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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?

Beamur Mon 10-Feb-14 10:53:34

Sorry if I've missed you saying how old the DSS is - I think it is relevant to some of these issues.
The phone is a tricky one. I don't think you can enforce the Mum from confiscating it and insisting on contact at set times on set days when your DSS is there is a bit odd - is it because he would not be allowed to contact his Dad, or that your DSS wants to speak to his Dad at that times? If your DH is insisting on this and not the other way round he is being unreasonable. The needs of the children are what are important, not the adults in these situations.
My SC's have always been allowed to contact either parent if at the others house, so having control of this thankfully has not been an issue for us. But we don't expect to hear from the kids regularly when they're at their Mums unless there is something they needed or wanted to talk about - it wouldn't be unusual not to hear from them. It can be unsettling for kids at one parents house to be contacted needlessly by the other. Irritating for the parent too to have their ex hanging around in some form or other too.
Whilst I can see the benefit to your DSS in having a home nearer school, I think if you simply move and then announce your intentions for DSS to be resident with you and see Mum eow it is going to cause such a row. Despite the obvious acrimony in this relationship, could some way to discuss your intentions to move nearer the school and how you could support your DSS more by doing that be considered? I'd leave out the issue of residency for now.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:04:58

Frog you are wrong DSS had the choice at xmas to have a pay as you go and have the contract money as pocket money instead so he could do what he wants. He is 12 now at secondary school, DH wants to give him more autonomy. DSS decided he wanted the Iphone for xmas, DH said yes but with the same rules as before. No way is DH letting DSS have a smartphone for the amount they cost a month and never bloody hear from DSS. I'm sorry its a lot of money and I don't see why children should not be brought up to respect parents/grandparents who want to hear from their children/grandchildren. I was made to speak to my long distant relatives once a week on a Sunday it's no different. So what if DSS is meeting the emotional needs of his nan and dad, sometimes the emotional needs of others need to be thought about.

As I have said numerous times now, DSS usually is in contact more often than requested. He is asked to reply to his nan because she is worried and hardly sees him.


No his mum does not know about our move yet, because we have not found a buyer, because we have not found a mortgage, because we have not found a new home, because we don't know how long that takes, because we don't know if DSS will change his mind. And then when we have moved and settled and if DSS wants to live with us we will cross that bridge when we get to it. I am seeking general advice at this stage.

and we did 18 months ago via solicitor inform his ex that we were going to move once finances permits to a location that would make contact easier. So yes we will move near his school so that he can come to ours after school friday and go to school on a monday. We are not planning on doing anything to change contact only DSS. No f**king way am I consulting that woman on when/where we move to. We will let her know once we have exchanged, but it's none of her business.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:06:16

*meant to say nan is a worrier, and misses her grandson.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 11:10:14

So what if DSS is meeting the emotional needs of his nan and dad, sometimes the emotional needs of others need to be thought about.

Its well documented that coercing a child into meeting the emotional needs of their parent is abusive. I'm not surprised his Mum is hostile if that is the way you and your DH behave.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:11:16

Beamur it came about that when DH was kicked out of the FMH he could not speak to his son who was only 7. They agreed via solicitor to contact on set days. I imagine that when DSS turned 8 that's why he got a phone, so DH did not have to ask his mum all the time for the phone. Now DSS is 12 and in yr 7, tbh I don't think DH has had to remind DSS about contact for months and months, certainly can't remember it being an issue until his mum took his phone away.

DSS is a strong willed character I am sure he would tell his dad if he thought his speak to me twice a week rule was too much for him. And you know I think DH would even say fair enough son, we'll cut it back if that was too much for DSS. But clearly it isnt.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:15:43

seriously Frog you are barking up the wrong tree. We are not paying for a flipping phone so DH can never reach DSS on it. But for the umpteenth time, the only reason the phone was confiscated is because his mum couldnt contact him on it.

I've got to be honest with you, I suffered abuse by my mother and it wasnt by being made to speak to relatives on the phone. To suggest that a dad who pays a lot of money for a phone for his son, who agrees to the condition to stay in contact twice a week so he can have the latest all singing/dancing model to impresss his friends with as child abuse is pretty f**king ridiculous.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 11:27:36

So why is your solution, which is to dock pocket money because dad can't reach his son by phone, acceptable, but his Mums solution, to confiscate the phone if she can't get in touch, is unreasonable?

Does your DS Mum have a landline? How did your DH keep in touch when his DS was younger (before he had a mobile phone)? How long are the periods between contact? Does your DH have an independent relationship with his DS school? Why can't he receive regular (and more accurate) updates directly, rather than relying on his DS to make contact on schedule?

I can't get away from the fact that your DH believes it is OK to gift his son a highly desirable electronic device for Xmas, on the proviso that it is used to meet your DHs emotional needs. And that you think that is ok.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:42:14

Because taking away a phone impacts on whether his family can keep in touch. We do not have their landline and I doubt the ex would prefer dh ringing him up on it. As I have already said before its not that she can't confiscate but she needs to let dh know first. And if she wants to stipulate dss contact her on his phone why can't dh suggest they go 50/50 on the bill.

Clearly both dss parents think it acceptable to request dss contacts them on his phone at set times. You may disagree with their parenting choice, but its not abusive.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:47:08

Its dss choice though, he doesn't have to have one.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 11:47:31

Has your DH asked his DS mum for the landline number? Do you know that his mum won't allow it?

I call my DD on her mobile sometimes - doesn't mean I agree with her Dads expectations regarding its use.

If you make little things like this such a battle, then the important things, like schooling, will inevitably end up in court as its going to be impossible for either of them to compromise.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 11:49:48

Right. His choice.

"Here you are son, you can have this highly desirable, top-of-the-range smartphone with a contract that will make you the envy of your friends - on the condition that you use it to meet my needs, when I tell you to, even if that pisses your mother off"

Yeah, some choice.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 11:52:34

Contact is 2/14 and 2 phone call in the week. Its in the contract agreement fgs. Dh is in contact with hoy. But likes to ask dss how was maths etc, what you learning? We get a report but its just grades, everything else from school takes weeks to get. Do you never ask your child how was school today? Or do nrp not have that luxury?

Beamur Mon 10-Feb-14 11:56:25

Ok, fair enough, this arrangement suits you guys. I'll make no further comments on that.
What about looking at this another way, the confiscation of the phone is really an issue about contact, not possessions and you all still have quite a high conflict situation here.
What did your DSS do in order to warrant the confiscation of his phone? Maybe it also needs to be suggested to him that he needs to consider the wider effects of misbehaving (assuming it was reasonable for his Mum to discipline him) and that the phone issue causes bad feeling for all parties.
The other thing that occurs to me, is that if Mum is spoiling for a spat, then you are also playing into her hands by allowing the phone/contact to be so incendiary. I can understand wanting more frequent contact with a 7yr old, but maybe the frequency of that contact, if it were interrupted (by a situation that was your DSS's fault) for a 12 yr old should be less of a big deal. By allowing this to be so important you are creating something that the other party (Mum) can use to get at you as well as punish her son.
In simple terms, perhaps I'm saying pick your battles and is this really worth the aggro?

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 12:02:07

My DD is 50:50 - and, as I've already said, on her weeks with Dad, we often have no contact - and if we do, it is casual, as-hoc, not prescriptive!

I'll send a text - "how was your English test?" And if she wants to, she'll reply by text or a call - sometimes straight away, sometimes a couple if days later, sometimes not at all. She'll text/ring spontaneously sometimes - but sometimes not.

Your DSS knows that his Dad gave him the phone, and is willing to pay the contract, only for as long as he does things Dads way. If he doesn't, he loses pocket money, or is given a PAYG old phone, rather than the gift that his Dad chose for him. How must he feel about his dad, knowing that? All DCs are programmed to seek their parents approval.....

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:05:46

FROG It was actually like this:

DSS: Dad can I have an Iphone for xmas
DH: No you have a blackberry and the contract has not expired and besides I thought we were going pay as you go as you are 12 now you can manage your money/credit yourself?
DSS: Vodafone will upgrade for �4 pcm extra if we upgrade for xmas, PURLEEEEEAAASSE
DH: Well let me think about it.

2 weeks later

DSS: Dad can I have an Iphone for Xmas? PURLEEEAAASSSE!!!
DH: Ok I've thought about it, you've been good with the little ones, but you got to keep replying to nan and I still want to talk to you in the week to see how you are getting on. And if you run up any silly app charges it will be deducted from pocket money too. Dont forget it's in my name, I want to see what you're looking at on the internet. Dont go sending pictures of yourself naked etc etc.
DSS: Woohoo I am getting an Iphone for xmas!!

immediately posts on Facebook for all his friends to see - I'm getting an Iphone for xmas.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:07:25

Mum confiscated the phone because DSS did not call her on it!

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:12:22

Beamur DH has not said anything to ex other than can we discuss phone confiscation so i know if I dont hear from him. All other fumings have been between ourselves. DH does explain to dss he needs to contact his mum when she asks.

I just think its a cheek to try and extort �60 out of us for a childs passport which cost �46 on the pretense of it being 50/50 cost so they can take him abroad. yet we pay all of his phone bill.

OwlCapone Mon 10-Feb-14 12:13:43

Your DH sounds like a controlling arse TBH. He wants to control how the mother parents when in her own home. That is completely unreasonable.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 12:25:56

purpleroses please explain how it is OK for the ex to threaten to remove dss phone and yet dh who pays for phone expects dss to phone or answer on set times and is not allowed to follow through with consequences if dss doesn't get In touch for a week

Confiscating a phone is a perfectly reasonable punishment if a child is either misusing the phone or has done something wrong (eg been skyping late a night, not getting back at agreed time, skiving off school, etc)

But I don't think it's right to confiscate a phone - or to inflict any kind of punishment at all - for not answering a phone it at agreed times, I think is OTT and unreasonable for a 12 year old and does nothing to support him as he grows up.

You haven't said why DSS's mum confiscated his phone - so I can't really comment on whether that was a reasonable thing to have punished a child for.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:28:59

Purpleroses Mum confiscated the phone because DSS did not call her on it!

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 12:30:03

OK - well she's as bad as your DH then!!

Poor DSS - can't they both just leave him alone to enjoy his time with whatever parent he's with? confused

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:30:14

so no one would expect the heads up from the other parent if a phone has been confiscated? thats controlling behaviour. wow.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:35:06

but dh has never confiscated the phone...

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 12:36:26

I think their best way forward might be to try and come to some sort of truce where neither expect DSS to contact them when he's with the other parent, but both of them can confiscate the phone if they want during their own time with him.

What would be nice would be if they can move to an arrangement where DSS freely texts or calls either parent whenever he feels like it - without any pressure - and doesn't get made to feel guilty or at risk of losing his phone if he doesn't happen to feel like it.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 12:40:16

i think some time ago DH worked how much it cost him a day for the phone contract and if dss did not have a good reason for not being in touch and yes enjoying time with mum is a good reason, he would warn dss, please call me or why havent you called me, then if nothing back by next night he'd text you know the rules having a fancy phone is a privelege earned....

I dont know if DH has ever deducted said amount from pocket money usually the threat is enough.

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