My husband explained to his daughter that these people had the right to forbid him from ever seeing her...was this something she wanted? To never be able to see him again? At this pont the child said YES! This is when we began to call into question whether or not we should force her to come to our house as this is very unknown territory for us. We have witnessed this child lying and acting out to avoid being here. We have a blended family. We have other children to think of as well.

    Answer by graciesmom164 at 5:41 AM on Feb. 19, 2009

  • (continuing) We do not want this child to accuse any other member of our family of harming her in any way, as she did with her father. I do not refer to myself as free babysitting. This is how I have come to feel that I am viewed.

    She has always been reluctant to come to her father's hiose because he makes her mind. It has become even more devastating in the past year since her father got married. I could tell you dozens of stories, but my aim is not to bitch about my stepdaughter. I wanted input as to whether or not my husband and I are doing the right thing.

    I chose to search online for a group of women who may have been through something similar to what I find myself in. This is where I chose to vent. But thanks for your helpful hints AND for such a gracious welcome.

    I have a hint of my own for you. Get all the information before you go off on a total stranger. You make yoiurself look like an idiot

    Answer by graciesmom164 at 5:57 AM on Feb. 19, 2009

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