DEAR ABBY: I am the divorced father of two sons, ages 8 and 11. My ex-wife and I are both remarried and I get to see the boys quite often, as their mother and I maintain a fairly civil relationship. The boys live with their mother and her new husband.
Quite often when I call to speak to one (or both) of my sons, I am told they are being punished for some infraction, so they are not allowed to speak to anyone on the phone during this period.
Abby, I contend that I am not just "anyone" -- I am their father.
I do not call often, and I like to keep up with their activities. And if they are having some problem, I would like to speak with them about it. I might add that I have no problem with disciplining the boys. They are normally well-mannered.
I feel that I am being used as part of their punishment, which is unfair and I resent it. Am I wrong? I will abide by whatever you think. -- A LOVING FATHER
DEAR FATHER: I agree with you. Punishing your sons by refusing to allow them to speak to you on the telephone is not only unfair to you and to them, it also may backfire on your ex-wife. Children of divorced parents need access to both parents without intervention from either one of them. And if they are deprived of it, they often end up resentful of the parent who tries to enforce the separation.