Who is responsible for making phone calls?

Angele - posted on 09/07/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I have three stepchildren. My stepdaughter's mother is deceased so we have no problems there. My two stepson's ( 14 and 11) have the same mother not the same as my stepdaughter. My 14 yr old stepson came to live with us about two months ago. It was consenual between all parties, his mother was happy about it but realized he needed his father. She looks for any reason to make him moved back to her house. This past weekend was hers. He came home crying because she was making him feel bad about not calling. I have been married to his father for the last 8 years. The whole time he lived with his mother, she never made him call his father weekly. His father would call him weekly and check up on him(them). Now that the shoe is on the other foot, all the rules change. Do you think we should make him call his mother? He sees her every Monday and every other weekend. She will just stop by also which we have no problems with. We are not trying to disassociate him with her. So, what is your opinion on who is responsible for phone calls?

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Mimi - posted on 09/13/2009

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I have a similar problem, although my child is a toddler. My son will be 3 in a couple of days so you might think that it's different. well it's not! his father NEVER calls him. last time i checked, a 3 year old can not pick up a phone and dial. but everytime my son asks for his daddy (we live in different states) i pick up the phone and call. his dad never answers the phone, never returns a phone call. i will call the man everyday for 2 weeks straight before getting him on the phone to speak to his kid. juat like you told your stepson, the phone rings both ways. he is the child, she is the parent. it is her responsibility to call and check on her child. my son's father had him for a week and i called every single day to check on my kid! (my son had never been away from me for that long and it was the first visit with his father out of state). your stepson shouldn't have to call his mom to make her feel better. HE is the one that needs caring and nurturing and compassion. He is the one that needs parenting. and HE needs to come first, he needs to be more important to his mother than her own feelings.

Robin - posted on 09/10/2009

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some have said basically MAKE your child talk to their parent, but if all the parent does is make them feel bad and its bad for their well being then no they dont have to, unless a court has ordered something then NO dont make them.

I only met my bio mom ONCE and that is all it took, never talked to her again, and never will, she did horrible things including try to kill me literally!!!!! and now that Im an adult why would I want to talk to her, when I was younger why should I be made to talk to her when she is such a bad person, I only consider her my egg donor!

Sorry this is a touchy issue, if we have the choice as an adult we should have the same when we are younger just because the age says we dont have a choice that is not fair.

[deleted account]

I know about the birthdays! I forgot to have my daughter call her bm on bm's birthday last year and she FREAKED! I honestly felt really bad, but she thought I did it with malicious intent (I was 7 months pregnant and also dealing with a 14 month-old and our 6 year-old at the time). I will never make that mistake again, especially since I know i would hate it if we didn't have our daughter over my bday and she didn't call (of course, I would call her and not depend on someone else to remember the important event, but that's beside the point...).

[deleted account]

oh I definitely agree :) the phone does work two ways for sure! We have children both from prior marriages so we are both step-parents. my husband is involved or tries to be, my son's dad is very hands off - of his own doing. So I see both sides - but becuase I have two extremes sometimes I wonder what is realistic, I think I am, but then again... I am the step mom/new wife so that may not work well on the one side ...I do think that kids need to be shown/reminded and made to call people back if they do not - esp. their parent and esp. on holidays or occassions. It is one thing to not call every night - but calling people back is a matter of being polite and curteous and respect. It may need to be enforced. Kids may never want to talk - but they can at least learn they need to communicate, return calls and ensure that bday calls/parents day etc are made. Regardless skipping a bday/holiday is disrespectful - at least in my humble opinon.

[deleted account]

Sure Courtney! :)



I also wanted to make clear that I think if the non-custodial parent wants contact with their child they are more than capable of pcking up the darn phone themselves. My daughter's bm seems to think that it's ALL my responsibility and then blamed me because she didn't speak to her daughter for 3 months (and yes, I did have our daughter call, but bm never answered phone nor did she return multiple messages).

[deleted account]

Thanks Holly - appreciate the feedback. Sometimes there is so much tension that I wonder if we are thinking rationally or if our expectations are too high. but it sounds like at least our thoughts are in line :) so it is reassuring to think I am not asking too much!

Amy - posted on 09/09/2009

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We had a similar issue with my stepson. The main difference was he didn't want to talk to his mom and she blamed it on me (she was abusive).
Your stepson is old enough to make his own decisions and if he doesn't call her that is his perogative. He shouldn't be forced and she most definitely should not be trying to guilt him into calling her. It would be different if she didn't see him but maybe once a month or every few months, but she sees him enough that he shouldn't have to feel like that. If she knows he has a cell (which obviously she does since she pays it) then she can call him. Maybe he just doesn't want to talk to her.

[deleted account]

i think the daily calls should be up to the child, but on special occassions (such as birthdays and holidays) the custodial parent(s) should make sure the child calls the other parent. i also think the custodial parent is responsible for school/medical updates to the other parent. the non-custodial parent should not have to ask for that info.



i personally let my daughter call her bm pretty much whenever she asks to (not that bm ever answers or calls back...), but i also make sure there is a call on special occassions. another thing i do is at least once a month i send the bm an email with an update on anything that has happenned that she needs to know about along with pictures.

[deleted account]

In a related topic - who all is responsible for providing updates on health or school then (children are 13) and is it okay if messages are not returned by children? I personally htink that if the kids are minors - it is parent who they are with to ensure they know to call back and they make sure it happens. Calls for birthdays, and call backs - should be done - and if a child doesn't 'feel' like talking that is too bad - there are some things that should be taught out of consideration especially for another parent. But maybe I am too tough?

Jessica - posted on 09/08/2009

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He is old enough, that if he WANTS to call her he will, and if he doesn't, he doesn't. Let her know that she can feel free to call at anytime....

Robin - posted on 09/08/2009

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he shouldnt have to call anyone he doesnt want to, it is the parents responsibility to show the child their love for them not the other way around, my hubby calls his daughter almost EVERY DAY on his own, and sometimes she calls, but because she wanted to, and when she is with us, when she accomplished something or is upset about something, we are there for her and support her but also ask if she wants to call her mom to tell her, or if she asks we have no problem,

But that is WRONG of the mom to do that to him! She should be doing all SHE can to be a good mom, he is still just a kid, and shouldnt have to worry about making his mom feel bad (Im not talking about intentionally hurting her feelings by saying something mean)

Angele - posted on 09/08/2009

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Quoting Charity:

My 13 year old son just recently wanted to live with his dad, he needed the male bonding that he felt quilty aquirring with his step dad. I didn't like it but I allowed it. I never pressed him to come home. My only requirements were he were to stay with me on the weekends and I would call him every night before bed to tell him I Loved Him and to tell him GoodNight. It only last a month and he is back home with me now, very happy and content. My point is if she wants a phone call then she can pick up the phone and call her son, she is the adult not him and she has no right just dropping by any time she wants, that's harrassment plain and simple. I couldn't tell you what my ex's place even looks like on the inside and that's the way it should be.



The sad part is she is just driving him further away.  He does not like going over there.  Thankfully he understands he needs to go visit otherwise that would be a hug situation. 

Charity - posted on 09/08/2009

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My 13 year old son just recently wanted to live with his dad, he needed the male bonding that he felt quilty aquirring with his step dad. I didn't like it but I allowed it. I never pressed him to come home. My only requirements were he were to stay with me on the weekends and I would call him every night before bed to tell him I Loved Him and to tell him GoodNight. It only last a month and he is back home with me now, very happy and content. My point is if she wants a phone call then she can pick up the phone and call her son, she is the adult not him and she has no right just dropping by any time she wants, that's harrassment plain and simple. I couldn't tell you what my ex's place even looks like on the inside and that's the way it should be.

Amanda - posted on 09/08/2009

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This is a touchy subject for me. My husband and I have my 2 bonus children full time. Now when I say full time I mean that bm lives 22 hours away and has not chosen to visit or even so much as ask for a picture in well over a year now. She is allowed much more visitation than she deserves, but I guess it doesn't matter if she doesn't care to use it.



She agreed when she left that she would call every week. At first she did, then slowly the calls got shorter and more infrequent. We are to the point now that she hasn't spoken to her own children in over 2 months. There is always an excuse and it is NEVER her fault (according to her anyway). "I was too sick to call for 2 weeks" "My phone broke" "I tried and couldn't get through" Give me a break.



It is my personal belief that if you really and truly want to talk to your child, you will. You will pick up the phone and call. You will borrow someone's phone or use a pay phone if necessary. You will find a way. There should never be anything more important that hearing their voice.



In our case, bm's new life and new responsibilities are obviously more important than a relationship with her children. In your case it sounds like the oppurtuity for that guilt trip is more important than the actual communication she claims to want.



It should fully be her responsibility to call her child if she wants to talk to him.

Lucy - posted on 09/08/2009

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Make sure you tell your son that he is not the responsible party!! She is the adult, and you completely support him. Also validate his feelings by telling him you understand how he is feeling, it sucks and you are sure you would feel the same way in his shoes! I agree with having Dad tell BM how it has affected your son and asks that she consider the fact that he's just behaving like a normal teen.

Betty - posted on 09/07/2009

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Your husband needs to tell her to stop making him upset. Her behavior is uncalled for. If she misses him than she needs to call him. He is a busy teenager and shouldn't have to be held accountable for not calling.
If she continues to do this than it should be considered emotional abuse and you will need to take her to court over it.

Amanda - posted on 09/07/2009

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I say that especially if he has a cell phone that his mother pays for that he should definitely give her a call at least once a day, after all she had been so used to him living with her for so long.. that a daily "How did your day go" may be all she is looking for. I say try it out and eventually maybe she will calm down and need less phone calls... but as she is his mother and if she has always treated him fairly and not harm him, then she deserves a call a day just to see how his day was, or whatever she may need to know.

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I would say your stepson is old enough to make that decision himself. If he wants to call his mother then let him, but I can understand him not wanting to call her if she is constantly laying a guilt trip on him for not living with her.

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NO, the rules should be the same. now if the child wants to call then that changes things about if he is ok with not calling then its his choice. depending on how crazy she is maybe your husband should try to explain it to her and tell her to stop with the guilt because it not heathly for the child.

Angele - posted on 09/07/2009

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He does have a cellphone which she pays. We told he to tell her the phone rings on his side too. She is just laying a major guilt trip to him and I feel horrible about it. We have the same problem with the other son that lives with his mother. We can not get him to return our phone calls, but we do not give him a guilt trip about it. But thanks for the advice on how the court approaches.

Jennifer - posted on 09/07/2009

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We had a similar problem with my stepdaughter. Her mom told the court that I didn't allow her daughter to talk to her, but of course she'd call when she was in the shower or eating dinner or doing homework. I'd ask her to call her mom back and she just doesn't like to chat on the phone. Bottom line in court ~ the judge asked if she's old enough to dial a phone (she's 10) and then said, ok, if you daughter wants to talk to you, she'll call you. It has relieved a ton of stress on my part, always feeling like I was under watch when the phone rang. Her son is old enough to call her ~ does he have a cell phone? Tell her to call him there when she wants and he'll call back when we wants. Some kids just aren't big talkers.

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