phone for 8 year old? (long)
Background: for the past three years, every few months or so, SD -- who turned 8 years old a week ago -- goes through a couple of phases of wanting to call her mom while she's at our house.
The first time it happened, I felt like I didn't want it to happen, because as I knew she would BM said "put daddy on the phone" and made my DH get on the phone and talk to her ad nauseum, and her energy would be and was all over my house. Then I did some research and all the experts recommend that kids have access to the household they are not in. (We had 25% custody, now 50%). So for SD's sake I agreed that SD could call BM whenever she asks, as long as it's a reasonable hour and not in the middle of cleaning up a mess/being disciplined -- you get the picture -- and as long as we all agree that BM will not ask for DH to get on the phone. DH will contact her independently if there's something worrisome going on. And since then SD has always been allowed to call. I always dial the number for her when she can't remember it, smile, hug her, tell her to talk as long as she wants. It's happened maybe 10 times in three years.
About three weeks ago, DH and BM have a co-parenting call and BM says "SD doesn't feel comfortable asking you or Gwen if she can call me." And DH and BM agree that DH will have a talk with both SD and SS about how it's fine to call BM, etc. We haven't had a chance to have that talk yet, with the holiday schedule, it's been crazy.
At Christmas BM gets livid at DH (she was crossing boundaries, he called her on it, she's an emotionally volatile person who is emotionally dependent on DH's good opinion of her, so she freaked). Now BM's not speaking to DH or I at all, no email, nothing, and all co-parenting communication is sent by her husband. Childish and ridiculous, and totally not helpful to the children, but whatever. Her husband is a nice enough guy and understands what co-parenting is, and what it is not; however, her kids are probably better off if she is communicating with DH and not her husband. I wish she would grow up and understand that her personal feelings about DH have nothing to do with co-parenting.
Anyway, SD has a bday two weeks later, and we get an email from BM's husband that says "we got SD a firefly phone for her birthday, it has only one button, a "mom button" so she can call BM when she wants. If it gets abusive or excessive, let us know."
I am unhappy because according to co-parenting principles this should have been discussed BEFORE giving the phone to SD. I do not think an 8 year old should be in charge of deciding when she can and cannot be on the phone. I think it is an intrusion in our household. If we had agreed to it ahead of time it would be different, esp. if the grown-ups could have agreed on the rules for phone use. I don't think it should be anything goes!
OK I am trying to keep in mind that I am more angry at the principle than the reality. When the newness wears off, perhaps it won't be a big deal at all and won't get called much (SD won't lose it, she's very responsible).
But I came home from work tonight and saw the phone for the first time, and felt the rage all over again.
DH and I see a counselor to help us steady our marriage through our first two years, esp. given BM's crap, and this person (a male) was incensed when we told him about the phone. He independently offered how it violated many co-parenting principles to just do this unilaterally.
DH himself thinks it's lame but doesn't want to get upset about it, the deal is done and it would be more damaging to SD to do anything else. I want to feel this way but I feel angry and worked over in my own house, As Usual. My barely 8 year SD does not simply get to decide what she wants to do. She has always been allowed to call BM and everyone always puts on bright shiny faces; I simply don't want her calling BM when I'm not aware and having BM hear stuff in the background. But I don't need any additional battles, and at some point I need to accept that BM is never going to honor boundaries, and get on with my life, and let this go. Right?
What do you think?