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Facilitating Contact - ??

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Lola2kids posted 1/10/2014 10:22 AM

X has been in Switzerland since Dec. 18th with DOW(fiance).

He called once on Dec. 28th and we were home but since I didn't recognize the number on call display I let it go to voicemail.
The girls were with me at the time and we listened to the message where he said how much he missed them and that he loved them and that he would try to call later. (He never did call later. He always says this and very rarely follows up).

I have always told them that if Daddy calls they can answer the phone. I will not answer it myself since he is calling to talk to them. They also have my permission to call him anytime. They never do. It's happened maybe once.

He called again last night. Wow. Two phone calls in the 3 weeks he has been away (that's a lot for him).
I saw the number and said to the girls that it's probably Daddy. No response.
Call went to the machine and he started to leave a message. No response from them.
I asked, "Do you want to talk to Daddy? You can pick up and talk to him."
DD1 says, "No".

I have to say that I was shocked that it was DD1 saying this. She has mostly been eager to talk to him on the phone and she is the more forgiving of the 2 kids towards her father.

I asked her why she doesn't want to talk to daddy.
She says, "I'm busy right now with my iPad."

I have to say that I am strangely torn by this.
It's good that she is making her own decisions about speaking to him but I'm wondering if she's harbouring resentment that he has been gone so long.
They never seem too concerned that he is going away (yet again) and don't really ask when he is coming back.
I realized that most of the time when he calls and I see his number I am saying, "pick up the phone, it's daddy."
I saw it as facilitating their contact but maybe they were answering when they really didn't want to?

Anyone have a similar experience/situation?

sparkysable posted 1/10/2014 10:30 AM

If it's obvious to an outsider that his kids are not a priority to him, don't you think it's obvious to the actual kids who are on the receiving end of not being a priority? 9 years old is old enough to somewhat 'get it'.

What I would NOT do, is force them if they don't want to. Don't prevent it, but don't force it.

I'm sure she feels resentment that he puts OW above her, wouldn't you? I would!

Nature_Girl posted 1/10/2014 10:32 AM

I have similarly-aged children and have the same issues & concerns. I do not know where the line is between facilitating contact versus letting the children be fully responsible for the relationship on their own. I know they intensely dislike the nightly phone calls. When the phone rings they fight amongst themselves, sometimes viciously, as to who HAS to pick up the phone. They know if they don't talk to Dad every friggin' night he will A) grill each of them mercilessly the next night as to why, and B) blame ME for keeping the children from him.

I've been working with our family counselor on this. It's a very sticky area. Does facilitating equal forcing? If not, then what is our defense when our ex comes after us for parental alienation?

I've been dealing with this for almost two years. I don't see an end to it.

Lola2kids posted 1/10/2014 12:30 PM

Yes, parental alienation is a concern.

I don't know if they don't want to talk to him because he doesn't make them a priority or that they sense that I have "written him off" and they don't want to upset me in some way. Does that make sense? They want to show me their loyalty?

I don't think he would ever come after me legally for alienation (too cheap and way too lazy) but he's not above accusing me of that.
His favourite question for a while was "do you think that it's important for the kids to have contact with me."
I told him that my opinion on that subject does not matter, it's up to HIM to decide if contact is important and to act on that.

Thanks sparkysable and NG for your responses.

ruby44 posted 1/10/2014 12:46 PM

My DDs are the same. My WH told them he would call T, T, Sat. At 8:00 pm and they are required to answer the phone or he will be angry with them. They do now out of fear that he will punish them, not out of love or missing him. I stay out of it because I was not consulted. The conversations are 1:00 minute long and have no substance. Eventually that will stop. I found out that he has an alarm on his phone to remind him to call them. I am sure it is advice from his lawyer because it is too regimented to be practical. They never talk about him and when they come back from a visit they are too happy to see me. I don't ask for details but basically he watches inappropriate movies while they play on his computer. If they look at the tv he tells them to stop watching. He has reverted back to a teenager, really pathetic.

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