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My friend has been separated from her husband for a year. It has been difficult and messy with the dad only recently gaining access to the two children. The oldest child who is 7 is having a particularly difficult time to the point where on the weekend where he goes to his dads he doesn’t get told until an hour before otherwise he spends the whole week upset and struggling at school. After wards he spends a week getting back to normal again. This last time apparently he was screaming and crying saying he didn’t want to go and was particularly distressed. I have suggested that he shouldn’t be made to go and she agrees but the dad would find this difficult. She cannot talk to her son she says he just finds it difficult to talk about how he is feeling so nothing is mentioned. Does anyone have any suggestions of getting this little boy to open up? And what about the child’s rights to not go and the dads rights to see his child? Anybody in this situation?

SAHM and loving it to DD Feb 09

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth

Not in this situation myself but my friend has been in this situation for the past 7 years. Sadly, legally, the child at 7 won’t have a choice. If the dad wants to see him the child has to go even if he’s dragged. If they can keep the law out of it it would be much better for everyone concerned but obviously I don’t know the situation between your friend and her ex. My friend’s son only ever witnessed his dad be violent to his mum so naturally he never wanted to go and see him. It went to and from court for 7 years and the boy was 9 before he managed to stop seeing his dad but during those 7 years he was court ordered to go and see him, firstly through a contact centre and sometimes on his own. It made no difference how distraught he was to anyone (except his mum who was equally distraught at seeing her son suffer). His mum always pushed for contact to be through letter/phonecalls until her son was able to trust him again but the dad totally blew up (more anger) and said he wouldn’t do it and he wanted to see him face to face. (Lots of history here I won’t go into but this man was most certainly NOT looking out for the best interests of his son).  Eventually the court finally saw what it had been doing to my friends son (it took SEVEN years for them to see it when everyone else could see the negative impact right from day one). and ruled that he contact him only by letter or phonecall. The dad said he couldn’t be bothered with that (yes he said that in court) - and that was that! End of contact!!

Now, in many boroughs the little boy could get therapy help whether it be art/talk/drama therapy to help deal with his feelings. My daughter was going through a particularly anxious time and when we finally managed to speak to the school nurse she said children of school age have loads of therapy things they can access but most parents don’t know about it. It’s not always the easiest thing though, getting through to school nurses. They are so over stretched they tend to put self referrals to the bottom of the pile so your friend would have to keep pushing to get him help. But if she manages to get the school to refer him also to the school nurse he will have more chance.

Your friend’s son has exactly the same reaction to seeing his dad as my friend’s son had so I really feel for him/your friend as it really is a traumatic time. Sadly, my friend’s son school was particularly rubbish at helping even though they had reports etc to show at negatively it was impacting him. They still refused to make any formal complaint over it. If your friends school is a good one they will help to get him help.

Not sure if I can help any more but you can PM me if you want to and I’ll see what I can find out/know. x x x x

Thank you Skye blue that is extremely helpful. The school are aware how traumatic it is for him so that might be a good start.  How sad that the children are forced into this, I feel so sorry for this little boy. Unfortunately communication between the parents is so damaged that when she tries to suggest ways to make things easier for the kids the dad thinks she is being manipulative and just refuses. Anyway I will relay what you have suggested. Thank you for the offer of pm if needed. X

SAHM and loving it to DD Feb 09

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth

A child *does* have a right to be listened to have have their views taken into consideration in decisions that affect them, so if there is no forum for him to be heard then this is definitely something the mum could follow up. That doesn’t always mean the decision goes the child’s way though. Children have those rights enshrined in the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, which the UK is partially signed up to.

Unfortunately, while I am not suggesting that your friend is one of them, there are a number of residential parents who try to negatively affect their childrens’ view of the non-residential parent, which is why the child may not always/often get the casting vote.

Angie

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Angiegw - 12 August 2014 07:43 PM

A child *does* have a right to be listened to have have their views taken into consideration in decisions that affect them, so if there is no forum for him to be heard then this is definitely something the mum could follow up. That doesn’t always mean the decision goes the child’s way though. Children have those rights enshrined in the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, which the UK is partially signed up to.

Unfortunately, while I am not suggesting that your friend is one of them, there are a number of residential parents who try to negatively affect their childrens’ view of the non-residential parent, which is why the child may not always/often get the casting vote.

Angie

Sadly, in reality the rights of the child don’t stand up in a lot of family courts. My friend met many other families in similar positions to hers where the children were actually at risk from the absent parent and the child was terrified of them but were still forced to have access. 

My friend mentioned the rights of her son to be listened to and the judge actually told her that they won’t even talk to him until he was at least 12yrs old. However, the reason they DID finally listen to him was because of the boy’s own actions at the contact centre but this took 7yrs for them to listen to him even though he’d been scared of going since he was 2. It’s so so sad and has affected him so badly.

I would suggest some form of therapy, whether it be counselling/art therapy etc, somewhere were he can express his feelings in a “safe” place without the fear of feeling that he is betraying one parent.

This is so hard for a child, and I would echo what Angiegw said about parents sometimes trying to put pressure on children NOT to see the other parent.  I went through this as a child, and people assumed my upset was due to not wanting to see my dad (and they went as far as to tell me this must be the reason I was upset) but it was more that I didn’t want my Mum to feel I wasn’t loyal to her.  I wanted to see my dad and still loved him despite things that happened between them.  I enjoyed the time with him at weekends, but always had a sense of anxiety that my Mum would be on her own and sad while we were there.

I think it is really important for a child to be able to speak in confidence to someone about their feelings, I know I never told social workers the truth because my Mum was in the next room listening and the report was going to be sent and read out in the family court.

Muslim mum of four, home educating, environmental hypocrite (but doing my best) hodge podging through this life…..

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