As a co-parenting coach, I see many parents going out of their way to make things as best as possible for their children. As a parent myself, I completely relate, but truth is, we cannot fix the situation for the children, we can only facilitate it.
When parents separate/divorce, in many cases there is much hurt and anger, and no matter how much you try to conceal it from your children, they will pick up on it. They, themselves, unconsciously, will try to fix this for you. Children don’t like to see their parents distressed, tormented or angry so they will, in their emotional immature ways, try to make feel the parent they are closest to, that they don’t want to be with the other parent. Children are the product of their environment and are very sensitive to their parent’s emotional state but because they have no, to little, emotional maturity, they cannot make sense of it and will respond to the stress of their environment in the best way they know how.
Then, some parents make a point to emphasise that the child will have fun with their other parent or do something really special but this attempt mostly stresses that visits to their other parent should be something special and …un-natural. Yes, that is correct, un-natural.
I like to remind parents I see that they must remember to be boring. Yes, you read that right again. Don’t be afraid to be boring.
When you are married and have children, life goes on. It is not a race to always make sure the children have a wonderful time. Yes, it is a parental responsibility to keep children entertained for there own development, but turning co-parenting visit into “a day at the amusement park” is compromising a much needed parent/child relationship where being together is enough. Where being together and helping out with some chores is part of growing up. Where being together to finish homework may not be fun but necessary. Where, you have to run to the shops with me because I didn’t have time before work is part of reality. And where being together and not wanting to be together needs to be acknowledged and respected.
So if your child is resisting going to their other parent, and that the possibility that the child is being abused by that parent has been dismissed, consider how your own emotional distress could be transmitted to your child and affecting him/her. Consider also that your separation is not turning their other parent into a glorified special time in their week as this will damage the normal relationship children must have with their parents. Children really do need and want to be allowed to love and be loved by both their parents. Children spell Love, T.I.M.E.
So if you are concerned about the effects that your separation may have on your children and are concerned about your child clinging to you or simply refusing to see their other parent, look within you first and instead of wanting to fix the situation, give yourself permission to heal yourself first and love your children by making sure that TIME with both their parents is of higher value rather than scoring visits or special occasions.