Friday, October 17, 2008

What Qualifies As Meaningful Conversation?

"Babe, did you call Mommy yet?"

Suddenly, her shoulders slump. Her face frowns.
She hangs her head down as she walks shuffles over to the phone. Sulking.
The signs are everywhere.
Moments before, she asked if she could go to bed 30 minutes early and read until her bedtime.
She only does that when she is avoiding something.
Cinderella does NOT want to talk to her Mom tonight and now I was forcing her. And because she has not yet found her voice she could not refuse my suggestion.
Her conversation is short and characterized by one-word answers to her mother's interrogation about her play rehearsal schedule.
(This week marks the beginning of rehearsals. One of them has cut into Maleficent's visitation for that day. She was quite displeased by this and had bitched to Cinderella the night before over how she hoped all of her rehearsals don't fall on her days. She apparently can talk about nothing else at the moment.)
The custody agreement states that if Cinderella has not had a "meaningful telephone conversation" every night with the other parent, then it's up to Prince Charming or Maleficent to make sure that happens.
But... what qualifies as meaningful conversation?
I'm pretty sure it dos NOT mean instilling guilt in your child for pursuing an activity that they love.
For being so selfish as to look at it ONLY in terms of how it  affects YOU and your time with said child and for making them think that it's THEIR fault that you are so miserable and unhappy.
I'll be damned if I'm going to forcibly place Cinderella in that kind of phone call.
She is twelve years old. If she wants to call her mother, she can choose to do so.
If not. Then Maleficent can suckit.


Andy said...

I wonder if you could record the phone conversations and play them back to a lawyer, should the need ever arise, and say that it is more harmful for Cinderella to be forced to have these conversations than it is good for the mom.

My son doesn't mind talking on the phone, when he's in the mood and not particularly distracted. But, I refuse to force him to talk just so the caller (usually distant relatives) can prattle on to him without listening to a word he has to say... ugg.. adults can be so selfish sometimes, can't we?

I applaud your decision. If Cinderella wants to call awesome, if not, as you so eloquantly put it, Maleificent can indeed suck it... suck it hard!


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Anonymous said...

we wouldn’t' force our kids to speak to anyone else that spoke to them in that manner. How is Maleificent any different. I understand the point of the court order for phone contact however I think it may be an unfortunate one in your case. How do you walk a fine line of trying to encourage a "healthy" relationship (with someone who seems incapable of it), yet not forcing the child into an uncomfortable situation.

Casey said...

I think that Cinderella is old enough that she should be able to decide whether she wants to talk on the phone.

Maybe you guys could have a talk about her standing up for herself. Tell her that she has the right to tell her feelings on something.

Wicked Stepmom said...

Andy - PrinceCharming has recorded conversations before for past court issues, but there is also the issue of privacy - it's a fine line.

Casey - We frequently remind Cinderella that she does have a RIGHT to speak up for herself. Like when her Mom tells her two lie to us, or bad mouths us in front of her. And just last week, she asked me why her Mom always gets her for every school holiday (it's written in the papers). I told her if there was ever a holiday that she wanted to stay home, all she needed to do was say so.

This kid just hasn't found her voice yet. Lord help us all when she does! LOL

Maternal Mirth said...

We go through that FOR A 4 YEAR OLD. He has to call his mom anywhere from 6-7pm for a conversation that goes: "Uh-huh. No. Ok. Bye." Either that OR when we hand him the phone, he just hangs it up and walks away. Of course, his mom thinks we should tie him down and duct tape the phone to his ear because SHE NEEDS to talk to him.

SHE needs HIM. As a parent, shouldn't that be the other way around???

I feel your pain, sista, I feel it.

The Bush Democrat said...

I agree, 12 is old enough to start determining for yourself your relationship with your parents. I don't think we have daily meaningful converstaions with the 12 year old we have custody of. It's all procedural at that age:

Did you do your homework?
Did you empty the dishwasher?
Did you take your medicine?
How was school?
Why aren't you speaking?
Why are you so hormonal and mouthy?
Why don't you think I'm cool anymore?

Ok, the last 3 we really don't ask, but we think all the time:)

Anonymous said...

Great points Bush Democrat!

Love your list!

Lani said...

I like your attitude! You're looking out for Cinderella's best interests, and that's what counts.

Blueyd said...

I hope she finds her voice soon.

Sarah said...

I love how vague court papers can be. My husband’s divorce decree says he is entitled to reasonable visitation, which his ex-wife takes to mean two to three hours every day he is in her city on leave from the Navy.

Luckily his daughter loves talking on the phone to him. Of course, she is about to be six so the conversation ends as soon as she is distracted, but he has never had her say she doesn’t want to talk. I’m worried about when she gets older and starts acting like a typical teenager. Until then, we are blessed that she is so darn sweet.

Meesha said...

Wow, I didn't realize that something like that could even be a part of a custody agreement. That must be tough. Good for you, though--sounds like you knew just how to handle it.

Mrs. H said...

Court ordered phone calls stink.

Honestly, the only thing that has kept me sane lately is avoiding being in the room when they are taking place.

We have the opposite problem---Stepsons worry if they don't talk to their mom. While I wouldn't call their conversations "meaningful" they have at times been quite intrusive.

It is difficult to make them understand that our lives are not a "secret" and yet it is not appropriate for them to share details about us with their mother.

I'm not sure how to draw that line and if I ever do figure it out, I'm sure I could make money off of it!