What to Do if Your Children Don't Want to See Their Father

When children don't want to see their father after a divorce, it's best to talk to them to find out the reasons and resolve the situation.
What to Do if Your Children Don't Want to See Their Father
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 02 April, 2023

What should I do if my children do not want to see their father? There are many mothers who ask themselves this question when they find themselves in the context of a divorce or separation. This fact causes a lot of stress to both parents and children. Truly, the one who suffers the most in this situation is the child, because they aren’t emotionally prepared. We mustn’t forget that the children have to adapt to a new circumstance which they aren’t used to.

One of the reactions that the children may have is to refuse to comply with the visitation regime that has been agreed upon. If this happens, it’s important to know what you can do about it. We’re going to talk about this topic in this article. You can’t miss it!

Why don’t my children want to see their father?

A mother asking her teenage daughter why she doesn't want to see her father.
Divorce and separation are difficult processes for everyone, but even more so for children, as they don’t know how to deal with it.

When we’re faced with the situation that a child doesn’t want to see their father, what we must do is listen to them. They have to feel that we take them into account and that we understand them. Emotional blackmail and threats would only complicate the situation further. Therefore, good communication is the best way to solve this problem.

These conversations with children are important to try to find out why they’re refusing to see their father. This may be their way of not accepting the situation or because they don’t want to leave their mother alone. Other reasons that may also contribute may be the fact that, with the father, they miss out on certain activities or because they like their room at their mother’s house better.

Other more serious causes that lead them to refuse to see their father

  • Manipulation by one of the parents (parental alienation syndrome).
  • Existence of another partner or family member in the father’s life with whom they don’t feel comfortable.
  • There’s some type of abuse or mistreatment by the father of the child.
  • The establishment of a stronger bond with the custodial parent.

For all these reasons, it’s important to know exactly why the child refuses to see their father. Then, the situation will have to be analyzed in order to the right measures. You’ll have to be clear that the visitation regime must be respected in order not to break the law. If this happens, the judge could consider it a violation of the agreement and apply some sort of penalty.

What to do if my children don’t want to see their father?

Not complying with the established visitation regime is a reason for a penalty. If there’s a justified reason why the child doesn’t want to see their father, what we must do is talk to our lawyer to gather the necessary evidence and documents to present to the judge. What we can’t do is break the agreement for no reason.

It’s very important that, when there’s a divorce, the parents put their interests and differences aside and look out for the welfare of their child, which is the most important thing. Communication with the children in this situation is essential to know the reason why the child refuses to comply with the visits.

A mother having a difficult conversation with her young daughter.
Despite the divorce, we must make it clear to the children and tell them with affection that although mom and dad have separated, both want what’s best for them.

What should you tell your child?

Parents always have to keep in mind that the main priority is the welfare of their child. For this reason, you must respect each other and stop holding grudges, even if you’re no longer a couple. When the time comes that the child has to go with the non-custodial parent, we have to talk and explain two things to the child:

  1. That one of the consequences of divorce is having to spend time separately with both parents.
  2. That both mom and dad love them equally, so they both need to be with them and spend time with them.

Talking to the child is key

Children not wanting to see their father is a common occurrence for many couples after a breakup. The causes can be very varied, so it’s important to investigate the reason for the refusal. First of all, we must be clear that the visitation regime must always be complied with, otherwise, we would be committing a crime.

For this reason, if there’s a serious reason why your child doesn’t want to go with their father, what you have to do is contact your lawyer. They have to present the relevant documentation and evidence to be able to solve the situation legally.

On the other hand, if the reason is for another circumstance, such as a way of denying the situation or because they don’t like their room at their father’s house, the situation is different. In that case, both parents need to talk to them to make it clear that they both love the child and need time together.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bartumeus, C. M. (2020). Cómo no perder a tus hijos tras el divorcio. Letrame Grupo Editorial.
  • Domingo López, A., & Ros Tomás, E. (2005). Situaciones específicas de alto riesgo en los menores tras la separación de sus padres.
  • Beyebach, M. (2010). La repercusión sobre el menor de los procesos de ruptura matrimonial: aspectos emocionales y relacionales. Custodia compartida y protección de menores.
  • Santana Triana, V. A., & Garcìa Martinez, K. G. (2016). Estrategias de afrontamiento ante la presión y el estrés infantil ocasionada en niños por separación de padres. Recuperado de: http://hdl. handle. net/20.500, 12494, 14680.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.