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"Mom told Dad I could call her whenever I want so he has to listen."

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Please (and discounting the whole my-husband's-ex-is-telling-him-what-to-do-and-he's-going-along thing--while I think children of separated parents should have reasonably free phone access to the other parent, I also think reasonable manners-related limits --i.e. you're not allowed to interrupt dinner, ruin an outing where there is no phone, force someone else off the phone, or do it for no reason at 3 a.m.--are appropriate, and it's not one parent's place to tell the other they can't impose said limits in their own house or with their own equipment), wish me sanity during these next few days when my stepdaughter tests this out.

So far, my husband has let her call quite literally whenever. I guess he's trying this as a "war of attrition"--at some point SD's mom will tire of the constant interruption.

However, so far, this has led to:
*My stepdaughter tantruming over the fact that my husband was using the phone and thus she couldn't call her mom.
*Her "tattling" on us (for the above--"Dad didn't get off the phone when I asked" and later, "they're neglecting me and I'm bored"--I was feeding the baby and her dad was in the shower and we have a house full of things to do and really nobody has ever died due to 12 minutes of boredom, and so forth)
*Two delayed bedtimes (yes, totally a stall tactic, but Mom said Dad had to let her call whenever so bedtime gets pushed back, and then we get a comment as to how bedtime needs to be enforced because school is starting)
*Cell phones mysteriously going missing (because apparently "calling whenever I want" also means taking other people's stuff without their permission--we do have a house phone that she's welcome to use but it's corded and thus bad).
*My SD making it very clear to both of us that her Mom has power and we do not. "Well, my MOM said I don't have to do X so I'm not going to here, either" has come out of her mouth several times in the last few days. We've already had some new-baby acting out from my SD, and this is just adding to it.

Sigh. My husband did say if the novelty doesn't wear off in a few days, he'll have some clarifying words with his ex.

I'm just shutting up and taking care of the baby and not getting involved, though I am starting to tire of the interruptions, tantrums, and tattling.

Wish me luck?
post #2 of 28
Ai-yi-yi.

DSD went through a wanting-to-call-mom phase last summer. DH never had rules, per se, but things went approximately like this:

*She had to ask. Kids have to ask around here to use the phone. The baby hasn't gotten that memo yet and dials Timbuktu once a week, but kids who can understand ask first.

*Mom doesn't get called in response to being angry about something - she doesn't get to play "good cop" to tooth brushing, homework, or bedtime.

*Our cell phones are by-the-minute to save money, and they are personal items. Kids do don use our cells - only the house phone.

*No calling after the bedtime routine has begun. If it was a request two nights in a row, it might be the sort of thing that we would incorporate into the bedtime routine, "Hey, we are going to start bedtime stuff, do you want to call your mom first?"

*This might be because DH has 50/50 and has for some time, but Mom's policies have nothing to do with Dad's policies in our situation. DSD's mom does not make the rules over here. Not that conversations aren't had for consistency's sake (on bike helmets, for example), but rules about phone usage are determined by the house that DSD is at. Period. Same with other things, for that matter. Things are different at different houses. Just the way it is. DSD understands this at this point. If DSD's mom and DH were on the same page with everything, they would probably still be together.

Congrats, on your birth, BTW!
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
Ai-yi-yi.

DSD went through a wanting-to-call-mom phase last summer. DH never had rules, per se, but things went approximately like this:

*She had to ask. Kids have to ask around here to use the phone. The baby hasn't gotten that memo yet and dials Timbuktu once a week, but kids who can understand ask first.

*Mom doesn't get called in response to being angry about something - she doesn't get to play "good cop" to tooth brushing, homework, or bedtime.

*Our cell phones are by-the-minute to save money, and they are personal items. Kids do don use our cells - only the house phone.

*No calling after the bedtime routine has begun. If it was a request two nights in a row, it might be the sort of thing that we would incorporate into the bedtime routine, "Hey, we are going to start bedtime stuff, do you want to call your mom first?"

*This might be because DH has 50/50 and has for some time, but Mom's policies have nothing to do with Dad's policies in our situation. DSD's mom does not make the rules over here. Not that conversations aren't had for consistency's sake (on bike helmets, for example), but rules about phone usage are determined by the house that DSD is at. Period. Same with other things, for that matter. Things are different at different houses. Just the way it is. DSD understands this at this point. If DSD's mom and DH were on the same page with everything, they would probably still be together.

Congrats, on your birth, BTW!
It's the exact same over here. DSS went through this a few years back where we would be in the middle of dinner and we would ask him to just TRY a veggie (he doesn't eat them AT ALL at BM's house but that's a whole other issue, lol) so he would say "I'm calling Mom! She said I could call her whenever I want and you have to let me! The court said so!" ... We would just say "We are eating right now and NO ONE uses the phone during dinner. If you want to call her when we have finished, you may but first, you're going to at least TRY that vegetable." .... Of course, he would always call her afterwards, usually crying, because we dared make him try a bite of something... and proceed to tell her we wouldn't let him call her. She would get DH on the phone and chew him out and he would explain the situation, yet again explaining the court papers say "REASONABLE access, not whenever access." After a few months of this, it pretty much went away and both SKs follow the rules of the phones.... Now that they're teenagers, they have a cell phone so now they just have to follow our "cell phone" rules but can call Mom without much fuss.... but they usually DON'T call her on our time anymore. I guess my point is... It gets easier. When my SKs were little, everything seemed to be a battle between them/us/BM but now that they are teenagers, life has fallen into a pretty easy routine with them. So *HUGS* because being a step-mom just SUCKS sometimes.
post #4 of 28
I think it is VERY reasonable to enforce some rules about the phone. This isn't really an issue anymore over here now that dsd is older (thank goodness!), but in the past, she was not allowed to call her mom while she was in trouble/asked to do something she didn't want to and cry to her mom about it, we tried to limit bedtime phone calls because they invariably made her upset, and (although this wasn't an issue here) we would definitely not have been able to just pick up the phone and call if we were in the middle of something. Now she is allowed to call without asking (although she does anyway and doesn't call her mom very often), but she also has the judgement to do it when we are not busy.

It sounds like these multilpe phone calls are letting your dsd's mom be way too involved in your house (i.e. she knows when you are feeding the baby/dsd is bored, when bedtime is, etc.) and that won't work long-term. Hopefully your dh is right and the novelty will wear off

In the meantime, enjoy your new baby and congratulations!
post #5 of 28
Good luck to you. I'm not sure I'd have your patience to let it play itself out. The phone can be tough here, too, and we don't have a parent feeding into it.
post #6 of 28
she's just testing limits. . . set the limits and enforce them. try to make sure that there is no other reason she is needing mom. my 7 year old doesn't use the phone at all unless I hand it to her and tell her to call someone.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Gaaahhh.

You know how your kids get obsessed with, say, horses or Pokemon or Harry Potter and that's all you hear about for days on end?

My SD has a Mom obsession this week and it's driving me up a wall, and I think the constant phone calls are helping to drive it. Note: I understand that, at 7, Mom is still a very central figure in my SD's life and of course she'll want to talk about her and she misses her and I don't begrudge that. But literally, almost everything out of her mouth since yesterday has mentioned Mom in some way. "You're wearing a blue shirt. That's my mom's favorite color!" was said to a total stranger at the farmer's market. "Today's Monday, right? No, Sunday! Yay! It's my mom's day off so I can talk to her all day!" "You're breastfeeding again? My mom only breastfed me for four months so you'll have to stop in (counts on fingers) November." "What do you think Mom is doing now? How about now? Can we call her and find out?"

Every time she's passed a phone, she's asked to call her mom. Screamed for Mom at bedtime last night because my husband wouldn't let her stay up watching "my mom's favorite TV show."

Problem is, with a horse/Pokemon/etc. obsession, it's not too offensive to eventually tell your kid, "let's talk about something else for awhile." Try to redirect from Mom, Mom, Mom and it turns into, "but MOM said..."

My husband's waiting it out, still--SD starts school this week and the schedule shifts back to weekends, and he figures that will probably break the spell. If it doesn't, I'm going to gently suggest talking to a professional. This can't be normal, long-term.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
My SD has a Mom obsession this week and it's driving me up a wall, and I think the constant phone calls are helping to drive it. Note: I understand that, at 7, Mom is still a very central figure in my SD's life and of course she'll want to talk about her and she misses her and I don't begrudge that. .
Begrudge is to look upon with disapproval, which you are doing. I understand that having a newborn in the house adds another level of stress to the situation. Your SD is most likely having a difficult time with the addition of a new sib. Be gentle with her. This obsession will not go on for ever.

Limits need to be set as suggested by the PP. Set the limits and be consistent. This too shall pass. s
post #9 of 28
Is there anything going on at the other house that might be distracting your DSD's mom?

One thing that we've noticed is that whenever DSD's mom is dating a new man/going through a break-up/in a crisis/working a lot at times DSD is not in school, the mom fixation pops up. So right now, DSD's mom has been dating the same guy for a few months and is not working, and DSD only makes normal, relevant-to-the-conversation-at-hand remarks about her mom. When her mom isn't paying attention to her, then we get the counting-the-days-until-the-week-ends, constantly-wanting-to-call, name-dropping all of the time behavior.

Her mom's social and financial crises really affect DSD's ability to just relax and live normally when she is with us. Could something like that be at play? Is she dealing with the birth of your DS okay?
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Pink, nothing's going on at Mom's that I know of (though of course it's possible something's going on I don't know about). Same job, same schedule, no new relationship. She's been really good about the arrival of my son--she even met him once, it went OK.

4blessings, I don't begrudge the sentiments...but perhaps I do begrudge how they're being expressed, as it's been very difficult this weekend. I have been gentle with her--I vent here so it doesn't come out IRL. I understand adjustments are hard. I'm disagreeing with how my husband's handling it (which may be the crux of the problem) but trying my best to stay out of it, but (my) sleep deprivation makes everything else seem a whole lot worse.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Gaaahhh.

You know how your kids get obsessed with, say, horses or Pokemon or Harry Potter and that's all you hear about for days on end?

My SD has a Mom obsession this week and it's driving me up a wall, and I think the constant phone calls are helping to drive it. Note: I understand that, at 7, Mom is still a very central figure in my SD's life and of course she'll want to talk about her and she misses her and I don't begrudge that. But literally, almost everything out of her mouth since yesterday has mentioned Mom in some way. "You're wearing a blue shirt. That's my mom's favorite color!" was said to a total stranger at the farmer's market. "Today's Monday, right? No, Sunday! Yay! It's my mom's day off so I can talk to her all day!" "You're breastfeeding again? My mom only breastfed me for four months so you'll have to stop in (counts on fingers) November." "What do you think Mom is doing now? How about now? Can we call her and find out?"

Every time she's passed a phone, she's asked to call her mom. Screamed for Mom at bedtime last night because my husband wouldn't let her stay up watching "my mom's favorite TV show."

Problem is, with a horse/Pokemon/etc. obsession, it's not too offensive to eventually tell your kid, "let's talk about something else for awhile." Try to redirect from Mom, Mom, Mom and it turns into, "but MOM said..."

My husband's waiting it out, still--SD starts school this week and the schedule shifts back to weekends, and he figures that will probably break the spell. If it doesn't, I'm going to gently suggest talking to a professional. This can't be normal, long-term.
If it makes you feel any better - my seven year old does that to me... in reverse. It's her dad she wants to talk about/to. What is he doing at work, what is he doing at home, wonder what he's having to eat for dinner, hey - that's his favorite song/show/color/etc.

It's annoying as hell, but I try to be empathetic (even if I'm grinding my teeth or rolling my eyes to myself) I assume she misses him and talking about him may (?) make her feel less guilty about not being with him. I don't know.

Just wanted to throw it out there, if it makes you feel any better. Perhaps it's the age? We set phone limits as well, just for the sanity of the household.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Now there's flat-out lying ("I've done nothing but miss you all afternoon and Dad disobeyed you and wouldn't let me call" -- she was at a drop-off party eating ice cream and bouncing in a bouncy castle, so Dad wasn't even there; that got clarified with Mom very quickly and Mom was receptive to the clarification AND explained that Dad was neither her child nor her employee and therefore does not need to "obey" her, so that's something) and freaking out that she can't keep her dad's cell phone under her pillow at night "just in case."

This too shall pass...this too shall pass...
post #13 of 28
Wow! You are a saint! I wouldn't have been able to keep my mouth shut about something like this going on. It sounds to me like your DSD is running the show right now with the power her Mom gave her at your house and your DH enabling it.

There should most definitley be rules and guidelines, and that is not a bad thing. And you should be able to have a say in those rules in your house. Just because it's your DSD, doesn't mean you should just have to be quiet and let him handle it. You should be able to voice concerns to him that you feel this no boundary phone thing is being very disruptive to your house and be able to find some middle ground rules to put in place.

And it's very common that there are different rules per household. Way of blended family life.

Congrats on your new baby!! Hope this stress can be sorted out soon. I remember quite well the sleep deprived craziness that made everything worse on your nerves. Take it easy. Try to talk to your DH about some middle ground rules with the phone to make things less disruptive.
post #14 of 28
It seems pretty obvious from an outside perspective that your daughter is insecure because she now has a new sibling taking your attention and therefore her mom's role in her life is very important to her. It's only been 5 weeks or so that she has a new sibling. You've been a very loving parental figure to her and so she probably really values your role in her life and loves you and might feel insecure about that; in that context, she might be clinging/gravitating more towards her mom.

I think it's worth your husband taking her out and pointing out to her that she seems to be really needing and talking about her mom a lot lately, and asking her if she knows why that might be. He can point out that it must be a big change to have a new baby and asking how she feels and any questions or concerns she might have. I also think it's worth both you and he assuring her about her role in your family and life; and for you to say that even though you have a new baby now that you really value your relationship with her and feel lucky to have been her stepmom all these years and to get to see her with a sibling. And you might want to focus on building the relationship with her new sibling.

I'm sure you've done a lot of these at various points as you guys seem like super-sensitive about blended dynamics. But it seems like now might be a time she needs more reassurance.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
It seems pretty obvious from an outside perspective that your daughter is insecure because she now has a new sibling taking your attention and therefore her mom's role in her life is very important to her.

Yes, yes, yes. This would completely explain the tantrums or any other regression (returning to phases she had previously outgrown.)

I once read a book about child development that described her experience this way: as traumatic as if your partner had brought home ANOTHER partner/wife and DEMANDED that you love her.

She sounds really scared about her relationship with her mom and how that will fare with a new baby in mom's life. WHICH IS NORMAL older-sibling stuff. But it can be very, very painful for some kids. Maybe she's terrified that if she can't call her mom at any time her relationship with mom will be threatened somehow.

Becoming a big sister is apparently a HUGE experience for her, emotionally.

And loving boundaries, with a big dose of talking about her feelings, (you really really love your mom don't you honey. I hear you. It's time to have the phone off right now for X reason.) is what I would strive for.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
*Her "tattling" on us (..."they're neglecting me and I'm bored")
I HATE this!!! I wish strength for you, because we're going through it right now, too. This weekend, it was "This stinks big time!", said to Mom in the middle of a camping/amusement park trip.

You feel torn between hurt (that your best efforts to provide a nice family life for this kid are summarily rejected and that despite your spouse's best efforts to be a loving, involved parent the kid seems to be clearly choosing the vicious ex over him) and anger (that this ungrateful snot feels entitled to snipe about you to someone you behaves like your sworn enemy, every time you go through the normal foibles of real life...not being entertaining because sometimes you have to shower and pay attention to your other kids; or having trouble getting the campfire lit; or lines being too long for a favorite ride at an amusement park). ARGH!

I know this was only part of your post, but I think it's rotten when parents support the kid being disloyal and ugly about their other parent, over trivia. Even if you hate your ex, you should resist the gratification of hearing your kid say crappy things about him and remember to think about what kind of person you're raising!
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
"It's better at Mom's" was her prolonged, whined mantra today when my husband was insisting she used sunscreen (which is non-negotiable in both places so whatever) before they went to the lake. (I'm pretty sure, had I been in charge of the lake trip, I would have at least considered aborting said trip at that point.)

My Visa card was also deemed inadequate because her mom has a Mastercard.

I know where it's coming from. Doesn't make it easier in the instant...

School starts tomorrow and I hope that'll be the end of it...
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
School starts tomorrow and I hope that'll be the end of it...
We're struggling here, too, with end-of-summer-back-to-school... Everyone falling apart all day long. Lots of changes for everyone, lots of unknowns-- oldest back to school in mom's state, next one starting Kindergarten, next one doesn't really know what it means that everyone else is going to school but knows it means big changes coming, and youngest sick and teething and feeling everyone's stress...

And, like you, knowing where it is coming from doesn't really help... when the 8-year-old punches her brother in the stomach, when the 5-yr-old has a giant meltdown for no discernible reason, when the 3-yr-old is practically climbing up me to be held, and when the baby wants whatever he is not getting at any given moment...

Here's hoping things settle with the consistency of the school-year routine.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post

My Visa card was also deemed inadequate because her mom has a Mastercard.

.
I'm sorry, but this made me LOL, literally.
Better interest rate? Lower annual fee? She likes the picture better?

I've been dealing with an irrational and mouthy 12 yo, so please know that I'm saying this from a place of empathy. It's just absolutely ridiculous the things that are coming out of her mouth this week!
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklefairy View Post
I'm sorry, but this made me LOL, literally.
Better interest rate? Lower annual fee? She likes the picture better?


I don't think my DSD even knows the difference! If I asked her what a Mastercard is, she would probably just look at me like I was crazy.

WRT the situation - we really went through this phase about a year ago. It culminated with DH and I telling DSD that for the time being, if she didn't have anything nice to say, then she shouldn't say it at all. I have a feeling that might not sit well with a lot of the moms on MDC, but it really helped keep the peace in our house.
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