Phone Visitation

Long-distance visitation is a tricky sitch.

Tyler has been in North Dakota since mid-June, and he’ll be there until September.  This means, of course, that he can’t take his visitation with Caroline.  We’ve tried to do it via phone, but at age two and a half, Caroline isn’t too interested in talking on the phone.  She’ll sit there and listen to his voice for a minute (without saying anything) and then wander off to play.

When he first got out there at the beginning of the summer, we didn’t hear from him for a few weeks.  I emailed him asking if he was ever going to call, and he said he felt like it was a waste of time since she didn’t talk back to him.  I told him that it was still important, because even if she isn’t talking back, it sends the message that he does want to talk to her, or at the very least she will remember that he exists.  (Subtext: it’s not all about you, Tyler.)  He agreed with me, and ever since we had that talk he’s been pretty conscientious about calling once or twice a week.

At least the distance seems to have allowed for the drama to die down between the two of us, which hopefully will translate to a friendlier relationship once he gets back in the fall.  He has said that he’s coming to visit her next weekend with his mother, and overall the past few weeks he has definitely at least tried to stay somewhat connected with Caroline despite the distance.

Sometimes I feel like he’s doing his best under the circumstances; other days I can’t help but be disappointed.  Because she’s such an awesome kid– is this really all she gets from her father?  A phone call or two per week from a man who, at this point, she hardly knows?

He gets upset because she doesn’t want to talk to him when he calls, and says she’s “naughty” when she runs away from the phone.  ”Aren’t you concerned about how naughty she is?” he asked me accusingly the other day.  I shrugged and said that she was just being a two-year-old, but I was boiling inside.  She isn’t naughty, I wanted to say.  She just doesn’t know who you are.

Anyway, things are outwardly calmer between he and I, at least for now, and that’s a good thing.  I know it will be a challenge when he gets back, and I’m really not sure if Caroline will recognize him or want to go with him at all, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, making the effort with phone calls is all I can ask.

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  1. by Jen @ a little barefoot blog

    On July 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    have you tried face time or skype or google video chat? we use skype with our two-year-old and my husband’s parents and it’s made a huge difference in how he responds to them when they make their once-every-few-months visits. he won’t talk on the phone at all but he digs the video chatting.

  2. by jj

    On July 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I would definitely try Skype. It makes a world of difference with young kids. Even my babies seem to enjoy seeing their grandparents through Skype (or maybe they’re just mesmerized by the flickering screen and moving images!)

  3. by Julia

    On July 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you, ladies! I just re-read my post and realized I hadn’t made it clear that we do FaceTime on our iPhones, so it’s like video chatting. She definitely does a little better with that than she does with just the phone. It’s kind of a pain because we both have to be in a place with wireless internet access, but it works out okay.

  4. by Anna

    On July 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    I was just coming in here to suggest Skype, lol.
    Anyhoo, I’ve discovered that my 2 year old is much more interested in Skyping with his grandparents when I have him “show” them stuff. He doesn’t have any interest in sitting there and chatting, but he’ll show them how his front loader deposits blocks into his dump truck and explain the whole process. He shows them how his toy dinosaur eats and sleeps, etc.
    My parents ooh and aah, of course. They also show him things that might interest him, like a funny hat or the dog.

  5. by Cindy

    On July 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Sorry, this has little to do with phone visitations but, I just have to tell you, I am completely thrilled to have found your blog (from the Parents Magazine August 2011 issue)! A single mom to a 2 3/4 year old, I can totally relate to that aspect and your quote, “I don’t love him, I don’t even like him…striving to be friends with her father is a very small thing to ask.” I am not a normal blog follower but look forward to following yours!

    Keep being the awesome mom that you are and stay strong knowing you are doing the best job possible for your precious daughter.


  6. by Lisa P.

    On July 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I’m sorry you are even in this situation, but it looks like you are doing the right thing. You are a wonderful mommy for knowing that even though you don’t like her dad, she still needs some type of relationship with him! Bravo!

  7. by SingleMama

    On July 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Like you, I wonder why my sons father is so absent. I hope some day the absent parents realize what amazing little people they are missing out on!