Split-family living isn't easy. Children of divorce often ride a roller coaster of emotions that can sometimes make even the best of divorces seem chaotic. They withdraw. They throw tantrums. They refuse to eat. They cry. They get angry. They say horrible things.

Even when both parents are very involved and there is absolutely no abuse or other negative activity going on, kids go berserk. Sometimes they dig in their heels and refuse to leave one parent to go to the other parent's house at switch time. You're in the middle of a switch and your child refuses to go. What can you do? Here are ten ideas to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in the middle of the switch battle.

  • Don't talk negatively about the other parent. Children tend to be natural pleasers and they don't want to disappoint you by going over to the other side. They also may interpret some of the negative things as things to be afraid of. They may feel fear and guilt about visiting the other parent. It's tough for a child to hear double talk, one minute you are berating your ex the next to are telling him that everything is okay and he should feel fine about going.

  • Don't let your child think you are lonely or sad when they go to the other parent. Children don't want their parents to be upset and might react thinking they are saving you some despair.

  • Make sure that at both places the child has his or her own space. It may be tough to have to spend time at one parent's house if the setup is drastically different. They may need a place to go for quiet time, and probably don't like sharing a room or sleeping space with their parent. Get creative if you have to.

  • Schedule the switch around a neutral event. For example, one parent can drop the child off at school, a birthday party, or some other event. The other parent can pick them up. That eliminates a lot of the difficulty of the situation. Kids aren't looking at both parents and feeling like they are choosing sides.

  • Do all of the communication with your ex-spouse yourself. Children should not be relaying messages about scheduling or child support. Your child may be trying to avoid having a conversation that should be held by adults, especially if he knows it's not going to be well received.

  • If it's possible, spend some time together as a family. Let your child know that just because your not married anymore doesn't mean that the other parent is bad. Go to a restaurant, to a park, to a movie. Spend some time together so your child realizes it's okay to be around the other parent. Neutralize any loyalty issues by spending time together.

  • Talk to your child. Find a book on the subject of divorce or split family living. It is bound to make your child open up and share her feelings at a more neutral time. The conversation may reveal some insight on what the issues really are. It could be as simple as there is no night-light at the other house, but they are afraid to tell you.

  • Both parents should call the children when they are away. Reassure them that you haven't forgot them and that you are doing fine but looking forward to their return. Encourage your child to call the other parent if they want to on their own as well.

  • The parent whom the child refuses to visit must be actively involved with them while they are there. It does not help to be working or doing other projects that make a child feel left out. The parent whom he refuses to leave, must be careful not to overdo the activities. It's not a competition.

  • Be encouraging and understanding. It may take time before kids have adjusted to living in two households. Encourage the child to go to the other parent's house. Be understanding if your child doesn't feel comfortable coming with you. Time, love, encouragement, and understanding will help.

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Comments on "What to do if your child of divorce doesn't want to go to the other parent's house"

Jason February 04, 2014 | 8:57 AM

I have been divorced now for over three years, and remarried for 2 years. I have 2 kids a 14 year old son, and a 13 year old daughter. I saw my kids everyother weekend and once during the week, as well as any activities of there's I may have attended. This went on for the first year, and then my ex was having issues controlling our son so I gained full custody of him. We then moved to the same city my ex lived in and began to split custody every other week. This was working great for the first 6 months and then outta no where my daughter says she no longer wants to stay at my house for a whole week anymore, and just go back to everyother weekend. I asked her why? Her response was this...you never attend my soccer games, or concerts ect.. I was absolutely flabber gasted!!! I made it to over half of her games, and missed only one concert! She then tells me I am never home, again I am confused!! I play pool and have been since I was old enough to walk! I do this wed and thursday night and only in the fall/winter. She has church wed night so she isnt home until 930 and goes right to bed, so its really only thursday night I am away!?!?!? I told my daughter she was being unfair! My ex wife told me That the second our kids were born our lives would have to change and we would have to stop doing the things we loved to do. I told her she is crazy for thinking that way! I have given up many pool tournaments, fishing trips ect... for the sake of attending both of my kids events, and it seems my daughter doesnt care about that. I am a firm believer in parents should participate in there own activities as well as there kids activities, and not just 100% of one or the other! Am I the one with blinders on here, should I just become a homebody and never leave the house!?!? Any advice would be great!

maggie January 27, 2014 | 4:38 PM

My ex and I divorced 3 years ago, first he saw the kids every other weekend. Less and less until 6 mo went by without showing up or calling. Now he is having a baby with his girlfriend who left 2 kids behind also. My 13 and 10 year old refuses to see or speak to him no matter how much I try. he wants them to be a happy family, yet the kids want nothing to do with him. When he did have them he always spent time with his partner and ignored the kids, refused to give ashtma meds to the 10 year old when he needed it. He blames me for this, I am no the one who cheated after 18 years of marriage.

Jean December 06, 2013 | 9:41 PM

MY son and his wife divorce over a year now the teenage boys does not want to spend no time with their mother , they dont even want to talk to her.no matter how much me and my son encourage then , i even go as far as bring her in my home and call them and offer them cash just for a hour visit , i was turn down flat , so we try again and tick then to come over hoping after seening her they would feel something, i pay for that , they then stop coming to see me, they dont want to talk about her to then she was just somone they once know,she walk out on them when my son lost his job she never work he took care of her for 15 years the kids cannot forgive i know its not healthy, the 14 years said he hates her, it make me sad as a Grandmother the truth is i had really loved her,

brian October 11, 2013 | 3:33 AM

my wife and I have split up this happened in march this year she moved out of our family home in july this year my 4 year old and 8 year old started staying with me and my new partner 3 days a week since july this made them very happy but out of the blue my 4 year old daughter said she didn't want to sleep at my house anymore she told me that if she did would the bad man come and get her now this week my son said he doesn't want to stay either and wont give me a reason what can I do

priyanka June 21, 2013 | 10:01 AM

Same problem with me. My daughter doesn't like to stay with her father at all, as he doens't give her any space and is very controling. Daughter just refuses to go with him. Then he accuses her with different names "uncaring" etc etc. Why to pressurize a child to go and stay there for the sake of it. knowing very well that its like a prison especially when there is no family or lady to talk to, at father's place. Pl suggest what to be done. Who are we to force a child. she has her own wishes too.

Brenda May 12, 2011 | 6:45 PM

I just went through a divorce with my husband. Our 14 yr old daughter doesnt want to spend any parenting time with her dad at all. She refuses to see him and Im in the middle because he tries to blame me at the same time I try to encourage her. She is a very mature 14 yr old. What happens if shes refusing to see him? I dont know what to do and I dont want her to be forced. They have never been close..

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