Should parents be allowed visitation if the child doesn't want to see them?

United States
October 7, 2008 6:46pm CST
Custody disputes are ugly. When I was little, about 4-5, my parents were going through a divorce and custody battle. I remember that whichever parent I was with is the parent I "wanted to live with", I was scared to hurt anyone's feelings and I didn't understand how important my wishes were. What do you do then, when a child doesn't want to see the non-custodial parent? There are theories that children can suffer a kind of brainwashing in the aftermath of a custody settlement; where the custodial parent convinces the child that he or she does not want to see the non-custodial parent. According to this theory, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), negative thoughts and feelings become so ingrained in the child that he or she does not even recognize they are not their own. They believe that they hate the absent parent, and they can forcefully reject any attempts to see him or her. Should courts mandate kids to see the parent, whether the child wants to or not? What kind of treatment is appropriate?
2 people like this
8 responses
@coolseeds (3921)
• United States
8 Oct 08
I think a child should have to see its other parent regardless of feelings. It is easy for a parent to say bad things about an ex that will alter a child's feelings. Only the caretaker and the child knows what is said between them. No one but them. Therefore a child should have to see its parents regardless of what they want. This world is full of things we do not want and we have to do things every day that we do not want to do. But we have to do them.
• United States
9 Oct 08
I agree with you to a degree. You do have to be careful, if a child is claiming some kind of abuse. A good compromise could be court supervised visitation, which is really uncomfortable but completely safe. Thanks for the reply!
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
8 Oct 08
If the child is young, the child should visit the non-custodial parent. Sometimes the custodial parents tells the child that the father is a lousy bas*rd or other things and the child thinks that the parent will harm him. When the child is older and there is proof that the parent is dangerous or may run off with him to South America, then there should be supervised visits. But it should be only if there is proof. A parent should not deprive a child to visit his father or mother based on that the custodial parent hates the non=custodial parent. So the court should mandate the kids to see the parent, but it should be in a place like a cafe or a park where the kid does not feel threatened. And then they can take it from there. But if the parent is a vicious serial killer, pedophile, etc. or someone like that, it should be in a place where he will be supervised. Never alone.
• United States
8 Oct 08
coolseeds, I am with you. When we give in to children's wants, we create a world for them that doesn't exist. Besides, as a believer in the Bible, I believe we are to honour our parents REGARDLESS. That's Mom, that's Dad. You are to love, respect, and obey them. The only exception to that rule is like is never under any circumstances should a child be forced to see a mom or a dad who is a proven pedophile. That dad (or mom), as far as I am concerned, as Dr. Laura Schlessinger would say, torn up their parent card.
• United States
9 Oct 08
Suspenseful, I think I agree with your assessment most closely. The risk of a parent influencing the child to have negative thoughts about the non-custodial parent is too great; you risk hurting both the child and parent by not allowing visitation. Thanks for the reply!
• United States
8 Oct 08
I think the child should have visits with the non-custodial parent until they are 18. After that they can make their own choice. I lived with my mom and had visits with my dad on the weekends until I was 18. Then I saw my father when I wanted to and we continued to build our relationship. It is so much easier when you are out of the house to have a relationship with both parents. Many parents turn the kids against each other and use them as pawns. My childrens father doesnt see them. That is his choice. He can have them whenever he wishes, but he is very busy pitying himself right now. However, I have saved pictures of him and the children for the children when they grow up and have packed away our wedding pictures for them. I dont talk bad about him in front of the children because I dont want the children to feel bad about THEMSELVES. I think some parents forget that by bashing a childs parent they can give the child low self esteem as well as wondering if they were truly wanted.
• United States
9 Oct 08
Wow, it sounds like your family (both your parents, and now you and your kids parents) have a really healthy system! I agree with you, its important that both kids and parents have access to each other, if not then everyone has regrets. Thanks for the response!
@belk89 (1103)
• Philippines
8 Oct 08
I think the child should be given the right to make decision which parent he/she wants to live with. Sometimes there are kids who were sexually abuse by there own father and because of lack of evidence the father continues to have a custody of the kids which endanger the kids life. I think the child should be given the right to make a decision on cases where abuse is involved. I feel sorry though for every kids that has to go through the custody dispute. Usually it is the kid who is badly affected on the situation.
• United States
9 Oct 08
Absolutely the kids take the brunt of it! I think a good compromise in the case you described above could be court supervised visits, with a psychologist present. It's very very hard to determine what goes on in someone's home, the best you can do is keep the kids out of danger while allowing a parent the opportunity to show that they are fit. And certainly with older kids, they can make the decision for themselves! Thanks for the reply!
@irishidid (8521)
• United States
8 Oct 08
When I divorced my ex suddenly decided he was father of the year. During the marriage he didn't have much to do with the kids. He did tell them to "get the f--- away from the tv" a few times. He was drunk a lot from the time my son was born. There was really no custody battle, but I did fight him getting visitation. He couldn't keep away from the booze, even when the kids were with him. My daughter is autistic and my son was only four at the time. Neither one of them could have called me if there was trouble. Of course I was the vengeful ex-wife in the court's eyes. So he got a free pass, thankfully he couldn't keep them overnight. Once that was decided, he's rarely been around. PAS is such nonsense. Kids are not stupid. My kids could see what was going on. Dad says things and doesn't mean them. Dad makes promises he never keeps. Dad says he loves us, so why hasn't he paid child support. Now at 17 my son wants little to do with him. I don't blame my son.
• United States
9 Oct 08
I don't know that PAS is nonsense, kids are really affected by what their parents say and do, and often want to please them. I would though agree that your kids had enough to see and hear for themselves that they were not PAS victims. I'm glad that you're kids are at the age now where they can make the choice for themselves, and they are probably glad that they have some adult interactions to make this choice with. And I'm glad that the courts were able to find a compromise that kept your kids out of danger! Thanks for the response!
• United States
8 Oct 08
i was the same age when my parents got divorsed. of course when your that age you want to be with both parents. however, when i got older i lived with my mom full time and visited my dad occasionally, i didnt like it very much. It wasnt fun going over there, mostly because he worked all the time and never had time for us (me and my little bro). but if kids arnt forced to see their parents they will grow up never knowing them and have regrets. i know i always hated visiting my dad (since it was 4 hr drive away) but now that im older im glad it happend, we have a lot of memories and i got to know him better.
• United States
9 Oct 08
I'm honored you made this your first post, welcome to MyLot! And I'm glad you stuck with it, visiting your father. I bet it meant a lot to him!! And I feel the same way, good or bad, at least I knew my mother until I was old enough to make the informed decision to stay away. Thanks for the reply!
@bamakelly (5194)
• United States
8 Oct 08
A picture of a family - A picture of a family.
You are right. Custody disputes can be ugly. I have not been involved in one myself but from what I have seen in the show business industry between couples and children it really seems horrible. And of course it is as hard on people who are not celebrities. Especially with the fighting over money and the hardest part of the children being in the middle of it all. I have never heard of PAS. That is interesting indeed. This is a hard question to answer. In a case like parental visitation and the child's rights there are probably quite a few differences in opinion. I never believe in pitting one parent against the other and promoting hatred by a child. The child should never be lied to or brainwashed. I think that would create the child to have more animosity in later years. Maybe letting the child make a decision is what is best. Where is he most comfortable? His happiness is what is very important at this time of hardship. And I would have to say that mandating a child to have to see a parent could also be a decision of the child's best interest. I am thinking that as long as there is no abuse involved then each parent should have equal time for their child.
• United States
9 Oct 08
I agree. There are definitely ages where the kids can make the decision, but when they are too young I fear they might just be parroting what they are hearing at home. But, if there is no abuse, I agree that parents should be allowed visitation rights. Thanks for the reply!
@lynnemg (4539)
• United States
8 Oct 08
I think that if a child is old enough to make his or her own decision, and is able to make it with out being coersed, than the child should be able to decide whether or not to visit the non-custodial parent. With that said, is the child is still very young, the child should visit the non-custodial parent unless there is a valid cause to believe that the child could be in danger. I honestly feel that any parent who truly loves their child would not attempt to coerse the child to hate the other parent. Children need to know that both parents love them regardless of how the parents feel about each other. If one parent chooses not to be in the chld's life, it is that parent's loss, but the child should not have to hear negative things about that parent. I believe that it is important for a child to know that his or her parents loved each other at one time, and the child is a product of that love.
• United States
9 Oct 08
The PAS I was reading about is apparently possible even when the parent isn't trying to coerce the child, I'm not sure if I made that explicit at all in my original post. So parents may unintentionally influence their children! I agree with you, I think the safety of the child is the major issue. When I was little the courts mandated visitation with my mother, and despite our protests and our fathers protests, it took a dangerous encounter to reduce visitation to court-supervised visitation. So I think that might be an appropriate solution, if there are concerns about the children's safety supervised visitation might be an appropriate way to determine if the kids are at risk. Thanks for the response!