So Your Kids Do Not Want to See You
Disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only and are not to be considered a substitute for professional legal advice or a consultation with a lawyer.
1. Family Law Tip of the Week
When choosing your attorney, remember to look for someone who is going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. You want an attorney who is going to tell you the truth!
2. So Your Kids Do Not Want to See You
Penny Rivera, MA, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Arizona who specializes in working with children. In today’s episode of The Family Law Insider, Penny talks to us about when children of divorced/separated couples don’t want to see one parent or the other parent.
This Happens A Lot
“It can vary in age from little ones up to 16 year olds.”
The funny thing is the reasons why a child doesn’t want to see the parent can be very different. Younger ones usually have an issue with leaving their primary parent. It’s hard for them to spend time with the parent that hasn’t played the bigger role with them.
“It’s inconvenient to the parents, but at this point… It’s about the child.”
Penny thinks 5 days away from their parents is way too long for younger chid(ren). Parents should keep the child at the forefront and they should cooperate, tending to make the time less between the visits. A long time away from a parent increases anxiety for the child.
How To Talk To the Younger Ones
“Keep it to a minimum and be calm.”
Don’t give too much detail; they are not going to be able to understand all the issues and things involved. Being a calm and assuring parent will decrease anxiety of your kids.
Penny recommends both parents to cooperate with one another and give kids the chance to communicate with the other parent. Penny says video calls or using the parent’s cologne or perfume (on a stuffed doll) to comfort kids are good strategies.
Kids May Not Be Resilient
“There are always different factors involved.”
Penny says there are negative effects of long separations on children, like increased anxiety. It all depends on how the parents are communicating with one another. Divorced parents may get along great, but their child(ren) may have anxiety because of the days between seeing the other parent was too long.
Presenting To The Court
“It depends on the parents’ divorce.”
Penny recommends parents who are divorced work with a parenting coordinator or a therapeutic interventionist. If it’s a “good” divorce, both parents are usually very pliable, and they’ll work together with a counselor so they don’t have to go to court to resolve problems of children’s anxiety and depression.
A parenting coordinator might talk to the counselor involved and become an advocate for the child. Things could be difficult to present to the court if there’s no amicable agreement between the divorcing parents, because then it becomes an issue between them.
Older Children (Ages 12 And Up)
“It’s interesting ‘cause again, it could be all kinds of issues.”
Penny recommends intervention and some type of reunification therapy for children of this age to figure out why this child is having such an issue going with that other parent. Penny usually wants both parent and child to do counseling together to reunify and break down the barriers that are there.
In Arizona, both parents have to sign off on the child’s counseling unless one parent has been given the permission (by the court) to make that decision.
Seeking Professional Help
“Okay, let’s grow up. Parents should be the parents.”
Penny suggests for a therapist to be involved if it’s a severe case where the child is throwing a fit or being adamant about the refusal to be with the other parent. Otherwise, the parent should not give up and sit down with the child and talk about the child’s issues.
“It just depends on how much damage has been done in the process.”
If children has a lot of emotional damage or some alienation, they may need some help breaking down the false beliefs that have been set up. A therapist has to be very careful with approaching the child because if there’s an alliance built up between the child and one parent, it takes time to help break that down.
Penny’s system of therapy depends on what the child is exhibiting. Penny may have to be alone with the child to get to know him/or her better or she could ask the child to come together with a parent. But Penny would want them together (at a point), because the issue is usually the child not being able to communicate with one parent.
Importance Of Reunification
“I know how they feel about them.”
Penny emphasizes on the importance of both parents working on reunification of the child. In some cases, a parent may want the child to have a good relationship with the other parent, but Penny sometimes finds out that is not the case. Some parents may not do it overtly, but they could be subtly unsupportive of the other parent’s relationship with the child… And children are smart enough to pick up on that!
How Important Is Your Child To You?
“You want me to come to you, but you will you come to me?”
Penny encourages parents to pursue their child and not wait for their child to pursue them. Parents have to let their child know how important they are to their parents. If the child will not come to them, pursue them because it sends a message that you love them and value them.
One Last Note
Always still pick up the phone. Send them text messages at least once a week. Don’t have any expectation of any response, but pursue them and let them know that you love them and you’re there for them. At some point, they will respond to that.
You can find more about Penny by calling the numbers (480) 730-6222, or check her at Professional Counseling Associates.
3. Thoughts From the Life Coach
In this week’s thoughts, James talks about New Year’s Resolutions.