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Really? You really want us to call at 3 a.m. if your kid misses you?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking this is reaction to us getting married and not anything actually rational...

But my SD was up at 3 a.m. on Sunday for whatever reason (spooked from Halloween, too much candy, nightmare?). My husband and I alternated with her until she fell asleep.

As happens at 3 a.m., a recurring theme seemed to be "I miss my mommy, can you put me in a taxi and send me to my mommy? I'll get my car seat." (Other recurring 3 a.m. themes: My closet is haunted, my fish are trying to talk to me, nothing is real except for me and the dog and maybe our next-door neighbor but you and Daddy are fake.)

She asked if she could call her mommy...we said she could call in the morning but her mom was sleeping. SD fell asleep without incident a bit later.

Apparently, SD told her mom about missing her and about how Mean Daddy would not put her in a taxi or let her call on the car ride home, because we were treated to Yet Another Nasty Voicemail when we got home. (She called our house, knowing we wouldn't be there. Lovely.) "Our parenting plan calls for IMMEDIATE phone access upon request of our child. How can I trust you to let me know if she's in the hospital--or even take her to the hospital in the first place?"

Really?

Does she really want a non-emergency call at 3 a.m.? (If there was something life-threatening or otherwise major involved, of course we would call no matter what the time.)

Something tells me if we had called at 3 a.m., there would have been a nasty e-mail complaining about how we (or really, my husband) need to handle these minor crises ourselves.

So...when is a crisis enough of a crisis for you to call the other parent at an otherwise inopportune time?

And, separately...any tips for dealing with an ex who's having trouble accepting a marriage or other moving-on? (I am not basing my thoughts solely on this incident--there have been plenty of other signals.)

Thanks!
post #2 of 39
No advice, just an UGH.
post #3 of 39
I don't know the personality of your dsd's mom but if I were the mom I would have wanted her to call me if she wanted to, even at 3 a.m.

I would not however, have been as upset about it as she sounds but it sounds like there are underlying issues that make this incident a bigger deal than it should be.

Good luck fiinding a middle ground.
post #4 of 39
Um, let your DSD call her next 3am-awakening and see how she likes it...?

Ultimately, i'm a mum, and yes, if my DD REALLY wanted to call me at 3am i wouldn't blame my XP for letting her. And i let DD call him at any and all rational hours but discourage her from doing so before about 10am (he gets up later than us) and after what would normally be her bedtime, but then she lives mostly with me and i kind of expect her to be able o deal with her "everyday" life without emotional crises she needs to call her dad about.

I would totally let this one go. If your DSD wants to call mom at 3am, let her. You're up anyway and if she complains you can say "well, you said you thought we should let her, so we did".

WRT your other query about exes having trouble when their ex moves on/remarries...my experience was that time and time alone helped.
post #5 of 39
I would truly want my child to be able to call me at 3 am or any other time he wanted to talk to me or missed me.

All I can say is that it is *really* tough for kids to have to deal with divorce/remarriage and I'd be as gentle as possible with your stepdaughter (and her mother who may be crazy, but of course she still loves her and will most definitely sense it if you have strong negative feelings about her). good luck.
post #6 of 39
See, the problem with letting her call at 3 am, at least with my dsd, woudl be that it actually makes the problem worse. When dsd used to get upset and call her mom, her hysterics would increase and she would continue to freak out for the duration of the phone call and well afterwards, and mom probably would be begged to come over and see her, which would then drag it out for that much longer. If we gently encouarged her to wait until morning, she would probably fall asleep and then forget all about it by morning (this has n't actually happened to us at that time, but this siw hat happens at bedtime/during the day)

From the perspective of being a mom versus stepmom, yes I woudl want dd to be able to call me no matter what the hour if she needed me, and I want her to know that is an option. Yes, I would probably want to run to the rescue and woudl be angry if my dd was told she could not call me. But, in a divorce situation, it is not quite that easy. I don't have a court order saying she gets EOW at grandma's, you know?

Anyway, so I guess I can see both sides here-and I think you handled it well with your dsd. While dsd is thankfully past this point (of crying for mom, etc.) I did generally find that talking to/seeing her mom made the situation worse rather than better. Good luck dealing with all of this and congrats on your marriage!
post #7 of 39
I can only say I agree with you.

I think being able to handle those minor things in the household she's at (at that time) without calling the other parent actually helps the child.

We have a similar situation. My SD's mom calls every time there is any minor conflict at any hour of the day/night. We, instead, like to be able to resolve the conflict ourselves. She's never said she misses her mom, but she has said: "I want my mommy" when we say "no" to something or sometimes when she hurts herself. Apparently she does the same at her mom's (referring to her daddy) but the mom has SD call her dad right away.

We have another recurring situation: my SD uses her special blanket to sleep. One time, her mom forgot to pack it, and she kept asking us to call her so she could bring it over. We helped her go to sleep without it, and it was really good in terms of us getting closer as a family and for her to see that we can provide that affection she needs (especially at bedtime or in the middle of the night.) When the same thing happened in reverse, her mom called us late at night requesting that we bring the blanket because she wanted a smooth bedtime. The thing that bothers me most is that the mom typically doesn't call on her own, to see if that's even possible. She has SD cry to her daddy on the phone. This, of course, kills him, especially because sometimes he can't do anything about it at the time.
post #8 of 39
I think there is nothing wrong with honoring the request to call home. Maybe if she felt safe/secure that she *could* she wouldn't need to anymore.

Sounds like you have bigger issues with the bio mom.....
post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 
And...as it turns out, this was moot. Mom wasn't even home at 3 a.m.! She was crashing at a friend's house after she had a few too many at a Halloween party. So she wouldn't have gotten the phone call anyway, which possibly would have made SD worry more.

She admitted the nasty message on the voice mail was the product of her own exhaustion and a hangover and we got an apology (well, my husband did via email). She still wants a call at 3 a.m. next time, which we will honor (and I suspect that'll be the last time she asks for a 3 a.m. call unless it's a true emergency).

So there's that.

Thanks for your insights...we've been living together for more than three years, so this isn't a new transition for SD or anything. Yeah, getting married can be a stressor on kids even if nothing substantive changes...

We made the judgment call not to call at 3 a.m. in part because of the other delirium--she wanted a taxi ride, was afraid of her fish. It was all coming out rapid-fire because she was beyond exhausted. We also thought she was half-awake (which was apparently not quite right, as she remembered everything the next day) and, as PPs have put it, a call to Mom would have made things worse. We've noticed that bedtime calls to either parent can go very poorly, if the words "I miss you" come out of anyone's mouth. So we try to make calls earlier. I don't think a middle-of-the-night call would help her calm down.

Given what I know of SD's mom I can't help but get this feeling that no matter what we do will be wrong (at least in the short-term). SD ended up in the ER at 2 a.m. once a few years ago due to asthma-complicated croup, and we found out a day later when she updated her Livejournal. So she didn't think SD's trip to the ER was worthy of even a daytime telephone call or e-mail.

SD has also figured out that "tattling" on the other parent(s)/me can be a lot of fun--whether there is truth to what she's saying or not, it gets attention. ("Proto, do you like Froot Loops?" "No, I don't like things that sweet in the morning." "Well, my MOMMY gives me Froot Loops and I'm going to tell her you think she feeds me bad food." We get interesting dispatches about her Mom, too.) So, we've got that to work on as well.
post #10 of 39
Children may well vary, but for us it would have been a complete disaster letting a stepkid call their mom at 3 am. Rather than helping them feel safer and more secure, it would have led to a long and increasingly hysterical conversation about how much they missed each other, and either having to bundle her back up and take her to her mother's at 4 am, confirming for her that she's unable to safely and happily make it through the night at dad's, or to us having to try to put her back together after she got off the phone with mom, possibly sobbing or about to vomit.

So, yeah, as a mother I absolutely would have no problem with my child calling me at 3 am. However, as a stepparent who's been in the opposite situation, there are times where going with that desire is simply not in the child's interest.

It sounds like you're in a situation where whatever you pick is wrong. So, go on and use your own best judgment, don't worry about picking the right thing, since there isn't one in dealing with her mom.
post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post
All I can say is that it is *really* tough for kids to have to deal with divorce/remarriage and I'd be as gentle as possible with your stepdaughter (and her mother who may be crazy, but of course she still loves her and will most definitely sense it if you have strong negative feelings about her). good luck.
For the record, I don't have strong negative feelings about her or her role or her job as mother--she's a good mom and does generally have the best interest of her daughter at heart.

I do have strong negative feelings about the possibility of every parenting decision my husband makes getting rained on in similar fashion--it's a walking-on-eggshells thing that's been hard to deal with. It's escalated of late (which does make sense).
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
I'm thinking this is reaction to us getting married and not anything actually rational...

But my SD was up at 3 a.m. on Sunday for whatever reason (spooked from Halloween, too much candy, nightmare?). My husband and I alternated with her until she fell asleep.

As happens at 3 a.m., a recurring theme seemed to be "I miss my mommy, can you put me in a taxi and send me to my mommy? I'll get my car seat." (Other recurring 3 a.m. themes: My closet is haunted, my fish are trying to talk to me, nothing is real except for me and the dog and maybe our next-door neighbor but you and Daddy are fake.)

She asked if she could call her mommy...we said she could call in the morning but her mom was sleeping. SD fell asleep without incident a bit later.

Apparently, SD told her mom about missing her and about how Mean Daddy would not put her in a taxi or let her call on the car ride home, because we were treated to Yet Another Nasty Voicemail when we got home. (She called our house, knowing we wouldn't be there. Lovely.) "Our parenting plan calls for IMMEDIATE phone access upon request of our child. How can I trust you to let me know if she's in the hospital--or even take her to the hospital in the first place?"

Really?

Does she really want a non-emergency call at 3 a.m.? (If there was something life-threatening or otherwise major involved, of course we would call no matter what the time.)

Something tells me if we had called at 3 a.m., there would have been a nasty e-mail complaining about how we (or really, my husband) need to handle these minor crises ourselves.

So...when is a crisis enough of a crisis for you to call the other parent at an otherwise inopportune time?

And, separately...any tips for dealing with an ex who's having trouble accepting a marriage or other moving-on? (I am not basing my thoughts solely on this incident--there have been plenty of other signals.)

Thanks!
Voting for "Give the ex a call next time it happens, even it it's 3 a.m."

If your DH's ex shares custody of their daughter with him, then she ought to be okay with however he chooses to handle your DSD's middle-of-the-night concerns. But that's just my opinion. IMHO, a true crisis where I'd expect a 3 a.m. call would be a medical emergency where a trip to the ER is warranted. Otherwise, I'd prefer to be notifed in the morning. Even if there had been a bad nightmare. Even if she had strep throat and had to go to urgent care. If my kid's in the care of her dad for the night, then I'm going to have faith that he'll care for her.

But I'm not the ex in this case, so I'd honor her wishes and call her anytime DSD wants her mom, even at 3 a.m. After a few wake-up calls, I'll bet your DH's ex will eventually change her mind about what warrants a middle-of-the-night call.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
Children may well vary, but for us it would have been a complete disaster letting a stepkid call their mom at 3 am. Rather than helping them feel safer and more secure, it would have led to a long and increasingly hysterical conversation about how much they missed each other, and either having to bundle her back up and take her to her mother's at 4 am, confirming for her that she's unable to safely and happily make it through the night at dad's, or to us having to try to put her back together after she got off the phone with mom, possibly sobbing or about to vomit.

So, yeah, as a mother I absolutely would have no problem with my child calling me at 3 am. However, as a stepparent who's been in the opposite situation, there are times where going with that desire is simply not in the child's interest.

It sounds like you're in a situation where whatever you pick is wrong. So, go on and use your own best judgment, don't worry about picking the right thing, since there isn't one in dealing with her mom.
This exactly! Especially the last sentence.

We've had similar situations, and nothing is improved by letting them call the mother and get hysterical. Truly. Just use your judgment.

One thing I will add is it can become a tactic of the child. If they know they can always call the mom, then they will try it whenever scolded or otherwise uncomfortable. This is also not helpful. Obviously, during normal circumstances they should be allowed to call whenever they want, but there are times when a parent has to exercise judgment, which is exactly what you did.
post #14 of 39
I think you're right: if Mom is inclined to seek reasons to complain about you; or to build herself up as a parent by criticizing you and your partner; or if it plagues her that she has no control over her daughter's time with you guys, this is one issue where she can indulge herself no matter what you do:
* Of course it's silly for her to imagine that your not calling her for a 3am tantrum means you wouldn't call her about an ER visit. But if she wants to believe she can't trust you guys, this makes her feel justified.
* If, in future, you do let your SD call at 3am and Mom feels annoyed about it, she can grouse about your lack of consideration.
* On the other hand, if she's lonely and relishes feeling needed at 3am, she can stay up after the call and fret about the trauma of her poor daughter being forced to be away from her, and she can reassure herself that she is more essential to your SD's sense of security than you guys are.

Blech. You can't fix any of that, if it goes on, so just do what you think is right. For some kids, calling mom in the middle of the night might help. If your instinct is that it would be counterproductive to getting YOUR particular child back to sleep, then follow your instinct.

Also: I know the frustration of trying to co-parent with someone who thinks she's entitled to know everything that goes on with the child immediately, but does not feel obligated to share information with you. That just stinks. Sorry!
post #15 of 39
Hey ProtoLawyer! As a custodial parent (where my ex has our girls every second weekend, etc.) I fall in the category of 'it would only make our dd freak out more to talk to me' - we've btdt.

My ex asked me if I actually did want him to let dd call me, but I threw the ball back in his court - did he want her to? would it help him? or dd? or make it worse? We found that while neither one of us liked the idea of dd crying for me, it helped their bond to work through any night issues together.

Obviously, our relationship is such that he has and will call me over fevers, unexpected night terrors, totally unconsolable dd (we have an almost seven and almost two year old)... but the latter hasn't occured yet.
post #16 of 39
Right after our baby was born, my 6 year old went to a Daisy Scout sleepover. I told her scout leader to let her call me no matter what time it was. There was no call and I was amazed. A couple weeks later, dd told me she cried and cried and the troup leader held her hand.
I was FURIOUS that I didn't get a call. I wouldn't have cared what time it was.
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2mygirl View Post
Right after our baby was born, my 6 year old went to a Daisy Scout sleepover. I told her scout leader to let her call me no matter what time it was. There was no call and I was amazed. A couple weeks later, dd told me she cried and cried and the troup leader held her hand.
I was FURIOUS that I didn't get a call. I wouldn't have cared what time it was.
I could see why you'd be angry...this is a one-off sleepover, with non-family, in probably a strange location--the scout leaders don't know your daughter well, don't know when she's really freaked out versus just needs a few minutes to settle, etc. When my SD has gone to a sleepover, we've given the parents similar instructions (and we were told by both parents and kiddo alike that she was up most of the night telling ghost stories and saying bad words and giggling).

My stepdaughter has been alive for about 2600 days and nights. She has probably spent 600 of those nights with her father and me during the last three years, and more than that with just him before I came along--in fact, he was a SAHD for awhile before he and his ex split six years ago. He has plenty of experience helping her sleep, consoling her, and determining whether something is really wrong. This is apples-to-oranges, I think.

She also wasn't begging to call mom relentlessly or anything--it was one of several recurring themes for the 20-30 minutes we were dealing with it. But it got reported back to her mom nonetheless.

I do have to ask: How many Moms here would call Dad at 3 a.m. if their kid started with "I want my Daddy! I miss my Daddy! Please put me on the bus to my Daddy!"? I suspect it isn't a whole lot. People tend to trust their own parenting, and trust that they have the resources to cope with a meltdown.
post #18 of 39
If I had to be apart from my dd, I would want to know and trust that there would be no barriers between her reaching out to me when she needed it. I would have been really upset too if my dd was still talking about how her feelings were hurt that she couldn't call me. Next time, let her call.
post #19 of 39
I asked DH for his take on this situation. We have a 50/50 split.

He said that he was pretty sure that neither he nor DSD's mom would want to receive or permit the 3 AM phone call. For a few reasons:

1) It would just make her more hysterical. Sometimes, she just gets into a mode where she wants to be upset about something, and no matter what you do, she will just get more upset.

2) The parent that was called at 3 AM would probably be thinking, "Come on, this is your parenting time. You get to talk her down."

3) This sets up a dangerous precedent. If it happened once, she would want to make phone calls every time she awoke in the middle of the night.

We are definitely in a "You can call in the morning" camp.
post #20 of 39
I'd let her call. For one thing if the custodial agreement specifically states unlimited phone access then she could take you to court for contempt on that one. But also to this day I know that if I wake up at 3 am from a bad dream and feel compelled to call my mom, she will welcome that call - and I turned 40 this year!
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