Phone contact and detaching

(18 Posts)
theredhen Sun 24-Feb-13 18:56:27

Notactually - it isn't a big deal, it's not the end of the world but it is frustrating as a bystander, which is often all a step parent is.

Dp can't just phone mum, she refuses to speak to dp and won't allow him any contact numbers of her house or her mobile. She provides him with an e mail address which she checks once a week.

If dp could communicate about dsc with his ex, I probably wouldn't be posting this.

I just find the one sidedness slightly irritating and annoying.

Personally I think the dsc, their mum and dp are to blame in fairly equal measures.

I've done what I can by explaining that dad loves to talk to them when he doesn't see them, I've told them sometimes he misses them a lot and really wants to talk to them so please could they try and answer their phones. They both agreed at the time but nothing changed.

I guess this really is a fairly minor problem and its not my issue to deal with so I'll carry on trying to distance myself from it and not get annoyed.

I don't know why I'm not seeing this as a big deal. Maybe because the kids come to yours and presumably interact with their dad there? And they could contact him if they wanted? So its not like he never sees them?
When dh is away my dcs never ask to ring him etc but when I am they do. Maybe they see their mum's as home ? I don't know, I would be careful about getting rid of the phones, but I would maybe set up dps as the free number (magic number, or same network so free etc) and then cap the contracts.

zipzap Sun 24-Feb-13 11:39:26

Maybe if your one dsd is sending goodnight texts to her mum, could you encourage her to do the same to your dh? Say that he would love them too, as much as her mum does, and see how that goes. Could also encourage all of them to do this but if one of them is in a routine of sending to her mum it might be a good place to start and also get her to see that her dad loves contact with her too.

For the 17yr old that sends so many texts - can you limit the number of texts on her contract and make her pay for say anything over 500? And then when you try to ring her and she doesn't reply, then ring her mum and just ask her to get the dd to charge her phone and ring you in exactly the same way she has asked you. Do it nicely and she can't complain.

And if talking to them worked once then do it again and again when they forget and it might stick for longer and longer each time.

Good luck - I can see how upsetting it must be for your dh and you by extension.

theredhen Sun 24-Feb-13 09:49:46

The irony is all kids are with us at the moment. Dsd4 phone has run out of charge. Dsd1 has had a text from mum asking her to ensure that dsd4 charges her phone as she needs to speak to her "right now" And sges been trying "all morning". All said in front of dad who regularly goes days or weeks without phone contact but mum demands contact "right now" and we are expected to enable this. We've enabled dsd4 to charge her phone. I know it's the right thing but grrrrr at her demands.

Stepmooster Wed 20-Feb-13 07:10:26

You can't force the children to communicate but what you can do is stop paying the contract when its up. They sound a bit too entitled to me. So what if mum buys them a phone, and they still don't get in touch what has actually changed? 1 the kids know dad is not a pushover 2 you have saved yourself some money. DH had a similar issue with DSS and told him straight, if he didn't answer or text back him or his gran etc he was being rude. DH said if DSS wouldn't start getting in touch, he would take his new phone and replace it with a pay as you go brick, with no apps or extras. Basically a phone any child would be embarrassed to be seen with. It took about 3 threats and finally it sunk in. Good luck!

elliebellys Tue 19-Feb-13 21:34:18

no its not wrong to expect some respect,but you cant force then to communicate.you cant really blame their mum,this is down to the kids themselves.its not really punishing them to stop the contracts,they must know thats why dad gave them to all of them.dont worry so much bout bein seen as the baddy,they will get over it soon enough.

theredhen Tue 19-Feb-13 15:28:47

You know, if I asked my ds to phone his dad and then left him to it. I would casually ask a while later what he talked about to his dad. As his mum i would know instantly if he lied to me and I'd be cross with him for lying.

Unless he have me a very good reason, I'd make him phone his dad there and then. Kids are lazy but there are some things they need to do.

The youngest needs help and encouragement, the eldest is nearly 17 and therefore perfectly capable of dealing with it herself. Obviously as she's on a contract we can see who she texts / calls and when.

Is it really so wrong to expect them to have some respect? No one expects constant communication but two calls/texts a week is hardly demanding, I feel. grin

Carolra Tue 19-Feb-13 13:48:30

mumandboys123 you are absolutely right of course, maybe I should have used the word "encourage" rather than "ensure"! I do think that mums have a lot of influence over their children, even the scary adolescent ones... but as you also say, we can't help with OP's DP's ex....

OP - I think this is really tricky and I don't really have any good ideas for a solution, I hope you and DP find a tactic that you're both comfortable with, keep strong! xxx

mumandboys123 Tue 19-Feb-13 12:46:06

Carolra - the problem is, how do you 'ensure' that the children speak to their dad? If I'm reading it right, they are now entering adolescence and will naturally be a bit more secretive and doing things in their rooms on their own, rather than sitting full-time with the family. So if I say to them 'can you make sure you phone your dad' and they say yeah, they'll do it in a minute when they've finished their homework and they disappear upstairs, I would personally presume that they had done it. If I asked them 3 hours later if they had done it and they told me yes (because they won't be beyond lying to both parents when it comes down to it), do I then check their phones or do I believe them and give them the benefit of the doubt? Ultimately, it is not either parent's responsibility to somehow be...responsible for the other parent's relationship with their children. Our relationships are ours alone and it is up to us to conduct them as we see fit. Mum may or may not be playing games and helping along a difficult situation -and I suspect things won't be how redhen perceives them to be - but even if she is, you can't do anything about that.

I suspect most parents of pre-teens and early teens experience a huge change in their children's behaviour and have to make adjustments to cope with it. Adolescents are very self-centred and by their job description, they are meant to push and test boundaries. I would suggest the focus needs to be on them, rather than their mother, because you can't influcence mum's behaviour. By all means punish them by taking their phones away or reducing their contracts or something similar - but if the reason is they wont' text their dad, you are setting yourselves up for increasing levels of resentment. Parenting shouldn't be about who pays for what or who perceives themselves to be 'better', I would suggest you give freely and you expect nothing in return. Teenagers grow in to young adults and then, if we're lucky, they realise just who it is that has 'cared' for them. It's probably a waiting game.

theredhen Tue 19-Feb-13 10:25:00

We have spoken to the kids. Explained how dad feels, explained that he misses them etc. it got better for about a fortnight and then went back to the current situation.

The kids absolutely hate talking about feelings or emotions and it makes them squirm terribly. I think they have learnt their lack if empathy from their mother who only believes in one way of doing things - her way.

I too encourage my ds to have contact with his dad and be respectful. Send thank yous to relatives and be polite to other people. Unfortunately dp ex doesn't seem to see that any of that is important.

Carolra Tue 19-Feb-13 10:03:43

I don't think there would be any harm in your DP explaining to them how it makes him feel. As Makingthemostofit says, kids can be really reasonable when they are given a chance and perhaps they just don't realise how much your DP misses them when they're not there. Do you have a good relationship with them? Can you explain how much it means to him when he gets to speak with them in the week? You know, I basically do blame their mother though, if these were my children I would be ensuring they spoke to their dad.... best interests of the kids and all that....

theredhen Tue 19-Feb-13 09:24:03

Caroira, I think that is exactly what dp fears. It seems like so many things in that dp can very quickly become the bad guy but mum never is. hmm

So how do you a teach a child /teen to be respectful and courteous if you can't give them a consequence for their actions?

Dp and I get on so much better now and I've let this one go, because in theory it doesn't affect me directly. The trouble is I feel pretty wound up by it sometimes, other times I can manage to tell myself it's not my problem and forget about it.

If it was my ds, I would simply remind him that I pay for his phone and he needs to remember that! I have done this with him and thought nothing of it. Ds is great at sending me one word texts now when he's out. grin. Seriously if he was sending four thousands texts a month but never replying to me, I would be livid with him!

In my heart of hearts I know he is letting them down by "under" parenting them on this but maybe it's just something I should let go. Untidy rooms, rudeness and apathy in my home are things I should get involved in because they directly affect ds and I.

I'm seriously considering using the broken record technique on dp though. So when he can't get through and he's feeling sad/fed up/ disappointed maybe I should keep on saying "why don't you speak to the kids about how it makes you feel" and refuse to engage in the conversation any more than that.

Carolra Tue 19-Feb-13 07:13:21

You don't say how old the children are but I'm not sure stopping their access to the phones will help... It could work out that they just blame their dad and then if their mother replaces their phones, she'll be a hero and your DP still won't hear from them.... I think you're right to be cross about it, they are being discourteous to him and I'd focus on fixing that rather then punishing them by removing the phones. It must be hard for you to detach when your DP is being hurt by their actions... I hope it works out xx

Makingthemostofit Tue 19-Feb-13 07:01:27

Totally agree with Ellie. They are behaving in a rude manner and won't respond to polite suggestions on ops part. Dh needs to strengthen his spine for all your sakes. No more paying phone bills, and make it clear if mum is benefitting, mum should pay. Things have changed dramatically in our home since dh has seen the error of pandering to selfish behaviour. Kids can be really fair when given a proper chance, I.e. we have easy to follow house rules which include practicalities such as doing own laundry to manners at the table. Don't be their doormats. It reinforces the image their mother feeds them.

Xalla Tue 19-Feb-13 06:23:58

Thing, not think!

Xalla Tue 19-Feb-13 06:23:01

Gosh that would drive me mad too. We're talking about this issue atm in our house because my DSD's Mum's phone keeps getting cut off making phone contact tricky. We suspect something similar would happen if DH got DSD her own phone though...
We actually went to a mobile shop to talk about it and were told that most handsets can be programmed to only call / accept calls from certain numbers; so the phone can be programmed to only be used for calls to Mum, Dad, grandparents, school, maybe one best friend etc. Could that work? Or could your DP at least threaten it if they don't start behaving in a more courteous manner?
To be honest I think from a basic safety point of view, it's not a bad idea and if DH does get my DSD a phone, he'll definitely be setting it up. He's also thinking about getting DSD a laptop and a dongle so we can Skype but that comes with a whole other load of safety issues!
I agree with Ellie that your DP should stop paying if they don't use them for that were bought for in the first place. He's not doing them any favours allowing them to behave in such an entitled manner.
I don't have any useful advice on how to detach I'm afraid...it's the kind of think I know I'd just get angrier and angrier about blush

elliebellys Mon 18-Feb-13 20:34:00

red.horrible situaton for your dp.one thing he can do is stop payin for the phones,nd tell them straight the only reason you got them was so he could actually talk to them,nd seeing as they cant be bothered then they will have to find the money themselves.

theredhen Mon 18-Feb-13 19:36:33

My dp provides 3 contract mobiles for the 3 kids he lives with / has contact with.

He is supposed to have court ordered phone access 2/3 times a week depending on access that week on set days at set times.

However it's rare that he ever gets through. He is supposed to phone the nine year olds phone but it is often switched off or just rings. The court has said that dp ex is to encourage kids to call back if they miss the call, they rarely do.

Eldest dsd sends thousands of texts every month but when dp texts her, she doesn't respond.

Youngest dsd is sooo particular about texting her mum when she is here and is always super organised and makes sure phone is charged up whilst here and carries it with her everywhere. If she forgets to send a goodnight text to mum, she gets quite upset. We've had complaints from dp ex and her family that dsd was distressed one night because we told her to go to sleep and not to keep getting out of bed, but apparently she wanted to text mum (she didn't tell us at the time).

Dp pays out a lot of money every month for these phones but just accepts that the kids use them to keep in contact with their mum but not him. hmm

It's just another example of how his kids constantly say and show that they think their dad is irrelevant. They treat him as if they see him a few times a year and yet they live with us a third of the time and we pay for most of what they have as well as maintenance.

Both of us have tried talking to the kids. I've even asked them outright if they don't want to speak to their dad or if its awkward to do so at mums house. They just clam up and shrug their shoulders and the eldest says she does want to speak to her dad but is "too busy" at mums to respond. She manages to respond to all her friends four thousand times over mind you! wink

Personally I think dp should remind them who pays for their phones and that some courtesy wouldn't go amiss. He won't though. hmm

I try and detach but every time he tries to phone, I feel myself getting frustrated.

I also feel very annoyed when eldest dsd is constantly on her phone when she's here and youngest dsd is insisting on texting her mum. hmm

Anyone else had similar experiences and how do you deal with it?

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