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Advice re: phone calls

Old 02-01-2016, 10:03 AM
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Advice re: phone calls

My xAH is using the guise of calling the kids as a way to harass me... It is not new, but he had gotten bored with this game for a while and backed off...

Lately he's calling every night, on those nights he KNOWS the kids have late activities so he is calling at homework/dinner/baths/bed time and it is upsetting my older DD so much that she told her father off last week (politely but told him nonetheless that she did not want to talk to him and had to do her homework).

The result? He's calling MULTIPLE times a night, alleging I am not allowing the girls to speak to him blah blah blah.

Does anyone have experience dealing with this? It's overt manipulation/abuser game playing and I am at my ropes end with it.

It is hard enough juggling everything for my job and my kids schedules and then he makes it ALL about him 24:7...

In his mind, he has a "right" to speak at length with the kids nightly... THEY however, do NOT want that.

The calls are not about his wanting to connect with him.... it's about his trying to cause chaos and it is working...

Last week he demanded, on a night he knew they had a late game for sports, that they face time him when they got home. They both refused to do so and Ive been raged at bc of that by him ever since...

I just don't know what is normal anymore I guess...

It is not reasonable for him (in my mind) to make this demand of the kids nightly..

Am I wrong?
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:16 AM
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I don't have any answer for that - I don't have kids, but your post just struck me as a daughter of divorce with a father who remarried, had step-kids and he drank.

By the time I was 11, I was done with his selfishness and dishonesty and did everything in my power to not see him. He lived quite a ways away and never made much effort anyway - from what I could tell.

He died on my 16th birthday. It took until I was 40 to "get over" it - but not because I hadn't spent a lot of time with him, because he was such a liar and seemed not to care about me at all. It was the anger I had to get over, not sadness. So, I certainly see both sides. The side I never thought about until much later was how my mother felt about all of it.

I send you love. That's all I've got.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:30 AM
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No you're not wrong, because as you well know, this behavior literally has nothing to do with wanting an actual relationship with your daughters. It is simply a tool for him to harass you and disrupt your life.
My ex went nuts with the phone calls for awhile after ignoring us for 18 months (he didn't have a phone for that time, it would have cut into his drinking budget). Then after I took him to court for not paying child support he decided that he was entitled to "shared custody" even though he lives in another state. So he started pouring on the Superdad act, calling all the time and sending random gifts.
Not sure how well any of this will work with yours, but I set boundaries around the calls. Didn't tell him or announce any of the boundaries, just did it. If he was drunk, end of phone call. Anytime that was inconvenient for us, let it go to voicemail and maybe call back. If he gets abusive, end of phone call. If our son is uncomfortable in any way or just doesn't feel like talking, end of phone call. I never said anything to him directly, just "I'm going to let you go, bye." I also empowered our son to be able to end the calls anytime he wanted by saying, "Bye bye, love you" and then hanging up, even if the other person is still talking.
That pretty well trained him to only call once a week on Sundays, and not really at all if he was totally drunk. I think his wife also tries to keep him away from the phone at those times anyway. Any other time he calls it goes to voicemail (except on holidays or whatever). It did take some time and frustration, but now we've got a pretty good system. I let our son have the phone and he knows he can end the call or bring me the phone if he's not comfortable with anything, like a couple of weeks ago when daddy was asking him what his blood type is. Because that's something a 6 year old would know. Whatever. I knew he was playing a game to try to get me to ask why he was asking, but I refused to participate and ended the call. Our son was disturbed that his dad was on the phone talking about blood, so that was it. Yesterday they had a nice little 10 minute conversation and it was OK.
I know you will be able to navigate this. Sending strength and support your way.
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ladyscribbler View Post
No you're not wrong, because as you well know, this behavior literally has nothing to do with wanting an actual relationship with your daughters. It is simply a tool for him to harass you and disrupt your life.
That's it.. exactly.

And to be completely honest, if he was calling and interested in their lives and ALSO being a jackass and interfering with my life, that I could deal with.

But his calls are upsetting to DD10 bc she seems how obvious it is that he has NO real interest in her, her day, her life... It's painfully awkward to hear her on the phone with him... She ends most calls rolling her eyes and storming off and cries, yells at me usually, then is ok...

Calls are on speaker phone per the kids therapist so I sometimes hear his end but usually just find another room to be in so that the girls are free to have their time talking to him...

The calls I have heard revolve around xAH rambling about his day, his interests, claiming he misses them and making false promises he never keeps...

The idea of asking them about their day or what they're interested in doesnt seem to concern him...

So, much like your post bimini, I worry that the calls are just further proof to the kids that he is not at all interested in their lives and that they'll have a lot of stuff to sort out thanks to him, later...

He moved far away several months ago and makes no real effort to see the kids, so these calls with hollow promises of visits and claims that he misses them just seem to be upsetting the kids more than anything and THAT is what's most upsetting to me...
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:56 AM
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Wanttibehealthy-like we have discussed, your ex and mine share DNA. I'm sure of it now. The phone calks are awful-more bullying, threats, stories about him-nothjng, not one thing, about the kids. More empty promises and my oldest has hung up almost nightly for months. It's awful and I for one am not going to stand for it anymore-I'm not going to be steamrolled by this abusive narcissist who vies it as his right to abuse, lie, and slander to his child. Done. The phone calls have nothjng to do with the kids-it's just another way to harrass me.
You are NOT wrong-he is te one that is wrong on so many levels. Peace and hugs to you, friend.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:02 PM
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Are you just going to be "busy" when he calls them do you think? Or are you going to tell him to stop with the calls?

He launched into this pity party email rant a few days ago to me (which I have not acknowledged and have no intention of replying to) telling me that he "regrets" moving far away, that his gf broke up with him, that he is missing out on years with our kids and that I have damaged his relationship with the kids (lol!) and that my making time in their day to day schedule to call him would be what a "good mother" would do.

I have ignored this bc there IS as part of our parenting plan, a CRYSTAL clear paragraph about phone and email contact. The ownice is on xAH to reach out to the kids if he so chooses, on THEIR phone.

Yet he calls MY phone, texts me endlessly and when I block him he claims that Im denying him contact.

I am ANXIOUS nightly about when his crap will start and DD10 seems to be too. Poor DD7 seems desperate to believe he will actually keep the promises he makes her and then melts down each weekend when he fails to show...

All in all it is a cluster f___ of a mess...

I feel like there must be a simple solution that Im just not seeing bc Im too emotionally tied to it all...

To me, weeknights do not seem to be an appropriate time for xAH to demand calls from the kids-- they are busy and when they do have downtime I think it ought to be their choice as to whether they call him or not...

But nightly lately there are demands from him and Im fed up.

Originally Posted by Forourgirls View Post
Wanttibehealthy-like we have discussed, your ex and mine share DNA. I'm sure of it now. The phone calks are awful-more bullying, threats, stories about him-nothjng, not one thing, about the kids. More empty promises and my oldest has hung up almost nightly for months. It's awful and I for one am not going to stand for it anymore-I'm not going to be steamrolled by this abusive narcissist who vies it as his right to abuse, lie, and slander to his child. Done. The phone calls have nothjng to do with the kids-it's just another way to harrass me.
You are NOT wrong-he is te one that is wrong on so many levels. Peace and hugs to you, friend.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:28 PM
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how about NOT ANSWERING THE PHONE? i don't mean to be snarky, but it's just a damn phone, you are not its servant, regardless of WHO is calling.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AnvilheadII View Post
how about NOT ANSWERING THE PHONE? i don't mean to be snarky, but it's just a damn phone, you are not its servant, regardless of WHO is calling.
That's the crux of my question I guess... Do I have an obligation to put the kids on the phone?

Clearly I can choose to never answer it... but it is a fine line it feels like to me, between that and then being accused as the custodial parent, of interfering with his "right" to access his kids...
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:35 PM
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Nothing is EVER simple when you're dealing with an abuser. You can get a clarification to the court order regarding the phone calls. And then when he violates it, file a motion to enforce the order.

Yeah, I know, more burden on you, but it's about the only way to force him to act in a reasonable manner. I also like LadyScribbler's ideas.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:35 PM
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He's accusing you of that anyway.

Why can't you just go back to whatever was agreed? If he isn't supposed to contact your phone per a legal custody agreement...

If the girls don't want to answer their phones, oh well. He'll live.


...hm. I feel just a tiny bit triggered! I think I will bow out now! Good luck.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:37 PM
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I would not answer. If it's court ordered he call their phone, just don't answer. Tell him, ONE TIME, that the parenting plan states he call their phone, not yours.

My kids have learned that if they feel like answering or texting their dad back, they do. If not, they don't. It drives him nuts that they won't be at his beck and call, but now that he is usto it, he does not keep throwing a fit. THEY explained that they are busy with school, and a life, and they are not glued to their phones. I was proud of them. They also learned how to put their phones on do not disturb so it won't keep alerting them with his text if they don't feel like engaging with him. So far, so good.

Just because the phone is ringing does not mean you have to pick it up, nor do your children.

Hugs. Be strong. Once he sees that he is not getting under your skin anymore, he will stop being such a pest, unfortunately, he will likely try something else. Stay calm, and don't let him disrupt your life.

And...if you are worried, have the kids set a specific time with him, say two times a week, at a certain time, to talk, on their phones. That way, they know when it's coming, and so will he. He won't be able to accuse you of blocking the kids.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:46 PM
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Thanks hopeful... I think the kids will have to just continue to make it clear that he's disrupting their schedules and he will have to learn... Im just fed up with his games and that he can't let our kids have any peace...

Dealing with a narcissist who succesfully dragged my divorce out for 3+ years with false "parental alienation" claims and living in a "fathers rights" heavy state, I guess I get anxious about the obvious games he's playing because I do not have anything left in me to continue the legal games he loves...

The agreement is that he can contact them on the phone that is theirs. It's not black and white with times or anything and his argument is that it need not be a big deal if he just calls mine...

This is all upsetting to me bc he has played this game many many times already and Im the one who always has to defend myself for doing what you're all advising...

I guess I just needed to vent... Im dealing with a drunk and a narcissist and abuser so unlike someone who might just get bored with the games and stop, he seems to NEVER stop and it's difficult to deal with...

DD7 wants to talk to him but DD10 doesnt and I do just acquiesce and let DD7 pick up my phone bc it's less annoying than having him be a bully...
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:53 PM
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I was thinking of what Hopeful4 said, too--how about setting up a weekly phone date, and that's it? At other times phone calls from him don't get answered. If it's an emergency, he can send a text and then (maybe) someone will call him back.

Plus stick to your parenting plan.

And thanks for the heads-up as to what I may be facing down the road . . . .
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:09 PM
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I think it's a lot to expect the kids to have to tell him he's disrupting their schedule. They shouldn't be put in that position. They can tell him that after the fact when they do finally talk to him, if he demands to know why they didn't answer when he called before. "I was busy, doing x, y, or z." If he berates them they should be totally permitted to say, "I'm not going to listen to you yell at me (or say bad things about mom or whatever). Goodbye."

And YOU should not have to talk to him AT ALL. He can email you if he's got something important to communicate REGARDING THE KIDS. Then you can read it when you're ready and respond or not as you see fit.

I'd send him an email to that effect, just to make the record clear that you aren't preventing him from talking to his kids. Don't debate it, just state the facts.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:09 PM
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The reason he's doing what he's doing is bc he's an abusive narcissist. Unfortunately all yiu can do is maintain boundaries and not give in to his fantasies and delusions. I know his you feel-truly, and I'm sorry.

Hugs.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:17 PM
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Oh man. I completely know how hard this is, and how hard it continues to be for you. I wish I could say that the anxiety of dealing with my X is completely gone, but it's not. If your 7 yr old wants to talk to him, how about not answering on yours but having her call him right back on hers if she wants?

My kids are a little older, so it's a little easier for some things. My DD 10 knows she makes her dad mad when she does not answer him. She also knows she needs to answer him sometimes. At this point, my shift has went to what is good for her, not for him.

Know that I am in your corner, sending lots of hugs and lots of love to you and your DD's.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:28 PM
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He's such a jerk.

I don't think it unusual for a divorced parent to call their child nightly. Most reasonable parent would observe when the child is busy, or has a late game, and send a text "night I love you" and not call repeatedly like a psycho.

I think if you try to set up a weekly date you are going to open a can of worms. The divorce decree states he can call their phones when he wants too. He shouldn't be calling your phone at ALL - so perhaps send him an email copy and paste the section of the divorce decree that says he is to call their phone highlighted or in BOLD. What I am unsure of is if they are supposed to speak to him nightly - you don't write that was mandated - I am thinking there is no requirement.

I'm sorry the kids have to feel obligated to speak with him when they are busy.

If he has SUCH an ISSUE with it I guess he can go back to Court, and whine to the Judge. Your ex is a real life walking a talking Shingles outbreak.

I so wish he would decide to "find himself" and move to Timbuktu.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
I think it's a lot to expect the kids to have to tell him he's disrupting their schedule. They shouldn't be put in that position. They can tell him that after the fact when they do finally talk to him, if he demands to know why they didn't answer when he called before. "I was busy, doing x, y, or z." If he berates them they should be totally permitted to say, "I'm not going to listen to you yell at me (or say bad things about mom or whatever). Goodbye."
I agree... I should clarify... I have told the girls (as has their therapist) that they need to tell their dad how they feel and that it's ok to say "now's not a good time"...

The nightly routine here lately is xAH calls incessantly, I finally say "want to talk to dad?" as diplomatically as possible... DD7 usually does. DD10 looks like she's being tormented and usually says something like "not really but he will be mad if I don't". So I have encouraged her, maybe wrongly, to feel free to say a quick hi and say it's not a good time if that's the case or to tell him she's doing something else...

Somehow I guess I think that if I encourage her to tell him honestly that it's not a good time or that she's with friends etc... he will learn that the world does NOT revolve around him and perhaps respect the girls identities as being about more than just him...

I hate to see DD10 anxious and worried about her dad being "mad" if she doesn't answer (and her dad has targetted her with his rage so her fear is valid)...

Thanks all for your feedback... It's just a bad situation no matter what...
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:41 PM
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^ agree with every word. It's what these abusive narcs do when losing control. Trust me, he will try something else - they always do. It's purely to intimidate and harrass you bc how dare you tell the truth about him-and poor him, his perfect little image and reputation has been shattered. Poor him.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:48 PM
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Oh friend, my oldest (6) is terrified of telling her dad no or anything to make him mad bc she has been abused by him and witnessed for years what happens when you stand up to dad: you're abused further. She hangs up most nights-and I absolutely allow her to use her voice and discretion. She is terrified of telling her dad how she feels-and rightfully so-he makes fun of you, denies or excuses if you tell him that anything he's done has caused you to feel badly about him. He verbally abused her and tore her apart before our divirce was final during visitation and she cried for months-and had nightmares-bc of what he said to her. She was told to promise daddy to not tell mommy. Thank God she had the courage to speak out. I'm so very proud of her. You are doing the right thing, momma. These guys are defective, literally. They will continue to live in the poor me look at how awful my life is while not ever once turning the finger at themself or admit one thing they've done. And the longer they do it, the worse it gets. We are in this together , friend. I have to deal with my ex for another 15 years and to say I'm counting the days is not an understatement. I do what I am in control of-telling the truth, maintaining boundaries and being a good mom by keeping my eyes open. Love you, friend. PM me if you want.
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