My son aged 4 doesn’t want to see me
24 September 2020 at 7:15 pm #44265
I am a separated father of a son of 4, who has recently been telling his mother he doesn’t want to see me. We have a child arrangement order in place however week after week my son does not want to see me or speak to me. My separation from my partner wasn’t the most amicable however I am a good dad and do everything in my power for my son. I have gone to court twice to try and get the court order enforced as I believe my partner is the reason my son doesn’t want to see me as he often tells me ‘i have to Go home because mummy misses me’ amongst many other warning signs. When my son is with me he is so happy and content. When I call to speak to my son on the days he doesn’t want to see me he is audiably upset and crying down the phone however he never says to me on the phone he doesn’t want to see me, that comes from my partner. On days I do see him and he ‘wants picking up later’ my ex often says or sometimes my son says he wants ‘picking up at 11am and want to stay until 5pm’ although my son can not read the time yet.
I am so stuck with what to do, I am battling to see my son but every single week it is a battle and I feel I have ran out of every avenue, I won’t stop trying I am just looking for advice if anyone has any?
Many thanks for reading
GANDC25 September 2020 at 12:51 pm #44278
I don’t believe a 4 year old has any clue on what is in his/her best interest and it’s ridiculous that anyone would assume they do. At that age they’re still having strops because they can’t eat sweets before meals. They might know that they feel sad when left by the other parent and you can see the result of this (appears distressed) rather than them being able to articulate exactly how they’re feeling. This age is way too early for them to be able to make sense of your situation, my son at 8 can say how he’s feeling but struggles to link that to why he’s feeling the way he does to explain that to me in detail (such as that made me feel guilty and that makes me sad etc).
Children at 4 will repeat what they’ve been told. I don’t feel that you should give up on your child’s right to have access to the love and lessons in life you’re wanting to give. What this will achieve is enabling your ex partner to tell the child that you were a waste of space and you never cared enough to be present (the child will remember your absence and that will become true in their head as it’s what they experienced).
If you’ve applied for an enforcement order twice already, then that shows you do remain committed to developing and maintaining your relationship with the child.
I recently applied for an enforcement order and passed the costs back to my ex partner for not maintaining his part of the deal. I feel the financial impact will have more of an effect on him than actually not seeing his children so hopefully he’ll collect/return the children as agreed next time otherwise I’ll pass costs again.25 September 2020 at 5:50 pm #44283
Hi Greenfingers – thanks for your input and all duly noted.
I have to agree with what you say, to the point we do think there is a possible ‘parental alienation’ situation however that is hard to prove – my ex has done things in the past (told me my son wanted picking you later in the day, Yet when I go to pick up my son he would say ‘Daddy why were you late’) so I do think there is more at play, especially as I do not have an amicable relationship with my ex.
How did the court look at your enforcement can I ask? And how did you show the court that your ex had not been keeping up part of their end of the order? After practically being thrown out the court last time (they told me and my ex just to sort it out) I feel the only option now is to get a solicitor involved but due to COVID and my wage it isn’t the most avenue at present (albeit we are still looking down that route)
I won’t ever give up on my son it just hurts my heart to be having to go through this cycle over and over when all I want is to be there for him.
it makes it harder that my son will be with me and his mother will make him promise to call her, and also will call multiple times when he’s in my care, to the point my son after hours of happy play and time with me will then demand to go home. My ex partner has also told our son it is ok for him to change his mind, which it is on some levels but also makes it very difficult for me to maintain the bond we have
I agree tho, 4 year olds can’t make a distinction between what they say and mean – very difficult and just want to see some positive change with the long term with my son and ex
thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you again!25 September 2020 at 6:34 pm #44284
Parental alienation is really difficult to prove and you can choose to participate in the game or not. You’re in a really good position as you’ve managed to secure ‘time for your child to spend with you’ already as defined in the child arrangement order (CAO). That’s where the game stops.
My advice would be to minimise any unnecessary communications with your ex. That means email comms only advising necessary information such as ‘Bert had a fever on Sunday night and paracetamol was administered at 8pm then 8am again this morning’. I would not be answering calls during the time you have with your child. Your child is safe as you can see him/her so whatever the ex wants to tell you, an email from him/her to you would suffice. You can read it and respond in your own time.
What does your contact pattern look like? Do you have sufficient time for your child to settle with you? It sounds like you do until the calls from the ex start. It doesn’t sound like your child is the needy one here? Whose benefit are the calls for and why do you facilitate them? Guilt? Because you feel pressured?
If your ex needs reassurance that the child is ok, then she can email and in your own time you can email back.
I feel that once you’ve got to the point of a CAO, then you’ve already been unable to come to an understanding that was based on mutual respect. I remember saying frequently to my ex ‘refer to the CAO’ as a bog standard response to his varied requests and orders. Protect the time you have been ordered to spend with your child. I don’t feel you need to enforce anything currently via the courts. You just need to make it clear that the CAO needs to followed with immediate effect. If the child is not made available at the times outlined repeatedly then you have grounds to seek an enforcement. If you’re communicating by email then this will all be auditable. I’m not suggesting you lay all of your cards on the table by threatening court action if your ex doesn’t follow the order, however, you need to make it clear from now that the CAO defines contact time with each parent and it needs to be followed. If your ex continues to delay handover then consider 3rd party transfers, this can work well as you don’t need to see each other and both parties need to be prompt to make the transfer happen.
My case took approx 4 weeks from application for enforcement to hearing, contact was stopped immediately due to safeguarding issues (started leaving our young child on pavement outside my relatives houses rather than returning to school without any prior communications). I never knew where or when our son would be returned.
You just need to remember the stock response ‘refer to the CAO’ when requests are made to deviate. You’re not in a place to work with each other, it’s passed that stage hence the CAO.