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Some advice please – Daughters mobile phone.

Filed under: General — lostkiwi @ 10:09 am Sat 28th August 2021

Hi folks.

I’m separated for almost 3 years. There are two children who spend 5 nights every fortnight with me. their mother and I have a toxic relationship. We are attending FDR and still going through family court.

Against my wishes, my daughter was given an iPhone 12 a year ago by her mother, she was 12 years old then.

Her mother told her never to let her dad have the passcode to the phone, she told her ‘do not trust him’.

Over a year on and I’m just realising the damage this has done.

1 – Am I wrong in thinking I should be able to see what goes on with my 13 year old daughters phone?

2 – Does anyone know if the court can make the mother give up the password to the phone?

My daughter continues to threaten to go back to her mums house if I confiscate the phone.

This just touches on the ongoing alienation that their mother subconsciously installs in my kids.

Thanks for your thoughts.


  1. Yes, lostkiwi I think you are wrong, and this is a battle you won’t win.

    It is also nothing to do with your ex-wife – it is about your relationship with your daughter, and this should be your only focus.

    I suggest you apologise for mistrusting her, and use it as an opportunity to discuss your concerns about potential dangers. Over the next few years you should aim to get to a place where SHE trusts YOU enough to talk to you if she ever feels threatened.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 1:16 pm

  2. Hi John
    Thanks for your considered comments. I completely see where you are coming from. I must admit I also resist the phone as it’s basically her mothers phone and she loves the fact she has this ‘control’ over the phone and somewhat the kids when they are staying at my house and I have issues with this. She will also contact our daughter several times a day when she’s staying here which really upsets the family dynamic. I realise I’ve got a few issues and things I need to work out directly with my daughter.
    Again, thanks for your thoughts.

    Comment by lostkiwi — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 3:16 pm

  3. If you are still going through the Family Court, then use the issue about the phone in Court. Keep physical notes of times the Mother calls or texts your daughter. She is being a “helicopter Mum”. If you can show the Judge that her frequent contact with your daughter is having a negative impact on your time with your daughter, then the Judge may restrict the phone use.

    Comment by golfa — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 4:07 pm

  4. From my learning experience (my daughter is now 14) Personally think you need a different approach and to let go of being seen by her as the overprotective dad and realise she’s a teenager and becoming an adult and needs some space. I bought my daughter a phone when she was 12. Toyed with installing spy software on it or having access but decided best course of action was to talk with her about potential dangers and trust her. All her friends have phones and as she became a teenager she spent more time talking with her friends than her mum (or me). Don’t confiscate the phone but discuss reasonable usage times with her. In our house there’s no wifi or phone after 9pm. I also think concentrate now on developing a more adult relationship with your daughter so she knows she can come to you with any issues rather than feeling you are unapproachable.

    Comment by Kbec — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 5:16 pm

  5. Let me tell you that it is entirely natural for youth to collectively go through this rebellious stage. It is numerously and historically documented.

    Your child must defend this and her collective rebellion. It is her place to be loyal to this.

    The way through this is two fold;

    First to seek their opinion.

    Second to explain your own experience of being that age without demanding any compliance and allowing them to think.

    It’s amazingly simple when you stop trying to control the situation and put the responsibilities and obligations on them.

    Comment by Downunder — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 6:26 pm

  6. My 5 year old has his own IPad.
    Provided by school.
    How do you stop that?
    They need internet to work.
    He will even hide under a blanket.
    Thinking we won’t work out he is on it.
    When told not to use it, and go play.

    The learning programs are good.
    Possibly more effective than teachers.
    But still, anything’s only button presses away.
    In this new world.
    Very hard to see, how you can isolate a 12 year old.

    Others gave good advice.
    Concentrate on the relationship.
    Avoid getting manipulated into conflict.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 7:33 pm

  7. I know you are hurting like crazy, but you need to climb on board. There are a few things going on here.

    1. Parental alienation.
    2. Your need to find out what’s been going on.
    3. Phones are personal computers with location beacons.
    4. Likely getting even with your ex. Maybe finding something on her phone you can use against your ex.

    It is normal you want to check her phone to make sure she is not being misled or getting into trouble. Its OK when they are 10 but she is in college now. She doesn’t want you to look through her phone anymore than you want her to look through your phone.

    What I can suggest is, describe how things can go south on the internet. How tracking works, how Facebook works, how an app is free because she is the one being marketed. How social media works. There was a doco on Netflix called the social dilemma. Maybe sit with her to chat away when you watch that. Your best bet is to show her how you hold her wellbeing at heart. Let her know she can change her pin so even her mother can’t get into her phone.

    I totally understand your ex has said things like “do not trust your father” and probably nastier things than that. Over time that damages the child.

    This next clip is a testimonial from a dad in court. That woman was jailed 253 days in jail in 15 days lots.

    Sadly, in NZ we treat parental alienation differently than other countries. See the PDF and check out the smoke and mirrors, lots of time-consuming hoops to jump through before dad will see his child again. See page 132.

    I think if you have your child for 5 nights every second week, you are doing well. A very sure way of ending that is getting angry about her not giving you the password to her phone.

    A very good way of increasing that time is to be a loving, caring dad. Spending time with her, doing what she will find exciting to do. Making things together, going places together. Having meaningful contact is what it is all about. Making something special for her.

    Set an example of putting your phone away for the evening, or better still turn it off.

    Comment by Lukenz — Sat 28th August 2021 @ 11:17 pm

  8. There is another way to deal with this. And that’s to do exactly as the Mother does when your daughter is in her care. Call and text your daughter numerous times EVERY day.

    Comment by golfa — Mon 30th August 2021 @ 7:58 pm

  9. Do to others, as they do to you.
    Sounds like conflict.

    Or forgive the mother for her mistakes.
    As you are likely to make a mistake.
    And also need forgiveness.

    What was the intent of the mother.
    Did she surrender to the child’s desire, for a phone.
    Was it needed for other reasons.
    Was it really, to hurt the father, in some way.
    Or are events, misinterpretation.

    Accepting change is important here.
    Eventually the daughter will get a phone.
    It has just occurred earlier, than the father wants.
    There are many of those things, at that age.
    “Dad can I go to this party”

    If the phone was about collecting, information about dad.
    Would they use it, showing they spy.
    How then as an adult, will the daughter see things.
    That she was used, to hurt the father.
    Let the daughter record then.

    What would she record, collect, as evidence.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Mon 30th August 2021 @ 11:31 pm

  10. I’ve just read some excellent advice about managing a teenager’s internet use, in an article about increasing rates of loneliness :

    “As clinicians, we both get questions from anxious parents about how to curb technology use in their teens, and we can offer several recommendations. First, we do not need to overreact to the danger of screens, and doing so may make the problem worse. The right balance seems to be to place some limits on cell phone/Internet use, particularly for young girls. The most effective way to do so is to wait as long as you can before allowing social media accounts and to create “screen-free” times during a child’s week. This can be done either by blocking use during specific days during the week or by blocking use during certain hours of each day. We do not recommend that parents attempt to physically hold phones or computers during these screen-free times, as escalation is likely, but that they leverage technology itself in the form of router or device “down times.”

    Most new routers allow parents to block devices from accessing the Internet. The same can be done with iOS and Android devices. It’s a set it and forget it approach that we have found far more effective than repeatedly asking a teen to hand over a phone. Another one of our favorite parenting techniques is the so-called “when/then command,” which can be combined with the downtime approach to increase overall compliance by leveraging kids’ intense desire to be on screens. Instead of setting aside times when screens don’t function, we can link screen use to certain behaviors. An example would be a parent saying to their 13-year-old, “When you put all your clothes in the hamper and read for 30 minutes, then I will turn the router settings back on.” After initial grumbling, kids usually adjust well to this system.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Tue 31st August 2021 @ 10:21 am

  11. A comedic update.
    There is an accepted rule at my house. The phone is put in the kitchen from 9pm till 7am. I was also told by my daughters mother that the phone has been set up as such so it cannot be used between these hours, a simple thing to do in settings.
    My kids are staying with me at the moment.
    This morning I received a text message from my ex saying she had seen my daughter was on line and using her phone at 10:30 last night.
    Only two weeks ago when I decided to take my daughters phone of her for lying about the phone, my ex collected my daughter from my house and took her to the police station to make a statement.
    Humm, what to do?

    Comment by lostkiwi — Tue 31st August 2021 @ 10:38 am

  12. Oh, and thanks again for all the comments and advice, I read and consider them all fully.

    Comment by lostkiwi — Tue 31st August 2021 @ 10:39 am

  13. #11. You may have this in place already but if not, form a parenting plan with your ex – add in the rules around cellphone/online usage. Agree your own behaviour with your ex and daughter, get the ex to do the same. Both parents sign the contract. Review the contract every 3 months to keep it relevant. Nigel Latter has a tool called the ladder of Doom that helps manage behaviour to avoid escalation. The ex’s visit to the Police was most likely a brick being laid for a future attack so keep those texts. It’s not unreasonable to manage screen time with children, the Police will see your side. Just don’t react in a way that the ex can you use it in the family court eg psychological or physical violence.

    Comment by ErasingDad — Sat 4th September 2021 @ 4:56 am

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