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They don't want to go with him: Now what?

What do you do when your children tell you point blank they don’t want to go to their other parent’s for their scheduled visitation and their reasons are valid? I’ve known for several days that Rachel (my oldest) didn’t want to go. Every time this visitation was brought up she complained that she didn’t want to go. At first, I thought it was just because she’s at a stage where she’d rather not go anywhere, and I figured that once she got there she’d have fun. Then Abby started saying she didn’t want to go either…

Again, my first thoughts were that they just wanted to stay home but would be grateful for the time with him once they got there. It’s usually how things work: they don’t want to go but then once there they don’t want to come home. Tonight they gave me their reasons for not wanting to go for a week.

First off they say it’s boring and there isn’t much to do there. While it’s understandable that they might not want to go, it’s not enough to say no. Their dad doesn’t really have a place of his own that that is livable so he’s staying with other people. I’m honestly not sure but I don’t think homeless and staying with friends is a reason not to send them. Under normal circumstances, I would think not because the other parent still has a right to spend time with their children; I know I would want to.

Another reason they gave is, apparently, the guy he’s staying with doesn’t have hot water (I’m not sure, first I’ve heard of it) so it’s either cold baths or no baths all week. My dad seems to think this is something I can and should report and a reason not to send them. Again, I honestly don’t know. I DON’T want to keep them from their dad, I really don’t, but I also want to do what’s best for them. Is not having hot water a reason to not send them? He doesn’t always just stay there; they sometimes stay with other people who do have hot water. I never know where he’s going to be staying.

Their most valid reason they gave me is also my biggest concern. It’s the reason I left; the reason I fought so hard for full custody and so desperately wanted him to have supervised visitations…tonight they told me he yells and screams at them a lot and scares them. Abby said she spilled something one night and he screamed at her to clean it up. She said it was dark and she couldn’t see very well and said something about feeling like he expected her to have hawk eyes. Both girls said that he yelled at them a lot and that it scares them. I believe them because he could be very terrifying when he yelled when we were still married. Like I said, it’s a reason why I left.

Knowing that more than anything makes me not want to send them. I want to protect them from that but I feel like I don’t have a choice. The divorce decree says I have to send them. If I don’t send them, I could find myself in contempt of court and lose custody all together. I, obviously, don’t want that to happen. I know I could take him back to court and have it changed, but I can’t afford that, I’m barely getting by as it is. I could have the girls talk to the magistrate again, but that costs, too, I imagine and I think the girls would be afraid to do that because they’re so afraid to make him angry. I told them tonight that I was sorry and that they had to go and then suggested that they tell him they don’t want to go but they both said they were afraid to tell him because he’d get angry at them. I told them he’d be more likely to be angry with me if they didn’t want to go but that I understood why they didn’t want to tell him. I’m afraid to tell him they don’t want to go, too…

So what do you do in a situation like this? We gave in and they went with their dad. It’s so hard for them, for all three of us. They love their dad and want to spend time with him but it’s tampered by their fear of him. I want them to be able to spend time with their dad, children need both parents, but I’m trying to protect them from his verbal/emotional abuse. Oh, I didn’t mention his penchant for guilt tripping them when he thinks they’d rather be with me. He’s really good at that.

So, again I ask, what do you do in a situation like this? What can I do besides give in to keep the peace? How do I protect them and yet let them see him? How do I protect them without violating the court order if I can’t afford to take it back to court to change it? It’s so frustrating! I left to protect them, to give them a better childhood than I had, to show them it’s ok to stand up for yourself and say the way you’re treating me is NOT OK. But the truth is sometimes I really don’t feel like I’m protecting them. Some days I still feel very trapped and unable to do anything to protect them.

Some days I can stand up to him just fine; it’s usually when he’s putting them in direct danger like having them share a seat belt but there are other days where I stand up to him when it’s simply a matter of me being tired of him taking advantage of me. Unfortunately, those days don’t happen often and I usually end up caving on the same issue later on. Have I mentioned that his anger scares me? It does. I really try very hard not to upset him. I end up giving in on many things just to appease him. He’s never outright punched me but he’s threatened to do it. He claims he only said he wanted to punch me. It wasn’t any less frightening either way. And our 4-year-old was standing right between us! He’s thrown things “to” me –I had to duck to avoid being hit. He’s grabbed me hard enough to bruise and knocked me down once but his usual tactic was to get in my face and yell while putting me down and calling me all kinds of names.

He didn’t just yell at me either. When we were still together and Abby was around 4 she spilled her drink at supper one night and he screamed at her for several minutes and said she wasn’t allowed to have anything else to drink for the rest of the night. I had to stand up to him that night and tell him to back off. I remember shaking really bad because I was so scared, but I wasn’t going to let him yell at her like that; better to have him yelling at me.

There was one morning, Rachel was in kindergarten (I think) and he’d walked her up to the bus. She’d forgotten something or had to use the restroom, I don’t remember for sure, I remember them coming back and her crying almost hysterically, and he was ticked. She was kind of hard to understand she was crying so hard. She said he’d hit her with the screen door. On purpose. Or at least it seemed on purpose to her. I was livid. We argued. I threatened to call children services on him. I wasn’t under any circumstances going to tolerate him hurting her. He yelled at me, denied it, and called me some names. Said she was being a drama queen, that I was overreacting and just trying to make him look bad. I didn’t see what happened, I had no proof. I didn’t make the call…

There are other instances but those are those ones that stand out at the moment. Moments that, according to him, are isolated individual instances that shouldn’t be compiled together. I’m overprotective and overreact and just want to make him look bad; it’s not abuse, it’s all in my head. He’s not violent, so what if he yells when he’s angry? He’s allowed to be angry; it’s not like he hits me…all his opinions, not mine.

So, what do you do? What do I do? It’s a hell of a lot harder to prove words than bruises. There’s no physical evidence, usually no witnesses. It’s my word against his. And if the girls say it? Well, that’s just because I’ve managed to poison them against him. He doesn’t yell at them too much. If he yells, it’s only to discipline them and how dare I or anyone else try to tell him how to discipline HIS children.

So, what do you do when your children say they don’t want to go because daddy yells and it scares them, and you’re all afraid to tell him because you’re afraid to make him mad? I don’t know about you, but I told them I was sorry and that they had to go anyway. I told them they’d be ok and that they’d have fun. I also told them that I’d try to save the money to go back to court to try to have it changed if they wanted me to do that. I told them it was their choice but for now they had to go…

I honestly don’t know if I made the right call. I don’t know if I shouldn’t have told them I was afraid, too. I try very hard to be honest with them but I also try very hard to keep as much of the negative stuff about their dad from them. I want them to be able to make their own choices, but I also want them to understand why I left in the first place. I want them to know that abuse of any kind is wrong and that NO ONE has the right to treat them that way…it’s a very fine line and I’m always second guessing myself and never really know what to do.

Like I said, sometimes I still feel trapped and it sucks. I wanted out of the abuse…I try to see myself as a survivor because I left but the truth is some days, I’m still a victim. Will I ever be free of him? I’m counting down until the girls are over 18. I hate that.

I’ve asked several times what do you do? I’d like to know. If you’re reading this and you’ve been through it, what did you do? If you’re going through it right now, what do you do? Does it work? If you’re a profession, is there anything else I could or should do? Let me know in the comments.

Ok, sorry for this dose of negative that is my life…Have a great day and Merry Christmas!


You have to report it every time there is something that could be significant. And if he is truly homeless, or there's no hot water that is a provable and bad thing in my book. Him yelling at them is not so provable but you could still report and say send a CPS person to talk to my daughters because they are scared or extra upset about what just happened. Let the complaints stack up, it doesn't matter. They SHOULD eventually weigh them and decide for only supervised visitation at least.

You have to be their biggest advocate. Who else do they have, if not mom? You need to put away anything that keeps you from confronting these things. Confronting him is a waste of breath and time though. Call CPS, even your states divorce people if he is not paying child abuse on time on top of it then there may be ways they would step in too.
Shawnakat said…
Thank you for replying. I wasn't sure about the water thing, but I will call cps tomorrow and report it and let them know what they said about him yelling at them. If I remember correctly our state feels that lack of child support payments isn't a reason to stop visitations. It views them as two completely separate things. Again, thank you. I appreciate the input.

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