Why does my child have difficulties seeing their other parent?

You may notice that your child is resistant to seeing their other parent or you might feel that you are forcing your child to go and see their other parent despite your own reservations. Children may sometimes show signs of distress, get upset or seem very anxious about the prospect of visiting or staying with the other parent.  Assuming there are no child protection or safety issues (and your child is not at risk) and even though part of you is somewhat happy at the thought of your child not wanting to see your former partner/their parent – you can’t help but wonder why they are so upset.

As explained in previous topics ‘how to create the roof effect’ and ‘the emotional impact of separation on children’, your child and both parents have a lot to contend with during separation. Surrounded by such troubled waters and with those tectonic plates shifting, it will seem like a momentous uphill struggle for parents to agree on pretty much anything.

Your child – the bee that I referred to earlier – has been absorbing these vibrations and more than ever, needs a safe place to be with, a smooth road to travel between the two of you.

If there is no safe ‘roof’ to shelter beneath or steady the path, your child will certainly be apprehensive of the ‘journey’ between the two of you. The larger the gap between you, the harder it is for your child to make a leap of faith and not feel anxious in case they fall in between the ‘ravine’ that may exist between you.

As a parent, it helps if you can be mindful of the ‘path’ your child is travelling and imagine what it must be like for them. They are the ones doing the physical ‘mileage’ but also engaged in the deep emotional journey between you as parents. So if you can smooth the rocky road between you, your child will find it less painful and feel less anxious. It will be a bit like Tower Bridge – as parents you represent the two turrets  – and your child is doing the emotional journey between both.

As with most separated co-parents, each half of the bridge is not in line with the other, which creates it’s own precarious problem – so you can see how your child worries about crossing the bridge between you.

Not so smooth bridge path between separated parents Smoother and less daunting bridge path between separated parents