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Feeling down re: kids' reactions to me

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AussieMum posted 10/4/2013 21:08 PM

My kids (DS 11/DD 7) have been with their dad and OW3 for the first week of the school holidays here in Oz. It's the first time we've been apart for that long. On the whole I've been doing okay, keeping busy etc.

I talked to the kids and we agreed that I'd call every 2nd night to see what they're up to and how they're doing. The two times I've called I got one word answers and they sound like little robots - there was no enthusiasm, happiness to talk to me, questions. Worrying. It's been that way for a while now, whenever I call them when they're at their dad's on our regular schedule (2 nights/week and EOW)

I end those calls feeling frustrated and upset. It's just not 'them' iykwim. Robots is the only word I can use to describe it:

(me) hi darling!
(DS) a flat 'hello'
(me) what have you been up to?
(DS) not much
(me) are you having a good time?
(DS) yes I am (flat, monotone)

I don't look forward to calling them anymore :(

Today I sent a quick message to say hi and hope that DS has fun at a birthday party he's going to - I was cheery and upbeat. DS's response 'hello'

I might be reading too much into all this, but I am worried that the ex is starting to alienate them from me.

He's taken on the role of Disney Dad along with OW3, going to fun places, out for dinner, playing new sports. Things he never did when he was here, it was always me taking time off work in school vacations to do things with the kids.

I'm betting when they come back to me next week, I will hear 'dad is so fun!' I miss daddy' etc etc

Just down on myself today, feeling like I'm slowly losing my kids, the dearest things in life to me.

All of this shit is so unfair.

LifeIsBroken posted 10/4/2013 21:47 PM

If they are having a good time at dad's, maybe they feel guilty and don't want to make you feel badly that they're having a good time. Or, maybe dad is listening when you talk with them and they don't want to say anything to upset him. It's a rotten hand for young children to have to play. They're torn. On the other hand, kids aren't stupid. They will eventually figure it all out and know who did what and to whom and will know you weren't / you aren't the problem.

Jrazz posted 10/4/2013 23:12 PM

Insanely unfair.


Bluebird26 posted 10/5/2013 06:49 AM

Is it because your ex is in the room. My ex won't let the children have any privacy when they speak to me on the phone and they are exactly the same.

Where as I make my kids go into a different room when they speak to their father on the phone.


Broken1Again posted 10/5/2013 08:02 AM

I think what matters is how are they when they are home with you? I agree that ex may be in the room or they are just being kids and you're "bugging" them from playing their favorite video game or watching their favorite tv show.

I know it's maybe not what you want to hear but try and enjoy your time off and feel good that they seem happy when at their fathers. Better then coming home miserable and really watching them change into kids you don't recognize. I think the short answers are typical kids. Just monitor how they are when they are with you back at home.

pjkmkjm23 posted 10/5/2013 08:54 AM

AussieMom: I know exactly how you feel...I was in the same boat as you other than the genders were reversed.

What we do now may not be very popular, and I know I didn't like it at all at first, but the kids, the ex, and even myself have seemed to adjust and this is what works best for us now....

If the kids are at their Mom's, I don't call them at all (unless there is something important) but they can call me anytime (they usually don't). My older kids occasionally email/txt or even Facetime me....but even that doesn't happen very often anymore. When the kids are home with me, it's the same. The ex does not call here for them but they know they can call her anytime they want, they just choose not too.

I'm just guessing but I have thought about this, a lot at first too, and I think if you put yourself in the kids shoes, especially if there is quite a difference in what kids can do, how they can behave, etc. in the different households, it's almost like they live 2 different lives and they keep them separate. I got the same thing when I first called any of my kids when they were at their Mom's and it was never a very pleasant phone call. I too didn't really enjoy calling them after awhile and I didn't like the awkward silence we would have. I'd often wonder if they're mother was in earshot and they were afraid to say anything to me (which with my ex, this was *very* possible!), or maybe they got grilled after each call by Mom about what they said, what I said, etc., or maybe I was just interrupting them doing something fun....or worst of all....maybe they were living that part of their life they have there and my calling reminds them of their other life and how Mom & Dad don't live together anymore, etc.

When the kids get home from their Mom's I never ask them about what they did there or who said what or what happened or anything. I usually just tell them I'm glad their home and I may ask if they had fun at Mom's, and that's it. Sometimes they will tell me about something that happened over there but not always. But....shortly after their home everything seems to go back to normal and we talk and joke around and do everything we always did, so it's all good that way!

If you asked me a few months ago I never would believe I'd be saying what I'm about to say, and that's that I've learned to enjoy my time now when the kids are at their Mom's. Don't get me wrong because I'd MUCH rather have them here ALL the time...but since that isn't going to happen, I'm adjusting to the kids spending about 40% of their time at their Mom's and we all seem to be ok going without talking to each other for that time. Unless the kids ask me to change this, I'm going to leave it the way it is and it seems to work.

Oh and this may be relevant too....our temp custody schedule would be something like a 2/2/5, except my ex brings the kids home 1 day earlier on her wknd's (at her request to the judge! her loss, my gain! long story lol) so the longest stretch the kids spend at their Mom's is 4 days every other wknd. If we were doing a week about arrangement (or some other schedule where the kids spend a lot of consecutive time at each parents home) I don't think I'd want to go that long without talking to them.

AussieMum....I really felt compelled to write you though because I really did feel the same as you at first. I felt like I was losing my kids and it was the worst feeling ever....and then I didn't like how awkward it felt to talk to my kids while they were at Mom's. I remember being so angry at the ex and the world in general because I didn't think I was going to be able to do this. So I just wanted to write you and tell you that with time, I've improved so much and the kids seem to be happy with the way we do things now and like I said, to my huge surprise I've even learned to enjoy my "me time" now when the kids are at their Moms. I'm sure with time you'll feel better, and safer about everything too. Hang in there AussieMum :-)

SBB posted 10/5/2013 09:02 AM

I know it's maybe not what you want to hear but try and enjoy your time off and feel good that they seem happy when at their fathers. Better then coming home miserable and really watching them change into kids you don't recognize. I think the short answers are typical kids. Just monitor how they are when they are with you back at home.

^^THIS, 100000000%

My girls (5.5 and 3) have a goodnight call with one of us every night. They do this kind of stuff to him and to me equally. I like to remove distractions so they can enjoy their call - he doesn't do the same. He often tells them to hurry up, battery is low or baits them with something fun when the call is over. OR he'll make them take the call alone in their bedroom which they don't like because it is like a punishment.

When they do talk to him they tell him they've been watching TV all day when the only time they've watched TV is whilst I'm making dinner.

It all used to upset me but not so much anymore. If they're not up for a chat I just tell them I love them, miss them and can't wait to see them.

Hugs to you mamma. These are the shards of glass in this shit sandwich. My heart does still break a little when they don't want to talk to me and my heart breaks when they tell me they want to stay with me, not go to their dads. I hate being without them. I hate that I miss out on 50% of their lives because of his fucked up choices AND I miss out just for him to plonk them in front of a TV or computer game whilst he diddles on his computer or diddles his current whore.

Being angry won't change it but it could change me. I've made a real effort to release myself of that hurt/anger.


Dreamboat posted 10/5/2013 09:55 AM


I would not read too much into this. I have almost the exact conversations with DD when she is visiting relatives. It does not matter the age, it has been like this for years and years. She is 16 now and so I just text her every day or two and she responds when she has time. The only time I get any enthusiasm is when she is asking me to do something for her. Kids!

Gr8Lady posted 10/5/2013 14:38 PM

I certainly empathize with you.
The greatest gift you can give your children is unconditional love. As a mother, you may think "that is an understatement"

Looking at the situation through the eyes of your children, remember they love you both and are feeling uncomfortable. This adds to their stress and makes them feel pressured.

With the phone call, share things about your day or light happy stories about friends. Don't turn the conversation into interrogation .
Set the stage for communication,

If your X has stepped into the role of "Disney Dad, or Mr Fun. So be it. Your children deserve that. If it is "all for appearances on his part" it won't last and the children will come to the conclusion on their own.

I am not suggesting in anyway you should invite X and OW to dinner. This isn't one big happy family.

If you think this is hard on you, imagine the burden your kids feel
Loving both parents and wanting to please both camps.

As hurtful as the minimal answers were to you on the phone, put your Mom hat on and try to make this easier for your children. The kids may have given the one word answers because they knew you weren't included in the fun and felt badly.

Abbondad posted 10/5/2013 16:51 PM


I have had a few identical experiences when my kids are with their mom, and it is indeed distressing. But I try not to read to much into it. The reason why is this:

I think what matters is how are they when they are home with you?

And when they are with me, they are happy happy. When their mom calls, she usually gets the same treatment. The difference is that I don't think she really gives a damn.

Just keep being the best mom you can be when they are with you, and try to relinquish control when they are not. I know, it's so hard--I am struggling with the same thing--but for our own peace of mind, work at it. Use the time away from them to decompress and look forward to them coming home to you.

AppleBlossom posted 10/6/2013 17:36 PM

Hey Aussie, my kids are exactly the same. Still, five years down the track. My eldest (12) is monosyllabic on the phone, so really, I just dont bother any more. My middle child texts and my son (6) I just dont hear from when he is at his dad's.

But, when they are home, they are totally different. The killer is though that my eldest is *very* chatty with her dad on the phone when she is with me.

After me trying to do the whole "call the kids to show them I love them" for about a year we agreed that they could call me if they needed a chat, otherwise I leave them alone. I will send texts saying I love them and am thinking about them, but don't expect a conversation any more.

I give up trying to work it out. It really doesnt matter. When they are home, they are happy and loving, and (for the most part) when they are with their dad, they are happy and well cared for.

Its really very normal.

AussieMum posted 10/7/2013 20:49 PM

Thank you all for your insights and advice!

As expected, the kids came home yesterday - both in tears 'we miss dad' 'we had so much fun at dad's' etc etc. My son (11) is especially upset. Poor kids, I know it's sooooo very hard on them but I'm really feeling it too this week.

DS was still awake at midnight, crying. I've spent extra time with him and given him lots of reassurance. He knows I love him and he loves me, I know that in my heart but at the moment, it's all dad, dad, dad and how wonderful he is.

I find it so very difficult to bite my lip and not explain that it was 'super dad' that blew up our family in the first place with his lies and his cheating

I guess it will take time, but it's hard not to feel unappreciated especially when they tell me 'I didn't miss you when we were away, mum but I reeealllly miss daddy now'.

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