Just had a last minute email from ex's solicitor asking if i can provide video contact at 5pm. Obviously I've agreed but I am now really nervous! I don't know how to start the call? Can anyone advise? What can I say? I don't want him to want to get off the call cos his "bored". I can imagine it might be awkward but how do I move the chat on from that?!
Had awkward moments and ex kept prompting him to talk but the conversation build up towards the end. We had a few issues with ex's signal and she let him have another 10 minutes. I think it went well, it's hard to say tbh!
am so glad that your call went well, I hope it is the start of many more to come and building your relationship with your son. I think sometimes it can be more awkward if you ask lots of questions (which is really hard as you are probably desperate to ask him all sorts of things!) but you don't want him to feel interrogated - tell him some things that you have been doing, things you like or are planning and I am sure he will join in. You might be able to think of some games that you can play too, this might take a bit of imagination but would be great to try, battleships? or get yourself some lego so that you can build stuff at the same time and compare your creations? You could compare jokes! The main thing is to tell him that you love him, you are proud of him and that you love spending time with him, and keep things polite and positive with his mum too! I wish you all the very best
I'm a huge advocate of video calls and have posted advice elsewhere and will dig out and send to you.
The fact he's 7 is great as will know how to use tech quickly. What app are you using for video calls? I recommend Skype as you can record the calls which prevents the ex from making accusations in order to stop the calls eg if the calls are going too well. However you know you're ex and so make a judgement call.
Below are some suggestions from me. I've been doing video calls for around a year now. Initially was like you in that what do I do on the calls and how will they go, however in time they do get better and whilst some on the forum say never to accept video calls as its an excuse for ex to restrict access my experience has been that by building a bond on the video calls the meet ups are less awkward and I pick up with my 3 kids from the last call when I see them.
Video Call App - i use Skype as it records the calls and there is an option for both parties to download a copy of the call at the end option available for 30 days). No restriction on call duration etc. Zoom gives 40 mins. Skype can be used on a tablet etc so therefore not typing up ex's mobile phone etc (if using whatsapp). Also if calls are recorded it keeps you on point and from straying to aspects to avoid such as asking about ex's personal life etc.
Planning - plan activities in advance (i've put suggestions below), and any materials needed, would your ex support with materials? If not can you get some to your son or provide some money to your ex to get some? Make the call about you and your son. 3 to 5 activities per call depending on how your son is finding them. eg if loving activity 1 then go with this until he is bored before moving onto next one. You may find having not spoken to him for a while it is trial and error as to what he enjoys.
Nature of the call - its FUN FUN FUN.. It will be tempting to ask lots of questions, this is fine but make sure it is not an interrogation and not prying into the ex's life, your ex will soon stop the calls. Accept and be prepared that such calls will be emotionally draining and there will be tears. Get this out of your system in advance and also let a trusted friend know that you may need support after your calls. Do not break down on the call especially at the end of the call as this is what your son will remember and may upset them causing ex to use as an excuse to stop calls.
Positivity - avoid bringing negativity into the call. remember your son is 7 and so their attention spans are short but also you may find that as you get to know him and what he likes and dislikes that you become emotional, keep strong.
Activity suggestions - drawing (ask him to choose something to draw and you both try drawing it and score each other etc, naturally he will always win), colouring, Jenga, ludo, snakes and ladders (he can take turns for you etc), reading to each other, talking about the day (especially school, new friends, teachers, likes and dislikes), listen to music together (guess the song etc), tell each other stories (turn the light off and just use glare from tablet to create an atmosphere), maybe he can use his toys as props for a story where you tell the story and he acts out using his toys or vice versa (surprising how a batman figure and a superman figure can become battles and challenges etc)... pack of cards and guess if next card is higher/lower or just play snap. Put the music on and dance with silly faces... build lego models. Build playdoh models... Be as creative as you possibly can to keep engaged but keep things age appropriate...
Most of all enjoy it and make sure the end of the call is positive so that he is telling your ex that he can't wait to speak to you again and in time to see you etc etc...
You may even find your ex encourages the calls in time so that it gives her a break..
Hi guys, thanks for all the tips! Had second video call today and there was still a lot of awkward silences. I brought his favourite books he was telling me about in Monday and the DVD he said I should watch to the call today but got little interaction back from it. It doesn't help that she's been at 2 different family members houses for both calls so far and he just keeps looking away from the call and around at people whispering. Yet she had it written into the order that I have to be alone. I know it's only the second call but its hard because he can't be himself I feel.
You absolutely have to persevere. Also be consistent in trying to engage and have a meaningful call..
You've got to remember, young kids have short attention spans but also your ex is trying to figure you out.. what are your intentions, are you going to interrogate, are you going to be engaging, are you going to say negative things about us ex etc etc... she may have others there who she is trying to prove negative things about you to them such as you can't be bothered, you're not trying etc.. don't give up.
Once your ex is confident and comfortable she will leave you and son together alone..but also your son once he becomes comfortable may want to call you outside of agreed schedule etc..
Be positive, keep trying it will click and get better..
ask him if he's into gaming. kids like to play fortnite, roblox, minecraft etc. if he's interested in those, ask him whats it about. ask him what movies does he like to watch, where would he like to go on a day out.