We all know this right? There was the incredible country song that told us and the countless attempts we made to curry favor when the object of our affection was long gone. Yet when it comes to their children many people seem to forget this refrain. I’ve come across cases where the children have simply no desire to see their parents again. Most of the time the rift can be traced to their bearing witness to disrespect to either them or their parents. The blame is often placed squarely on the shoulders of the parent still in favor with the child bandying words about like, “Parental alienation.” I’m sure this occurs in some instances but by and large the children make their own mind up and then dig in their heels.
Then come the lawyers. Filing the petitions for contempt and insisting the children visit. Sometimes making the ridiculous assertion that the children should be forcibly made to see the rejected parent. Time and again I have seen the battle of the experts. One saying forcing a child to visit against their will is detrimental to the child. The other saying the relationship will be irreparably harmed if the parent and child don’t see each other. I’ve been on both sides. It’s just as painful for both parties.
Not to mention what it does to the child. I’ve seen little boys, on the verge of tears fighting to explain why they don’t want to visit anymore. In times when the children have been forced to testify tears almost always ensue when they are cross-examined. Recently I have been involved in a case like this. This time I am on the side of the child who doesn’t want to visit. As with all things now, I’m finding myself following my heart instead of my legal strategy to resolve the case.
He sits in front of me with his dad and stepmom and tries to explain while blinking away tears why he doesn’t want to see his mom. Fourteen and not quite old enough to make a decision the Judge will follow but being old enough to weigh in. We are preparing for his testimony when it occurs to me to ask him how he feels about visiting.
He can’t seem to answer and my admonishment is that it’s easy with me there, but wait ‘til the opposing counsel, Judge, and his Mom get there. Then his silence will work against us. Still nothing. I decide the direct route is easiest.
“Do you feel scared?”
He nods no.
“Do you feel uncomfortable?”
He nods yes.
Reaching again, I ask, “Do you know why you feel uncomfortable?”
He says, “No.”
“Was there a time when you didn’t mind visiting?”
He nods and I encourage him with nod of my own.
“I didn’t mind until she tried to make me.”
AHA! “I can’t make you love me if you don’t,” or in this case, “I can’t make you visit. ” But yet, by the sheer act of forcing his hand, the boy was digging in his heels.
Ultimately, I spoke to him about being able to let go of this and realize that she merely wanted to spend time with him and had lost touch with allowing and instead was trying to force it. Was I on to something here? Isn’t this allowing versus force what I spend my other life teaching?
I was able to suggest a solution with such confidence and practicality the other lawyer agreed and we settled it easily – without force.
This principle isn’t just playing itself out in the divorce court and visitation issues, but in every aspect of our lives. The more we seek to force something to occur the more resistance shows up digging its heels like a teenager.
I’ve been reminded of this as I have tried to make things happen in my life. When you want something desperately, whether it is a visit with your child, a career, money, or a love relationship, your desperation can stop it dead in its tracks… even when it was coming your way.
The concept of allowing has got to be the trickiest of all. How can you want something, focus on it, and yet not become attached to it? The first step is accepting what is. Where you are at this very moment is where you need to be. You can acknowledge wanting the other greater thing but by pushing, clawing, and trying to make it happen your blocking the energy flow into your life and into what you want.