Dear Dr. Jann: My daughter, age eight, has been telling me she does not want to go to her father’s house. When I told her father, he said she tells him the same thing — but that she doesn’t want to go to my house. I don’t believe him. My daughter has always been a “Mommy’s girl” and I’m not surprised she doesn’t want to go. How do I handle this?

Dr. Jann Says:Don’t be so sure your ex is lying. The fact that your daughter tells you she doesn’t want to leave does not necessarily mean she prefers your home. It could mean she doesn’t want to leave. And, she may very well be telling her daddy the same thing — because she doesn’t want to leave him, either. Consider your daughter is torn between the two people she loves the most and when she has settled in, she doesn’t want to pack up and go to the other home.

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If your child truly likes it better at one home, that’s a huge red flag that you and dad are not on the same page. Rather than let your ego be stroked because you are positive your child likes you best, it’s time for dad and you to put your heads together and figure out a way to make the transition from house to house easier on your child. That may mean changing the parenting plan or simply changing your attitude. Stand back, take a look at what you are both doing, and make the changes necessary for your daughter to be happy and well-adjusted at both homes.

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About Jann Blackstone

Jann BlackstoneDr. Jann Blackstone specializes in divorce, child custody, co-parenting, and stepfamily mediation and is often called the “Relationship Expert for Today’s Relationships” because of her “real life, down-to-earth” approach to relationship problem solving. She is the author of six books on divorce and parenting, the most popular, the Ex-etiquette series featuring Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation. She is also the author of the Ex-etiquette syndicated column and a frequent guest or consultant on television and radio talk shows, including Good Morning America (ABC), The Today Show (NBC), Keeping Kids Healthy (PBS), the Early Show (CBS), and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been the featured expert in many magazines, including, Child, Parents, Parenting, Newsweek, Family Circle, More, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BRIDES, Woman’s Day, and Working Mother Magazine.

In 1999, Dr. Jann founded and became the first Director of Bonus Families®, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working to change the way society views stepfamilies by supplying up-to-date co-parenting information via its Web site, counseling, mediation, and a worldwide support group network. They prefer to use the word “bonus” to the word step. Step implies negative things; however, a “bonus” is a reward for a job well done. “Bonus…a step in the right direction.”