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Nadia 04-08-2019 08:43 PM

Cell phone use
 
My ex has provided our son (12 years old) with a cell phone which he insists must be switched on and be kept by our son’s side at all times when the child is at my house. Our son has been specifically told that he cannot mute it or even switch it off at night just in case he (my ex) wants to speak to him or if his grandparents want to speak. Prior to this, my son was instructed to call every evening, which he did for the most part, except for a couple of times when he forgot because he was playing online with his friends. Now, the phone must stay by his side at all times so no phone calls are missed.

This is getting stressful for our son. We just came back from the park and he got all upset because he had forgotten to take it with him and now he thinks he is going to get in trouble because he missed a call from his dad.

tilt 04-08-2019 09:03 PM

This is your parenting time? Does the written agreement specify the phone must be on and your son always available (I doubt a judge would sign off on that). You have to advocate for your son and tell your co-parent that you make the rules at your house and your son will check the phone once per evening and briefly return missed calls unless he is otherwise engaged.

That type of ball and chain would give anyone anxiety! Let me guess, your co-parent has a few control issues that have now been transferred to your son since you “escaped”.

Read through Gavin de Becker’s “Gift of Fear” about how your co-parent is grooming your son to be compliant in an unhealthy way - and how you have to “train” your co-parent on how to interact with your son in a way that is healthier for your son. Good luck.

rockscan 04-08-2019 09:20 PM

Whoa this is awful.

Your time your rules. You advise him that at your house your son has rules and obligations and is free to enjoy his time as he sees fit. If his father or grand parents call and he is not available then he will return the call when it is convenient for him and your household. If the ex disagrees you give the phone back and tell him it is not allowed in your home. Then he goes on ignore.

Nadia 04-09-2019 08:54 AM

Thank you for the response.

I will do what I can to facilitate communication with the other parent but not to the point where it is interfering with our time or stressing out our son. It may mean a phone call every other day or a short call every day, but the phone is switched off otherwise and put away. If the other parent doesn’t like this arrangement, he can have the phone back.

I’m afraid the pressure on our son will remain. If the kid doesn’t call everyday he is made to feel bad, grandparents will say, “we were sat waiting for your call yesterday, but you never called.” Or the dad will say, “did you forget my number?” It isn’t a healthy relationship when it’s all on your terms and you make your displeasure known when the child doesn’t live up to your expectations.

rockscan 04-09-2019 08:59 AM

Then you have to help him have the confidence to tell them that he is not always available. Or that people will guilt him and make him feel bad but thats their problem not his.

It happens in intact families too!!

iona6656 04-09-2019 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nadia (Post 234956)

I’m afraid the pressure on our son will remain. If the kid doesn’t call everyday he is made to feel bad, grandparents will say, “we were sat waiting for your call yesterday, but you never called.” Or the dad will say, “did you forget my number?” It isn’t a healthy relationship when it’s all on your terms and you make your displeasure known when the child doesn’t live up to your expectations.

One of the best things I've learned as a result of my divorce is the concept emotional responsibility and emotional maturity. I'm total shit at actually explaining the concept- but it's done really well in a podcast I listened to- found here: https://katrinaubellmd.com/ep-27-bre...esponsibility/

(don't be thrown off by the uber specific bent of the podcast- it's actually pretty damn good).

The basic idea is that we are all responsible 100% for our own emotions. No one else can force us to feel a certain way (with maybe the exception of true fear for our immediate safety).

It also means that we are not responsible for others emotional well-being. She has a lot of podcasts where she discusses how parents often feel this responsibility for our kids happiness- and the need to protect them from bad feelings. No where do I think this is more applicable than kids with divorced parents.

I think your son would probably benefit from a basic lesson in this- that he's not responsible for his dad's or grandparent's feeling. We should treat people with kindness and the way we would want to be treated. But if he knows he has done his best to keep in contact with his dad and grandparents- then he should not feel guilty or bad for upsetting his dad or grandparents. He's not responsible for their happiness.

iona6656 04-09-2019 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rockscan (Post 234957)
Then you have to help him have the confidence to tell them that he is not always available. Or that people will guilt him and make him feel bad but thats their problem not his.

It happens in intact families too!!

It happens everywhere. It's basically the plot of every family sitcom.

And we give it all kinds of name like "people pleaser"....and we teach little kids that they have to be nice and not hurt other peoples feelings, instead of teaching them that they are responsible for their own feelings.

Already- I hear it said to my daughter 18x a day "Oh, be a nice little girl...nice little girls don't shout or scream".....

rockscan 04-09-2019 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iona6656 (Post 234959)
One of the best things I've learned as a result of my divorce is the concept emotional responsibility and emotional maturity. I'm total shit at actually explaining the concept- but it's done really well in a podcast I listened to- found here: https://katrinaubellmd.com/ep-27-bre...esponsibility/



(don't be thrown off by the uber specific bent of the podcast- it's actually pretty damn good).



The basic idea is that we are all responsible 100% for our own emotions. No one else can force us to feel a certain way (with maybe the exception of true fear for our immediate safety).



It also means that we are not responsible for others emotional well-being. She has a lot of podcasts where she discusses how parents often feel this responsibility for our kids happiness- and the need to protect them from bad feelings. No where do I think this is more applicable than kids with divorced parents.



I think your son would probably benefit from a basic lesson in this- that he's not responsible for his dad's or grandparent's feeling. We should treat people with kindness and the way we would want to be treated. But if he knows he has done his best to keep in contact with his dad and grandparents- then he should not feel guilty or bad for upsetting his dad or grandparents. He's not responsible for their happiness.



One of the things I have learned in my many years of therapy (thanks mentally ill parents who divorced and spent years attacking each other) is that you cannot change other people’s behaviour, you can only change your response to it. So change your response. Your son will need to learn to be assertive and this is a good time for him. “No dad, I have things I do at night and am not going to spend my time by the phone.” “It is unfair for you to dictate my time. If I am available to take your call I will but if I am busy, I will call you back.”

Nadia 04-09-2019 10:14 AM

All this makes a lot of sense.

Our son loves his grandparents and dad very much and they obviously feel the same. But their love appears to be conditional on whether he lives up to their expectations.

When he has missed calls, and attention is drawn to that by the grandparents, he does explain, why the call was missed, with “I was playing with my friends and I got busy.” But they just come back with, “but we were waiting for your call, thinking why hasn’t he called us?” And follow with “make sure you call tomorrow ok, don’t forget, because we love you and miss you very much.”

Or if the phone is switched off because he forgot to charge it, they’ll reprimand him and say, “you have to make sure the phone is charged and switched on at all times, even before you go to school, because we might want to call you then.”

rockscan 04-09-2019 11:42 AM

Then he needs to say to them “I understand you miss me and love me but this pressure you are putting on me is unreasonable and unhealthy. Please stop treating me this way. I do not deserve it.”

There is nothing wrong with him standing up to them and he will feel better when he is able to take control of his feelings. Otherwise he will start to resent them.

He could even suggest setting a time each day for a call to make sure no one misses anyone.

Although, talking to your grandparents daily is overkill. They need a hobby. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t live with their grandparents speak to them on a daily basis.


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