I don’t know if this is a common issue with recently divorced families, but my ex and I have been wrestling with this issue since we first separated over a year ago: the first night our 8yo son is at her house after being at mine, he’ll call and tell me how he wants to switch and be at my house instead.
It’s fairly regular and I know he’s having a hard time there when he makes the call: it’s serving as his pressure valve, a way to try and wrest control of his life from the chaos that it’s in now, but at the same time, I also know – and have had confirmed from therapists and books – that it’s the parents that have to make the parenting schedule, not the children
Here’s my dilemma: I never want to not be available to my children if they want to talk with me and share their frustrations and problems, even if it’s via phone.
Clearly, though, and this is from long, hard experience, talking with my son on those first transitional evenings when he’s at Mom’s house after spending time with me are more likely to exacerbate the situation, not improve it.
How do I know? This evening he’s called about
eight ten times. The first time I answered the phone and he just wanted to tell me that they couldn’t find the kid’s cellphone. The second time, my ex was on the line asking me to explain to him that the kid’s cellphone was going to transition to being our 12yo daughter’s cell phone. My son hung up the phone out of frustration and anger (he wants his own phone, needless to say).
The third time he called he wanted to know “are you home, Daddy?” When I said “yes” he said “good, I’m bicycling over”.
We live about 1.5 miles apart and the kids have bikes and know the route, but at night, without a bike light, it’s clearly a dangerous an unacceptable journey. More importantly, however, my son needs to listen to us, his parents, as we’re responsible for his schedule, not him.
He just called again and I didn’t answer the phone. I just looked at it. Now it could have been someone else at the house, but I’d say that there’s a 97% chance it was him. And now it’s ringing again.
So, do I answer it?
Or do I ignore it?
What do you do, divorced, single or separated parents?