phones, schools and changing residency

(82 Posts)
stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 06:25:10

DH pays for DSS fancy phone. It was his xmas present, well deserved for being v helpful with our 2 babies. He is tbh pretty rubbish at keeping it on whilst with us. Mostly DH keeps nagging him to keep it charged up and on, but as we are all v busy and doing something his phone is usually in his bag and doesn't come out until Sunday lunch when things get quieter and he gets ready to go.

They have an agreement that as DH pays the bill DSS should reply to DH's texts, his nan's texts and be ready to answer phone twice mid week on set days.

It works well, we had some teething probs a few years ago but DSS sticks by the rules. Except a week in Jan when DH couldn't reach him, so he texted his ex and she said she'd confiscated it. DH started to feel inner rage at not being asked or discussed with first. He does after all pay the bill. He bites his tongue, and replies could she discuss with him first next time.

Then on fri, after a v long day travelling, dSS asks to borrow DH phone so he can text his mum. He does, she replies prob not realising its DH phone at 1130pm she expects him to ring her on sat, with a real shitty sarcy comment and about 20 exclamation marks, and a if you don't you will lose your phone.

DH shows DSS in morning, inner rage boiling again. Its in DH name ffs how can she decide that? Its how DH and family stay in touch! But he does not reply to his ex.

DSS tries 3 times to call his mum and she doesn't answer. He spends all day worrying. She answers eventually in the evening.

If anyone remembers my other threads he lives miles and miles from his school. His phone is how he keeps in touch with his friends and us lot.

Anyway a week ago, The ex asked DH in a really shitty text to pay half of DSS passport so she and her DH could take him on hols. She told DH his half was £60 more expensive than it should be.

After much discussion I told DH not to reply (she likes to get him to engage in weird text battles by sending shitty goady texts like this). So instead DH sent her a cheque for half of the real cost and disengaged.

Now DH and I who have joint finances are thinking if she wants to take away DSS phone as punishment she should pay half the bill. She makes such a song and dance out of billing DH for half of everything. DH says if she does confiscate it again he will deduct half the bill from his CM.

Also it looks like DSS has won a significant part in his school play as has his sister. As he has to wait around for his mum to finish work every night he's obviously doing drama club to fill his time. he got himself a bit worked up about a sunday rehearsal, his mum doesn't know about it. We can take him, but she'd need to get him. DH said after taking DSS to his train that DSS seemed scared of his mum and he wants DH to ask her. He obviously has no idea how unlikely she is to agree to anything DH suggests.

I feel sorry for DSS, DH wanted him to go to a local secondary near his mums but she thought driving him on 2 hour journeys to school and back day in day out was better for him than being a latch key kid. Now he is liking his school and has lots of friends but no social life. His mum asked him after xmas if he wanted to move schools and he said no.

DSS told DH at NY he wanted us to move close to his school so he could live with us and see mum eow. We are going to do this, even if he changes his mind. He is such a good kid, very mature and helpful. He doesn't know about our plans because we don't want the ex to know. She would I fear pull him out of his school and move him near to them. If he stays where he is, he has a good school report and he gets to be near his friends and his elder siblings one who lives FT with his dad and the other 50/50. They always lived FT with mum until she moved. If we moved all his siblings (ours too) would be local to him. The only person he wouldn't be near is mum. BTW she chose to sell fmh instead of her dh home so she could move in with him and not other way around forcing this big move away.

Does anyone have any advice regarding phones and our moving house? Once we move and presuming DSS still wants to live with us how the hell do we achieve that for DSS?

purpleroses Fri 14-Feb-14 10:03:49

When his contract expires you should shop around a bit - I've managed to get myself a sim only deal with unlimited data, and quite a lot of calls and texts (more than I'd use) for £5 a month, which is a lot less money. I bought a cheap smartphone for £104 which is brilliant.

I'd pay for a cheap contract and then expect DSS to put the money up for a fancy phone - or use birthday money, etc. Then there's less room for resentment over who's phone it is.

And yes definitely worth checking whether it really is the confiscated phone that prevents DSS contacting his dad, or whether that might just be a convenient excuse for forgetting.

stepmooster Fri 14-Feb-14 09:22:52

Purpleroses I am not sure. We shall have to ask DSS when he is next here.

Dumpylump You know I think you are right, as much as it is very annoying. I think that when the contract is due to expire DH needs to discuss with the ex whether she is happy to go 50/50 or let DSS have pay as you go which he can put his own money towards.

Dumpylump Fri 14-Feb-14 08:31:00

I have read the whole thread, although its a wee bit confusing in places....one thing I would say is this though - if your dh bought the iPhone for his son as a Christmas present (whether that was because he bowed to pressure from his son or not) he cannot retrospectively ask his ex to pay towards it now. If he thought they should go 50/50 on it, because you consider that fairer, then it should have been discussed and agreed before the phone was ever given to his son.

purpleroses Fri 14-Feb-14 08:30:27

Can't DSS phone his dad on his mum's landline if he's had his phone confiscated? Or does she actively prevent him?

stepmooster Fri 14-Feb-14 08:16:23

And the twice weekly phone calls are part of the contact arrangement. Except instead of dh calling dss at 8pm on the button, dss and dh decided it would be better now dss is older if dss called dh on those evenings at a time convenient to him. So they are scheduled and always have been but take into account dss might have something else he'd rather do at 8pm.

stepmooster Fri 14-Feb-14 08:13:16

Well that's your opinion, clearly both dss parents feel differently on the matter and he is their child, and they know him better than anyone im going to respect their parenting decision.

The issue is not that the ex can take the phone away its whether she should contribute to its cost. Seeing as she expects dss to call her on it as well.

Frogbyanothername Fri 14-Feb-14 07:12:32

I wouldn't knock regular telephone contact, even if its scheduled

Threatening a sanction if a DC doesn't maintain contact is not scheduled, it's coerced.

stepmooster Thu 13-Feb-14 21:32:57

Yes Frog, always. Although DH has never actually had to use it. The mere mention at the next time he's here is usually enough I.e. You didn't call me, and you didn't answer the phone. Remember what we said...

I don't understand how its important for children to see nrps on a regular basis, yet when distance prevents this being more often than desired, such as is in our case telephone contact is not seen as important? I know families schedule in skype calls why is getting dss to telephone any different?

We go to a lot of effort to include dss in everything we do and take the time to show interest in his schooling and after school activities. Dh is in contact with the school, but I get the impression dss enjoys his dad asking him questions and sounding enthusiastic and supportive. Its much better having this telephone contact, it makes things easier when he comes over. A lot can happen in a fortnight, and its easy for both to forget to mention stuff. When there has been no contact (holidays) it feels like we have to start afresh and get dss to open up again.

I wouldn't knock regular telephone contact, even if its scheduled. It works for us, in our circumstance of having a rather difficult ex who doesn't want to communicate with DH.

The only issue we had was paying for a phone, which the ex wants to get dss to phone her on, that she wants to confiscate. We don't mind this, just think she should split it 50/50. Its her 'thing' to ask for 50 of everything, so why can't we?

Frogbyanothername Thu 13-Feb-14 20:11:24

So has the sanction (of having pocket money docked by Dad) for not making those calls always been in place - or has that been put in place since the iPhone purchase?

stepmooster Thu 13-Feb-14 20:02:53

Err he didn't. Its been going on for 4 years. When he had the old phone dh told dss he wanted him to go pay as you go and use pocket money to buy his own credit and be in control of his own phone useage. Dss wanted dh to buy him an iPhone for Xmas extending the contract. Dh said he'd think about it and agreed but dss still had to reply to his nan and phone dad.

Its not bribing, its acknowledging that you don't get something for nothing. Dad isn't here to buy him a constant stream of techno gadgets. If phoning is a chore it comes with a reward. Dh did not intend for dss to have an iPhone for Xmas but dss worked on him for it.

purpleroses Thu 13-Feb-14 19:39:49

If your DSS was happy about phoning his dad so regularly why did he need bribing with an expensive smartphone?

stepmooster Thu 13-Feb-14 19:37:46

Not been back to read this in a while. Seems still some people who can't read this he thread properly. Although dh does ask dss to call him twice a week on set evenings at a time convenient to dss, his mum does exactly the same.

So if my dh is a controlling bastard then so is the ex, and people need to stop applying what happens in their lives to how these 2 parents have agreed how and when telephone contact takes place. The 3 of them have got used to it, bit like those children who follow access rotas to the letter. Even dh is not that strict, he has told dss he can come to ours as much or little as he likes, that a social life is important. Though I suspect he would still want to speak to dss on the phone twice a week.

If dss has a problem with this arrangement and yes not shy or afraid to challenge his father, I'm sure the twice weekly calls would cease, but dh won't be paying a monthly phone bill for an expensive smartphone.

Tuckshop Tue 11-Feb-14 11:16:38

It does come across to me as if your dp is trying to control his ex. She can do what she likes with sanctions in her own home. I wouldn't take a blind bit of notice of xh trying to tell me that I had to inform him before I dealt out a sanction! Even if it were that something he'd bought dd were confiscated.

What I don't get is why your dp doesn't just ring his son if he wants to keep in contact with him and know how he's getting on.

I'm afraid he does come across as wanting to tell everyone what to do then getting "inner rage" when they don't. Seems a rather disproportionate reaction to what's going to me.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 18:58:50

The arrangement for phone contact during the other parent's time may be something that your DH and his ex agreed on but it doesn't sound as if DSS himself has had much of a say.

The contact arrangements are supposed to be set up for his benefit so why don't your DH and his ex ask DSS what he would like in terms of phone contact?

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 16:54:53

stepmooster Your last post paints a very different picture from your first; but hey, I get the feeling you just wanted to sound off, so I'm sorry for getting involved.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 16:47:45

In all due respect you don't know this The reality is that phone calls have been a high-conflict issue in the past, and a compromise had been reached before Xmas. Your DPs choice to disrupt that by providing a new phone, and reiterating the rules for its use has disrupted that compromise - and now your DSS is caught up in the middle, being punished/threatened with punishment by both households

We are talking about conflict at the time of separation, we are talking about a child who is getting older and who is rebelling against contacting his mum during time with us and she is taking the phone away from him. This has nothing to do with Iphone, what DH has an issue with is not being made aware of the phone being confiscated. He isn't going to punish DSS if the phone has been confiscated because that is ridiculous.

If DSS did not want to contact DH twice or week, or in fact more than that if there is a game on or something, then he is not incapable of telling DH so. DH is not going to bully him into it, a compromise would be reached, but you can bet you DH wont be buying him fancy phones anymore.

DSS is a cocky so-and-so he isn't shy in airing his opinions and if this was really causing him grief he would say so.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 16:15:53

I've learnt from bitter experience that just because separated parents both seem to want the same thing, it doesn't mean that one will facilitate the DCs doing the very thing that they expect the other parent to facilitate.

Anyway, how do you know that your DPs exs motives for contact are the same as yours? She may want them to call not out of duty, or because she needs that emotionally, but for some other belief - maybe she doesn't want them to fall asleep without hearing her voice? She may think your DHs calls are a waste of time because he asks about school, and you may think that her reasons are ridiculous.

The reality is that phone calls have been a high-conflict issue in the past, and a compromise had been reached before Xmas. Your DPs choice to disrupt that by providing a new phone, and reiterating the rules for its use has disrupted that compromise - and now your DSS is caught up in the middle, being punished/threatened with punishment by both households.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 15:55:02

Frog but both parents expect contact during each other's time. That is why the phone was confiscated by the ex. She told DH herself in a text. Just because you don't like that parenting style does not make it wrong for DH and his ex, they actually seem to agree on something, which is rare!

Your comment if he was too young is irrelevant because the stipulation he call came about when he turned 10 or 11 (can't remember which one) when DH said to DSS he could call at the time convenient to DSS or text him to say he was busy or ok, rather than DH call him rigidly at 8pm or whatever on those days.

DH expects his son to text his nan back when she sends him a 'how are you' texts once in a while. That's something he is probably more strict on.

As I've said I don't think DH would really have an issue moving contact to more adhoc as DSS is older. Its just evolved that way from the contact arrangement and past circumstances.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 15:13:49

I'm not sure it's quite the same as being made to stay in contact with other relatives though is it?
I might make my DC speak to granny on the phone once in a while or write them a thank you note but it's nothing like the scale of what's expected of your DSS. I couldn't imagine telling them they must respond to granny phoning them several times a week.

anklebitersmum Mon 10-Feb-14 14:44:36

Maybe you need to step back and look at the situation from the outside.

You are not entitled to dictate how she chooses to parent in her own home. Frustrating? Yes. Can you do anything about it? No.

DSS has a phone which he clearly loves and that, like it or not, makes it a very easy 'disciplinary item' while at his Mum's-especially when she knows that he'll be in trouble from your side too so whatever poor behaviour led to it's confiscation gets a double punishment.

I think that your DH needs to have a calm, reasoned chat with his ex and ask that she notify him if DSS has had said phone taken-not least because if DSS is in trouble then surely Mum would want Dad to support her actions as opposed to usurp them?

On the contact front while phone is off-limits either Dad and DSS use Mum's landline for the call OR the phone needs to handed to DSS for the duration of the contact call. Which, if it's a genuine discipline issue surely won't be a problem as it fulfills the order, reinforces her authority in her own home and shows a united parental front.

Tell DSS that Dad's talking to Mum with view to a new plan and perhaps suggest to DSS that if he can't behave long enough to keep his phone for a week then maybe he's not old enough to have such a nice item just yet.

Might be that while the adults are being cross about the phone his behaviour, or lack there-of, is being overlooked and that's no accident wink

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 14:40:39

Thing is, if one parent expects their DC to stay in touch out of respect, but the other parent doesn't share that view, then the DCs contact out of duty can be very intrusive in family life.

I would never, ever stop my DD speaking to her Dad whenever she wants to, but his calls to her, at a set time on set days, ARE intrusive. I have to plan mealtime to ensure we're not at the table when he calls, I can't spontaneously suggest a shopping trip because "Dads going to call", and heaven forbid someone else should be using the phone at the time the call is due.

All this, because he thinks these calls are important. I disagree - but it's our family life that is disrupted. This isn't something that my DD benefits from, only her Dad does.

You are lucky that your DSS is old enough to make these calls himself. Would you penalise him if he was too young to make them himself and his Mum refused to prioritise helping him to call relatives?

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 14:25:38

clearly it seems that some parents feel that when a child does not reply to their texts/calls it is disrespectful. I see it this way too. I was made to stay in touch with relatives but at the same time I got to speak to my friends for hours on the landline (pre-mobile) and probably at some cost. I think it teaches children to respect other people's feelings and to ignore texts/calls is quite rude. And you know what I am glad I did because I forged a relationship with those relatives that lasted into adulthood and regular contact became a pleasure and not a chore. Its right up there with writing thank you notes for presents etc. No one is saying they should reply immediately within 5 minutes or even on the same day but to not reply, especially when in our case dad and nan give DSS a lot of money/treats etc I don't think it's too much of a hardship.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 13:55:05

theredhen If they can txt/ring, but don't, then it's not something they need, is it?

Once they get old enough to initiate (or not) contact between visits, I'd leave them to it - drop them a txt, pic message or similar now and again to let them know you're thinking of them, and if they respond, then great - if not, and you have no reason to believe they are being prevented, then I'd leave it, tbh.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 13:52:51

I would be inclined to leave it tbh redhen - certainly for the pre-teens/younger teens. Either they're forgetful/don't have it with them or they find the texts/calls annoying or awkward - maybe because their mum disapproves. But I can't see what you gain either way by putting pressure on them to reply. I'd just text or phone less often if it doesn't appear wanted. That's surely how you'd like to teach them to respond to a friend who was ignoring their efforts at contact - to back off a bit rather than pleed or threaten consequences for lack of replies?

theredhen Mon 10-Feb-14 13:43:46

So what's people's opinions of when the kids swear blind that mum hasn't confiscated or stopped them using their phones but they still don't answer calls or texts.

Do we give them a consequence for being disrespectful or just leave it?

The phones are on contract and we can see they regularly phone and text mum when at ours, which we are (mostly) happy with.

We can't ask their mum about what happens at her house, as she won't speak to us hmm

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