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Kids phone time with stbx

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I dealt in a professional occupation with a lot of parents that had a problem with their kids telephone time with their ex.  I always understood the time issues, hurt feelings when phone time did not work out and so on but now that I am on the other side of the table so to speak, I understand the issues soooo much better. 

1.  cost - stbx moved to Alaska and yet wants the kids to call him - so I pay for it.  I do let them call when they ask but really think that as the choice to move was his, he needs to be the one to call.  He does call sometimes but seems to hang up pretty quick so the kids end up calling him back.  And with 3 kids, time can really wrack up on some of the calls.  We live in the country and a cell over a land line is not an option.

2. and the REAL issue for me that I have NO CLUE how to handle - does my 11 ds REALLY have to tell him every little thing going on in my life?  There is information that I would like my boy to have but don't want going to stbx the same day.  It is to the point that I can not talk in front of my son at alll.  Like tonight, ds told stbx that he cleaned my whole bedroom and I am going to buy him a game for it.  Ok. True that ds helped out in my bedroom - but we have been doing a whole house cleaning.  And the game is called plants vs zombies but it is not a violent game like it sounds.  I would just like my privacy - not trying to hide major secrets.  I would feel more comfortable if things were settled between us for custody and even the state we are going to file for div in.  And telling ds not to tell feels like I would be asking him to keep secrets, something neither of us would be comfortable with. 

Anyone else deal with these issues? 

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Meant to post this in the single parenting forum, lol.  No idea how to move it.

post #3 of 9

For #1, could you have the kids call him collect?


For #2, I've struggled with that with my  XH's parents, but they generally change the topic *very* quickly whenever the kids mention DH, the baby or anything relating to good things happening for me. Does DS tell you anything about what goes on in STBX's day to day life? That's the point where I'd bring up the topic "Your dad wants to share his life with you, but now that we aren't together anymore, we'd appreciate some privacy from each other, we don't want to hear details about each other's lives." If you are on amicable enough terms that you could get STBX to say something similar, then that'd help.


If he brings up stuff like the room cleaning/game in court, he's going to end up looking like an ass... if he has a concern about it, he should try and discuss it with you (you know, like an adult who is interested in having a productive co-parenting relationship?) or look the game up and see if he thinks it's appropriate, rather than run & tattle to the Judge. 

post #4 of 9

1.Can you set up an email account for the kids to email dad.  That way you can kinda proof read the email before its sent out?  email is 'free' and hopefully dad will respond in a timely manner?  IDK if you want a paper trail of every little thing but its a thought.

2. Is it cheaper to get pre-paid phone cards instead of whatever your long distance plan is?  I used to get phone cards at sams club/costco years ago and they were very reasonable.  I also think the 99cent store has them and its 99 minutes for 99 cents.  You may also be able to find some type of deal on line?

3. really no cell service where you are? you have got to be kidding meblush.gif

post #5 of 9

If both parties have access to a computer with webcam and internet you can skype. It's a free and you can see each other face to face over the computer.

post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by mugglemomma23 View Post

2. and the REAL issue for me that I have NO CLUE how to handle - does my 11 ds REALLY have to tell him every little thing going on in my life?  There is information that I would like my boy to have but don't want going to stbx the same day.  It is to the point that I can not talk in front of my son at alll.  

Anyone else deal with these issues? 

Yes.  It drives me batty when my older child needs to immediately report every minute detail of every day to day thing while we are together or anything he knows about, to his father, daily, on the phone.  I feel like my life is under microscope, in a very unpleasant way.



No words of advice, just empathy.

post #7 of 9

Both of your observations are completely understandable.  Nevertheless, let me play devil's advocate regarding the second one.  I think it's much healthier for a kid to feel comfortable talking about everything in his life, to either parent; than to feel so involved in the failed relationship between his parents that he filters and stifles his thoughts.  It's bad enough that your kids have to deal with their dad having moved out of state.  It would be worse if they ALSO spent their time on the phone with him constantly asking themselves, "Is THIS thing I'm thinking about OK to tell Dad, or is it one of the things Mom doesn't want him to know about, anymore?"


There may be cases where you'll have to say, "Look, it's just inappropriate to share that with your Dad.  It makes me uncomfortable."  Let's say they want to laugh with him over your surprise burp at the dinner table.  Kids over the age of three can easily understand that it's not polite to share that kind of thing - with their dad or anyone else.  


But I don't think the example you gave falls in this category.  Certainly, you'd prefer not to have your ex judging your housekeeping, your chore assignments, your choice of video games.  But cleaning your room - and then getting the reward of a new game he wanted - was part of your SON'S day.  Being annoyed, wondering what your ex will think of these things, is YOUR issue.  I commend you, for resisting the impulse to confuse them! 


If you had told your son not to discuss this with his dad, what would have been the deeper underlying message?  Since those events happened during your parenting time, in your house, your room, you assigned the chores, you approved the game...that part of HIS day belonged to YOU...and shouldn't be shared with his dad.  If your son began to think of his life in that compartmentalized way - one life with Mom, another life with Dad, try not to mix them - he might grow to feel uncomfortable telling his dad about things you don't mind him sharing - say, an award he got at school (which will now seem like your turf, because Dad's out of state). 


We have kind of the opposite extreme, with my step-son.  His mom seems rather maniacally intent on his life with her being completely separate in every way, from any relationship he may retain, with his dad.  When DSS lived with her, he was never allowed to have phone conversations with my husband without his mom in the room; and if he told his dad things she didn't want him to say (even things she was required to share with DH, like when she changed jobs), you could hear her yelling in the background and sometimes she'd hang up the phone.  Even now that DSS is older, his phone calls with DH when he's visiting his mom are very minimal and perfunctory.  And even though he lives with us most of the year and we ask about his mom, and his time with her, in positive ways, he doesn't talk about her nearly as much as I'd expect him to.  Every once in a while, he'll blurt out something about her, or her house, or what they did together during his last visit.  But sometimes he'll follow it up with, "Oh.  I'm not supposed to talk about that with you guys."  It's deeply sad, to me, to see that he clearly feels his mom's hostility toward us takes priority over his own right to just relax and talk openly about his life, with the people he lives with.  I'm glad you're reluctant to do that, to your kids.  Good for you.


As far as the cost, why not tabulate how much you're spending on calls to your ex, and ask that it be factored into your settlement?  You're right.  He unilaterally chose to create a situation where it's expensive for your kids to stay in contact with him.  You're doing the right thing and not restricting their access to him, by phone.  He should help with the cost.  Ask that half the monthly amount you've been averaging be added into his child support.  Or, if the court is uncomfortable adding this into the CS calculation, ask that he be ordered to send you a monthly phone card in that amount.  Or, heck, ask that he cover the entire cost.  Maybe he'll balk and the court will settle for him paying half. 


Edited by VocalMinority - 7/29/11 at 5:55pm
post #8 of 9

From the perspective of a child whose relationship with her dad was nearly all phone contact, with in-person time only 6 weeks in the summer and every other Christmas, I will say that the phone contact can be precious. I am VERY close to my dad (in a different way than I am close to my mom) and he is often my first phone call when I have a funny story to share, something I need to think through aloud with someone, or a question about some random topic. And we built that strong relationship over the phone.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all your comments.  I do understand the flip side of the coin.  Unfortunately, stbx has started grilling the kids, sharing way more information with them than they need, and in the case of my second child, really pulling a marter act - crying on the phone, being really upset and causing my son to be really upset.  My son and I have had a couple of talks and things have been going more smoothly.  Also, when stbx ordered me ("have D call me")  to have the kids call today, I did not convey the message - he eventually called them himself.  I think stbx will be moving back closer to home which will be good in a lot of ways.

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