I was that child that didn't want to go to Daddy's. Nobody was cruel. I wasn't beaten, or denied food and shelter — I just didn't want to go. We didn't really do anything at my Dad's. We "hung out". Which is fine when you have your friends and your toys, your books, etc. But when you've got nothing but your sleeping bag (see earlier blog), it's kind of dull.
But there was more to it than just boredom. I felt secure with my Mom, and I wanted to stay with her and the things I knew rather than go to my Dad's where there were new and unknown things. There was a new stepmother, and her whole family, and while they were all very nice (I even called my stepmother's mother Grandma Ellen) — it was all so different. And I didn't know my place. As a 5 year-old, I wasn't much of an adventurer, I guess.
And so, for these reasons, and some others I've left out — I didn't want to go to my Dad's. And maybe your child doesn't either. What do you do?
I decided to ask my Mom what she did. She told me that when we were young, she just made us (though she did admit to a time or two when I made such a fuss that she threw in the towel and called up and told my Dad that we were sick). She said that she spoke to me about why I didn't want to go and tried to talk to my Dad and Stepmom, etc. but that what she realized was that I was right. That my Dad and Stepmom were different from her, and that the life we lived with them was different from the life that we lived with her.
While we may not have liked it, and while she may not have liked it — different wasn't necessarily bad, and she couldn't prevent our father from seeing us. And it was probably for the best. I suppose it taught me about making the best of things, and about discovering that something you fear (like a new stepfamily) can turn into something you enjoy.
As I got older, there were other, newer reasons I didn't want to go. And this had more to do with better offers. I was 10, 12, 14 — I wanted to be with my best friend at the mall (I just wanted to be at the mall), or at the movies, etc. One weekend away, and well, there's no telling how much a person can miss. At this point my Mom made me tell my Dad that I didn't want to go. I hated this. And it wasn't just for weekends but for holidays, too. At 13, I felt I was old enough to decide. And so my Mom said fine, but I had to tell him. Again, she was right. It sucked, but she still did the right thing.
I'm sure that there were times when my Mom wished that she could just keep me to herself. I'm sure that there were times when she hated sending me off, knowing I didn't want to go. I'm glad she didn't take the easy way out for either of us.
Click the following to return a directory of articles and resource videos on Kids, Family and Divorce.