12 Year Old Son Hates Visiting His Father

Updated on November 11, 2009
L.A. asks from Barberton, OH
17 answers

I am in serious need of advice. My 12 year old son hates going to his fathers house. His father has 4 other children ranging from 16 to 4. His father will leave all the kids alone putting the 16 year old in charge while he goes to work. He works from 3:30pm - 11:30pm. His father recently had a new girlfriend move in and now she sits with the kids. Now I have met the girlfriend and think she is a really nice girl (there have been a few girlfriends and a wife over the years) and I trust her with my son. My only problem is that my son is going to visit his father not babysit the 3 younger kids or to sit with the girlfriend. I have recently been fighting with my sons father about forcing my son to go over there. I have been letting my son decide whether he wants to go to his dads. I never tell him NO. Maybe I should be? I believe strongly that every child should have a good relationship with both parents. So when do you draw the line? He does pay child support when he works. He is also responsible for 60% of all medical bills but has not paid any of those for 4 years. My husband supports my son mainly as I don't work a job. I do pick up odd jobs to help with the load. I know being a good parent doesn't mean you pay lots of money but really how far does $40.39 go every week? I don't want to sound like I care about money only because I don't. I just think if he wants to be a parent it should be 24/7 365 and not just every other weekend and 4 weeks during the summer. He doesn't help out with school clothes or supplies and fees. He never helps pay for glasses or any other extra curricular activities. He has been in Scouting since the 1st grade and has been playing soccer for 6 years now. When he is with his father he is not allowed to attend those functions. His father tells him he takes priority over any and everything else. And for those of you who have kids in sports and other things you know how important these things become to our children. So what am I to do? I am looking for honest feedback. Yes even if I am told I am a horrible person for not forcing my son to go visit his father. I need to know what I should do. Thank you all in advance for the wonderful advice I know I will receive.

Just a little more info to add since I have received a few responses already. I was never married to my sons father and he never filed for visitation - we have always been able to agree on visitation. I have sole custody of our son. He is the non - custodial parent.

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So What Happened?

So it has been a few weeks since I posted my question and I would like to thank everyone who gave me some very useful advice. I would like to respond to the one private message I received. I thought about doing it privately but I have nothing I wouldn't share with everyone since I did ask publicly for advice.

I do support my son. I along with my husband have decided that sending our children to a day care or private baby sitter was not in the best interest of our children. My husband works and is trying to start his own business and I help with that. We together support my son. I never once in my request asked that my sons father support him 100% while I choose not to work therefore making it unfair to his father. Just to satisfy your curiosity his father is ordered to pay 2234.46 a year in child support. This excludes the court order that he pay 55% of ALL medical bills. In the year 2007 his father paid (no bills included because he paid 0) 982.12 in child support. In the year 2008 he paid 1263.85 in child support. I in no way expect his father to pay or support him any more that my husband and I do but could you support your child with these amounts?

As to the rest of you wonderful ladies that gave me wonderful advice - thank you. However I tried doing what many of you suggested and tried sitting down and talking to his father. I think I may have actually learned a few new words from him. But that's the extent of anything useful I got from him. He told me if I wanted the bills paid then take him to court. I get the childcare tax credit every year so use that. Never mind the fact that my husband works for us to get that tax credit not his father. He also stated that when our son is at his house it is in very basic terms -- none of my business if he's there or not and if he isn't who he leaves the kids with. If I want to pay his bills I can tell him how to spend his time with his child. So as this naturally upset me we got into a heated argument that ended with him telling me to kiss his chalk white butt checks and **** off. He doesn't need to put up with this kind of treatment from someone like me. He also said that he no longer wants to claim our son as his because he doesn't need to pay support. He just does it because he knows I need the help. Then he told my husband -- congratulations on your 12 year old son. Tell our son it was nice being his father for 12 years but he's not anymore. I didn't have anything else to say to that. Are there words for that? Can you imagine the hurt that would inflict on my son? Of course I haven't mentioned it to him. So I am pretty much in a worse place than I was. He has even had his father call here and explain to me what a lousy human being I am. I'm willing to bet he didn't tell his father about the things he said and has done. I didn't explain to his father what had really been said or done. I have only met him once when my son was 8 months old. I didn't feel the need to justify myself to him. So now I am just letting it be. It has been almost 2 weeks since we've heard anything from my sons father so I'll let it lie for now. My son has no interest in seeing his father and I don't force the issue anymore. So once again thank you all for the wonderful advice. Sorry this update was so involved and long.

More Answers



answers from South Bend on

I think you should talk to your lawyer, esp. about him not getting to do his sports stuff.



answers from Cincinnati on

While I agree he should see his father more when he is there. I also understand his father probably feels he needs to work, even if it's on the weekends. Could you be the one to take him to games and events even when his father is the one having him? Maybe even the girlfriend could step in and help in that department. Maybe youe Ex his father should have explained to him how important these things are. You don't say if you live close to each other. Could your son maybe join in something there if possible. Otherwise I can see the end of visitation for your ex. I have a brother in law who loves his children but they live in New York City and he here in Cincinnati. He has made concessions and allowed one or the other to ship visits and gone there so they didn't miss out on events. This year the oldest even brought his girl friend for the summer.
Good Luck



answers from Toledo on

HI L., I certainly do not envy this situation! I bet it is difficult for both your son & you. Do you have other children? Are you remarried or have a significant other in the household?
I am a stay at home Mom and love it. I can certainly understand you not wanting to work outside the home. I do however, wonder if having a steady job would change some of your focus? Set an example about taking care of your own.....He sees a not so positive example in his father, but he is contributing (I know it's not much!!) How do you pay for all the other things without a job?
Maybe working outside the home would allow you some financial freedom. It would set a "work hard" example for your son, and it may let you release some of the dependence on the father. It might be easier to let your son help in the decision making if you are not feeling "obligated" to those visits.
It would be best if your son & his Dad could have a good relationship. It just might not be possible for now. I give you kudos for trying and for being concerned.
Maybe a mediator of some sort could help the 3 of you sit down and make a new plan for what will work for now.
Good Luck to you!



answers from Columbus on

Maybe you need to sit down with your son and discuss about how he feels about visiting his father. Maybe it is the girlfriend or other kids that make him uncomfortable or something. You need to find out what is going on at the father's house. I know kids should visit their fathers, but it depends on situations. It something makes your son feeling uncomfortable, I think it should be up to him if he wants to visit his father or not. Also, maybe you need to discuss with your ex about making plans to do something with your son, not just have him hanging around in the house while the father is at work. Your ex needs to spend time with your son, you know, father and son qualify time together. Hope everything will work out.



answers from Columbus on

Its called visitation for a reason. Your son is supposed to be visiting his father to spend time with him and keep their relationship alive. I have a problem with a kid giving up his life because a court ordered that he spend time with his dad. Yet when he goes there his dad is not there? There is something seriously wrong with that. Its visitation with his dad not his dad's girlfriend. If dad is unable to spend the time with him and it costing your son, you and the boys father need to fix the visitation schedule. Yes the boys father has to work but if its causing so much problems then you need to work to make everyone happier.



answers from Cleveland on

I was the 12 year old. Luckily, my dad had custody of us and no court-ordered visitation schedule. My dad made us go visit our mom weekly, usually for a couple hours at the grandparents' house but sometimes for an overnight at her house. When we were 13 we were able to make the decision on whether we wanted to go or not because, in Ohio, that's the age where the court will ask the kid their opinion in the matter. You need to talk to the dad. Work something out with him where the son visits during morning hours when he's not working. Explain to him that the son is giving up his "normal" life (scouts, soccer) but he's not expected to give up work, so someone needs to be more flexible, and your son has done his fair share! If he insists on keeping his regular visitation hours, then insist your son keep his regular activities. Girlfriend will just have to deal with it and take him! Are you in the Akron area? See if you can get some legal advice/support from the Legal Clinic at the U of Akron Law School. Good luck!



answers from Cincinnati on


No, you should not force your son to go to a visit that he does not want to go to. Also, the boy's father is not being fair regarding the sports or scouting events! Actually, your *SON'S* life and wish for activities takes priority over whatever his father wants.

You have a second issue going concerning money. The boys' father is not being very responsible in regards to support, which needs to be addressed.

And rest assured, you are not a horrible person for not forcing your son, who is definitely old enough to make his own decisions, to try to force some kind of relationship where it seems there is not a strong one anyhow.

Let your son decide, and discuss the money problem with his father.

Best wishes,



answers from Cleveland on

At the age of 12, I'd say the child should have some say as to whether or not he goes.. Also, IF the father isn't there, then what's the point? My kids were supposed to spend the summer months w/ their father (in another state) and one summer I found out that their father wasn't there but for 3 days at the beginning of summer. They had spent their whole summer w/ the "evil step-mother". I found this out 2 weeks before they were to come home. My lawyer said that had I known this earlier, I could've had the kids come home as they were to be visiting w/ their FATHER and if he wasn't there, then what was the point? After that summer, I made it known that if he wasn't home while they were visiting, then the kids were to return home.
I believe at the age of 12, the kids should have some say. Especially since he's involved in sports and all and misses out on practice/games while at his dad's. As he gets into high school...that's not going to be a good thing! Talk w/ the father and let him know that the boy doesn't want to go. and the father shouldn't be making him feel guilty about it either. As they get older, they have more and more going on and it's hard to do that every other weekend thing. UNLESS the father is willing to let him continue in his scout and sport activities even while at his house!
Good luck! it's harder the older the kids get. they are able to voice their own opinions and sometimes we don't like it but we need to keep it in mind while making decisions.



answers from Fort Wayne on

Hi L. Been there only with grandchildren and both parents had joint custody. It was so hard for me to see the oldest grandson didn't when he cride and didn't want to visit the step-father.
My husband and I have been there for both the boy's through thick and thin. Just recently we found out that the step-father was mentally abusing both the boy's and their mother. Mother is no longer married to the jerk but the memories are still there with all of us.
I WOULD GET TO A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. Even though you said you wanted him to have both parents one parent isn't doing the job of parenting and at 12 he should not be made to go when the father isn't there half the time anyway.
I really feel for both you and your son but if it makes him so miserable to 'have' to go give him a break and don't make him go. If the father growls then tell him to get a lawyer. Good Luck and my prayers are with you. K. P



answers from Indianapolis on

I would not force him, I would take a look at your divorce papers or custody papers and make sure you are not breaking any of the rules, I would get a lawyer and take him to court for the medical bills, then have them redo the visitation schedule, I think your son might be old enough to make up his own mind especially if dad is keeping him away from his activities..goodluck,
you are not a bad mom



answers from Cleveland on

If you don't have a court ordered visitation schedule, then I would say that your son does not have to go visit his father. If his father feels so strongly about the visitation then he should have had something ordered by the court that specifically spells out when he gets your son for visitation and you should have something that addresses the visitation when it interferes with your son's activities.

But keep in mind that the visitation is not only time for him to spend with his dad but also with his half-siblings. His relationship with his half-siblings is just as important as the relationship with his dad.

I used to work for family court and did the paperwork for the paternity cases. Whether or not your son's father pays child support, medical bills, etc., has no bearing on his right for visitation if there is a court order in place.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I have had this problem with my kids for years, sadly in my case the father has custody set by the state, you are fortunate in that, because you dont. He is at an age where I belive he should be able to decide. There is no reason that he should miss out on his groups either. So I would give your son the choice, the worst thing that will happen is the father will try to take it to court and if you have sole custody there is not much he can do.

Good luck!!!



answers from Cincinnati on

Well I can give you both sides. I am a Mother with an ex-husband and a step-mother.

My ex-husband is actually VERY wonderful with our children and his responsibility to them. We split ever thing 50/50. He is a chef and works nights at times and his mother watches the kids for him. If he is going to be missing a majority of the time with the kids on his weekend, I just come pick them up and keep them...or I take them out during the day and return them to his house in the evening so they are with him while he is home and with me while he is at work. I do not do this every weekend, but he is okay with me doing it whenever I want, because he knows the kids come to visit him and not just his mother (whom I do adore honestly) and he know the kids get really bored at his mother's and well, kids want to be with their parents.

I also have a step-son and I probably don't have the typical setting...my step-son and I adore each other. I also have 2 little boys that are his brothers. While I would understand it making his Mom mad if he stayed with me while his Dad were out of town, his father and I still would not offer her the time. BUT Jack (my s.s.) wants to be with me and in our house. We give him stability and unfortunately at this time his mother cannot....hopefully that changes some day, but all of her kids from all of her marriages have left her to live with their fathers. If Jack told me that he missed his mom, I would drive him there myself though. He is only 9 and I let him chose. As long as it's healthy, I don't see an issue. He loves his Mother, he just has a more stable life with us and I know kids thrive and need that and he naturally clings to it.

I think at 12 your son is more than old enough to chose. Encourage him to go and build that relationship, bt do not force it. Undoubtedly his father has caused some damage to your son. Making him give up his activities is something Jack's Mom TRIED to do and we did not allow it. Jack did have a hard time though because he was always worried thinking he wouldn't be allowed to go on her days because that's what she would tell him, but we always forced it.

I hope it gets better.



answers from Cincinnati on

I'd definitely would take legal action to get the financial support you and your son need.

For the time being, though, you might want to sit your son and his father down and talk about why your son doesn't want to go over to his father's house. Or if your son doesn't feel comfortable with that, have him write down his reasons, then you and dad work something out. Document the conversation in case you have problems down the line - you'll have proof that you tried working it out civilly, which might tilt things in your favor.

If a civil resolution can't be made/enforced, or if dad decides he doesn't want part of this conversation, and while you're in court for financial support, make a visitation schedule and guidelines official, including that daddy needs to make sure he attends most of his extracurriculars while with his father, make arrangements for rescheduling visitation when, say, your son has a camping trip/out-of-town tournament that would take up the entire visitation period, and while he is with his dad, daddy needs to be there the bulk of the time (you can't fault him for occasionally being called into work during visitation at the last minute, but working regularly when your child's supposed to be with you is unacceptable).



answers from Dayton on

When I was married to my ex-husband he had a son from his first marriage. We were visiting with an attorney who stated that even though my husband had to work he wasn't working the whole time his son was with us and he had good care (I was the good care). I ended up having the best relationship ever with him (I now see and talk to him more than his father and we are talking 20+ years later). When his son was getting ready to turn 12 he told his grandmother that he was never speaking to his dad again (they got into a huge fight and my ex is an ex for many reasons and this is one). And he didn't speak to him for 2 years. My step son is now 21 and doesn't speak to me of his father and has a minimal relationship with him. He has a better relationship with me me, my husband his 2 brothers + my other 2 sons.

I tell you this because although I feel it is important to try and have a healthy relationship with both parents, sometimes it just can't / doesn't happen. I have 2 sons by my ex-husband (9 and 8) and there are times they have told me they don't want to go over because of another activity. I make them call and talk to him about it. When my son had soccer practice during his visitation he would bring him home so I could take him, but I made the rule that he was going to go to practice because I paid for it and I would not allow him to miss it.

Another thing - if he is responsible for 60% of the medical bills, make sure you keep ALL PAPERWORK associated with these bills. When it is worth it to you take him to court and get the reimbursement that you deserve. (This happened to someone I knew and it ended up paying for the child's college education.)

Support your sons decision and do what is best for him. Afterall, he is becoming a young man and this is a good way of teaching him what it is like to become an adult, making a decision and sticking with it.

I know this is long, but a very passionate subject to me as I love all my boys.

L. - happily married mother to 4 boys.



answers from Indianapolis on

I understand you think your son is old enough to decide if he wants to spend time with his dad, and you feel your son should have a relationship with his dad.

Whether or not you feel like a son should have a relationship with his father: apply things to this particular situation. Do you think his father is worthy of spending time with your son? Is his dad modeling behavior that you want your son to pick up? (Do you want your son treating his son the way his dad treats him?)

His father is the non-custodial parent, not really consistantly paying child support, and could care less about your son attending his scouting or soccer events. Further, what's the point of him going over there if he isn't even able to spend quality time with his father? Isn't that the point of him visiting his father? If your son is involved in certain activities and his father isn't allowing that to happen, who's winning? Your son doesn't win that battle; his father wins by exerting control over your son. How does this help your son?

Ask yourself this: Can you afford to raise him without support from his father? (If he's only paying it when he works, I'm guessing this won't be a problem.)

It sounds to me like you need to step up and advocate for your son; and I have some suggestions:

** Don't force your son to go see his father. Your son may need a "fatherly influence", but sometimes biological dad isn't the best person for the job. Doesn't mean he's a horrible person; it just is what it is, and maybe there's someone who can provide an appropriate influence and model appropriate behavior on how men are supposed to behave. If it ever comes up "why aren't you making me go see him anymore?" - The last thing you really want to do is bash his father, but he's also old enough that you can give him things to consider consider. Why did he not like spending time with his father? Did you try to explain that to him? Did he listen to you? Do you feel the circumstances that led to you not liking to visit your father are likely to change? (Keep in mind the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.) Right now, he's having a hard time dealing with his feelings. Let him know you're available to help him sort them out, or that maybe a school counselor can help too (point is to find someone he can talk to he can trust).

** Turn the father loose. Don't ask for anything from him (like child support, money for medical bills, to take his son for 4 weeks during the summer, etc. etc. etc.). Let him know you're willing and capable to be the sole provider.

** Show your son what being a responsible parent means: working hard to provide for your family and doing the right thing (even if it is the hardest thing). If he wants to continue doing scouting and soccer, then do what you can to get him to those events. If your schedule will not allow that, then let him know. Maybe there are other activities he can participate in that occur at times that your schedule will allow you to be more involved (in taking him to or picking up from the activites).

So much of this involves simple communication skills. Listen to what he has to say; make sure he understands your point of view too; and you two don't always have to agree. Hopefully you can reach a point where you understand each other's feelings, that will help direct the path you follow in the future, with whatever activities he wants to participate in, with whether or not he wants to spend with his dad.

For what it's worth, and good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

First off, you are NOT a horrible person for not forcing your son to visit his father. Since your son's father never filed for visitation there is no way he can force your son to visit him, and that is a choice your son should be able to have a say-so in.
Second of all, try working out a schedual for your son to visit his father that will allow him to attened the sporting events that he can't currently attend and will allow quality bonding time between father and son.
Finally, express your feeling about you son watching the younger kids and hanging out with his father's girlfriend, instead of spending time together. Usually it helps to have a talk with the non-custodial parent, as this allows forconcerns to be expressed and changes to be made.
I have given you the advice I learned from my childhood, as this was the situiation in my family between my mom, my step-sister, and her father. I have remebered as much as I can, and I hope this advice will help you.
Good Luck!

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