SD cell phone locked - BM says we get no access. Is she right?
Hey folks. I used to post here a lot a few years ago, but haven't in quite awhile. We're having some major issues regarding cell phones and I'd like your opinions!
Background: SD10 is not actually my husband's daughter -- however he has been her "dad" since she was only a few months old as her biodad wasn't really in the picture much. Since hubby and BM broke up when she was 3.5 years old, she has been in his care every other other week, and eventually mine as I've been there since she was 4. SD's biodad came more into the picture when she was about 7 years old, with more visitation (he basically made some bad mistakes early on in their father-daughter relationship but really cleaned up his act and is a great dad, even accepting us as parents in her life still). SD10's schedule looks like this: 4 days with us, 4 days with biodad, 6 days with BM.
BM has always lied about strange things, seems to have a case of narcissistic personality disorder where everything revolves around her and she never thinks of other people. She got SD10 a phone so that she could leave her alone at home and SD would have a way to contact her for help (not something we agree with). Both us and biodad did not want her to have a phone, felt she was too young to handle social media stuff but BM said if she is paying for it then it doesn't concern us. We discussed that we would have full access to her phone while in our care and everyone agreed. We voiced our concerns about maybe having a monitoring app on her phone, but BM feels that she is trustworthy and until she gives her some reason that says otherwise, she's not going to monitor it. (We realize these are differences in parenting styles, even though we feel strongly on the other side of it we decided to monitor randomly on our own.)
Current issue: A couple of months ago, hubby was doing a spot-check on SD's phone, discussing what she uses particular apps for and whatnot, and slid over into her text messages. He did this all in front of SD. He hit her messages with BM, and SD pulled her shirt over her head like she was embarrassed. Well of course that signaled something to look harder. He ran into a conversation between SD and BM about us. Without detailing the whole story here, BM led SD to believe that we didn't have our crap together (actual phrasing used) when we had to change up our schedule -- when in reality we were out of town for my grandfather's funeral. After discussion with SD about what actually happened she understood and felt really bad about saying anything like that. So of course we then brought it up what BM. BM gave a half-assed apology that she never meant to hurt us (um, yes, she was purposely undermining our relationship with SD). But now, BM is on a witch hunt for us because we invaded her privacy. She has placed a lock code on SD's phone and said that since she pays for the phone (mind you, she wouldn't be able to afford it if she didn't receive child support from biodad) so we should consider it her phone and that we are not to know the code.
We typically didn't look more than a glance at her text messages between she and her mom, as we're more concerned about what she's doing on instagram. We have run into some issues that we've discussed with SD about instagram group messages and stuff. This past week we tried to look at her phone because she was having an issue with a friend. It seemed like we were not getting the whole story so I wanted to just make sure everything looked safe and appropriate in her instagram messaging...and we could not get in.
We do not understand why BM is saying anything to SD that we can't know about. She could read every text we send her, and if she put a secret camera on us I'd be totally fine with her hearing what we talk about with SD. What does she have to hide? (oh wait, she has a ton to hide....she knows we aren't okay with her leaving the skids alone so she can go the bar, and the texts would/have reveal those incidents...) She also has inappropriate conversations with her daughter about being too drunk to do this or that, or being hungover.
What do y'all think? Is it right for us to say we need access to her phone when she is in our care? We could take her phone away and not let her use it while she is at our house, too. But is there any other way around this?
Here's what really pisses me off. BM always wants us to be the parents to her daughter when it's convenient for her....for example, when SD is sick at school, BM won't answer her phone so the school calls us. When SD needs to buy something for school, BM leaves it until it's our week so we have to buy it. BM has always played this card: "I'm a great mom because I've kept DH in SD's life! Look how great I am! I didn't take that relationship away, even though -- mind you -- I certainly can take it away at any moment when they are causing me problems!" But what she really has always been concerned about is this: "Great, I have a built-in babysitter, and I don't even have to pay them!"
But here's the big big problem - we really don't have any rights in this situation, do we? UGH. She's not DH's daughter. She's not my daughter. We have no legal custody of her. He/We have just been parenting her "out of the goodness of our hearts" for over 10 years.
Let me add: we now have a wonderful relationship with her biodad. He is on the exact same page as us and knows exactly why BM wants the passcode on it, too -- to protect herself. We also have started counseling with BM to try to come to agreements on some of these "big" arguments. She bailed on us this week but we decided to go by ourselves and the counselor did side with us that BM should be letting the other parents involved have access to monitor her phone since she isn't with her for an entire week at a time, how can she monitor? Also she said that what BM did was undermining our relationship with SD so we had a right to be upset about it, and there's no reason anything should be said like that between BM and SD, period, whether it's on her phone or not.....now, BM hasn't heard any of that yet from the counselor, we have another time set up in a couple of weeks so I hope she gets a little dose of reality with that. Also, biodad is coming to the next session too!