5 Tips from Single Moms: How to Help Your Child Cope When They Don’t Want to See Dad

This article was written by a single mom that understands the heartache of sending your child somewhere they DO NOT WANT TO GO. There are few things as heartbreaking as watching your child in distress when they are leaving you to spend time with their dad and not being able to intervene or help them.

If you are a dad reading this article and your child doesn’t want to see their mom, we hope you find these tips helpful as they work both ways!

How to Help Your Child Cope When They Don’t Want to See Dad

We wanted to write this article because as a collective of single moms, we understand the complexity of visitation schedules and the havoc they can wreak in a child’s emotional life if they are not made in the child’s best interest. For single moms, it can be sad and sometimes even scary when a child does not want to go with their dad.

This post provides suggestions for moms who are legally obligated to provide visitation to the father of their child but whose child is currently rejecting their dad or doesn’t want to spend time with him/follow mandated visitation schedule. 

There are telltale signs that will let you know that your child is stressed or sad about their visitation schedule. Below are the signs and a few tips to help them cope.

Signs Your Child Doesn’t Want to See their Dad

Unfortunately, with kids, the signs are usually loud and clear when they are unhappy with their visitation schedule.

  • Crying in advance of visitation
  • Complaining in advance of visitation
  • Creating excuses not to see their dad (sick, homework, tired)
  • Negative feedback-when your child is saying negative things about their dad

5 Ways How to Help Your Child Cope When They Don’t Want to See Dad

Co-parenting is rarely an easy—or natural—task but in most single parent households it is a part of life. If your child does not want to see their dad or gets upset about their visitation time at the other parent’s home, there are a few things you can do right away to help your child feel heard and loved.

 1. Listen to your child’s feelings.

    • This will help you assess why your child is upset and if they may be in danger but don’t know how to tell you. Your child might be simply tired of going back and forth. While courts often argue in favor of ‘splitting’ the child’s time, that isn’t necessarily something the child wants or benefits from. For many kids, 50/50 time results in them feeling like they don’t really have a home base.
    • Affirm your child and let them know their feelings are valid.
    • Use Discernment. Is your child upset because they are fearful or sad or stressed? Your discernment as a mom will help you make the right decisions to set your child up for success in their relationship with the other parent or to provide them with the protection that they are seeking if necessary.

2. Create an open line of communication.

  • Let your child know that they can always come to you about ANYTHING. Tell your child how much you love them and make it clear that your priority is for them to be happy, healthy and safe even if circumstances are not ideal.
  • Open communication with your child isn’t just important right now but also in the future.

3. Ask your child for suggestions. 

  • What would make your child feel more comfortable/happier with their visitation schedule? Ask them!
  • While you might not be able to control whether these changes are made, your child shouldn’t feel helpless or at the mercy of the courts (even if they are). Allowing your child to come up with potential solutions will help them learn how to communicate their needs to BOTH PARENTS. The other parent might need to hear and understand that the ideas your child is proposing are not coming from you.
  • The other parent very likely cares about whether the child is happy, healthy and stable so hearing their child express their own ideas might be just what is needed to make the changes that are positive and helpful to calming your child.
  • If you feel you have a strong enough relationship with the dad/co-parent, let the dad know that the child has suggested some things that would make them feel more comfortable/happier with their visitation schedule.

4. Create a sense of home.

  • As a single mom it is easy to feel trapped by a system that fails to understand your needs and the needs and cries of your children. While you cannot change this immediately, you can create a safe, calm home for your child in your own house.
  • Create positive routines. This can be as simple as a snack that your child loves after school or a weekly trip to the library with you. The child will cherish these memories as a part of their home life that makes them feel calm and reassured.

5. Write your ex a letter. 

  • Let the other parent know what you are observing. (if this is a safe course of action for you to speak up on your child’s behalf).
  • A dad that care’s about their child’s well-being will want to know if the visitation schedule is overwhelming to his child or is causing them to feel unstable. Think about it, as a mom, you would DEFINITELY want to know if your child was in distress because they did not want to see you. Give dad the same benefit of the doubt. No parent that loves their child wants to believe that the child is crying before they leave to spend time with them, gently let them know that your child is distressed.
  • Let dad know the child is upset about visitation. This will help dad come up with positive solutions to make the child feel safe and loved during their time together.
  • Empower dad to make decisions that will help his child cope right now. When you give dad information, this will also provide him with the chance to improve his relationship with his son or daughter. Dad can choose to improve the schedule to accommodate his child’s emotional needs…and should.

Mamas, we know how hard it is to send your child into the care of a parent they have mixed feelings about or flat out don’t want to spend time with. We know that this is heartbreaking to watch and experience and that not being able to intervene for your child is a painful burden for a mom to bear. We truly hope that these suggestions are helpful to your circumstances with your own son or daughter.

This article was written and reviewed by single moms that have experienced this circumstance. We have compiled our best ideas from our experience to help you navigate a touch situation.

If all Else Fails, Contact Your Attorney

We truly hope this helps your family and brings comfort and relief to you and your child. If all else fails and you cannot help reduce your child’s stress by communicating with your child and the dad, consult your attorney.

If you don’t have an attorney, check our Top Law Attorney Database for a growing list of family law attorneys that are ready to help single moms in need TODAY.

Are You a Single Mom Co-Parenting with An Abusive Ex?

The suggestions in this post were not designed for you. If you are dealing with a circumstance where your child doesn’t want to see their dad because they feel threatened or are abused, your child’s circumstance requires careful decision making and immediate intervention.

If you think your child is in immediate danger call the police. Click HERE to read how to help protect your child from an abusive ex. 

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My name is Jenna and I am the founder of Single Mom Spot. I've been a single mom for almost 10 years now. I'm a Christian and mama to two kids that I love like crazy. I started this site because I know how difficult single motherhood can be...and also, how beautiful. I believe that single motherhood helped make me into the best version of myself as a woman and mom. My hope, is that through a connection point like Single Mom Spot, women can share their experiences and grow together. What an amazing thing if every single mom could live her best life as a woman and mother right now, in the middle of her most challenging life circumstance. How bold. How beautiful. How unforgettable. Thank you for reading and supporting Single Mom Spot.