One of my kids, the older boy (11), phones the other parent at least 3 -5 times per day, for around 1 - 1.5 hours total per day.
You control the phone. Unplug it or tell your son not to use it. Will it make you look like a big meany? Yes probably. Your choice tho. Let your son talk to the “Other Parent” or be a meany.
Longer conversations will include activities that make sense, like him reading a book over the phone (this behaviour carried over from a younger age, but is still accepted by the other parent, so why should it stop? My son NEVER reads out-loud otherwise). Some activities are unfair in my opinion, like playing a game (battleship) over the phone, as it is my time with our son (see further description about our custody arrangement), but I let it go.
You say it like it is a BAD thing that the “Other Parent” has no problem with an 11 year old reading out loud. I don ’t know a teacher alive or dead who would say reading aloud at ANY age is bad. And since it only happens with the “Other Parent” maybe you should figure out WHY and try to get your son to read to you too. Or is that the problem? Are you jealous that your son won’t read to you?
As far as “your time” you will have to realize as the kids get older, “your time” just means the nights they spend at your house. How generous of you to let it go.
Shorter conversations are more frequent and involve lengthy repetitions of the same phrase, "Love you, miss you, call you later (even if he's going to bed right after this), don't forget to XXX, Love you, miss you, call you later, don't forget to YYY, Love you, miss you, call you later, etc etc. This goes on for anywhere from 5 - 15 repetitions, and then "Ok Love you, miss you, you hang up first..... ok Love you, miss you, you hang up first" about 5 - 6 times.
Your child misses the “Other Parent” who he only sees every other weekend. What is the problem?
I'm honestly embarrassed for my son, as I type this out, and am becomming more and more frustrated as this behaviour continues. It seems completely opposite of when I was that age, and none of my friends did anything similar.
Were your parents divorced? Did your mother make it a big deal for you to talk to “Other Parent”? 11 is a funny age. Still a child but almost a teen. YOU should not be embarrassed about this behavior.
"Maybe he really does miss the other parent?" Could be, but the child custody agreement we had states the other parent receives the children every weekend, from Friday after school until Sunday at noon. The concept of "missing", rather Separation Anxiety, is taught, and is certainly taught well by the other parent. The Other Parent USED TO end every interaction with "I'll miss you." being sure to display as much sorrow as possible in body language. Now, the children display this action at all times with the Other Parent, and never with anyone else.
The concept of missing is taught? Really?
Since the child only sees the “Other Parent” every other weekend, maybe the child actually DOES miss the “Other Parent”? Did you ever think of that?
The Other Parent NEVER calls, instead our son has been "trained" to phone the Other Parent throughout the day. Don't get me wrong, though: The Other Parent would certainly call if our son did not - I'm just trying to highlight who calls who, and not indicate that the Other Parent doesn't care.
If the “Other Parent” would call if your son didn’t, I don’t think your son was trained to call the “Other Parent”. But either/or, what is the problem here? According to the birth vessel, my hubby NEVE called his kids. We have the phone records to prove he did. SHE just liked to tell everybody he never called.
What has been happening recently is our son has been sneaking downstairs after he "goes to sleep" to make phone calls to the other parent. I listened to one from upstairs, and it consisted of nothing but the first repeated phrase above. The other parent doesn't discourage this behaviour, even though we've talked about appropriate times for phone calls.
I could be wrong, but I have the feeling all the talking about appropriate times for phone calls is you stating what you think is correct and the “Other Parent” letting you ramble.
My parenting style is to treat my son as, and expect the behaviour as that of, an adult. Naturally, there is leeway on the expectation of the behaviour, and he receives a lot of positive reinforcement on desired behaviour, and undesired behaviour is treated as learning.
11 years old is not an adult. Time to start expecting more mature behavior, yes. But expecting an 11 year old to behave as an adult is wrong in my eyes. YMMV.
The Other Parent's style is to do as each child wishes, and look to them for direction on how their upbringing should be handled. Until we had a discussion about table manners, my Ex had been spoon-feeding our then 7 year old daughter, because she told him that's how it was at my house!
One of the first things parents learn after divorce is children will do and say things such as we are allowed to do this or that at the other parents house. I tend to give the “Other Parent” a bit of a bye as the “Other Parent” only sees the kids every other weekend and sometimes will do more for a child than the age requires. Spoon feeding a 7 year old seems a little bit out of it, but the whole story would have to be told and there is no need for it here.
I have a dominant stance over the Other Parent, in the past have forced him (through persuasion and not coersion) to change his actions, and could do it again, but I don't know what good it would do, or if I'm just over-reacting and should let my son carry on as he pleases.
I feel it best NOT to comment.
A strong part of me wants my son to be "present" while at my house, which is during all the school days - I don't think that's selfish. We don't have much fun time together, what with school, homework, supper, bedtime routine and his sibling. My son has no friends, because each time an opportunity arises where he may interact with other kids outside of school, he weighs this against missing a phone call with the Other Parent, and chooses not to go out.
Here’s a thought. If you don’t want the burden of school, homework, supper, bedtime routines and his sibling eating up your fun time, give the “Other Parent” your time and you take every other weekend. Then your time won’t be eating up with day to day stuff and you can spend all of your time with the kids as fun time.
Any advise or descriptions of similar situations or support is appreciated!
Let the “Other Parent” spend more time with the kids. If you go week on week off your son won’t miss the “Other Parent” as much, and you won’t be saddled with all the mundane chores that most parents do w/o whining they don’t have time for fun.
Do you trash or talk negatively around your children about the “Other Parent”? It seems as if you son is deeply worried about the “Other Parent” not loving him or missing him. If you trash talk the “Other Parent”, your son is just worried that you will keep him from the “Other Parent” and wants to make sure the “Other Parent” knows how much love the son has.
And you really do need to prepare yourself as your kids get older that “your time” really does NOT mean you get to spend every waking minute of their time with them when not in school or activity.