House key for a 13-year-old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Mamas,

 

Well, I knew this moment would come... my newly-minted 13-year-old has requested her own house key. "All" of her friends, apparently, have one. She would like to be able to take the bus home from school and let herself in, or be dropped at home after a hangout with a friend while I'm at the store, etc. I'm pretty sure she's not going to burn the house down at this point and Ive started leaving her alone for brief periods of time (like a store run), so I'm not opposed to this in theory... the problem is her father.

 

DD lives halftime with myself and DH, and halftime with her father. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of her father having access to my home when I'm not there... and I have a feeling that if DD has a house key, he will make a copy of it for himself. He has given me keys to his home, which I reluctantly accepted, and which I use only in emergencies when DD has forgotten something important at his house (I always ask him to leave things on the porch for me instead of my going inside). He's also asked for keys to my place to use for the same purpose, but in addition to my own discomfort, DH says NO WAY! We have reasons to not trust him with our private belongings and information, and I would just have a feeling of constant unease and violation knowing he could let himself in at any time and root through my life.

 

I've been putting my DD off for some time about this... does anyone have any great ideas about how to handle this? I thought of maybe making a spare key but not allowing her to carry it or tell anyone about it... I could hide it outside somewhere and she would know where it is. But that seems like a not-so-great idea, too. And I know there are high-tech remote-entry systems available where I could let her in using my cellphone, but I bet that's awfully expensive. So... help!!

 

Thanks in advance for your ideas. :D


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#2 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 04:43 PM
 
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That's tough. I think the only way you're going to be able to do it is a key outside.

If you asked dd not to give it to anyone ever, including her dad, would that be appropriate? I don't know.

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#3 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Banana! That's exactly the problem. We can't ask her to not give it to her dad... just like we can't ask her to keep secrets from her dad. They have a father-daughter relationship and we do respect that. So keeping a key outside doesn't really solve the problem.


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#4 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 04:59 PM
 
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Our friends have a combination-coded lock and a security system instead of a traditional key. Their children were able to use the combination from a fairly young age - much younger than 13. An advantage is that you never have to worry about lost or forgotten keys. Is it possible for you to use this kind of system? You would always be aware when someone entered your home. It would discourage your ex from unauthorized entry. 

 

I suppose instead of a full-on security system, you could just place a security camera or nanny cam or something like that in the entry and let him know you are checking who is coming into your home. 

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#5 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 05:32 PM
 
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Yup - hiding place outside for the key.

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#6 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 05:52 PM
 
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I think you need to assume that, if your 13yo has the means to access the house independently then your ex does too. It would be very easy for him to get the key/password/security code/hiding place from her. I think the only options are 1)no independent access for her or 2) the security sYstem which ollyoxenfree suggested. It may deter him and, if it doesn't, at least you would know he'd been there.

Not ideal I know but I don't really see what other options you have.

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#7 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 05:59 PM
 
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So.... when would you consider it appropriate to give her a key, if ever? 15? 17? Or is stepDad going to have a problem always?

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#8 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 06:10 PM
 
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you don't feel comfortable talking to her about your concerns?

my thought is, if you leave a key outside, couldn't dad just find it? i mean all she would have to do is mention in passing that you leave a key outside for her.

can you talk to him? 

is there ever going to be a time that she will still see her father, but need access to your house? what happens when she is in her later teens? like 17 or something? 

to me this seems like an issue you will have to be upfront with her about, because at some point it will just be weird that she doesn't have a key to carry around. 


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#9 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 06:28 PM
 
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Lock box. It's secure, easy, and you can tell her not to give the code to anyone, even her dad.

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#10 of 28 Old 09-12-2013, 08:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Diane B View Post

Lock box. It's secure, easy, and you can tell her not to give the code to anyone, even her dad.

Except that, at 13, that will last until she needs something from mum's house and dad offers to get it for her or dad comes up with some convincing story about why he needs it. I don't know what the solution is but I think anything which relies on the discretion of a young teenager is doomed to failure. Especially when it's her dad who she lives with part of the time who she is being asked to keep the secret from.

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#11 of 28 Old 09-13-2013, 12:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Diane B View Post
 

Lock box. It's secure, easy, and you can tell her not to give the code to anyone, even her dad.

 

 

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Originally Posted by LitMama View Post
 

That's exactly the problem. We can't ask her to not give it to her dad... just like we can't ask her to keep secrets from her dad. They have a father-daughter relationship and we do respect that. So keeping a key outside doesn't really solve the problem.

 

first let me say this is a v. weird situation. ex and i have the same situation. dd has a key and SHE goes in to get what she wants. not me go in with her.  ewww i would not want to step into ex's place. nope. no way.

 

in your case it seems to me its actually detrimental to have dd have any access to your place. it seems that ur ex does want to get into the house. you want to respect their father daughter relationship. giving your dd any access to your house means giving the same to her father. he is going to ask and she is not going to say no.

 

until your dd is ready to hear u dont want her father in the house, i dont see a solution to this problem. 

 

can you have a restraining order against entering a property? 


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#12 of 28 Old 09-13-2013, 02:07 PM
 
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I agree that she does not need a key until she is mature enough to hear and understand that her step father does not want her father entering his house (not at all unusual) AND that you  do not feel you can trust her father to respect that if she has a key(very unusual).

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#13 of 28 Old 09-13-2013, 02:19 PM
 
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you don't feel comfortable talking to her about your concerns?

my thought is, if you leave a key outside, couldn't dad just find it? i mean all she would have to do is mention in passing that you leave a key outside for her.

can you talk to him? 

is there ever going to be a time that she will still see her father, but need access to your house? what happens when she is in her later teens? like 17 or something? 

to me this seems like an issue you will have to be upfront with her about, because at some point it will just be weird that she doesn't have a key to carry around. 

 

Agreed. I've been separated for a year and my oldest is only 11. I have fears his father will enter the house. In fact, he did use DS1's key to enter my house a few months after he moved out - to drop things off, and he didn't just leave them at the door, he took the stuff to the kitchen. I responded with a very threatening, firm message that he is never authorized to enter my house and if it happens again I will call the police (or something to that effect). It hasn't happened again (I'm quite positive. I also have neighbours keeping a watch out).

 
But it is something that I have spoken openly to my son about. I have a wonderful family counsellor that visits me once a week for 2 hours and he helps me figure out how to talk to DS1 about issues. He takes an honest approach. He has said it's good for me to tell ds1 the truth. He suggests I tell him that I separated his father because I refused to be scared in my own house, I refused to be treated badly by people in my own home, and I chose to never be abused again. I don't know your specific past, but if this is relevant, you would then add that a big part of this is trusting that he will not enter the safety of your home. But the important thing to stress is that your daughter has her very own special relationship with her father and that is hers alone and she can love him as much as she wants to and that you know he loves and cares deeply about her. But you can explain that this is your house now with your rules and one of the most important rules is that he may not have access. Stress that this is for you alone and has nothing to do with her. You can tell her that if he asks for the key, she can tell him he has to talk to you.
 
hth
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#14 of 28 Old 09-14-2013, 09:35 AM
 
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You need to have a discussion with DD about respect and boundaries.  Yes she has a key to her dads house and look how that is handled,  she needs a key to your house but it needs to be handled the same way.  the key is HERS not her dad's.  its for HER access.  Her father is not to have access to the house and this is why...1. 2. 3. etc.  At 13 she should be able to understand and accept those boundaries.

 

The other option is to keep a key at the the house for dd's use but not keep it with her at all times.  So she takes it when she is going somehwere but not when she is going to dads (for now).

 

I keep our keys on a hooks by the front door (house keys, car key, pool key, mail key etc) and I grab what i need to go, DS takes his key when he leaves for swim club or a friends house.  When we come home we hang them back up.

 

My questions- someone is always home to let your child in from school? always home to let her in from carpool activites?  i wouldn't want to be home 'waiting' on DS.


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#15 of 28 Old 09-14-2013, 02:27 PM
 
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this thread has stayed with me and i am not sure what the solution is.

 

the way i look at this is - your 13 year old is perfect to have a key...

 

... but really the concern is not that should the 13 year old have a key, but - how do i keep ex from using dd's key. i am assuming ex will bully dd to giving him access to the keys - whether she has them in the house or they are under a flower pot at your place.

 

it sounds like even if you tell your ex you dont want him in your house, he will come in. 

 

you are right about not having her keep a secret that you have a key under the flowerpot. that is an uncomfortable  situation for her to be in, keeping track of what to say and what not to say. 

 

so this is a far complicated issue. 

 

i was wondering if you could return his keys and tell him you would prefer not to go into his house. that instead he could give the keys to dd and she could go into the house to get anything. 

 

and tell him you'd like the same - IF you think he will honor that. and that should take care of the issue.


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#16 of 28 Old 09-14-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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I think it is suitable for a 13-year-old to have a key in general, but in this case it does sound like it should be contingent on her understanding that you do not want her dad in your house and her being willing to accept this boundary. I mean, she probably already gets that you and her dad are no longer the best of friends, given that you've divorced and remarried, and presumably already makes the separation of "Mom and Dad aren't in a romantic relationship anymore but they are both still my parents and love me". Having a key on a hook that she can just take on days that she needs it would probably be good combined with this. That way if she is staying with her dad and he starts to bug her about it, she can truthfully answer "I don't have the key now, it's at Mom's." 

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#17 of 28 Old 09-15-2013, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thank you ALL for such insightful, thoughtful responses to my problem! 
 
It is indeed a complicated and nuanced situation. I completely trust my daughter and feel it's entirely appropriate for her to have a key, it's just the boundary issues with her father that's the problem. 
 
Many years ago (when DD was in preschool and kindergarten), her dad and I did have keys to one another's homes, and used them to drop things off or pick them up, as well as to babysit for one another. Neither of us had a significant other at the time, so that made it simpler because there was no one to object. But, I realized it was making me feel violated (and I discovered a couple of photos missing from a drawer, so I know her dad was rooting through my drawers while I was away), and when my landlord had to change the locks, I took that opportunity to NOT give dad a new key, and I casually returned his keys to him, telling him I didn't really need them anymore... he could "babysit" for me at his own place, etc.. We didn't have keys to one another's homes for many years, until recently, when he urged me to take a set of keys to his place, essentially as a convenience for him. He's not the most organized guy, and often forgets to send DD with things that she needs. So welcoming me to stop by anytime basically takes him off the hook and enables his lack of organization. 
 
The other problem, and what complicates this, is that I have not been open and honest with DD about how DH and I feel about her dad... we are all sort of pretending to have a friendlier relationship than we really do for DD's sake (a larger issue we must begin to address at some point). So I believe that if she heard from me I was wanting to draw some rigid boundaries with her dad, it would be shocking and upsetting to her and I would then have to deal with her questions and the larger issues of why I left him, the reasons I don't trust him when he appears to trust me, etc. We've had some other challenges in the last few years and I just haven't had the bandwidth to begin to deal with these particular deep, murky waters. 
 
But, I do see some interim solutions emerging here! I think until I'm ready to have deeper discussions with DD about the true nature of my relationship with her father (i.e., I left him because he was emotionally abusive and had a substance abuse problem... he got treatment and therapy and is clean, sober and a good dad, but still tries to manipulate and control me), I can try some of your good ideas, like having the spare key be something she takes with her only when she needs it:
 
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The other option is to keep a key at the the house for dd's use but not keep it with her at all times.  So she takes it when she is going somehwere but not when she is going to dads (for now).

 

I keep our keys on a hooks by the front door (house keys, car key, pool key, mail key etc) and I grab what i need to go, DS takes his key when he leaves for swim club or a friends house.  When we come home we hang them back up.

 

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IHaving a key on a hook that she can just take on days that she needs it would probably be good combined with this. That way if she is staying with her dad and he starts to bug her about it, she can truthfully answer "I don't have the key now, it's at Mom's." 

 

I can also return dad's keys to him, or give them to DD and have her be the one to run inside and find things. I think he already gets that I don't want to go inside his house, because I generally ask him to leave things outside for me.

 

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i was wondering if you could return his keys and tell him you would prefer not to go into his house. that instead he could give the keys to dd and she could go into the house to get anything. 

 

and tell him you'd like the same - IF you think he will honor that. and that should take care of the issue.

 

And to answer the question... is someone always home to let her in? The answer is yes, so far. We've all probably been a little overprotective of DD. I think this is partly a function of her being the precious only child and a late bloomer herself, and also partly that we live in a very urban environment... not the kind of town where you can let the kids walk home from school or ride bikes with their friends through the neighborhood without an adult. It's kind of sad, I know (my own childhood was so different), but it's what we are stuck with for the time being. Long story. At the same time, she's 13 now and needs to begin to spread her wings and be more independent, so finding a way to give her this access is part of that developmental step.

 

I know the moment is coming when I'll need to be more forthcoming with DD about her dad and my relationship with him (and I'm sure she already senses the way things really are), so maybe this is a little push in that direction, too. :o

 

Thank you all again so much for your wisdom about the many layers of this! I feel like I have some good ideas and feel a lot better about proceeding.


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#18 of 28 Old 09-16-2013, 08:26 PM
 
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This is a difficult situation. I think honesty is the best policy, if you decide to tell your dd about her father, I wouldn't disrespect him, but lay the truth on the table about why you don't feel comfortable about a man you aren't in a relationship in your house and that she needs to respect you by perhaps not mentioning the key and definitely not letting him use it or letting him in the house when you aren't home.

 

Then, I'd have a CALM talk with your ex and let him know you don't feel comfortable with him in your house when you are not home, that you will be getting a camera system and if the agreement is violated you will get a restraining order to keep him from rummaging through your belongings. THEN, follow up on it if he does go into the house. Don't mention the key, but just make it clear that your home is yours.

 

An Order of Protection is a good idea as it keeps the whole situation in the court and not in your home. Camera systems are not expensive. I don't have an ex in this type of relationship, but I would not hesitate to protect my privacy. When you mention an OoP don't threaten or use it as a tool, just let him know you want your home respected as your property. Are the two of you able to have conversations that don't turn into blow ups? If so, then this might be the best solution.

 

Or, don't say anything to him, get the combination lock system and change the combination frequently, giving it to your dd as she needs it. I think she's old enough to know what privacy is and why you wouldn't want a man you are not in a relationship with in your home. I think you can convey to your dd that although you know she loves her father and you want her to have a relationship with him it doesn't mean YOU want to have a relationship with him beyond parenting, There is simply no need for him to ever enter your house. It's sad to have to bring lawyers into it, but that may be the eventual answer, if he violates your privacy. It can be done without animosity, just as it would be done with anyone else you wouldn't want wandering around your home when you aren't home.

 

It is complicated, I'll give you that. I'm sure you can find a way to let your dd know that although you and your ex are parenting together, you do not have a love relationship and that you both have your own houses and that the other has no need to ever enter the others' house.

 

Good luck.

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#19 of 28 Old 09-17-2013, 05:34 PM
 
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That's a tough situation.  In addition to using a lock box or hidden rock, perhaps making the key one of those "do not copy" keys.  They cost slightly more than regular copies.  It won't keep DD's dad from taking it, but at least he won't be able to make a copy.

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#20 of 28 Old 09-19-2013, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Maggie and Julie! Good ideas. I don't think I would go as far as an OoP, but the idea of having a lockbox with frequently changing codes seems doable, as does getting a key with the "do not copy" order on it. I wouldn't have thought of that!

 

Yeah, it's complicated... <sigh>... and fortunately it hasn't come up again since I posted. It gives DH and I some time to mull it over and figure it out. It's definitely an issue that isn't going to just go away.


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#21 of 28 Old 09-23-2013, 08:06 PM
 
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I'm wondering if it isn't a good plan to look further down the road. If you have shared custody there are just going to be times in the future where you x is going to be in your house (if you maintain the civil custody sharing arrangement you have now).  At some point your older DC is going to need some help carrying something and your x is going to come help her, right?  So, I guess I'm feeling like you are going to have to either address the issue of him not ever coming into your home...or you may have to just get comfortable with the idea.  

 

Unless, of course, you're talking about worrying about him unlawfully entering your home when he has no cause to be there...  Is that your concern?  


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#22 of 28 Old 09-23-2013, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm wondering if it isn't a good plan to look further down the road. If you have shared custody there are just going to be times in the future where you x is going to be in your house (if you maintain the civil custody sharing arrangement you have now).  At some point your older DC is going to need some help carrying something and your x is going to come help her, right?  So, I guess I'm feeling like you are going to have to either address the issue of him not ever coming into your home...or you may have to just get comfortable with the idea.  

 

Unless, of course, you're talking about worrying about him unlawfully entering your home when he has no cause to be there...  Is that your concern?  

 

Yes! Exactly. 

 
We do currently have a civil arrangement, and I don't see that changing, nor would I want it to change unless it has to. Although I don't really trust my ex, neither do I want this to become uncivil by bringing lawyers and decrees into it, for DD's sake. Someday I will have to be more honest with DD about my feelings about her dad, but for now my way of dealing with this feels like the way that is most respectful of her relationship with him.
 
I'm actually not too concerned about his entering the house with DD present... it's mostly the idea that he might be tempted to use his key to enter alone. I've seen him be disrespectful of other people's information and belongings in the (distant) past, and my feelings of uneasiness around that have stayed with me all these years.
 
It's really about privacy for me... for example, I wouldn't want him in my filing cabinet, looking at medical and tax records. He's weird and controlling about how we spend our money, and it's a constant battle to keep our private life private from him. For example, DD doesn't know how much our rent is, nor how much we spent on the used car we just bought, because if she knew, her father would know, and he would have an opinion about it (not a nice one!). Likewise, I don't want him opening bathroom and kitchen cabinets and seeing the fertility supplements I take and thereby knowing we are trying for a baby, because he would have an opinion about that, too. So... I'm thinking maybe at least in the future, we just need to find a way to lock up and hide the things we really want to keep private. Either that, or just be okay with living our lives as an open book and dealing with whatever reactions he has.
 
It's possible these fears of mine are mostly projections of my difficult, complicated relationship with the ex. He may have zero interest in rifling through my medicine cabinet and bank statements... but worrying about that sure does make for a challenge in dealing with this key issue! 

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#23 of 28 Old 10-08-2013, 06:19 AM
 
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My daughter has a house key, and she leaves it at my house when she goes to her father's. This was something she did all on her own. We hadn't discussed it, ahead of time. She just pulled her key out of her bag before her dad picked her up and said "Oop, guess I shoudn't take this with me", and left it in the dish where we keep our keys. It has been a complete non-issue.

Is there any reason she would need to take the key to her dad's house? Can she not leave it behind? I guess I don't see a reason why she would be needing to enter your house when she's visiting her father? Maybe I missed some pertenant piece of info in this thread. Hmm. Will go check!
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#24 of 28 Old 10-15-2013, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing your experience, Nikki. That totally makes sense! And how great that it was intuitive for your DD.

 

I don't think it would work for our family, though, because we have a crazy parenting schedule that has DD often walking out mom's door in the AM and in dad's door in the afternoon/evening. We would love to do a week-on/week-off schedule, but her dad won't have it. So leaving the key at my house would probably mean she wouldn't have it when she needed it. We are still trying to figure out how to handle this, and it's an issue that won't be going away. So I appreciate all the ideas!


treehugger.gif Mama to 1 lovely DD,  angel1.gif 1/12 @ 8 weeks (ectopic), angel1.gif 1/14 @ 7 weeks, many chemical pregnancies, TTC DH'S #1, my #2
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#25 of 28 Old 04-13-2014, 06:58 PM
 
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I have an electronic keypad (same reason - ex). I can easily program it for holiday mode when they are with their dad. Then I can just use my key or my master code to get in.

Good luck

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#26 of 28 Old 04-14-2014, 02:00 AM
 
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Fix up a key safe just as Diane suggested, "Lock box" which is the same.

 

It's all about trust. To a 13 year old having a key to the house really is a big deal. Your daughter's peers all have one, so why not her, she thinks? When I was adopted into my new family I was with my baby. They trusted me. Implicitly. They fixed a key safe on the wall, entrusted me with the code and I went from there. Four years down the line, needless to say I don't need the key safe anymore.

 

If you know any of the mothers of your daughter's friends who trusted their daughter with a key to their house, ask them why. You might be pleasantly surprised. You also might get a make a friend, and that could be very useful as your daughter grows up during what is undeniably difficult years.

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#27 of 28 Old 05-18-2014, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi All,

 

Thanks again for all your thoughts! I think we've decided what to do. The problem is not with trusting my DD... we do trust her, implicitly. We just don't trust her father, and if she has access to a key, he will too (he would either secretly take her key and make a copy of it for himself, or manipulate her into giving up the code... he tried this with my banking information previously).

 

So here's what we've worked out: we're going to either give DD a key of her own, or have a keypad or lockbox installed and give her the code. We're then going to lock up anything and everything we don't want her father to steal (money, important documents, anything private, prescription drugs) and install cameras in the house, at least temporarily. The cameras are for my DH's peace of mind... he would like to be able to monitor the comings and goings of my ex and see if he is indeed letting himself into the house, and what he is doing while he's in our home.

 

Hopefully this will turn into a trust-building exercise, and we'll find reassurance that the ex is NOT letting himself in! But since there's a history of violations, that remains to be seen.

 

Thanks again, mamas!


treehugger.gif Mama to 1 lovely DD,  angel1.gif 1/12 @ 8 weeks (ectopic), angel1.gif 1/14 @ 7 weeks, many chemical pregnancies, TTC DH'S #1, my #2
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#28 of 28 Old 05-18-2014, 08:09 AM
 
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It sounds like you worked out the perfect solution.  My 13 yr old has a house key also but I don't have any issues with my ex so I'm not in your shoes.

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