“I don’t want to go to dad’s house!” Ever hear that from your child? I often hear mothers saying that their children don’t want to go to their dad’s house or spend an evening with dad. Most often, children feel that home is where their mother is. This is not always the case, of course, and in fact I have heard the complete opposite scenario. Regardless, there is usually one parent the children feel most comfortable with.
Generally, the children are closest to their mother. Maybe it’s because the first one they bond with and are nurtured by is their mother. Most mothers stayed home with them when they were little, and developed their social world. And many mothers are the more lenient parents and will more likely go out of their way to do things for their children or spoil them. Unfortunately, because of divorce, the children are faced with one home that may be more nurturing and lenient, and another that is more structured and/or strict. Fathers may have more rules or may not be as easy to talk to in certain circumstances. Maybe the children don’t feel as comfortable there because the father is remarried and they are not yet comfortable with his wife. This can be the case with all of your children, or perhaps just one of them. If this is the case, you don’t want to keep that one child home because in the long run, there will be resentment over one sibling having a better relationship with their father.
Whatever the reasons are, however, I have been asked by many mothers the age at which their child can choose who they want to live with. But is this the best idea? I know moms hate hearing their kids whine about going to their dad’s and being taken out of their comfort zones, or complaining about something dad did or does, but this is not a reason to stop sending your children or changing the custody plan in place. Unless there is neglect or abuse on the part of the father, children should always be encouraged to see and spend time with their father. A relationship between a child and his/her father is crucial for forming their identity, security, and wholeness. Whether they believe so or not, a father is just as important as a mother. If they were in an intact home, they would benefit from both, so a divorce should not change that. Mothers feel insecure and unsure because they are not there with the children to buffer or influence certain situations, but it is not the deciding factor whether the children are to go to dad’s or not. In my article, Blended families – visitor or family member, I give examples of how to make both houses their ‘homes’. When they are adults, they will see the benefits of having formed a relationship with their father. Sitting down with your children and explaining to them that you are making them go because you love them is important. They’ll see in the long run that they are made up of both parents and will be able to identify with each one and celebrate their common bond. So don’t worry moms, make them go!
For more info: Raising your kids with your ex