Child of Divorce

My nine year old niece was happy and nothing was going on with her until a couple months ago. Her parents are divorced so her father gets her every-other weekend and she used to love to come over, and wanted to stay with her father's side of the family. But now she doesn't want to have anything to do with any of us.


She said something about being confused at first and then she said she wanted to stay with her mother, which is understandable. But why doesn't she want to have anything to do with her father and his family? We haven't done anything to her to cause her to not want to have anything to do with us anymore. We have been good to that child and we have given up so much for her. Could something being going on at her mother's that's causing these problems? Something isn't right.

Ben's Answer:

Divorce can be extremely confusing for a child - especially a young child. A nine year old is just moving into a new phase of independence and identity. By ten, most kids start to lose their childhood innocence and begin to see that the world is not an ideal place, the people they looked up to are not perfect - maybe far from it. It can be a painful and confusing time, even without divorce. Many kids of divorce find themselves in a "loyalty conflict" - and feel they have to choose one parent over the other. This often happens when there is open hostility or conflict between parents, but can also happen out of their own feelings of guilt, self-blame, taking on responsibility for one parent's feelings, and so on. Your niece's apparent rejection of you is probably nothing personal at all, and she is simply doing the best she can with what she knows. All you can do is keep letting her know you love her and are there for her, and try to foster a good relationship with both of her parents independently.

Best wishes,
Ben

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