Visits With Dad

Dear Dr. Stacey,
Q. I am currently living with my mom and have visits with my dad on the weekends. I really like to spend time with my dad, but he drinks during our visits and then we begin to argue. Some times I even get scared. Should I stop visiting with my dad?

A. Having divorced parents seems hard enough and when you add alcoholism it is even more treacherous. The most important issue right now is your safety. If you are feeling scared or feel like you are in danger, you need to talk to some one right away. I know it can be difficult to talk to people about one of your parents because you feel like you are “tattling” on them, however, you need to be thinking of what is healthy for you.

Visits are meant to be a time to grow and share with your parent, not a time of fear. It is also beneficial to have a plan if an emergency arises from your dad’s drinking. Where will you go? What will you do? Make sure you have a safety plan and some one you can call on for help. Additionally, depending on your age and what type of visitation agreement you have it may not be simple to stop visiting with your dad. There are other arrangements that could be made such as supervised visitation that would allow you to visit with your dad, but not have the worry about his drinking.

If you are questioning anything with visitation you need to involve your mom and find out what options you have to keep you safe. When there is a problem during visitation, many kids have mixed feelings about whether or not they should stop visits. This is very common and you should know that you are not alone. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, school counselor, or a psychologist can really help you and your family through this difficult decision. The hardest part is asking for the help and sending this letter to me shows you have the strength to get through this.

Stacey Soeldner, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Riverhill Psychological Associates

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