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Suggestions on how to best handle skid phone calls with the other parent.

Solidshadow7's picture

My SS4 HATES phone calls and the BM is completely insane. The calls are disrupting my entire life. I started to mention this in my last blog, and I know its an issue, but there were so many responses I was afraid it would get lost in the thread so im posting about it separately.

BM is high conflict and is emotionally abusing SS4, either to intentionally PAS him against DH, or because she's so emotionally disturbed that she really is that terrible of a parent, I am really not sure which. Possibly a combination of the two. SS is developing multiple behavioral issues all of which seem to be directly traceable back to things that mommy said. She is definitely working on training SS to be helplessly emotionally enmeshed with her, either intentionally or unintentionally.

The CO is very poorly written. There are some statements about phone contact though, garbled as they may be. There is no money to go back to court. We are having serious issues with the disruptions her phone calls to SS when he is with us are causing, that and we find her methods of contact to be mistreatment of SS. I am trying to figure out what we can do to limit this without infringing on the CO.

We have SS 3 weekends a month, from Friday night until Monday morning. BM calls every single night. If we do not answer she will call again every 5 minutes, within 15 minutes she starts calling my phone too, and if we continue not to answer within 30 minutes she will threaten to call the police and have them do a welfare check while texting DH about how worried she is that something has happened to him and SS. We have never gone more than 30 minutes without answering so I don't actually know what she does next.

SS is 4, and has only recently started talking since BM mostly kept him isolated before DH sued for custody, and he absolutely HATES talking on the phone. The phone will ring, DH will put it on speakerphone, present it to SS and say "your mother is on the phone" or "talk to your mommy."

At this point 5% of the time SS says hi and talks to her. 95% of the time SS will either sit there in complete silence and refuse to make any sound at all, or he will scream "I don't like talking on the phone!" "I don't want to talk to mommy!" or he will simply start howling "NOOOOO, NOOO NOOO!!!" Either that or he will simply start running away from the phone in any way he can, either in complete silence making sure he makes absolutely no sound, or he will run while crying and screaming protests.

All of BM's phone calls sound almost exactly the same. "SS, SS, SS, SS... Mommy loves you, mommy misses you. Mommy loves you, Mommy misses you, Don't you love your mommy? Tell your mommy how much you love her. Mommy loves you. SS? SS? SS? Mommy loves you." She has gone on like this while SS quietly sits there looking absolutely miserable for 45 MINUTES before. She has gone on like this while SS is clearly and audibly throwing the temper tantrum to end all tantrums on the floor next to the phone until he tires himself out before as well.

The BM will NOT hang up until SS says "I love you I miss you mommy." It doesn't matter how long it takes. This is really not the worst of it either. Once SS said "I don't want to talk on the phone" and she actually replied sternly "Well you HAVE to. Its only for a little bit. I AM YOUR MOTHER. You have to tell me that you love me."
Another time SS started running in circles around the car, and DH started slowly walking after him holding the phone, and BM kept asking why he wasn't talking, so DH told her what was happening and she demanded to know why DH wouldn't do his job and lock him into the car with the phone until he talked to her.
The other day I had to take a picture of the phone on speaker being presented to SS and send it to her because BM keeps saying that DH is in contempt of the court order because she doesn't believe that SS is actually there.

What will usually happen is BM will continue repeat "I love you SS, I miss you" while SS has a screaming fit, or runs away from the phone while we walk after him and eventually he will tire himself out, and while quietly crying to himself say "I love you, I miss you mommy" and she will say thank you goodnight and finally hang up.
The other day I had finally had it and actually took the phone and quietly locked it into the car while she was going on her "I love you I miss you SS" tirade. The call recording later revealed that she had repeated SS's name over and over for 17 additional minutes and finally huffed and slammed the phone down.

The court order is written strangely. It says that if the parents ever live in the same school district, they will be week on week off. However, currently they live 50 miles apart. The CO states that BM has SS for all school days, and DH has 3 weekends a month until Monday morning and the whole summer. It comes out to roughly 60/40. The section pertaining to phone contact states:

"The parents shall permit the child to have telephone, email, and/or other electronic communication including audio/visual communication such as Skype or facetime with the other parent, three times during a full week. Neither parent shall monitor, intercept, interrupt, or listen to communications between the child and the other parent absent a court order authorizing them to do so."

I believe the phone clause assumes a week on week off schedule, but since that is not what they are currently on, 3 times a week comes out to EVERY SINGLE DAY on DH's time. I had originally said, the CO says we cant listen to the calls so just give ss the phone off speaker and let him do whatever he is going to do with it, but DH's lawyer said that clause doesn't apply until SS4 is old enough to make and receive phone calls by himself. (That and DH is afraid SS will destroy the phone if left unattended to make his mother stop)

We wish to stay well on the correct side of the CO while dealing with the high conflict litigious overbearing lunatic, but at the same time we don't like watching her teach SS Bates Motel caliber emotional entrenchment while she reinforces learned helplessness with SS the same way they did with the abused dog in the study with the electrocuting floors I read about in my psych class.

What exactly are we able to do to stop or limit this?

Comments

SonOfABrisketMaker's picture

"Hey BM, I heard SS screaming from the other room. I'll have him call you later if we have time. Thanks! Bye!"

The CO just says she can call, not that you guarantee a positive or fulfilling 3 hour conversation. If she calls and Boyo isn't talking, end the phone call and go back to his family time with his dad.

How do phone conversations with DH go?

Edit- if she wants to pitch a fit about it, tell her that DH would be happy to rewrite that section and then send her one that's severely limiting to contact.

Solidshadow7's picture

SS refuses to talk about 50% of the time, talks a little the other 50%. When SS doesn't talk or screams DH immediately says "Well, I know you don't like phone so I'll let you get back to what you were doing, just called to say I love you" and then he hangs up.

Cooooookies's picture

Well it does say email is also allowed. It doesn't say that it HAS to be a phone call. It says that the other PARENT cannot interfere but it says nothing about you or ss4 hanging up the phone when he becomes upset or you muting the phone after the call is answered.

If you were able to lock it in the car and she finally gave up, she doesn't know that's what happened. DH can just say that SS4 refused to talk and, per the CO, he's not allowed to interfere so there's nothing he could do.

Poor wording allows for creative thinking on your end in order to shield ss4 from the madness.

SonOfABrisketMaker's picture

GOod point! "She called and the kid walked away. Not supposed to interrupt so she spent 45 minutes listening to us have dinner in the other room." LOL!

BethAnne's picture

What is the exact wording of the court order regarding phone calls?

Also I would not worry so much about the police checks, if she ever follows through. Send a text message within a reasonable amount of time (within an hour I would say) staying true hat ss is fine but busy and will be available for a call at x time. Then ignore all other calls. If the police turn up ss is safe and well, BM was informed of that. What are they going to do?

Block BM from your phone.

Also you could try Skype or FaceTime to help ss be able to talk to his mom, but I would limit calls to 10 mins max.

Cooooookies's picture

Yikes I don't know about video calls. At least with the phone, she can't see that it's being thrown in the car or see what's going in their house and get any sort of intel. With a video call, she could see that they are there trying to help SS...which would go against the CO for interfering.

Solidshadow7's picture

The court order is written strangely. It says that if the parents ever live in the same school district, they will be week on week off. However, currently they live 50 miles apart. The CO states that BM has SS for all school days, and DH has 3 weekends a month until Monday morning and the whole summer. It comes out to roughly 60/40. The section pertaining to phone contact states:

"The parents shall permit the child to have telephone, email, and/or other electronic communication including audio/visual communication such as Skype or facetime with the other parent, three times during a full week. Neither parent shall monitor, intercept, interrupt, or listen to communications between the child and the other parent absent a court order authorizing them to do so."

I believe the phone clause assumes a week on week off schedule, but since that is not what they are currently on, 3 times a week comes out to EVERY SINGLE DAY on DH's time.

BethAnne's picture

I would have your husband inform BM in writing (email or text) that ss will be available for calls between 6pm and 6.30pm every night ( or what ever time works best). Then teach ss how to hang up the phone. The court order does not state that parent’s calls need to be answered straight away, just that there are 3 calls. I might also have a fun activity for ss straight after the calls so he wants to end it.

Maxwell09's picture

Phone calls should be limited to mid visit whereever that falls. That’s my usual stance however if y’all just have him for the weekend then ignore her calls. She can go two days especially if your DH can go a week or longer. You need to brace Bm for the cutoff. Tell her that her phone calls are disrupting SS, he doesn’t want to talk on the phone and she upsets him when she calls. If there’s and emergency or if he asks, he will call her other than that she’s going to voicemail. She’ll throw a fit but as long as y’all stick to it with consistency, she’ll just have to deal with it. It’s a control thing.

Solidshadow7's picture

WalkOnBy, what exactly did she do and how did it cause her to lose the kids?

We have been aware for a long time that there will be no peace until this happens.

Llilac1's picture

My SD10 has done the nightly phone calls since she was 2 (I know really young). They’re ridiculous and intrusive.

A lot of what you wrote about bm screams to me a personality disorder. Something like borderline personality disorder? I’m no therapist but our bm was diagnosed once upon a time. I suggest doing some research on personality disorders and how to deal with those people. I bought the Walking on Eggshells book when dh, then just boyfriend, told me about her diagnosis. I wanted to know what to expect.

ntm's picture

You know, back in the landline days, I got my fill of the always bawling after the BM call, and I turned the ringer down as low as possible and the answering machine to mute. It would take a message, but you had to turn it up and play it back to hear it. Life was bliss. SDs never once asked if mommy had called.

Saying “I miss you” and demanding the child say it is alienation. It means they’re not supposed to be happy with the other parent. This BM is being abusive. At four, calls should be limited to five minutes and no forcing the child to parrot something back before being allowed to hang up. And I agree, one phone call per every three days.

thinkthrice's picture

"Saying “I miss you” and demanding the child say it is alienation. It means they’re not supposed to be happy with the other parent. This BM is being abusive."

THIS!!! IMHO it would be worth going back to court to nail down the CO. This whackadoodle should lose all custody on contempt. She is unfit and damaging the child.

The Girhippo used to pull the same stunts. Chef was too ignorant to realize it was PAS.

She will be satisfied with nothing less than complete rejection of DH by SS. Document, document, document.

Also do a search on YouTube for Dr. Craig Childress

thinkthrice's picture

dup

twoviewpoints's picture

Three contacts in one full week translates into about every other day. There is nothing that says BM can call every day nor that she may have unlimited time.

A five minute 'talk' on the phone is about all one can reasonably expect out of some four year old. BM, because she is an idiot, and Dad , because he fears contempt charges, are terrorizing this child with the ridiculous every night no limited duration calls.

Enough. Let her file contempt charges. Heck, tell BM to go right ahead and do so. I'll be the perfect time to address court clarification on the meaning of the clause and to modify it. You can pretty well bet BM wont do contempt motion because she knows darn well she is abusing the call terms, but in the event she is silly enough to actually try contempt, a judge will slap her down.

in the mean time, Dad should just simply tell BM she gets one call on Saturday with a 5-10 minute limit. That while he will have the child available for the call, he can not force the child to actually speak. He will try to encourage child to be verbal and interact with BM but at least BM will ne able to tell her child she loves and misses the child . That's about all Dad can do. Have kid available and offer BM a chance to speak.

FrenchPeas's picture

On most cellphones there is an “end call” option. Exercise that option. And set it to silent for the rest of the night. Voila. Problem solved

Harry's picture

Block her from cell phones. She should have only one number to call
If there is going to be three calls in seven days. That two calls one weekend and one call the other weekend. NOT every night.

secret's picture

"He doesn't want to talk right now. Are you really insecure enough about his love for you that you need to demand it so aggressively?"

WalkOnBy's picture

the second part of your statement will cause a HCBM to go into overdrive.

"He doesn't feel like talking right now. If he changes his mind, we'll call you back."

Willow2010's picture

Do NOT do skype or facetime!!! That would open the gates to a whole new hell.

The whole scenario you wrote about is absolutely absurd!!! First off…video, at least 3-5 times, this mess. Make sure they are over 15 minutes of the kid having a melt down and NOT wanting to talk and make sure you can hear BM telling him to say he misses her.

Then send the following email to BM.

Dear Hagatha
From now on, the nightly phone calls will be no longer than 5 minutes. We will have SS call you at 4:00pm every day. (I would get the CO changed to say 2 times a week if 50/50 and 1 time if only there for 3 days).
As you can tell from the attached video, SS is obviously in extreme distress about talking on the phone with you while you demand he say things you want him to say. I have MANY of these same types of videos so it is certainly not an isolated incident.
I can not tell you how to talk to our son, but you may want to adjust the conversations you have with him while he is at my house. As you can see he is in distress the rest of the day after a call like this. And I am sure you don’t want him to feel so horrible. THANKS!

Or something along those lines. Maybe make it a little shorter. Main points to get across are that you have several videos and that SS is traumatized by the calls. What a loon!! Maybe when she sees what SHE sounds like on the video and how bad SS actually is, she will stop. Fingers crossed.

Goodluck's picture

BlondeAmbition, you have not heard I HOPE YOUR SAFE?

OH wow, your in for a treat if and when it starts.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

First off, I'd block the lunatic from your phone... You shouldn't have to worry about her calling YOUR phone. You aren't technically a part of the CO, so if you block her she can't do s***. And that takes that stressor off of you. She shouldn't have to freedom to contact you as she pleases. That way you don't have to have her contact you.

If it's three times during a full week and he only has it a weekend, then you probably only have to let her call once or twice. If SS days he's done, then he's done. It says you don't listen, so as far as you're concerned, if he doesn't want to, then that's his choice and you can say you allowed a phone call.

Give a set time that they can happen. (5-10 minutes... 30 seconds.... Long enough for the word hi to be said... Whatever you guys want, lol) And then stick to that. SS shouldn't be forced to sit there for 45 minutes screaming. NOPE. That's 1) cruel. and 2) not what the CO says.

You could also start calling three times a week when she has him... LOL

lala-land's picture

If you can put a stop to this, you and your DH should. This will only get worse, not better. I like the idea of you recording some of these conversations...you will need them as evidence one day. I put up with this nonsense for many years and it is part of the PAS handbook. My step kids are now in their twenties and have turned themselves into pretzels trying to please their needy mother. In our house, it started with phone calls, then when the kids were in school, nightly visits delivering school supplies, or to take them shopping and late night phone calls to the cell phones she bought them. It got worse with age, with the introduction of Skype and messaging, her contacts became non stop. Yet in site of having a full time job, she managed to get on the school council so she could drop into the school whenever she wanted and attempted to control the staff...what fun. Currently one of the steps is in university across the country and she flies out there or flies SD22 back every month. The other two steps have just recently moved out of her house (SD27 and SS24)and she continues to monitor them daily as well. Needless to say, all these kids now have serious emotional problems.

What BM is doing is abusive and needs to be stopped. You need as a minimum to keep a diary of these calls, date, time, duration and SS emotional state during and after. As well, a few recordings or videos would be useful (set up a nanny cam) for the eventual legal case. This little guy is just trying to be with his dad and he should not be used as a weapon or a possession for BM to abuse.

ESMOD's picture

1. at that age with a kid that isn't very verbal, the phone would obviously be difficult. I would suggest a skype or facetime call.

2. I know she is high conflict but I would try to insist that you set up a schedule for her to call. Your DH can tell her that it will be better to do it that way because the boy will be ready and more prepared to talk for a few minutes. I would also set a reasonable time limit for the calls.. at that age 5-10 minutes for "proof of life" shouldn't be out of the question. There is no way a 4 year old has the stamina or self control to sit on the phone for 45 minutes. It may not be prescribed in the CO but I would be very tempted to ask her how she would feel if you were to start taking a video of the boy during these marathon bouts so that the next time they go to court, the judge might see the reasonableness of limiting the calls in frequency and duration.

3. Also, maybe dad can tell the boy that the quickest way to get mommy off the phone is to just tell her he loves her.

DaizyDuke's picture

Listen, I am all for mom being able to call a 4 year old and say good night and ask how his day went when he is with dad. But calling and fighting with the kid for 45 minutes is dumb and counterproductive. Since you are NEVER going to be able to get psycho BM to see this, I would play it this way. When she calls, put SS on the phone and immediately start recording with your phone. If SS starts a tantrum, runs away, screams that he doesn't want to talk or whatever, then simply have your DH tell her that SS is being uncooperative and that he will try and have him call her later. Then turn both of your phones off until you are ready to have SS call her. IF she finagles the money to take you to court for contempt, you have proof in your recordings that you attempted phone contact and SS was not having it and that you offered to try again when SS was in a better frame of mind. I can't imagine any judge or police officer saying you did anything wrong.

To be honest, I think having your SS call BM would be the best plan of action. 4 year olds don't take kindly to being told to jump just because someone says jump. A tantrum is totally understandable if he is playing with toys, or watching his favorite show and suddenly everyone is demanding that he stop and talk on the phone. It's actually ridiculous to expect this of a 4 year old. So why not tell BM that you will have SS call her each night. That way you can prepare SS for the call, no different than preparing kids that age for a bath, or bed time or what have you. 15 minutes prior, you tell SS "Ok SS, when Sponge Bob is over we are going to call your mom real quick" Then when Sponge Bob is almost over, "OK SS, Sponge Bob is almost over, don't forget we're going to be calling your mom real quick!" Then the kid is mentally prepared.

My BS7 just started spending the night at MIL's back in March. I just tell MIL that I would like him to call me before he goes to bed, and they do. We usually have a 5 minute conversation and then done. But he's 7. Asking a 4 year old to have a conversation on the phone is beyond ridic. I remember when BS was 4 he would do the same stuff your SS is doing. I'd put grandma on speaker and tell BS to say hi and he'd just sit there and look at the phone, or he'd say hi and run away.

Stop giving BM all the power to disrupt your home.

Goodluck's picture

SOLID
what does the court order specifically say about telephone calls.

Can you tell us?

In the meant time, TELL bm ---I will have son4 call YOU at 9am Saturday morning. YOU can decide if you want to be available for that call or not. ----then crickets from you. Repeat the same sentence over and over again until one of you hang up because your over the fighting.

Turn off your phones and only turn them on IF you have an emergency OR son4 wants to call his mom.

IF bm doesn't like this ---she can take dh back to court. 1x a weekend is NOT unreasonable for a 4 year old barely able to talk to call MOM. Sounds like this is more for moms insecurities. She should stop punishing dad for having a new wife/SO. Her son needs 2 adults to come to a peace treaty for the sake of this child.

IF son4 wants to call mommy at 7pm Saturday night and you folks are busy of "COURSE" you would allow him to. Right?????