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AIBU reasonable to be concerned about perceptions of MIL having contact with our chlld? ... some upsetting content.

(24 Posts)
catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 06:07:59

DH and I moved away from our hometown years ago.

We have regular happy visits from my family and he has recently re established contact with his DM after a few years of going no contact.

His relationship with his DM has been incredibly difficult. He was taken into Foster Care at 13 following a number of years of physical abuse and emotional abuse from his father and later, when his father eventually left, physical abuse started from his mother. She has also had MH problems and he has been a carer for her on and off during his early adult life.

My DH early childhood was really very good and she parented him well in the first few year and he attributes that he has managed to maintain some sort of relationship with her to this.

In the last year she has visited a couple of times and visits have been pleasant and positive. I am pregnant and she is very very excited about the new baby and has enjoyed buying lots of little clothes for her and keeps in regular contact.

I work with children and families, my DH is a professional too, we have a happy, stress free, comfortable lifestyle, naice home etc.

Now, my worry is that from a professional point of view, if i was aware that one of my service users children were in contact with a family member who had offences against children, I would be concerned and asking questions.

My take on it at the moment is MIL will not be seeing a great deal of DD and will probably only be visiting for a few days once or twice a year.

MIL, i do not feel, is a risk to DD and will certainly not be alone with DC. (Though I imagine may offer to baby sit for a few hours so we can go out - which i will have to say no too - for obvious reasons) I am concerned though about where this leaves me professionally and also how i manage this with DH. I really want DD to have some kind of relationship with her grandmother but having heard of people being suspended from their professions for similar involvement with family members who have had offences against children, am really quite worried.

DH and I have had a few conversations and we both recognise that MIL must be supervised with DD, but are we going far enough to ensure DD is safe ( i feel we certainly would be) and that we would be satisfying professional bodies that we were keeping DD safe?

I do not feel we could reasonably expect MIL to stay in a hotel for her visits. We have a large house with spare rooms etc. She could not afford a hotel and although we could perhaps offer to pay for one occasionally is somehow doesn't seem quite right..........

Fraggle3112 Sat 24-Aug-13 06:38:42

I think you sound like a lovely understanding DIL. You have obviously thought long and hard and come to some solutions that will allow MIL to establish a relationship with DD without putting her at any risk.

I have no experience of how authorities would deal with this situation but it sounds like you are aware of the risks and in control of the situation. I can't see why there would be an issues long as MIL is supervised at all times. I suppose you could always contact someone explain the situation and how you are planning to manage it and ask if there's anything else you need to do.

Congratulation on your pregnancy and try to stop worrying and enjoy this lovely time smile

raisah Sat 24-Aug-13 06:45:55

Is there a professional body that you could seek advice from or alternatively speak to a family lawyer. I don't know what else to suggest apart from moving it to AIBU for traffic & huge variety of people who pist on there.

AngryGnome Sat 24-Aug-13 06:51:38

Can you get reliable information and advice anywhere regarding how your employers would treat any contact between your DD and MIL? Is it just rumours you have heard so far about people being suspended for similar contact? It just seems unlikely you would be disciplined in any way for allowing your daughter to have infrequent supervised contact with her grandmother.

Also, you mention having to satisfy your professional bodies / is there an expectation that you would disclose this information about MIL and her contact with your DD? Surely this is your personal life ad as such you are not required to disclose to your employer details of how and when your family meet?

YoU also mentioned how you would manage this with your DH - what are his views on contact?

soapboxqueen Sat 24-Aug-13 06:58:22

Do you have a union you could speak to confidentially about this?

has she been convicted of anything?
Regardless of any convictions or not, you need to be seen to be proactively protecting your children
Not unreasonable to expect her to stay in a hotel or similar
You cannot ensure only supervised contact if she sleeps in your house.

lunar1 Sat 24-Aug-13 07:19:48

I would c

lunar1 Sat 24-Aug-13 07:21:04

Sorry!

I would contact your professional body for advice. Does she have convictions against her?

beals692 Sat 24-Aug-13 07:25:59

What is your relationship like with your manager? Could you discuss it with him/her? Otherwise, I would suggest discussing it with your professional body, if you have one, or union. I do know of cases where staff working with children have been subject to disciplinary procedures because they have failed to protect their own children - obviously the exact details are taken into account and also the exact nature of their job role e.g. if you were a social worker in child protection and failed to assess the risk to and protect your own child/children that would call into question your professional judgement and suitability for the role.

It sounds to me (as a lay person - I'm not a social worker) that you are taking sensible precautions to ensure your child is protected by not leaving them alone with your MIL and assessing the risks involved but I would recommend getting some further advice - and possibly covering your back slightly by discussing it with your manager.

catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 08:04:22

Also, you mention having to satisfy your professional bodies / is there an expectation that you would disclose this information about MIL and her contact with your DD?

Yes. I think there would be, I'm on leave at the moment and don't expect to return to work in that field for another year.

YoU also mentioned how you would manage this with your DH - what are his views on contact?

His views are the same but I think, like me, if she was here and offered to babysit so we could go out he would find it really uncomfortable saying no.

has she been convicted of anything?

She hasn't had a criminal conviction in the courts, although she would be restricted from working with children if a CRB Check was undertaken.

Regardless of any convictions or not, you need to be seen to be proactively protecting your children

Obviously that is what i'm doing

Do you have a union you could speak to confidentially about this? That's not a bad idea, i might also have a word with trusted qualified colleagues and seee what they have to say.

Fraggle thank you. Some of what you have said affirms my thoughts. I just want to ensure that I am seen to be doing that and make sure that i am transparent. It was never a huge issue when we didn't have children and were not in contact with MIL. I'm just tryng to pre empt any issues and deal with them before they arise if that makes sense. (and probably have got time to sit and think about things now!)

Dayshiftdoris Sat 24-Aug-13 09:15:04

By all means talk to your professional body but I do feel you are missing a point here.

This internal dilemma that you are having, the discussion you have had with DH, the insight you have and they measure you are putting in place is what sets you apart from a family which would 'raise concern'.

Ok if someone knew they might ask but once you'd explained as above I know I would be reassured (and worked with children & families).

As DD gets older be sure to maintain the stance - when they are babies it's easier because they are so dependant then they get personalities and opinions shock Be ready to facilitate a lot of visiting long term so to ensure that the relationship is happy and healthy for DD... Unfortunately this will need to fall to you for obvious reasons given your DH's early relationship with his mother.

lunar1 Sat 24-Aug-13 09:16:30

You and your dh are being really kind to allow your mil the contact she is getting, it sounds like she is lucky to still have contact with your dh.

I'm sure as ling as you are transparent with work things will be ok there. I guess the thing for me would be to continually remind yourselves why you are cautious with her. I'm guessing it would be easy to let your guard down after a few years.

You found like a lovely dil, mil is lucky her son married someone so compassionate.

Dayshiftdoris Sat 24-Aug-13 09:25:27

Should you disclose?

Goodness - that's one I've not considered before. Personally my reaction is 'who to?' - I would go to the professional body first. But then you might have local procedures...
Being an employee in this sort of profession does mean your are open to a much higher level of scrutiny however I would only be disclosing to someone who could deal with the issue discretely and sensitively. They also need enough authority to make a decision / judgement. I would start considering who that person is now.

However, I still maintain that you are risk assessing appropriately and that this would reassure anyone who knew officially.

zoobaby Sat 24-Aug-13 09:26:28

I'd also add that DH needs to be made aware of every aspect of decision making and the reasoning behind it. Not saying that he would, based on his own experiences, but sometimes people can say/think "Oh, look, she's great with DD. She's really changed. Oh, go on, let her look after DD for an hour while I pop to the shops." When you back down just once you're inviting MIL and maybe even DD to get ideas about more and more liberties.

catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 09:56:56

I'm sure as ling as you are transparent with work things will be ok there. I guess the thing for me would be to continually remind yourselves why you are cautious with her. I'm guessing it would be easy to let your guard down after a few years and zoobaby

I don't anticipate there ever being a time when this relationship doesn't need continual monitoring and careful negotiation, as it has done without DD in the picture.

In my heart of hearts I know that she would pose little physical risk to DD. But i am still not going to take any chances. But the wider issues of her chaos and un reliability could be really upsetting for DD, forgotten birthdays and no shows to family events etc are unacceptable for DC. It is frustrating enough when it is DH.

DH and i have talked about it a lot. We have talked about how we will deal with potential unreliability in the future.

You found like a lovely dil, mil is lucky her son married someone so compassionate

It's taken a long time I have been ghastly at times but i don't feel it has always been mis placed!

I think i will speak to a sensitive senior colleague actually, when the time is right.

It's so hard because when things are going well it is great, MIL is lovely and funny and intelligent and loves to help. When she is unreliable, insecure and cruel, it is awful. We both think that she has an untreated Personality Disorder TBH. And that is certainly not making excuses for her. She is 'well' and doing her best at the moment. We haven't visited for nearly 2 years due to our own circumstances but she has been able to keep her house clean, is now off benefits and has got something of a social life. She is no longer harbouring addicts in her house or being exploited either. In fact she has a much better life. I hope it continues.

You are right though it's important that we don't take our eye off the ball and let it slip. I know in our moments of optimistic we say things like 'wouldn't it be nice if she lived a bit closer'..but actually that could cause problems.

catinabox Sun 01-Sep-13 18:42:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catinabox Sun 01-Sep-13 18:42:48

*went.

catinabox Sun 01-Sep-13 18:51:54

oops that last post ^^ wasnt meant to go on this thread..........

working9while5 Sun 01-Sep-13 19:09:41

I think this is dreadful. I think the level of risk here should not warrant state intervention. All the families I think of where there are known cycles of abuse and nothing gets done...

I think OP you've been institutionalised a bit. This is a family decision. It is horrendous but understandable that you feel this pull to 'be seen to be taking action' and to have documentation of transparency but that is a terrible indictment of all that is wrong in the system.

A woman was mentally unwell and physically abusive years ago. Your baby will have sporadic supervised contact within the context of an aware family. Where is the issue?

My kids see their cousin with schizophrenia and a caution for assault at family events. They have Christmas dinner annually with my grandaunt who was sent away for killing an infant when she had pnd. Every family has skeletons but to my mind it would be a gross abuse of human rights to assume that the state needs ti monitor these types of contact

working9while5 Sun 01-Sep-13 19:15:13

Okay just seen issues more recent.. but still... you are not going to just forget. I just feel this is something that has nothing to do with any professional body given how you are describing it. I understand why given how things are but what about civil liberties? The risk is so slim given your stance.

catinabox Sun 01-Sep-13 21:36:51

Okay just seen issues more recent.. but still... you are not going to just forget. I just feel this is something that has nothing to do with any professional body given how you are describing it. I understand why given how things are but what about civil liberties? The risk is so slim given your stance

I know 9while5 thanks for your sane response. Unfortunately I have heard stories of people being suspended where they have not declared family members involvement in cp proceedings. I hope i'm being a bit over concerned. Perhaps you are right about being institutionalised a bit......

Listentomum Sun 01-Sep-13 21:59:05

Op I think you sound capable and very able to manage this situation. I think maybe due to your profession you are over thinking this. I assume you are maybe skilled or informed about safeguarding, I maybe wrong there so aplogies if I am, give your self the credit you are due here and continue to develop and maintain this relationship putting in place all the safeguards you have already discussed here.

figwit Sun 01-Sep-13 22:33:27

Hello catinabox , I work with children and families and safeguarding is a large part of my role.
If I was working with your family, I would have no concerns about your child's safety, because of the discussions you have had with your DH and your plan for no unsupervised contact
Your organisation should have a policy about these sort of situations, otherwise try not to worry. Running it by a trusted colleague may help to put your mind at rest though.

SomethingOnce Sun 01-Sep-13 23:27:54

Is there an argument for preempting awkward babysitting offers by telling her, as neutrally as possible, why her history means it will never be possible. Really, if she has made so much progress, she ought to be able to take that on the chin and accept it.

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