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Co-Parent Insists On 4-Year-Old Wearing A 'Listening Device' At All Times When At Other Parent's Home

Photo: Alexandra Morosanu/Shutterstock
boy with smartwatch listening device

Shuffling a kid back and forth between two households can be challenging, especially when there is bad blood between the parents, and they can see eye-to-eye.

One woman took her frustrations to the subreddit, r/coparenting, to ask for advice on how to deal with what she sees as an invasion of privacy by her partner’s former spouse.

The stepmom starts by explaining that her stepson is just four years old and that she and her partner share equal custody of the boy with his other mother.

Her stepson has been diagnosed with anxiety and according to the woman, tends to show more symptoms when he is with his other parent.

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The ex-wife bought the child a smartwatch that doubles as a listening device, despite the child's young age.

She taught him how to use it and made it clear that he was expected to keep it on while at the Redditor’s home so they could keep in contact.

The watch is advanced, with the ability to auto answer, GPS tracking, and can be used as a listening device whenever necessary.  



The woman and her mate don’t believe that other parent should be able to contact their son at will or use the GPS to track the family’s location.

She also offers that her stepson is not able to determine when it is appropriate to answer calls on the watch and is concerned that he may pick up calls from his mom at times when he shouldn’t.

The stepmom tells readers, “My wife has already taught my stepson to call the ex using our household smart device. He simply chooses not to because he doesn’t feel the need to.”

She adds, “He enjoys his time here and knows he can call the other parent if he wants.” Her belief is that the additional gadget is unnecessary.

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The couple decided to draw the line and informed their co-parent that the boy would not be using the watch while in their home.

According to her, the woman ignored them and sent the child to preschool with the watch inside of his backpack. The poster’s wife turned it off as soon as he arrived home.

That didn’t stop the co-parent from sending the watch again the next week. But this time, she changed a setting so that the watch could not manually be powered off. She could only turn it off remotely.

This, of course, made the couple extremely upset. The stepmom calls the actions of the boy’s mother, “such a violation”.

Now she has turned to readers to ask them how to deal with the situation.

But she clarifies that the rules surrounding her stepson have been explained to him.

However, he does express concern that he will “get in trouble with the ex if we don’t follow the same expectations in our home”.

One commenter offered a suggestion stating, “Buy a Faraday cage bag. No signal in or out. He does not decide what goes on in your home. But I think this could be considered infringement on your parenting time at the least, possibly harassment.”

Another reader shared her own similar experience. She posted, “My husband’s ex did the same thing! When he got to our house, we turned it off and put it in a closet. After a few weeks of this, he never wore the watch again.”

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.