To keep my children safe when visiting in-laws abroad.

(78 Posts)
desertrosefirefly Mon 02-Sep-13 01:35:26

My in-laws live over seas. They have 4 dogs that live outside which I think can be unsafe taking our 3 children aged 5 years to 14 months, since my in-laws disagree with my rules and even ridicule me. They disagree with me about my children not being left without monitoring the behaviour of the dogs or what my children could do to upset the dogs. My 5 year old had 3 of the dogs go for him when he was just about to turn 2 years old and since being here this time my 5 year old has had his bottom nipped by one of the dogs when they got over excited and one of my 14 month olds has been growled at. If my son acts fearful to the dogs he is told off and told to be brave. I had a huge arguement with my father-in-law only last night because he thinks I am hilarious how I go to watch my children when they are close to the dogs and that I would prefer that my babies were not anywhere near the dogs, since even the loveliest of animals will react if they are hurt or surprised.
My in-laws also have a balcony which after many arguements they have now put a net up since the babies could fit through the gaps, but the twins move furniture on the balcony and one infant in particular loves to climb. My rule is that they are not allowed on the balcony alone. The doors are left wide open to the balcony during the day.
My in-laws also have issues with me wanting to use UV suits and cake my children in sun block here. I am always told by my mother-in law that they will be fine if it is after 3pm (or it is cloudy today) even though it is the Caribbean (and I am also told this when she comes to visit the UK when we have sunny weather) where they live you can imagine the effect that the sun could have.
They also have a very relaxed attitude to my children around water. Since I was a lifeguard when I was younger I try to prevent things rather than having to deal with situations. I am now a primary school teacher and so very annoyed when they question every rule I have when it comes to the safety of my children.
I was told that I deserved a slap last night by my mother-in-law (twice in fact) and that children need to have accidents to learn. When I said that they are my children so my rules go, she told me that they are her children and my father-in-laws too and they do not agree with me so they will bring them up their own way.
I would prefer not to take my children out anymore but now my husband has made it clear that the children will be going out no matter if I agree or not. My husband says he agrees with me on the safety of our children but does not speak up when I am made a joke of or ignored by his parents and if left alone with his mother or father will ignore my rules all together. Any advice please.

lljkk Mon 02-Sep-13 08:31:26

Make sure you spend every penny you have in next 7 yrs so that you can't afford go to visit again.

(ILs sound dreadful)

Faithless12 Mon 02-Sep-13 08:36:49

mikkii- I think it depends a lot on the country you are travelling to. My mum got stopped with me going into Canada I was 16 at the time. However, I haven't been stopped with DS although we were coming back alone not going out if that makes sense.

NomDeClavier Mon 02-Sep-13 08:41:41

Luckily the law is on your side if DH wants to take then without consent and if you usually live in the UK then the law here will apply, which would be easier than negotiating the law where your PILs are, unless the country isn't a Hague Convention signatory.

YANBU, but (caveat) there's probably a huge cultural as well as generational divide. Your children aren't used to the sun, you need to protect their skin. Possibly if you lived there FT you'd be more relaxed about it and maybe your MIL could understand that. I've had similar conversations with my own parents about supervising children. They just don't see it the same way and think I'm paranoid but that stage will be over quicker than the sunblock thing. Maybe if you can get your ILs on side over that at least it would make things more harmonious?

As for the dogs I have no helpful advice. We're not a dog family and I'm naturally wary of them after bring cornered when I was little.

Definitely no unsupervised visits though!

NomDeClavier Mon 02-Sep-13 08:42:43

As for getting stopped I get stopped around half the time I travel solo with DS. Never if with another person (nanny, mother, friend).

Yonihadtoask Mon 02-Sep-13 08:42:54

OP this sounds like an awful trip away for you.

Agree with the other posters, just stick it out until Weds - and don't go back again (or let the DC go) until all are old enough to take care of themselves.

Your MIL sounds bloody nasty - who threatens to slap a DIL? Crazy.

As for travelling alone with DC. I have frequently travelled alone with my DS - we have often been asked what our relationship is - as he is mixed race and I am white. Even now he is 15 - we get asked. Particularly as I am re-married and DH is white too , DSS. So immigration seem to make a bee line to quiz us.

You can possibly have the DC made 'wards of court' or whatever the current term is nowadays so prevent DH taking them without your consent. Removing their passports is probably the best plan too if you believe he will really take them without your consent.

Hope you are okay, and can get home without any more incidents.

Hookedonclassics Mon 02-Sep-13 08:51:09

I second what Faded said - you need to put passports in a 'safe' place when you return. Just hang on until you get home.

As a child, my family went to visit relatives in the Caribbean - my aunty wanted me to stay behind and live with her! Luckily my mum is feisty and put a stop to it. There can be a culture of men giving way to matriarchal grannies and aunts where children are concerned, in my opinion. With their lack of understanding of your safety concerns, and your DH's acquiescence, I would never be go back.

RenterNomad Mon 02-Sep-13 10:19:54

Excellent suggestion from solarbright about the Embassy/Consulate/ High Commission. They can help you with legal advice and protection before you go home; that is: right now.

noobieteacher Mon 02-Sep-13 10:28:55

I agree with pasting a smile on for the rest of your stay but do one further thing - take evidence, photos of the dogs, write down examples of the gps attitude, anything you can write down. When you get back you may need this as evidence in the future.

desertrosefirefly Mon 02-Sep-13 13:15:32

Thanks everyone. Didn't sleep much last night so having your comments when everyone here is making out I am some sort of nutter is keeping me sane.

noobieteacher Mon 02-Sep-13 14:20:00

I wouldn't stay with GPs, even the closest families avoid this. In your case they are a different generation, a different culture. I can understand DH to a certain extent, he is caught between the two while you are under their roof. His upbringing was obviously very different to the way he wants to bring up his own.

The comment about 'give you a slap' is too often used in some cultures and normalised. Bear this in mind - I would see it as a language thing rather than a threat. Would DH use that language to you or the children?

I think if DH has the same attitude about safety as you do, he wouldn't put them at risk when he is with them. So if he did take them out with or without your consent (depending on what the legal situation is) it is unlikely that any court would prevent him. It may be that you could put some kind of injunction on him staying with his parents if he ever did go there alone.

FondantNancy Mon 02-Sep-13 14:38:14

What a brilliant holiday you're having hmm.

I would be running myself ragged with worry between the dogs and the balcony (I have a toddler who could probably scale a bare wall). Your ILs sound completely deranged. Good luck for the next couple of days.

desertrosefirefly Mon 02-Sep-13 15:05:55

My DH says he has the same attitude to safety as me but he is very much like his mother and believes that accidents are all good. His saying is no blood no sympathy. At the beach a few days a go my 14 months old boy caught and bruised his chin while my MI was watching him next to the water. Her and my DH were laughing about it saying it was his first facial scar!

desertrosefirefly Mon 02-Sep-13 15:59:16

I am trying to be in 3 places at once with my children. It is hard enough at home where we have child proofed, but here where they are still leaving the balcony doors wide open and the gate on the other side has the dogs that are able to come right up to little hands. I am absolutely exhausted. My twins have started walking and in opposite directions usually. The front gate is at least usually locked but just now when I was dealing with one twin the other managed to escape through the front gate because it had been left unlocked. I have really had enough!!!

Whereisegg Mon 02-Sep-13 16:44:35

I totally agree with whoever said to take pictures of all the things you (rightly) consider dangerous to your children.

A very serious chat is needed with your husband when you get home, he either agrees with you or he doesn't!

And yy to giving the children's passports to a family member/trusted friend.

solarbright Mon 02-Sep-13 17:29:59

Good luck, OP. Only two days to go! And then you need to see a solicitor back home.

Are your DC dual nationals or only British?

Dackyduddles Mon 02-Sep-13 17:37:41

Photo everything. You are definitely not wrong here. Good luck op. will be watching for you. Pray you all safe.

Best wishes and hugs

SixPackWellies Mon 02-Sep-13 17:38:10

Give passports to another. See a solicitor.

FWIW, I have a different surname from my 3 young Dcs and a different nationality and passport. I have NEVER been asked for DH's letter when I have travelled without him.

Just so you know. It may be who you get on the day, but I have travelled without Dh about 6 times abroad, and no-one batted an eyelid.

britaxmaxwayuser Mon 02-Sep-13 17:54:25

If you flew via the US or Canada, there is no way your husband would be able to travel with the kids without a letter from you. Other countries have different rules though.

I have a dog (and twins) and you definitely need to keep all dogs separate from toddlers, unless you have an absolutely bomb proof dog (which outdoor dogs are unlikely to be). Can you make excuses to get out sightseeing as much as possible? Can you build a den out of chairs and sheets in the middle of the main room as a fun game to keep the DTs focused on staying within the confines of the room and to distract them from the balcony and dogs?

Try and cope as best you can until Wednesday and then make sure you are never in this awful situation again.

desertrosefirefly Tue 03-Sep-13 02:39:18

Only DH is dual national. Hard to keep twins in one place no matter how fun as they have only just started walking so they are really enjoying the freedom of wandering around all the time. IL's have been really nice to me today and even let us as a family be by ourselves over at someone else's swimming pool. Much less stressful. I actually started feeling guilty though as they had guests this evening and they were going on about how good it is for my children to be out here and how much they must enjoy it. I just wish that my IL's would have respect for me as a person and a mother and my DH would grow some, then this would not have had to get so nasty. I know my eldest son is going to hate me but I cannot change other people and the way they behave and if that puts my children's safety at risk then I have to be the big bad one.

MariaLuna Tue 03-Sep-13 16:28:28

Not long to go now.

Please don't believe your eldest will hate you! When he is older he will understand you were concerned for his safety.

Have a look at this website for getting knowledge on all aspects of possible child abduction. There is also a list of lawyers on it.

www.reunite.org/

I would second the poster who suggested posting in Relationships on your return (and maybe delete this one, if your husband might find it...).

Wishing you all the best.

By the way, I have been in the Caribbean quite a few times, including being with a family with very young kids. I have never experienced those types of attitudes that your ILs seem to think are normal.

noobieteacher Tue 03-Sep-13 17:46:30

I know so many people who have a hard time with children being looked after by GPs.

I also know that most GPs think they are brilliant carers and know far better than their children - this is fairly normal behaviour.

Their attitude to you ('give you a slap') is not acceptable. However from their point of view you are under their roof and should play by their rules. Your DH is naturally simply doing what they are telling him like a good little boy. If he has grown up with this kind of language he will side with them out of fear so I think you need to be understanding of his situation.

When we go to ILs we tend to rent somewhere rather than stay with MIL. Most people I know will only stay for a night or two with ILs. I hope that makes you feel a little bit better and can just move on and learn from it.

Talk to DH about it when you get back, have a good hard look at his parenting and consider the eventualities if you separated. If you put this on the Relationships board you will be told unequivocably to leave him. I wonder whether your unhappiness with him is largely because of this bad trip and your exhaustion having 3 young children. Whatever happens, do take legal advice on his ability to take the children abroad.

desertrosefirefly Tue 03-Sep-13 17:49:09

Really confused now. My MI has been going out of her way for me including getting me a roll of velcro to fix something, which I was going to do when I got back. Also noticed this morning that the large table has been moved away from the side of the balcony and everyone is following my rules with no comments about it being over the top. I did over hear a conversation at the swimming pool yesterday, which involved the lady that owns the pool saying "that is out of line" and then she said it again very loudly and sternly when speaking on the phone. I know my MI had a phone conversation with her while we were there. Could it be that her friend has made her see things differently? and if she is on the same page now, does that change what I should be doing? Advice again please.

solarbright Tue 03-Sep-13 17:53:22

If she apologises for her behaviour and promises different in the future, then who knows - maybe you could mend fences. But right now I'd stop worrying about her - just get everyone on the plane tomorrow and make sure you never stay at their home ever ever ever again. If you come out to visit again, stay at a hotel.

Little school-age mind games about moving tables and playing nice are not adult apologies. I'd want to see some consistent changes and an acknowledgement of past wrongs before I stayed with her again.

FondantNancy Tue 03-Sep-13 21:46:33

Sounds like too little, too late to me. I'm sure it wouldn't take a psychic to see that you've had a very bad time of it there and your MIL has clocked it and is putting out a few fires to ensure you remember how 'good' she was while you were there.

noobieteacher Tue 03-Sep-13 23:07:31

This is your husband's parents and your childrens grandparents. They will not be the first gps ever to have different rules for your children than you do. It's great that she's realised and is now trying to make an effort. Many mothers are so over-protective of their sons that they will behave really badly toward their DILs. She sounds like one of them - but she seems to be getting over the fact that you are her DIL and mother to her grandchildren. I would try to leave on a positive note, encourage the contact and support that they may be able to give in the future.

Once again, it really is a bad idea to stay with GPs with children unless you get along fabulously. It very rarely works out.

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