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** Sorry, I JUST realized this forum is more about legal matters than for split parenting advice. Oh well, I'll leave this as it is anyways. **
I just need someone to tell me if I'm over-reacting:
One of my kids, the older boy (11), phones the other parent at least 3 -5 times per day, for around 1 - 1.5 hours total per day.
Longer conversations will include activities that make sense, like him reading a book over the phone (this behaviour carried over from a younger age, but is still accepted by the other parent, so why should it stop? My son NEVER reads out-loud otherwise). Some activities are unfair in my opinion, like playing a game (battleship) over the phone, as it is my time with our son (see further description about our custody arrangement), but I let it go.
Shorter conversations are more frequent and involve lengthy repetitions of the same phrase, "Love you, miss you, call you later (even if he's going to bed right after this), don't forget to XXX, Love you, miss you, call you later, don't forget to YYY, Love you, miss you, call you later, etc etc. This goes on for anywhere from 5 - 15 repetitions, and then "Ok Love you, miss you, you hang up first..... ok Love you, miss you, you hang up first" about 5 - 6 times.
I'm honestly embarrassed for my son, as I type this out, and am becomming more and more frustrated as this behaviour continues. It seems completely opposite of when I was that age, and none of my friends did anything similar.
"Maybe he really does miss the other parent?" Could be, but the child custody agreement we had states the other parent receives the children every weekend, from Friday after school until Sunday at noon. The concept of "missing", rather Separation Anxiety, is taught, and is certainly taught well by the other parent. The Other Parent USED TO end every interaction with "I'll miss you." being sure to display as much sorrow as possible in body language. Now, the children display this action at all times with the Other Parent, and never with anyone else.
The Other Parent NEVER calls, instead our son has been "trained" to phone the Other Parent throughout the day. Don't get me wrong, though: The Other Parent would certainly call if our son did not - I'm just trying to highlight who calls who, and not indicate that the Other Parent doesn't care.
What has been happening recently is our son has been sneaking downstairs after he "goes to sleep" to make phone calls to the other parent. I listened to one from upstairs, and it consisted of nothing but the first repeated phrase above. The other parent doesn't discourage this behaviour, even though we've talked about appropriate times for phone calls.
My parenting style is to treat my son as, and expect the behaviour as that of, an adult. Naturally, there is leeway on the expectation of the behaviour, and he receives a lot of positive reinforcement on desired behaviour, and undesired behaviour is treated as learning.
The Other Parent's style is to do as each child wishes, and look to them for direction on how their upbringing should be handled. Until we had a discussion about table manners, my Ex had been spoon-feeding our then 7 year old daughter, because she told him that's how it was at my house!
I have a dominant stance over the Other Parent, in the past have forced him (through persuasion and not coersion) to change his actions, and could do it again, but I don't know what good it would do, or if I'm just over-reacting and should let my son carry on as he pleases.
A strong part of me wants my son to be "present" while at my house, which is during all the school days - I don't think that's selfish. We don't have much fun time together, what with school, homework, supper, bedtime routine and his sibling. My son has no friends, because each time an opportunity arises where he may interact with other kids outside of school, he weighs this against missing a phone call with the Other Parent, and chooses not to go out.
Any advise or descriptions of similar situations or support is appreciated!
It certainly sounds like your kid has an unhealthy relationship with the X-wife. Co-dependent.
I would not discuss it with the X, but rather with the kid. "This is our time and we are going to spend it together. What do you think is an appropriate amount of time to talk to your mom?"
Then, set limits with him as a participant. I had to put a stop to texting that was similar to what you describe. After talking with my kid about what texting was good for and what it was not good for and that our time together was 'ours' it was stopped without incident.
From the looks of things, you're going to have a harder time than that.
Edit: Oops, you're a woman. Well its still weird if everything you're saying is truth, but all to often the fairer sex will exaggerate. 20 minutes becomes an hour, etc. If the boy's father doesn't see him much, you might consider sending the boy over to Dad's house to play battleship in person.
Last edited by defaultuser on Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
The son needs his father - nothing is going to change that.
Mom needs to get son involved in friend-building activities.
Mom needs to ease up on the control issues.
capslock wrote:I do empathize somewhat with mom. One can win in court but still lose the battle of the minds so to speak.
If one parent doesn't provide the nuturing that the child craves, they can't make the child not seak it from the other parent. That's why I suggested mom- rather than focussing on restricting dad, you should step up your nurturing and efforts to connect with s11. I have seen this dynamic before. In the case I saw mom was a controlling, angry woman. She reverted to alienation. it hurt the child. What mom would have been better off doing was welcome dads love, step up her own nurturing, and then it would've been easier to set those limits between the houses. As it stands, you can't make son not want the love. He's missing something. Help him fill that emptiness. And, you need to get him on the swim team, baseball team, karate, something to socialize him. If dad's his only friend, that's partly your fault.