Feeling invaded by Skype - ex's new partner talking to my children!

(32 Posts)
ThinkingItThrough Tue 01-Jan-13 23:40:48

Hi - Just wondered how other people cope with their ex contacting their children by Skype. Mine are 15, 12 and 7 and have just started using it to talk to their father. Things are very acrimonious between ex and myself. All the children are ours between us - we had a 16 year relationship that ended 18 months ago. But he has recently started seeing someone who I feel has pushed very quickly for contact with my children. This has caused the relationship between me and my ex to deteriorate further and faster.

Tonight he initiated a Skype call at 9.30pm with my 12 and 7 year old. It stopped them going to bed for another 40 minutes and during the call he put the new partner on screen to chat with them. I am afraid I felt very invaded at that point and asked my son to terminate the call and speak to his father when he is alone tomorrow. Am I being really unreasonable here? I am not trying to restrict my children's access to Skype their father but my gut feeling is that there should be ground rules about time and also that it is out of order for the new partner to come uninvited into my home (albeit virtually!) and interact with my children during my time with them. Am I wrong to feel invaded by this or am I being unreasonble in censoring the children's contact? Should I just put my feelings aside and accept this? All views very welcome!!!

ProphetOfDoom Tue 01-Jan-13 23:46:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChristmasIsForPlutocrats Tue 01-Jan-13 23:49:21

Start by signing out of skype at a certain time of night. That's totally reasonable.

MagicHouse Tue 01-Jan-13 23:51:38

I wouldn't like that either. The time is too late, and there's no need for your ex's partner to be involved in a skype call at your house. Maybe email him with a more suitable time and politely ask that he keeps the contact between him and them. I won't install skype/ get a webcam for the same reason. The last thing I want is my ex's face and voice on my PC screen getting a view into my new/ "nothing to do with him" house! I think it's the curse of modern technology. What's wrong with a bloody phone call I say!!

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Wed 02-Jan-13 00:00:50

I think he is being an inconsiderate twunt (presumably why he's an ex though huh!!).

That's a ridiculous time of night to be skyping with kids that age and given he's only just left 18 months ago, you'd think he'd have far more sense (as opposed to a bloke who hasn't ever lived with his kids).

Introducing the new girlfriend - I wouldn't really have a problem with that as far as the children are concerned. They have a stable home with you and they aren't toddlers - even the 7 year old with older siblings will be fine, no matter how many gf's daddy goes though.

As for her being on skype in your house - I'd tell him that it's not appropriate and it is disrespectful to you - he's in your private space and if he wants to be allowed that priviledge he sticks to 'reasonable hours' and doing it on his own, without her.

If he doesn't like that, the 15 year old can skype with him in his bedroom if he wants but he can stick to the phone with the younger two. Job done.

ThinkingItThrough Wed 02-Jan-13 00:00:58

The contact thing is a hot potato at the moment! The children say they would like to see him every weekend - a day and an overnight for example. This is fine with me and I have suggested many times that it could rotate - sometimes, Fri night and Saturday day, sometimes Sunday and Sunday night etc so he has time for new partner too. But he only wants to see them every other weekend so he can spend the one in between with new partner (without any children in the way), and is forcing this by making himself unavailable on alternate weekends. He has asked for a weekly mid week night as well - we tried this a while ago but he works away so it kept changing and was difficult with activities and so on so we stopped the mid week stuff.

So at the moment they see him approximately once a fortnight for a weekend.

Not much since they were used to a full time father for years. So I can totally understand the value of Skype but why must the other woman have free rein to pop up in my house and interact with my children? I too feel that it should be in his own time in his own house if he wants to do this.

I also feel it is a bit of a controlling thing - reinforcing that they are together and showing that they are a couple and communicate as one (he tells me he forwards her all my emails to read for example). So trying not to be paranoid but just felt this was a step too far. Important thing is the children though and wonder if I might be trampling on their civil liberties! Is this normal for a new partner?

ThinkingItThrough Wed 02-Jan-13 00:12:44

Oh good, I'm not a paranoid misery after all. Thankyou SM, CIFP, CILCIL and Magic House - the voices of reason!

CILCIL, yes it is strange - you would expect more understanding from a man who has been a full time father for years vs once that has not been on the scene much. Do all of them lose it that quickly?

I think he has started to forget what having a full time family is like. He is very unforgiving if the children tell him I have been tired or snappy with them, criticises what I feed them on etc but then just isn't around to give support or a break. When he does have them it's all like a nice holiday visit. And this is another example of him only thinking from his viewpoint.

But trying to be objective, am so glad a few other people feel the same way! If I was brave enough I would have posted this in the Step-parents forum for a perspective from the other side! But feeling cowardly so plumped for the support!

PavlovtheCat Wed 02-Jan-13 00:21:29

1. the time is inappropriate. If you were still with him, they would not go to bed that late. If they are staying with him you would hope they won't go to bed that late. So, why any other time, affecting the routines. He has been there a long time so he knows there are routines!

2. the Other Woman. Completely inappropriate, disrespectful to allow her on without any warning to you first. Introductions between the children and her outside of your home are, I guess up to him, but again you would hope be done with your respect, with you being aware so you can manage issues back at home, and brace yourself for it. But to unknowingly put a stranger in a new relationship into your house, albeit virtually, well, its over-stepping boundaries. I would stop that right now. As another poster said, 15yr old, has to be given more choice, in his room out of your sight, up to him if he speaks to her, but again with a time limit, but the younger two, while they are in your care, who they speak to, not him, so either skype alone or telephone calls. The OW can see them personally when he has care of them if she really wants to get to know them.

ThinkingItThrough Wed 02-Jan-13 00:45:34

Thanks Pavolv - bedtime would have been earlier all round had it not been the holidays and they were finishing off a very tricky Lego creation (sounds so smug but they have watched so much more TV since he left that I am so happy they got the Lego out tonight!). He rang to request the Skype just as they were going up. Other woman has met them before but only very recently and she forced the meetings with the younger two without my knowledge (for example I was due to pick my youngest up from him at a certain time because new partner was arriving over an hour later but when I turned up for the pickup, new partner had come an hour and a half early and claimed she misjudged the time). Of course this is up to him, not just her but you're right, the invasion into my household did feel so disrespectful. I have sent a polite email expressing that there be a time limit on Skype calls of 7.30 in term time and 8.30 in the holidays and asked that it be with him alone. If that doesn't go down well will follow up with the different rules for the 15 year old.

Am loving the word 'twunt' (CICICL's post) - have had to google it and though would never use either of the original words, I love the sound of this - so expressive! Have had a bowl of ice-cream (completely inappropriately timed just to follow the theme of the evening), and a good laugh about it. really lifted my mood - thanks!

Wish there was a set of rules/ettiquette written for new partners to make them stop and think before they blurt headlong into a family - I am sure there are lots of horror stories out there and popping up on Skype is probably at the tame end of the scale!

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Wed 02-Jan-13 03:16:35

I am sure there are lots of horror stories out there and popping up on Skype is probably at the tame end of the scale!

Oh yeah - you'd be right about that!! However, right now, this is your unwanted reality & is no less valid because others have it worse!

Let us know if/when you get a response to his email.

It feels like if you are fine with/would like more contact they don't want it and you if don't want them having contact they do want it. Murphy's law??

Sadly, lots of them do 'lose it' quite quickly - faster still when there's a new partner involved and they think with their apendages and not their brains sad

You say he is 'very unforgiving' when you have been snappy with the kids & critical of what you are feeding them - how do you know this? You do realise you are no longer with him and you don't have to listen to his whitterings? That he no longer gets a say about 'your behaviour'?

Really - don't worry about them having met her. They have you, his passing fancies are irrelevant. If she becomes a permanent feature they will each decide how she fits into their lives <shrug> she's no threat to you. You are their Mum, they live with you, they barely see their Dad and he's clearly not going to fight for custody of them - she's an irrelevance. You are their Mum and nothing will change that.

Twunt - is a GREAT word smile

Bonsoir Wed 02-Jan-13 03:43:29

I agree that Skype can be highly invasive of privacy and that it is totally out of order for your ex to invite his partner to talk to your children on Skype in your home.

SofiaAmes Wed 02-Jan-13 03:54:04

Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with all the others. I think it's very important for children to have a relationship with their father. If he is not capable of getting it more together than calling them on Skype, I would just encourage at least that much. Of course you need to set time boundaries....not because he's calling on Skype, but because they have a bedtime. Make clear to him what the bedtime is and that any Skype call needs to end before bedtime. Of course he should know what their bedtime is, but men can be a little dense sometimes. As far as his partner is concerned, I think that in the big picture of life, it's really not such a big deal and won't do you any favors to make it into one. Since she doesn't have kids, she won't really understand the boundaries and is probably just trying to be friendly. It would be a different story if he had left you for her. My guess is that if you just let them do their thing on Skype, it will get old really quickly and he will run out of things to say to them. If you make a big deal about it and about the new partner, it will last longer and turn into a fight that no one needs. Go and find something else to do in another room when the kids are talking to him on Skype.

Bonsoir Wed 02-Jan-13 03:59:50

Not understanding boundaries does not make violating them OK.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Wed 02-Jan-13 04:48:15

Sofia - why do you think you are disagreeing with everyone else? Who exactly said it wasn't important for the children to have a relationship with their father?

The rest of us just don't think the new gf needs to invite herself into the Op's house via skype. Whether she has children or not, it doesn't take a fucking genius to work out that skyping with your new man's children in his wife's home is not a brilliant idea hmm

Sweetiesmum Wed 02-Jan-13 05:12:48

i think Sofia and all of you are right..
If you let him and his GF know its really really annoyed you it has potential to create lots of tension, possibly ongoing ...where you say you had a reasonable relationship previously
However, I agree you have every right to be annoyed...your privacy and the children's basic need for sufficient sleep to cope with the next busy day is not being respected
I also agree his GF maybe was hoping to develop a rapport with the children and probably not a fucking genius!!

NotaDisneyMum Wed 02-Jan-13 08:09:32

The SM perspective is similar but from the opposite POV wink

There's no way I'd talk to my DSC by Skype while they were with their Mum, not necessary at all - and I'd be unhappy if my DP insisted I did so.

But, On the flip side, I don't see why my DSC mum needs to Skype them when they spend a night in my home, either. They stay away from their Mum overnight regularly while she works - but it's only our home that she invites herself into.

SofiaAmes Wed 02-Jan-13 08:42:28

Chipping, I think that you and the OP may not have the same views about Skype as today's youth. My children talk regularly with their father, their grandparents, their friends, uncles, cousins etc. on Skype. People wandering in and out of the conversation and video (if it's on) are common and normal to them. Perhaps the OP's ex's new partner is young and has a similar attitude to communication via Skype. The OP sounds bitter and angry (and may well have a right to be so, but not fair to visit it on the children) and I think that telling a 12 and 7 year old that they have to hang up on their dad because his girlfriend is on as well, is damaging and not promoting of a "reasonable relationship" between the parents. If she had told the children to hang up because it was late, that would be a different thing, but that's not what she said she did. I think it's reasonable to ask the father not to call so late. (Bearing in mind that in order for him to call them, they had to be online and signed into Skype which does give a message that they were up and available and perhaps the OP needs to look at her own household rules as well.) But I don't think it's reasonable to tell her ex who he's allowed to put on the conversation with his children.

DoubleYew Wed 02-Jan-13 09:42:03

Sofia, OP said "He rang to request the Skype just as they were going up" to bed.

SofiaAmes Wed 02-Jan-13 10:15:34

So why did she say yes, if they were going to bed? Instead she let them talk for 40 minutes and then only got angry when his gf got on Skype. It just seems anger out of proportion to the "crime." There were many ways to handle it without bringing the conflict to the kids.

Letsmakecookies Wed 02-Jan-13 10:26:04

The thing I hate the most about skype, is that it is very hard to tell the children that enough is enough and say good night. When mine have used it (young children) it can often be 40 + mins, they will not talk but play in the background and 'entertain' their father. It is very intimidating to stand there 'on screen' telling them the call has to end. Their father thinks that 40 mins is not long enough. I also have found it very hard to say no to contact, a disney-dad rocks on up and wants to talk to his children to impress his gf, all that guilt you feel because essentially the dad has abandoned his kids to play happy families with someone else, instead of pretend to parent once a fortnight. As a mum you desperately want your children to get a look in too. I get that it is hard to think rationally and put down boundaries. And this boundary setting thing is hard too, because the other party will not necessarily love you for it, and once they are an ex can be quite intimidating about it.

DoubleYew Wed 02-Jan-13 10:26:43

The point is that contact whether Skype or real life is about the dc 's right to spend time with both parents. New gf is unimportant to the dc, what they want is their dad. So why is he putting her on? Fair enough if she didn't realise he was on Skype this once and wandered in to ask if he wanted a cuppa, said Hi Kids and made a sharp exit. But this sounds like an orchestrated "Look here's Jenny now."

Keeping things ok between the parents works both ways. OP has now told ex she is uncomfortable with new gf on Skype in her house so he should respect that. As I said it won't be important to the dc to see her so why would it be important to him to push it?

My stbxh wanted to introduce new gf right away (just over a month since we split!). Ds is very young and misses his dad. I felt that this was more about ex getting what he wanted and not thinking what ds needed. He wanted to show off ds to new gf and wanted to show off new gf I expect too. Interestingly, he is another nrp who has turned down more frequent contact, often only sees him once a fortnight.

OP, I think it will work better when Skype / phonecalls are at a pre-arranged time (for a set time) so you can make sure they are ready for bed on time, not in the middle of being disciplined about state of their bedrooms etc. Seems this time you had this sprung on you and maybe didn't react perfectly (closing down the call) so laying some ground rules will help everyone.

DoubleYew Wed 02-Jan-13 10:33:55

X-post with Letsmakecookies. Seems this is a definite 'type' then!

With a selfish person, I think you have to sell it to them that it is for their benefit. That is, dcs will be in a better mood if they have eaten, aren't overtired etc so it has to be between these times. And well yes they won't love you for it but you don't need them to love you (any more!) just be civil. Its not easy though I know.

Letsmakecookies Wed 02-Jan-13 11:02:31

Absolutely. I think particularly with the younger ones, there needs to be a "set" time. Perhaps just after dinner, when they are not hungry and not yet too tired. Skype should be available, but not too long. The older ones should be able to organise their own contact, by phone anyway.

I am lucky that my ex doesn't yet have a GF. But also puts a lot of demands on calls/skype, but sees them with months between times (18 weeks at last interval). I know that 40 mins skype calls are not best for the children. They get so riled up. I have nothing against a regular 5 min hello. (My children are very young though, so conversation limited).

I feel that my ex's priorities are like him having a GF, and feel that same sadness that he does not put his children first, or indeed parent. I did have to laugh though (sadly) that he wants to skype me!! to talk about the children. He saw them for 3 days just now, and suddenly has diagnosed one child with asthma and the other with shortsightedness. Well. At least he is trying in his own way. I just need to find a diplomatic response.

I like your sentence about not needing them to love you anymore. It is hard to change that habit.

NilentSight Wed 02-Jan-13 17:43:13

Absolutely NO justification for your home being invaded by your ex and this woman on his terms. Ex tried repeatedly to get he kids to 'Facetime' on an Iphone and then put OW on the phone. He would also ask them to show him 'mummys new wardrobe' and what was in the bloody fridge! Gave me the creeps and luckily, as part of ongoing contact proceedings, I was able to ask the judge to restrict his use of Facetime with the kids. I can now keep FT switched off on her phone until just before bedtime, we have a limit on the time and the kids know that they don't wander around the house 'showing' daddy and OW everything they ask to see - they sit on their beds to FT and if OW is anywhere to be seen or heard, they hang up hmm (That's all my fault obviously wink )
People with controlling and abusive Exs don't realise that these modern tools and technology can simply be another way of exerting control sad

Theydeserve Wed 02-Jan-13 20:27:28

I so get the view of the OP!

My Twunt has taken to letting the DCs skype me when they are with him. Not v often they are there but the eldest knows how to log on.

What they did not realise was, that he logged on the laptop and then proceeded to show me their house. It was a mess, which considering all the shite in my life of 2012 made me laugh. DC is 6 by the way,as I was shown the toilet with the most recent poo in it, youngest DCs dirty nappy on the floor, clothes everywhere, the kitchen, their room etc.

I know it was wrong but DC was so proud - I laughed so much but also realised it was an invasion of their privacy.

OP it is wrong, even I recognise that.

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