Phone is ringing off the hook and I'm ready to throw it across the room


I’m about at the end of my rope right now. I guess I either need to vent or get advice on how to tactfully handle this situation.

Ok, Let me just start by saying that I tend to screen my phone calls through the answering machine because I just don’t have time to get stuck on the phone with somebody. I usually let the machine pick up, and if it’s somebody I want/need to talk to I will call back when I have a quiet moment.

DH’s brother and his wife have an 8 year old boy who is very close to my kids, especially ds. This boy is an only child so he is pretty lonely and wants to be with my kids all. the. time.

They are all getting to the age where they want to talk on the phone. I don’t mind the kids talking on the phone once in awhile. But they have limitations and they’re not just allowed to chat away as they please and they’re not allowed to answer the phone. Well, for most of the summer, my nephew has been calling ALL day long. And I mean ALL day long. He will call and leave a message for ds to call him back. Then he’ll hang up and call back. Hang up and call back. Hang up and call back. This goes on and on and on.

If I happen to answer the phone (which I rarely do for this reason), I’ll answer and say Hello, he says Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello back and forth until I finally figure out who the heck it is and put ds on the phone. I think this is extremely rude and can’t quite figure out why his parents haven’t taught him the proper way to call somebody’s house. The first few times he did this, I thought it was a prank call.

Within the last few weeks, he somehow has gotten my cell phone # and now is calling my cell phone. He’ll go back and forth between calling the house phone and my cell phone. DH and I just got new cell phone service with new #'s so I’m just hoping and praying he doesn’t get my new #. I don’t really know how to tactfully ask his parents to not let him have my new #.

Another problem with all of this is that every time these kids are on the phone together, DS is constantly asking to have my nephew spend the night. He does this right in front of him so I am really put on the spot. I have had my hands full this summer with kids I babysit and there is just no way I was taking on another kid! No Way! I told ds several times not to ask me again in front of him, but he kept doing it. Then he started handing me the phone so that my nephew could ask me! :mad: After he did that several times, I really gave ds a lecture about it and told him he was absolutely NOT to ask me again or hand me the phone again and if he did he was going to be punished. So the next day, I over hear him talking to my nephew on the phone and it sounded to me like he was begging ds to put me on the phone even though ds told him he was not allowed to do that again. But he would NOT let it go. This went on for probably 10 minutes with ds trying to make his cousin understand that he was not allowed to put me on the phone. Then last night, the phone rings and I happened to answer it and it was my nephew asking if he can spend the night. I tried to tactfully explain that I couldn’t have him over last night and he just wouldn’t let it go. He’s persistent.

This goes on EVERY day. It’s gotten to the point where every day this kid is asking to spend the night. I’m tired of being put on the spot. I’m tired of feeling guilty because I can’t/won’t have him over. I’m tired of my phone ringing off the hook. I’m tired of my cell phone ringing off the hook. I don’t know how to tactfully handle this situation. I don’t know what to say to DH without him getting mad and thinking i"m just being a , well, you know what. I really don’t know what needs to be said to BIL and SIL. I don’t know how much they are aware of. I can’t imagine SIL could be aware that he’s doing this. I don’t want them to get the impression that I don’t want this kid around or that I don’t like him. That’s not it at all. I just have my hands full right now and I don’t like feeling pressured into having extra kids over at my house.

Am I being ridiculous? Am I a big meanie for not letting this kid come over whenever he wants? Honestly, a big reason why I am reluctant to have him over is because he is a very, very picky eater. He doesn’t like most of what I make my kids and we just can’t financially afford to buy the type of food to cater to him. So, I either end up spending $$ that we don’t have when he’s coming over or I end up with a hungry kid.

What should I say to DH? What should be said to bil and sil? I don’t want to offend them. But I simply cannot take this anymore.


I would answer the phone and tell the child that DS will call when he has the time. If he calls back before your DS returns his call, I would repeat that DS will call later and add “and please don’t ring my phone again today”. If he does it again, ask to speak to his parents and ask if they are aware of this activity. At this point, I wouldn’t care whose feeling I hurt. The child is making a pest of himself, needs to be corrected and his parents need to know.


Hi masondoggy! In my opinion, if you feel this strongly about it, you should at least talk to your husband about it, and then the two of you can decide together what to do about it, if anything. On the other hand, you can always ship your DS to your BIL and SIL’s house for the night!


This is the problem with saying something to DH. He can be a real booger about this subject. Several times, he has brought my nephew home here to spend the night without even asking me first (when dh had to work and it ended up being my responsiblity). He did this to me last year when I was NINE months pregnant and in tears all day because I was so miserable. But my nephew asked when DH was over at their house and DH just said ok. Then he did it again after I had Jacob. Jacob was only a few weeks old. DH was gone day and night because he was in the middle of helping my dad build a garage. So here I was on my own with a newborn and 3 other kids to take care of. BIL and SIL were having problems and so DH told them our nephew could spend the night so they could work things out. I was FURIOUS. But I kept my mouth shut, because after all, they were trying to save their marriage and dh wanted to help any way he could. But of course, the responsibility fell on ME at a time when I should have had people over at my house HELPING ME.

So, it just seems DH has his head in the clouds about this issue. I’ve hinted to him a few times that he keeps calling and dh sort of laughs it off. He has’t “gotten” it yet.




What does your husband have to say about his nephew’s behaviour? Have you spoken to him about it yet? If not, why not?

Are your in-laws aware of these phone calls? If the kid’s eight, how could they not be? Where the heck are they while he’s ringing your phone off the wall all of the day and night?

They need to be spoken to. Now.

If you’re concerned about upsetting your in-laws for some reason (are relations with them strained for some reason?) ask your husband to speak to them with you. However, do not shift the responsibility for confronting this child’s irritating and unacceptable behaviour entirely onto his shoulders. In my opinion you should make an appointment to speak to them both, at the same time, as a couple.

As for spending the night at your place, I have no idea how close this kid lives and if he can get to our house easily to play in the garden with your son, but why don’t you consider setting one weekend per month as the weekend when he can come over on the Friday or Saturday night and spend the night with your kids. Make it clear that he can come over to play with your kids often (but make it clear that there is a schedule for that too, so he’s not turning up at 7 a.m. and staying until 11 p.m.), but that he is welcome to come spend the night *only *on that weekend. And stick to it. Make sure your own son knows better than to even ask for more. Requests for alterations to your schedule can only be made by your brother- or sister-in-law, and then only for good reasons. The point here is that it’s the adults that get to decide, not the kids.

And never, ever again allow yourself to get drawn into playing phone games with him. If he does that “hello, hello” bit ever again, hang up, turn the volume down on the anwering machine and disconnect the (bleeping) ringer on the phone. Then tell him overnight privileges are cancelled until he apologises and learns to be polite and use the phone correctly.

Finally, I don’t know what kind of answering machine you may have, or if you’ve got voice mail instead of an external machine, but if it’s possible to keep recordings of the endless phone messages, do so. Then invite your in-laws to listen to them when you and your husband speak to them.

Lonely kid or not, that nonsense needs to be over.


What about being honest with the boy? Sounds like he needs some serious social skills instruction and if his parents aren’t doing it (or are not aware of what he’s doing), then I would. I like to use the “When…then…” approach with kids. “When you call our house repeatedly, then it makes me angry and I do not want to talk to you anymore.” “When you (insert behavior),then I feel _____” – very psycho-babblish, but effective. Someone needs to let this kid know how his behavior affects other people.

Then set concrete boundaries that you can live with. “You are allowed to call our house only two times each day: once before noon and once after 3 p.m. If you call more than that, we will not answer the phone and we will not answer your call at all then next day.” If he calls more than that, on his “infraction” call, remind him of your rule: “This is your third call today, Skippy. My rule is that you can only call two times a day. We will not answer any calls from you tomorrow, but you may call again on Sunday. Goodbye.” And furthermore, I would flat out tell him he is NOT allowed to call your cell phone. He’ll test you, but do what you say and he’ll learn.

Also, set clear boundaries for sleep-overs. “You will be allowed to stay overnight only one night per month. You mom and I will decide when that will happen. If you ask to spend the night or try to talk your cousin into asking, you will not be allowed to sleep over at all that month.” Then stick to your guns.

This poor boy is going to end up losing friends or not being able to make friends at all because he does not respect boundaries. It sounds rough to speak this way to kids, but some kids do not know boundaries and they need someone to teach them.

Be strong and remember you are the grown-up and you do not need to let this little boy hold you hostage by his behavior!

And don’t “hint” to your husband. Speak up and let HIM know how his actions (or nonaction) affects you and set boundaries for him, too! “If you bring him home to spend the night without asking me first, he is YOUR responsibility and I will have other plans that will not allow me to take care of him.” But if he does ask and it’s okay with you, reinforce his asking by agreeing.

Good luck.



Let me hip you to something about we guys:

Subtle hints don’t work. Obvious hints don’t work. If you want something from him, don’t hint. You’re gonna have to ask for it.

“Thick as a whale omelette” is the best way to describe the average human male when it comes to picking up on female hints. :wink:

Tell him, show him the evidence so he can see how bad it’s become, and then tell him exactly what it is that you want him to do about it. Then, as I said above, don’t shift all of the responsibility onto his shoulders, tackle the problem as a couple. If you don’t trust yourself to be calm, let him take the lead in the conversation with the in-laws, but go along with him.


masondoggy, it seems to me that there’s a bit of miscommunication going on here between you and your husband. Maybe he just doesn’t get it, and maybe you haven’t made it clear enough for him. If you feel this strongly about it, don’t beat around the bushes, sit him down, and have a serious talk to him about it.

As for having the nephew over when you were pregnant, I was thinking, why couldn’t he have stayed with your husband’s parents?

Anyway, I think the real issue is still communication. When one person makes a decision without consulting the other, that’s when problems start popping up. From the sound of it, your husband needs to include you more in the decision-making process, and you need to be more vocal about your own needs.

Just my $0.02.


The only thing I think you are being ridiculous about is wondering if you are being ridiculous!

I should let you know: I have no children, so I’m an authority on child rearing! :thumbsup:

It’s YOUR phone.Your son is not paying the bill. The phone is there for YOUR convenience.

If this was some friend of yours, and adult, that was calling and you didn’t want them to call the way they were, you’d tell them, right? So, tell this nephew! Since he’s a child, and the child of a family member, I’d go to that family member and ask them to relay the instruction to their son.

Your son is trying to be a people-pleaser. This is not good. It leads to trouble down the pike. But he’s being a nice kid. Rather than ask him to not take the message from his cousin, you have to play grown up and you tell the nephew.

“Hello, Billy? I need to speak to one of your parents”. Then, tell the parent that Billy is not allowed to call more than once per day, and when he calls, he is to wait for a reply.

You really have NO reason to apologize. It’s YOUR phone. And he’s upsetting your tranquility.

Not to mention, he is learning that he can manipulate your son - don’t tell him that, but that’s where it’s getting.

If you stop it now, before you get any more stressed out, you can remain friendly and civil and sociable. If not, you will likely break off relations not just with him, but with his parents, and then any one that even asks what happened.


This call is very important, but we are too busy to talk to you right now. Please stay on the line and listen to these commercial messages and horrid music. We might talk to you in the next five to fifteen minutes.
I have learned to screen calls too. If it is from an unidentified or (800) number, I don’t answer it. It is irritating when the kids want to chatter away for hours, but I guess that’s better than some of the other things they might be doing.


Sounds like you need some “tough love” with bil’s family. First, please speak specifically to your dh about how having the boy over without checking with you first is difficult. I like the idea of a specific weekend that he can come over each month. That would also allow bil and sil to plan some couple time to improve their marriage.

I have no problem correcting my nieces as needed, so I wouldn’t hesitate to tell your nephew what is appropriate phone behavior. Also, since you screen calls anyway, simply turn the ringer off on your phones and check regularly for messages. You can probably also block the number he calls from–at least during the day.

You and dh should also speak with his brother and wife. Try for a non-confrontational approach. “Wow, kids can be a handful, but it is really difficult for us when nephew calls all the time.” Of course, you also should realize that this will stop as soon as school starts again (at least the day time phone calls). Maybe for next summer help you sil to find camps or other activities for him to keep him occupied.

And keep praying for him (nd ask your dc to pray too). He sounds like a very lonely, sad little boy.


I agree with everybody who suggested that I need to speak up and be firm with this child. But the thing is that I am afraid of causing a strained relationship with the in-laws. Who knows what he’ll tell his parents? “Aunt masondoggy said blah, blah, blah…”. It could come across as I just don’t like him or something like that.

And that’s why I hesitate to speak up to dh. I don’t want him thinking I just don’t like the kid or don’t want him around. DH is very close to his brother, so he just doesn’t seem to have any problem with this behavior from his nephew. He has seen some of it, the constant phone calls etc. But he just doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem.

I don’t know, I guess I’m just worried about offending my in-laws and causing them to get the wrong impression. If it wasn’t for that, I would have been up front with this kid from the very beginning.

As far as making a “schedule” for having him come over, I really don’t want to do that. I don’t want to obligate myself to have him over. Sometimes I just have a bad day and get stressed out with the kids and the last thing I need is to be obligated to take another kid on. I will have him over when I decide I am ready and I don’t think that’s asking too much. Honestly, I think once a month is too much. It’s just too much for me. With an active 10 month old on my hands, I have my hands full already. I’d really prefer to have him over on a Friday night when DH doesn’t have to work on Saturday so that he is here to help. It gets chaotic here when he’s here and it’s just easier to handle with DH here. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been here a lot because of this ongoing remodeling going on at my parents house.


Is dh’s brother also helping with this project? Then maybe the boys (nephew and your son too) could go over to granparents house to ‘help’. They can certainly fetch and carry, bring drinks, and sweep up behind the work.


get DH to see your problems and issues fully and completely first before you talk to BIL&SIL, with DH.


My parents were BIG on rules, and we have done the same in raising our son - rules change over the years, but, at 8 some logical would be…

10 minute limit on phone calls. Timer set, parent hangs up phone if you are still on it when the buzzer goes off.

No phone calls after 9 PM.

No calls during dinner/chore/homework time.

1 call per day weekdays, 2 allowed on Saturday, none on Sunday.

Staying overnight is allowed on Friday only, one time per month. Arrangments for overnight must be made 1 week in advance, and be ratified by all parents involved.

It is far easier to set strict rules, then, as situations allow, step outside the rules as a treat.



Lol, this is one of the big reasons why I don’t answer the phone. It just gets me MAD.

I did some insurance quotes on the internet in the spring and our phone has been ringing off the hook from our # getting out there after that. One big, big reason why I screen calls. I will NEVER use my real phone # for something like that again. They can e-mail me. :rolleyes: We got rid of caller id because so many #'s came through Anonymous or Private that it was a huge waste of money. It really was useless. So, now we hardly ever answer the phone without the machine picking up first.

It’s so sad that you practically have to be held hostage by the phone in your own home. :mad:



You are usually a font of wisdom about such situations, but it’s difficult to have perspective when it’s your own set of circumstances.

My goodness! Stop putting up with this insanity. You are the adult, it’s your home, your phone, your rules.

At this point, throw tact to the wind. If DH can’t grasp or WON’T grasp how interruptive this is–either you haven’t made it clear or it’s easier for him to ignore it. Either way, call the boy’s parents and let them know his behavior. And stop rewarding his incessant phone-calling with sleepovers!! :slight_smile: If he continues to call and call and call and ‘hello’ ‘hello’ (how annoying is that), then don’t reward him by getting to talk to your DS, either.

Can you set aside a specific ten minute window every day where he is allowed to call and they can have phone time? And let him know that if he doesn’t call at the appointed time–but abuses the privilege and calls at OTHER times–he will not get to speak with your son? You might make it at the end of the day so he can get his ‘fix’ but not be as tempted to keep calling afterwards.

Good luck!


Which is why I say to speak DIRECTLY to the parents.

There is a lot less confusion. You aren’t talking directly to the kid, but about him, and you’ll more than likely soften when you speak… esp since you don’t want to offend.

I’m sure they don’t want to offend you, either. How better to make sure neither is offended than to speak to the matter?

"Hi, Bob and Carol? Just wanted to let you know that my son Mark has rules about when he can receive calls. "

And then TALK TO THEM. They can’t be mind readers, and you’re going to be really upset by the time you do speak to them, then all that old anger will be there with you.


Think about this from the other side. If it were your son that was doing all this calling and making a pest of himself, wouldn’t you want to know about it? And, wouldn’t you want to remedy the problem? If BIL and SIL are having difficulties, it could be that they aren’t paying attention to the child. They need to know what their child is doing.


I would be mortified if my child acted this way and certainly would want to know. I don’t see how they’d be offended unless their son is learning his manners from them. I would start the sentence with mother or father (probably mom cause if your bil is alot like his brother he probably won’t get it either :wink: )“I’m sure you’re unaware”…and throw in "I know he’s being a kid and kids don’t understand but (I can’t have my phone ringing all day - my cell phone really can’t be tied up - …) You can throw in things like your love your nephew yadda yadda yadda. And “I’m sure you understand” is good to wrap things up with. Really you have put up with this for far too long. I would talk to the parent before the child because if the child is so oblivious or simple doesn’t care I don’t think it’ll get you’ll very far.

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