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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!!!

wellthatsdoneit Sun 12-May-13 22:23:18

I have had these feelings too ThinkingitThrough and you have my sympathies. I have told my ex that his phonecall/facetime contact is for the benefit of the children's relationship with their father. Added to that, this is my home, where I feel safe. I feel incredibly violated by the the things that my ex has done and it is hard enough to encounter his gurning mug on the iPad, but I suck it up as the children have a right to a relationship with their father. I cannot countenance his girlfriend's presence in my home though, virtually or otherwise. She is the person he left me for and she knew very well that he was married with two very small children so I'm afraid that there's no one on the planet that will convince that she has my children's best interests at heart.

It is not easy, and if they ever covered this bit of parenting in the ante-natal classes I must have missed that one.

PurpleThing Fri 26-Apr-13 04:15:24

I think it is also a way of glossing over any guilt and responsibility they have for breaking the family up. "See we've all moved on, everything is fine", rather than giving everyone time to adjust as it is actually a big deal.

And call the CSA, please. Your children having given up eating now he's got a wedding to pay for, I suppose? He sounds very selfish. Being controlling (getting everything HIS way) is a symptom of that, as is accusing you of being controlling yourself if you stand up to him.

clam Thu 25-Apr-13 21:15:56

Just seen this. I would be hopping mad in your shoes. I'm no stranger to modern technology, but it pisses me off when, chilling in the comfort of my own home with my family (even if we're in different rooms doing different things) I can hear loud exchanges between dd and her friend. If I've invited her round here, it's different - I suppose I've mentally prepared for visitors, but I'm not when it's just us here.

Add to that the sensitivities of a marriage break up and another woman on the scene and I'd not be happy at ALL. It's an invasion of your privacy and you're quite within your rights to alter the arrangement without damaging the tenuous relationship between your kids and their dad.

ThinkingItThrough Thu 25-Apr-13 20:02:58

A huge and very belated thankyou to absolutely everyone who replied to this after my last messages. I work FT and 3 chn so didn't realise that new posts had been added - sorry for the lack of feedback. It is good for me to have points from those who don't agree as well. I do understand that my reaction is partly because I am stressed about the whole situation and wish ex-partner was still here in the family not with a new woman. If that makes me bitter then I am sorry but I am only human. Letsmakecookies, you are so right - It is so hard to be rational and objective and do the right thing when you are being tested beyond anything you ever thought possible.

This boundary of not having ex's new partner Skyping into my home feels to me to be about maintaining a sense of self and some privacy. Sofia is right that I am older than ex's new partner and I don't use Skype myself.

I see it is great for the children and have said to their father that it is fine for the younger two for half an hour once a week as a session in their rooms - so they can look forward to it as a regular slot - but he doesn't want it 'controlled' in this way, he just wants to pop up as and when. I find that a real invasion.

It happened again tonight which is why I came back to look at this thread. NilentSight - you are so right about it being a control tool. I am not welcome at his new home, I have never been to his new partner's home, though he was skyping from there tonight. So why can he not respect that this is my personal space and so is hard for me. If my ex genuinely wanted just to communicate with the children, why not Skype alone or if new partner walks into the room by accident, have them just wave and walk off or something. If it is really just about the children why does he not take his iPhone/iPad somewhere private? She actually has children herself so I would have thought might understand this.

Tonight was another 'joint session' from them sitting together to Skype all three of our children. But he children are only really interested in relating to their father so I suspect he was making a point to them and me by the joint appearance. They announced engagement this week (the children have been really upset. Also he stopped paying any child maintenance back in Feb - my eldest tells me he has no money because he has to pay for a big wedding - family tell me she is sporting a big ring!). I still want the children to have contact though - it is not their fault, they still need their Dad but maybe a bit of this back story explains why the joint Skyping hits such a raw nerve.

This post has given me so much to thing about, both on the first occasion and now. And I seem to have found a doppelganger in MonsterMissy - scary but comforting that others have had this happen and are coping. Double Yew and Chipping really hit the mark , also Wildwood, I am trying to count my lucky stars for the children's sake that he still wants contact but find a way through that we can live with.

Thanks All!

balia Thu 03-Jan-13 10:42:48

As a stepmum, I'm usually pretty impatient with threads that try to limit the relationships between DC's and their wider family, including step, but I'm with you here, OP, I would find that incredibly invasive. I suppose the best you can hope is that she's young and trying a bit too hard to get on with the DC's?

You mention, though, that this is symptomatic of the acrimonious relationship between you and ex - would mediation help?

monstermissy Thu 03-Jan-13 00:16:04

Op are you me?

I'm 18mths out of a 16 year relationship. Ex got his new gf on Skype at the weekend, kids want to see more if him but he only opts for twice a month otherwise he only gets time for 'work and kids' and nothing else (err what do you think I do with my life). He intoduced kids to gf after two weeks, moved in with her after four weeks and got engaged about four months in. It's now only six months old. I'm angry as the kids have had no time to adjust to anything before he's dropping some more 'great news'. My problem isn't with her tho she sounds ok and the kids seem to like her so I'm happy about that, its just utter disregard for them and his selfish 'I want to sod everyone else' attitude.

I'm told I just have to suck it up tho. (His bad attitude to maintaining a good relationship with the kids not the gf, she's alright tho it took a while to get to this point)

WildWorld2004 Wed 02-Jan-13 23:51:15

I feel for you all. My ex couldnt even manage to pick up the phone once a fortnight never mind skype or facetime.

Why more often than not do people cast their children aside when they get a new partner? That makes me so 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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!!

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

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

Not understanding boundaries does not make violating them OK.

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 03:43:29

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.

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

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!

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.

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