Our Blog Aims to Inform the Community Contact the Columbia Family Law Group with Any Questions You Might Have

So You're Getting Divorced and Your Kids Won't Talk to You

It's fairly common for parents who are divorcing to have a child who resists contact with them and doesn't want visitation. It is particularly common in situations where the child observed a lot of marital conflict prior to the separation, where a parent had an affair, emptied the house of possessions or the joint bank account, where a child learns the divorce had been planned for several months in advance or when one of the parents has a new relationship too early after separation.

If you are that parent what are some dos and don't with respect to how you handle the relationship with your child who doesn't want to see you? According to Matthew Sullivan, Ph.D. here are some tips that might help you.

  1. Don't write a long letter or email from your perspective. Something in that letter will seem wrong to the child or your will leave out the parts that your child considers most important.
  2. Use the "And Stance"—You can be upset, and I can be upset too. You can feel you are right, and I can be right about some things too. I contributed to the problem, and you contributed too. We need to talk about both.
  3. Take responsibility for your contribution to the problem. For example, looking back I can see that starting a new relationship this early was a mistake.
  4. Say what you are doing to ensure past problems will not be repeated. For example, " I keep in mind what you have said about my personality and behavior, and pay close attention to when I act that way, or do not act that way. I have a couple of close friends I told about your concerns and asked them to say something to me if I am acting anything like that. I trust they are being honest with me and not just trying to make me feel better."
  5. Apologize for what you can apologize for. Keep it short.
  6. Talk about what you want in the future. I would like to spend time with you enjoying activities together, having fun without worrying about our past problems.
  7. Validate your child's emotions. I know that you have strong feelings about how difficult our relationship has become. So do I. I hope my apology is a first step in moving forward and trying to work through and feel comfortable with one another again.

Hope this helps you today. Columbiafamilylawgroup.com.