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Newbie struggling to co-parent

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NotaDisneyMum Wed 15-Jun-11 11:18:48

Hi! I'm new, I wandered in here in my hunt for advice and support to help deal with the co-parenting challenges I am having.

My DD-10 has a 50:50 shared care arrangement between myself and her dad; we split 2 years ago and this has been in place (with no court order) for the whole of that period. Initially it was horrible, but after mediation, it settled down about a year ago. Both me and her Dad live with new partners; my SO has a DS-7 who lives with his mum but stays every other long weekend with us and a DD-13 who he doesn't see at the moment. DD's step-mum has no children.

Things started to go wrong a couple of weeks ago. DD's Dad called me early on a Sat morning, while DD was in his care. Me and SO were still in bed so I ignored the call, thinking that if it was urgent, he's leave a message. He txted immediately to say that he had been thinking about replacing DD's PAYG mobile phone with a contract, with 200 mins and unlimited txts, unless I had any objections. He was going to take DD to "look" later that day but would like my opinion.
An hour later, he txt again, saying that as I hadn't responded, he assumed that I didn't have a problem with it. Later still, another txt, saying that they had seen one that was suitable, hadn't bought it then, but would probably go back and get it the next day.

Fast foward a week, and DD arrives at our home, with her new phone. It is a top of the range Smartphone, with internet access and an inclusive databundle as well as the minutes/unlimited txt.

My SO and I discussed it and decided that we would place restrictions on DD use of the handset. DD can use it in family areas of the house (subject to the house rules already in place - so not at mealtimes & not when we are out as a family etc), but that it was not to be used in her bedroom unsupervised. We already have a "no internet access in the bedrooms" policy that we put in place when SO's DD used to stay and bring her laptop with her. DD has access to the home phone or her old PAYG phone for calls she wishes to make/take in private to her Dad.

Over the last few days, DD's dad has tried everything to try and convince me to change my mind about the restriction I have put in place. He has told me he will install various software to prevent DD having internet access on the phone, and tell me the password so I can type it in when DD wants to use the internet in family areas of the house.
He won't accept that he cannot influence the way things are done in our home, and has told me how "disappointed and saddened" he is that I am making things difficult for DD by insisting on different rules in different homes.

I realise that I have no say on what happens in DD's dads home - if he allows her to do these things, then that is up to him - but is it wrong of me to insist on doing things differently in my own home, or does he have the right to try and influence that, because he bought the phone for her to use? He refuses to call her on anything other than the new number; so she has missed calls from him, and he hasn't answered when she has called back using the land line.

How can I deal with this? I have no intention of changing my mind just because he has found a way to bypass my rules - SO and I both agree that even of the phone has the internet blocked, it is a precedent that we don't want to set in our home - as DD grows up she will want the block lifted, and when SO's DS is bought a Smartphone by his mum, she won't put blocks on internet use.

HELP! I'm really stressed, thinking that if DD's Dad is doing this now, when she's only 10 - what will he be buying her when she is older? He bought her a iTouch earlier this year too cos he didn't think that the MP3 player she was bought by us for xmas was sophisiticated enough for her and she wanted additional functionality. she leaves that at her Dads house when she comes here.
Is there anything I can do? My DD is starting to think that her dad is the cool one, and I'm the mean, unfair mum who has rules. With no Court order in place, I'm worried that she will stop spending time with me sad

whiteandnerdy Wed 15-Jun-11 13:18:57

I think there are two issues here:

First your right your home your rules, dad's home dad's rules. For me this isn't as big an issue as others seem to make it, I can remember from my own childhood that even though my parents remained happly married, my farther was different to my mother, and hence even then there were differences in parenting. In addition school again has a different set of rules to home, I'm sure nobody makes their children put their hand up if they want to goto the toilet when at home but this is expected in a class room.

However, there is another potential issue with using rules to undermine the other parent. I really don't understand you not allowing your DD to use the mobile phone that her farther gave her to contact her farther, and insisting that she calls back using 'your' phone.

You've not said in any detail what the issues are with your DD contacting her farther on the mobile phone he bought her, but gone into great detail about the number of minutes and free-texts and iPod Touches. The bit in your post about 'I have no intention of changing my mind just because he has found a way to bypass my rules', you surely have rules for a reason not for the sake of having rules! Therefore, without a well thought out rational reason there is a potential that your Ex is worried that your using rules to undermine him, just as much as your worried about your Ex trying to bypass your rules to undermine you.

cestlavielife Wed 15-Jun-11 14:28:44

at her age even if you have a court order it wont make her be with you...that is between you and her. if you have a court order for contact and she refuses what then? she is old enough to have a say...

let her use the internet on phone but just keep talking to her about sites she using and teach safe internet use.

ban it and she will find a way to get to dodgy sites anyway.

i think it is nuts if you not letting her use her new phone to call her dad.

give her some trust.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 15-Jun-11 14:52:22

So, am I hopelessly out of touch?

All the advice I have read is that the internet should be used by children and teens in family areas of the home. Is this not necessary?

Even if DD's phone has software blocking the use of the internet now, in a few years time, her Dad has said he will unlock sites like FB so she can use them, and he wants to know if I'll let her use Twitter if she asks. I think it will be a lot harder to remove the priviledge of having her smartphone in her room once it has internet capability enabled - she can use it in family areas of the house now, and that won't change?

whiteandnerdy Wed 15-Jun-11 15:12:11

So your child is potentially seeing you restricting her contact with the farther because you don't trust the child she'll will become in a few years time, and it may make thinks difficult for you. I don't understand and I'm 38 let alone from a 10 year olds point of view!!

NotaDisneyMum Wed 15-Jun-11 15:24:09

She can talk to her Dad though, I've never said that she can't!

She has three phones she can choose from to use - one of which I wish her to use in family areas, but if she wants to talk in private she has two others she can use.

I feel so out of touch - why is there so much advice out there about supervising the internet etc if it is not the best thing to do for our kids?

VioletV Wed 15-Jun-11 16:04:10

Disney there's supervising and then there's being OTT and not giving her anything to prove she can be trusted or not. The advice is monitor what the kids are doing on the internet. On smart phones most sites are restricted and need passwords ie iphones you can't download anything unless it's free without an itunes account.

Could you not try and meet your ex at least half way here? Have a password set up that only both of you know?

cestlavielife Wed 15-Jun-11 16:27:12

"She has three phones she can choose from to use " that isnt the point tho is it? not when you ten years old... she has a new phone her dad gave her, she wants to call her dad on it!

put yourself in her shoes

did you ever do stuff your parents didnt approve of as a teen/pre teen?

if you open about using internet, sites to use/not use, ssafety about talkign to epoepl online etc - talk about it etc - then it wont be seen as amystery/soemthing to rebel and use...even if using in lounge you cant possibly monitor every click without sitting next to them .

so use site blocking etc instead and trust her to be sensible.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 15-Jun-11 16:30:48

Thanks for your response Violet - I'm obviously totally out of touch with what kids of today need to have!

I thought I HAD met my ex halfway by agreeing that our daughter can use it in my home at all; at 10 years old, I don't understand what it offers her - are there apps specifically designed for this age group? Ex-H suggested that she may want a Twitter account - she wants FB but the rules say 13+, but Twitter is unrestricted in age. What would a 10 year old use Twitter for, though? I use it for my business so know how it works, but don't undersntad what a 10 year old gets out of it?

Ex-H initally told me that he was going to get her a contract rather than keep topping up her PAYG - and that made sense to me, because she does play out, and I always make sure that she's got her phone with her so wouldn't want her to run out of credit.
But, aren't these flash Smartphone handsets quite desireable (hers it the latest release)? Won't it attract the attention of other kids if she's got one - or are they so commonplace now that no-ones interested now? TBH, I'd rather she took an old, basic handset out with her when she plays up at the park or the rec with friends - if it goes flying out of her pocket when shes running around it won't matter as much if it gets broken.

I thought I was fairly clued up when it came to this sort of thing - but recently, I seem to be behind the times. most of DD friends are on FB, with photos, and no security to hide their details way under the age restriction - and some of the primary school staff are FB friends with them, too. It just seems too much, too soon, to me.

miserymoo Wed 15-Jun-11 17:06:38

Hi NotaDisneyMum

Am quite surprised by the response you are getting, but then my oldest is 7 and maybe I don't understand life with a 10 year old yet. But I agree with you that all the advice is that internet time should be from a family area, it is certainly the message given to all our school from reception to yr 6.

The issue here is not that you are not letting your DD call her dad but that you don't want her to have access to the internet in her bedroom.

Why not discuss this with your DDs school? They will be able to give you some impartial advice about safe internet use for 10 year olds, and if they agree with you then you can discuss this with your ex (with the schools policy for backup), or if they agree with your Ex, then they can give you advice as to how to support your DD to use the internet sensibly and safely).

Is it worth having a separate talk with your ex just to say how sad you are that your relationship seems to be deteriorating when you've managed so well for the last year, and that however this matter is settled that your intention is to keep things amicable for everyones sake?

whiteandnerdy Wed 15-Jun-11 17:15:58

I think having a different cheap phone for going out with is a great idea, surely you could raise this with your Ex, clearly you don't want your DD to be distressed if she was to loose the phone while she's out, or even worse have someone take it off her. The rational for having a cheap throw away phone for when your out is alot clearer, maybe see if your ex agrees with you as it'll be him who has to replace the expensive handset if it does get lost or stolen.

P.S. I got my 12 year old the most basic phone I could with a PPM package still came with web access, facebook, twitter on it. I don't let him use FB or twitter but he does play online games, so I have to educate him on the dangers of playing with people he doesn't know, and monitor his activity by taking an interest in the games he plays.

redfairy Wed 15-Jun-11 17:35:21

I think it's a shame these things weren't hammered out before the phone was purchased and that you didnt respond when your EX contacted you.

But these things happen in co-parenting and discrepancies will arise. Try not to think too far forward and treat each incident as a blip. Otherwise it can eat you up if you overthink...

FWIW, I do think its OTT for a 10 year old to have a top of the range phone and I would be far happier with a cheap handset. That's what I have for my 9 year old and I monitor her internet use from the PC in the kitchen. She does FB under supervision and only to contact relatives. All her permissions are private and I check them each week. Now my SD has a better phone than I do and is totally unsupervised by her mother much to dismay of my DH which is different story... smile

VioletV Wed 15-Jun-11 17:45:56

Oh no I'd deffo NOT agree to Facebook. I honestly think 13 is too young but heigh ho. I'm talking about apps for games on the iphone etc. twitter isn't so bad but if you decide to allow her on twitter, I suggest you set the account up for her and you check it so that nothing goes over your head if you see what I mean.

If she takes the phone out and it get's broken or lost, tough. That's something she needs to learn to look after her things. It amazes me the amount of parents who will go right out and buy another. It really helps teach kids the value of things..NOT!

NotaDisneyMum Wed 15-Jun-11 18:39:53

In response to my concerns about DD taking the handset out with her, her Dad assured me that the handset is insured against theft, damage or loss, so he instructed me to contact him within 24 hours if any of these things happen so he can arrange for a replacement wink

niceguy2 Wed 15-Jun-11 21:00:44

It sounds to me like you need to think through what your real reasons are to make a real stand on this. I suspect it's for one or more of the following reasons:

1) A fear of the Internet that as soon as she's plugged in, a peado will whisk her off.

2) Jealous that the ex is giving her the cool toys (ie. smartphone, ipod touch) and is coming off as cool dad whilst you are fuddy duddy mummy.

3) To show the ex, he can't dictate what happens in your house. ie. to prove a point.

Personally I'd have set some ground rules then see how they went. A few years ago I banned my DD from having a computer & TV in her room because we never saw her. But we tried it. My point is that you can allow it then later change your mind based on facts.

So it's probably better to go to the ex and say "I banned it from her room because she became antisocial and we want her to spend more time together as a family" rather than "I don't like her having that new phone you bought her" which is what he'll be hearing.

cestlavielife Wed 15-Jun-11 21:23:17

"some of the primary school staff are FB friends with them" seriously? you should write to the boad of governors. ask them to ask school for a child protection/internet usage policy.

acebook is for over 13 yrs old so if staff are friends with them on facebook there is something amiss

girliefriend Wed 15-Jun-11 21:30:46

To be fair your ex wanted to discuss this with you and you ignored his call....... therefore really you can't be that cross that he made a decision. From his point of view it must feel quite frustrating and for your dd the inconsistancy must be really confusing.

blackeyedsusan Wed 15-Jun-11 23:32:19

your house your rules. if you do not want her to have internet access in ther bedroom, enforce that. but also teach her internet safety.

she does have a phone to call her dad on, though if she wants to use the old mobile in her room to call then you will need to pay the bill not ex.

she can use the smart phone as much as she likes downstairs.... if ex is not answering her phonecalls on the old phone, who is being the idiot? him!

Are you someone who's a bit wary of the Interweb yourself? You make some good points - she is, for instance, a bit young to be running around outside with a fancy all-singing-all-dancing phone which she might either drop down a drain or which might attract muggers. And there is also the possibility that she might go a bit nuts with all the features and run up a massive bill downloading game add-ons or something (though that will be her dad's problem and not yours...) But you do seem to be flapping that peedos will get her if she goes on Twitter and that the Interweb will eat her brain, which seems a bit excessive.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 16-Jun-11 14:07:14

Finally sorted!

Now that DDs Dad understands my reasons, he is happy to accept the restrictions in our home.

I'm hoping that this isn't a sign of things to come - I don't want to have to explain myself to him every time DD goes running to him crying "it's not fair".
We didn't agree on parenting when we were together and our homes couldn't be further apart in some ways! I certainly don't understand many of the parenting decisions that he makes - but accept that in his home, he does things his way.

I'm a fairly savvie Internet user myself and know that the likelihood of something untoward happening is low - although it is sensible to teach DD about Internet safety particularly considering how much freedom her friends have.
SO and I live a fairly low-tech life; the kids don't watch TV when they're here and neither do we - the last time it was turned on was for the royal wedding! No sky tv or games consoles (except their DS's which they bring back and forward) and we do other things together (bake, scrapbook, games) and I'd like to keep it that way rather than have DD hypnotised by devices she brings with her.

I realise that might sound sanctimonious, but both SO and I went through a lot to achieve a lifestyle and home life we are happy with, and we would like to offer our kids the chance to experience it - so they can make a choice when they're older.

Thanks for the comments, they really helped - I think I'll stick around, if I may?

Bearinthebigwoohouse Thu 16-Jun-11 14:25:31

I think you might find that explaining yourself to him when she says things aren't fair would work in your favour. What you don't want is her being able to play the two of you off against each other because you don't discuss things. Children are very good at putting their own slant on things to gain sympathy and support! I'd advise keeping the channels of communication open.

I also think it's wise to take the view that what goes on at yours is down to you, and vice versa with his house. My experience is that the children to adapt to the different ways of doing things and I think that can be good for them, as the grow up realising that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and it gives them choices when they are older. I am often explaining to my lovely dsd that just because her mum's opinions etc are different it doesn't make either of us wrong.

Hmm, I do foresee trouble ahead if you get too fixated on the idea that your lifestyle (which sounds ever so hessian-knickers-and-lentils/technology is eeevil etc) is morally superior to your XPs and therefore you need to protect your DD against his wicked modern ways. For one thing, the older your DD gets the more likely she is to kick against an 'unusual' lifestyle and want what her friends want, so you are going to have to be prepared to negotiate and give ground - she doesn't have to grow up thinking just like you do. Just try and bear in mind that while your way of life suits you, it isn't the only way to live, nor is it the best way, it's just one of many ways to live a good and enjoyable life.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 16-Jun-11 16:56:46

Springchicken - not at all, I appreciate the fact that DDs Dad is a gadget-guru and so DD will get the best of both worlds - if she spent significantly more time here than with her dad then I'd be far more inclined to offer more in the way of 21st century toys, as it is, she gets those half the time and the other half she spends here doing other things that she doesn't experience with her Dad.

Interestingly, we've never "banned" TV, she knows that if there is a particular show she wants to watch, then she can ask, and if it doesn't interfere with other activities, then she can do. But, she's ever asked, hence the TV just didn't get turned on!

Oh, and my SO would laugh if he saw your comment about technology being evil - I'm VERY attached to my iPhone!

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