Not to want recovering alcoholic FIL to look after the DC (2 and 5), DH says IABU

(98 Posts)
Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:19:40

FIL is an alcoholic, but following a recent bereavement (his partner died) says he has been sober for just under two months (I believe him). He is otherwise in OK health, in his early 60s and retired. Until recently, he has not spent much time with his (adult) children or grandchildren (he has six, GC our DC and Dh's siblings' DC, ages 0-5, all live 60-90mins from him), seeing them 2/3 times a year at events.

DH and I have argued in the past because FIL occasionally expressed interest in having our eldest DC to stay overnight "when they are bigger" or taking one or both DC out in the daytime in his local area, by car. I said no (to DH, FIL never mentioned to me directly): they do not know him well, he is not used to caring for small children, and is an alcoholic so I have concerns about his ability to keep them safe; but that if FIL wanted to spend more time with them, we could visit/have him visit/do things together with the Dc etc.

I also didn't like that FIL spent little time with DH and rarely even had a conversation with me (he was very detached, having conversations with him was hard, unless he was drinking).

Since his partner became ill and died, FIL has wanted to spend much more time with his family, and is even changing one of the bedrooms in his house to one suitable for children (bunk beds etc). He has once again raised with DH the idea of the eldest GC (aged 4 and 5, our eldest and our DN) staying at his. The idea is that he would pick them up by car (90mins) and we would pick them up the next day. Or alternatively we'd visit him and he'd take both our DC (5 and 2) out alone.

I am still against this: he is sober, which is obviously good, but still seems detached (obviously he is feeling really sad due to the loss of his partner) and it is early days. I don't trust him yet. I have suggested continuing to spend time with him and just giving it some time.

DH thinks that I and was and am BU and is upset about the prospect of hurting his F's feelings. I think DH is way too protective over his father (for various reasons) and shouldn't put FIL's feelings over our children's safety or be so angry with me for my views/refusal to give FIL what he wants.

We discussed it last night. DH was angry and said that I would never relent, was overprotective of the DC, would always make excuses, and threatened to "play dirty" by not allowing my parents (who live far away but occasionally have DC for the day, eg when we go to a wedding, or babysit in the evening) to have the DC alone anymore. I told him that was a nasty thing to say. sad

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 08:26:26

My brother is a dry alcoholic (been dry 20 years now), he never had much to do with his own child - I had no qualms whatsoever about packing my three off with him when they were much younger and one is autistic.

I'm such a feckless parent!

the thing I never grasp in threads like this that the mother seems to think that children are her property and has the ultimate yay/nay in these situations. Surely your DH as co-parent can decide whether his father is fit to take the park for a while?

The idea is that he would pick them up by car (90mins) and we would pick them up the next day. Or alternatively we'd visit him and he'd take both our DC (5 and 2) out alone.

Why can't you take the latter option? Or if you are that uncomfortable, start having a few family days out with granddad and see how he gets on with the children?

I'd maybe not send the 2yo s they are hard work, but the 5yo is more than capable of expressing his needs to granddad.

Sirzy Sat 16-Mar-13 08:27:48

So your husband is happy with the ideas? I think it is wrong of you to just discount it altogether then. You are both parents so his views are as valid

Work with him to plan to go out for days together to give everyone the chance to get to know each other, don't rush things but don't discount it altogether.

RedHelenB Sat 16-Mar-13 08:29:55

If he isn't a danger then why not allow it? Worse case scenario is he's detached, kids get bored & start playing up & he doesn't want to do it again!!! Best case scenario is he does engage when he is on his own with them, they get a lovely Grandad & it helps him stay sober & gives him some purpose in life.

Yanbu. He has very little contact with you or your DCs at the moment - to go from this to a sleepover is too much too soon at this early stage in his recovery. He needs to earn your trust and that of your DCs so that you can all feel confident about him having them on his own. As you have said he is emotionally distant - I presume your parents aren't and are not alcoholics? If so your DH is making unreasonable comparisons. Your plan to spend more time together to build the relationship is absolutely the right one IMO.

mrsstewpot Sat 16-Mar-13 08:31:56

It has to be built up slowly - coming over to your place (i.e. your children's own territory) and caring for them an hour here and a couple of hours there, then doing the sane at Grandpa's house and then moving on to over-nighters.

Regardless of a person's past, alcoholic or not, you can't just pack up DC for an overnight stay out of the blue without them having spent much time together previously - that is madness!

Levantine Sat 16-Mar-13 08:32:04

Hw much time has he spent with them to date? I get the impression that the children don't know him very well, which would be my main issue. Could he spend more time with you as a family to get to know them better? Then you could see how you feel.

Levantine Sat 16-Mar-13 08:32:28

Cross post with mrsstewpot!

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Mar-13 08:33:12

How does your SIL feel about her child also being handed over? She might also be saying no, which if you can present a united front will scupper this plan.

Personally, I'd say no, he's not used to looking after small DCs, he doesn't sound like he had been hands on with DH so it's not like he's got that history of knowing what to do. how about a compromise, having him over more, perhaps work up to this - tell DH you'd start with maybe his Dad coming over one Saturday and you and DH going out for lunch together while FIL looks after the DCs, does lunch etc, has he been at your house for bedtime and know the routines etc?

I don't think you are acting like your DCs are your property, you are acting like your DCs are your responsibility, it's never acceptable to leave your DCs with someone you aren't 100% confident will be able to look after them safely just to make that other adult happy. DCs aren't toys to be shared out fairly, your FIL's feelings aren't really your concern, your DCs being safe is.

TheSecondComing Sat 16-Mar-13 08:36:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kalidanger Sat 16-Mar-13 08:36:19

I think it being 'early days', as you say, is quite right. FiL needs to develope a relationship with his DC and therefore his DGC, slowly and surely, before he gets to keep them overnight. I can imagine that he's feeling like he needs to scrabble to catch-up on this family since losing so much time due to not being engaged with them properly (for years?)

Does your DH understand this? That it has to be slow and sure and his relationship with his Dad needs to be rock solid before he can move on to the DCs? Scrabbling and fast-forwarding and forcing everything isn't the right thing, I don't think. But I might be wrong grin

StillStuck Sat 16-Mar-13 08:37:33

I think you should be doing all you can to encourage more contact with him, whilst moving at a speed that you feel comfortable with. So maybe the message to him needs to be that day trips /overnight stays sound like a great plan in time but you want him to see the children more frequently first and build up from there.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:37:50

I don't think the DC are my property hollyberry. We take decisions about parenting and childcare together, but on this issue we disagree.

I just don't trust FIL. For example, at playgrounds DC2 climbs high, runs off etc. FIL is generally distracted,unused to supervising toddlers, and a bad driver.

Redhelena, I want FiL to be OK, but don't think it's his GC's job to help him stay sober. And the worst case scenario is that one of the DC gets hurt.

Yes, I would be happy to spend more time with him as a family, and may feel differently in time.

Llareggub Sat 16-Mar-13 08:39:00

2 months is hardly anytime to be dry for. My exH is an alcoholic and will go a couple of weeks without drinking and then fall straight back in to his old ways. I would NEVER leave my DCs with him unless they were supervised by his parents. Alcoholics can be very selfish too. Their recovery tends to be all about what is best for them and not for others, which makes them very untrustworthy childcarers.

I think YANBU at all.

kalidanger Sat 16-Mar-13 08:39:52

You could suggest a time table to DH? You all spend every other weekend/once a month/whatever works to go out with/visit/lunch with FiL and by the summer holidays you'll all be friends, the DC will actually know who he is and you can all go on from there.

FiL needs to spend time in his grief and his sobriety and nothing can be rushed.

I think it is perfectly reasonable for you to visit your FIL and let him take the children out on his own for a while and is a great starting point.

I don't get why you think you get the final say in this?

PurplePidjin Sat 16-Mar-13 08:41:26

I wouldn't allow my dc to stay with a relative stranger, fil or not. However, i see no reason not to put a plan in place so he can take a more active role.

Something like, visiting you alternate Saturdays building from time with you and dp present to taking eldest to the park for an hour up to taking both to the park then both out for longer trips. Then perhaps they could stay in the summer as a "holiday" at grandads?

Ashoething Sat 16-Mar-13 08:42:23

He has been sober for 2 months?-hell no! Tell your dh to piss off. Your dcs hardly know him by the sound of it.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:42:58

Don'tmindifido, SIL and BIL used to agree with me. BIL said to his F that he couldn't babysit his DC due to his drinking. Not sure how they feel now.

Kalidanger, no, DH doesn't see it that way, he would've left the DC with his father even before.

fIL spent V little time spent with his DC or GC until last few months.

BlueberryHill Sat 16-Mar-13 08:44:14

Does the 5 yo want to go? I think that 2 yo is very young when there is no relationship there yet, it is a long time to be apart for the children and a long way away assuming that you do not stay. Agree with Sparkletastic and think that building a relationship is the way to go.

Holly, it sounds as though your brother had been drier for longer than the OPs FIL by the time you let them stay over. It has only been 2 months so far.

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Mar-13 08:45:47

then i think building up to it is a good plan, but realisitically, it's going to be at least 6 months probably more like a year before he's built a relationship and learned how to look after the DCs.

2 months is nothing compared to a lifetime of drinking, my uncle managed 6 months at one time, he's 20 years on from that and still drinking.

I think you need to talk to your DH about why it's so important to prove he sees his dad is fit, is it more that he wanted so much for his dad to be sober through his childhood? It must be hard for him not to just grab hold of this bit of hope that suddenly he's got a normal dad, but he doesn't, and you have to be the one to keep your DCs safe.

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Mar-13 08:47:13

oh and as to why she gets the final say - the parent who worries what the other one wants to do is unsafe gets the final say until the other parent can prove that it is safe.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:48:56

Drgoogle and thesecondcoming, I don't get the final say, and of course DH can veto my parents (or anyone else!) caring for the DC. But tit for tat isn't a nice way to go on, and nor can I just say yes when am responsible for them and have doubts.

Am not sure what our 5yo would think, suspect they wouldn't want to go away overnight but would be happy to be babysat for an evening/ on a daytime outing.

Emilythornesbff Sat 16-Mar-13 08:50:43

Fwiw I wouldn't let my 2 yo spend a whole day out with someone who wasn't used to super sing you g children. They just need 100% absolute feverish watching don't they?
Maybe days out all together or a day in with grandpa at his or your home while you go elsewhere? get him in training grin
it's nice that he wants to spend time with his grandchildren but it sounds like it needs a bit of leading up to IYSWIM.
I would try having a differently worded conversation with dh. You know, more positive.

kalidanger Sat 16-Mar-13 08:51:27

Can't you say "DH, I understand you're happy your DF is now sober and apparently willing and able to look after the DC but it's still early days. I have no doubt he'll continue in his recovery [whether you really believe this or not] and we will support him 100% but the DC don't even know him. Let's go slowly and hang out more and let him and the kids make friends before they stay over night. Of course your dad is t a stranger but they just don't know him very well"

That seems reasonable but if your DH just doesn't get it then I'm not sure wtf else you can do or say hmm

Emilythornesbff Sat 16-Mar-13 08:52:26

Oh, if it's about perceived risk then the more "protective" parent gets the casting vote. But coming to a compromise is better surely.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:53:51

fil was sober during his childrens' childhood, started drinking heavily after they had left home.

I have tried to be positive, eg "let's do x, y and z with FIL, let's visit him, he is always welcome here" etc. Dh keeps pushing things back to the unsupervised contact.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 08:55:19

Kalidanger, I have used almost those exact words!


Finallygotaroundtoit Sat 16-Mar-13 08:56:34

No chance!
DC don't know him - how terrifying for them to be packed off with a virtual stranger.

Why doesn't he want to spend time getting to know them with you present?

Also why is he an alcholic?

mrsstewpot Sat 16-Mar-13 08:56:34

It's not about getting the final say ffs!

OP shouldn't just hide her concerns and put her DC in a potentially dangerous situation so as not to challenge her DH! Jeeeeez!

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Mar-13 08:58:03

OK - if your DH won't compromise on getting your FIL to get to know the DCs, keep saying no, keep saying once your DCs have got to know him, it'll be different but you aren't sending them over night to a stranger.

raspberryroop Sat 16-Mar-13 09:00:02

Ideal- parenting decisions should be taken jointly
Reality - most women have a much better perception of potential dangers and also how their children will deal with a relative stranger.

MyFabulousBoys Sat 16-Mar-13 09:04:59

I cannot believe you are being told you are being unreasonable!!!! I totally agree with dontmindifido.

It is wholly unreasonable of your FIL and DH to think this is a good plan. I think your DH is in a tricky position. Has he had any counselling to deal with his father's alcoholism? Growing up with an alcoholic parent can be very damaging. FIL has been sober for such a short time - is he having any support? AA meetings for example?

This is nothing to do with you being over-protective or your parents vs DH'S . I am a very involved and much loved aunt and have two of my own and even so, we still took it slowly when I had my youngest niece to stay as we don't live near them and wanted her to enjoy her stays, not be anxious!

We have a history of addiction in our families. FWIW a close family member is an addict, been clean for 14 years, sober mainly for that time. I still veto them having our kids because they are a loon! Nothing to do with the addictions!

lottiegarbanzo Sat 16-Mar-13 09:06:26

I wouldn't send the DCs to stay with anyone they hardly know, certainly not someone who is not accustomed to looking after small children.

I would spend time with him, all together, so he becomes familiar with them, they him, allow increasing amounts of time with him as primary supervisor while you're there and see how it goes.

You both need to feel comfortable with any carer. There can be discussion and persuasion but neither of you can be forced to place them in a situation you believe to be dangerous (very reasonably in this instance but the same would be true even if you were over-cautious).

Your H is being petty, childish and extremely unpleasant about limiting your parents access. He's treating your children as a commodity.

Nanny0gg Sat 16-Mar-13 09:07:38

My DH is a similar age and spends lots of time with our DGC who adore the bones of him - they climb over me to get to him!
He is fairly young for his age and fit. And after a day with the DGC he is on his knees! And he isn't even on his own! And I'm not entirely sure if he'd hear them if they were distressed in the night.
I think the OP is right to be concerned, even with taking the 'recovering alcoholism' out of the equation.
He doesn't sound particularly interested in small children. They don't really know him, he doesn't really know them. Heck, the OP doesn't really know him! He was a disengaged parent.
He has litlle knowledge of small children.

Not a lot of positives there.

It strikes me that since the death of his partner he's had a bit of a 'wake up call'. This is all very lovely, but he's moving too fast without thinking of the consequences.

I think he needs to spend more time with the families, getting to know all of them well before he has them on his own.

How would the DCs feel about being sent to stay with someone they don't know very well anyway? My DGC would be most distressed.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 09:10:28

FIL was an engaged parent and only started drinking heavily / being detached once his DC were teens/adults. No, DH will not have counselling (have suggested it in the past).

lottiegarbanzo Sat 16-Mar-13 09:12:16

Fwiw I would not have two children I didn't know well to stay with me, for fear of what could happen and, more likely, that they'd be miserable or badly behaved and not respond to comfort or authority from me.

If a friend wanted me to babysit for children that age, I'd insist on my staying at their house, with their parents a phone call away. I'm probably more tuned in to children and capable than you FIL.

binger Sat 16-Mar-13 09:16:22

As a child of an alcoholic, with long periods of abstinence I would say no way, don't do it. The risk is too great and I speak from experience. Yes perhaps I'm unreasonable as my case was extreme but I personally just would not do it.

kalidanger Sat 16-Mar-13 09:17:17

Kalidanger, I have used almost those exact words!

What did he say in response?? He's not being reasonable. Going slowly is the only reasonable response, putting aside the 'final say' stuff, which I also think its reasonable of you to have in these circumstances hmm

diddl Sat 16-Mar-13 09:22:52

Why is husband so keen on the overnight?

For his own sake or his father's??

I agree that he doesn't know the children well enough yet.

For that matter-why is FIL suddenly so fussed about overnights??

Fanjounchained Sat 16-Mar-13 09:23:11

His alcoholism aside, he doesn't know the kids and has no experience of dealing with young children. That in itself would be enough for me to say "no, you are not taking responsibility of my children". Throw his alcoholism into the equation and it's a no brainer for me. Your DH is being completely unreasonable and very immature with his threats.

My brother is an alcoholic. He now works abroad and I believe that he has been dry for around 6 months now. I'm happy for him and wish him the best. But I wouldn't trust him with my goldfish let alone the 2 most precious things I have. I am perfectly aware that people think I'm over protective, judgemental and very unforgiving. But I can live with that.

cantreachmytoes Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:04

Am a bit shocked that so many people think OP is being U! Am wondering if there is either a misunderstanding about what being an alcoholic means or that it's just been missed.

Just because FIL has been widowed does NOT change the fact that he has an addiction/illness overnight! Sad, yes, made him reevaluate, quite possibly, but "cured" him? Certainly not. Yet. To keep away from alcohol is, I understand, a lifelong task for recovering alcoholics and definitely not an easy one. Many fail, many times. It's not long since his loss and as much as he, and OP's DH, might WISH to believe that he's put it all behind him already, it is not that simple (sadly).

Being an alcoholic doesn't mean just having a few too many at the weekend and there are a host of other traits that accompany it. If OP said her FIL has been addicted to soft drugs for years, but had been "clean" for two months, I wonder if the responses would have been the same.

There's nothing wrong with hoping this change is for the rest if his life, with giving him the benefit of the doubt about his drinking in the future etc, BUT that is not the same as packing her kids off to be alone unsupervised with him.

Being a grandparent isn't a right, it's a honour.

OP, I think you are DDDDNBU. I also don't think there is any harm in having him over alternate weekends etc, with you there. At least to start with. Then see how it goes. Baby steps, so everyone is happy.

Maybe you need to tell your OH that you also want your kids to have a relationship with FIL, with his side of the family, etc, you have no problem with that, but you don't want to put too much strain on FIL as he is in early grieving and not used to kids (don't mention the drinking, as it seems OH is touchy about that aspect and there's plenty else to go on without that) and the kids aren't used to him. You want your kids to have GOOD times with him and him with them. Maybe a "positive" spin would help?

If you had come on here saying "I left my DC with my recovering alcoholic FIL who was sober for two months but started drinking again without our knowledge and x accident happened to DC1" you would get roasted for being irresponsible. Two months, ESPECIALLY, after a loss isn't long at all. A good step forward, but not enough to mean it's definitely all in the past.

cantreachmytoes Sat 16-Mar-13 09:28:45

Aah, seemed the thread updated about 3hrs while I wrote ^...

WinkyWinkola Sat 16-Mar-13 09:32:11

It's nothing to do with owning children. What a weird comment. It's about responsible for them.

1. Your dcs don't know their grandfather. He is a stranger to them. I wouldn't let my dcs go anywhere with someone they barely know.

2. He's barely dry. It's not enough yet.

3. If he was an absent father then what clue does he have about children? What if the stress sets him off drinking again?

Being related by blood does not give you instant rights.

This grandfather would make to do an awful lot more effort before I would entrust my dcs, who are my responsibility - not owned by me - to him.

If he's really keen to get to know his gcs, then he should shake a leg a f make the effort to come and visit and accept you all visiting him. That way building up a relationship.

Going straight from nothing (because the gf won't remember much of his gcs before he was sober) to overnighters is frankly, crackers.

Op, you are responsible for them and I think your position of caution whilst encouraging the slow building of a relationship is the right one.

WinkyWinkola Sat 16-Mar-13 09:34:50

Bloody phone and my typos. Soz

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 09:46:18

Thanks everyone.

Tbf, FIL wasn't absent during his childrren's childhoods. But he has been distant/absent for the last 15-20 years and until recently.

I think DH is overly worried about his father's feelings. it is complicated. But I do still think HIBU.

TheElephantIsADaintyBird Sat 16-Mar-13 09:48:45

Yanbu. My views might be tainted as my mother is an alcoholic, but I would never leave a child with one. The thing about a lot of alcoholics is that they're selfish, they only think of themselves first. Not good with young kids around!

I'd say if he really wants more to do with them then he needs to get to know them first, and build up your trust in him. He can't just say he's cured after 2 months of not drinking.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 09:50:19

Diddl, the occasional overnight arrangement is one that FIL had with his parents and DH and siblings: FIL's parents didn't want to spend time with very small GC to visit but enjoyed having the older ones visit overnight (one at a time) sometimes, with regular family visits etc in between. They lived near each other. These visits were something DH enjoyed as a child, although suspect he was a few years older when he stayed at his GPs.

fIL has sometimes expressed the view that small children aren't very interesting/enjoyable but that he looks forward to getting to know them when they are toilet trained/well-behaved, can converse etc hmm.

maddening Sat 16-Mar-13 10:03:56

Yanbu - a.recovering addict is not the best person to have the dc because he feels like it.

I would say lot of visits where you stay over as a family would be more suitable.

Whether you feel more confident later is a different matter but 2 months in to recovery while dealing with bereavement is not it.

TheElephantIsADaintyBird Sat 16-Mar-13 10:18:41

So has your DH ever seen how your FIL would be around your kids? My first step would be a visit as a family, but take a step back and see how FIL copes with the children while you're there.
Your DH is going to have to compromise and I think having a few more family visits would be the place to start.

Floggingmolly Sat 16-Mar-13 10:55:04

Surely the worst case scenario is that he goes on a batter while in sole charge of the children?
8 weeks on the dry after a lifetime's alcoholism is nothing to build a happy ever after on.
I wouldn't let them stay over.

BlueberryHill Sat 16-Mar-13 11:10:49

It sounds as though your DH is pleased to get his father back after his alcoholism and doesn't want to do anything to upset him and stop that happening. I think pleased is probably underplaying it. However, that doesn't mean that your children are a pawn to be used to get that to happen, I think that is what is happening, from your DH point of view.

I agree with pp and the OP, she doesn't own the children, however she is responsible for them and the tit for tat comments made by your DH are childish and aimed at forcing you to allow the visits to happen and backing you into a corner. It isn't constructive at all, I think you are being sensible in wanting to build a relationship between your DC and FIL, and be happy that your children are safe first. Your DH needs to put his children first but I don't know how to make him see that.

TidyDancer Sat 16-Mar-13 11:14:45

How much time exactly has FIL spent around the DCs lately? I may have missed it, but i didnt see this in any of the posts.

If he's spent more time around them lately then I would start with short periods of time alone with him. Perhaps him babysitting in your house, then the next time taking them out for a short trip locally, etc. just building it up and seeing how it goes, IYSWIM.

Be honest though, are you stalling with the intention of never allowing unsupervised contact? That would be very unfair to DH to lie to him if that's the case.

puddock Sat 16-Mar-13 11:17:03

YADNBU. I would not leave my children (same age) in the sole care of their paternal grandad (distractable, short-tempered, doesn't know them well, unused to small children) overnight or invite him to take them out for more than a brief outing. And there's no alcoholism in the picture here - I just don't think it'd be appropriate, he can't take care of them properly.
Sounds like you're being very fair about your FIL gradually spending more time with your family, giving your DC the opportunity to get to know him better. It's not about what your FIL might want or need, it's about what's right for your children. I hope your DH's apologized for the "playing dirty" emotional blackmail - this isn't a game, it's not about your parents vs his parent, that's ridiculous.
It doesn't sound sexist or overprotective to me either. Either parent ought to have a veto when it comes to things like this.

diddl Sat 16-Mar-13 11:24:38

"fIL has sometimes expressed the view that small children aren't very interesting/enjoyable but that he looks forward to getting to know them when they are toilet trained/well-behaved, can converse etc"

So when they wouldn't be much work?

Well I wouldn't condemn him for that, as young children can be hard work-but I would suggest that they haven't reached that age yet!

Of course it's not all about him& what he wants, anyway.

Some 5yr olds just aren't ready for a night away or getting up in a strange house/different routine.

diddl Sat 16-Mar-13 11:26:47

Actually, I'd be unsure of him even taking them both out alone when you visit-couldn't he just take the 5yr old for starters??

RedHelenB Sat 16-Mar-13 11:37:40

BTW I WAS NOT suggesting your children be used to help keep him sober BUT it could be a side affect of having a good relationship with him.

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 11:41:01

2 months sobriety is nothing to an alcoholic. I'd be cautious.

digerd Sat 16-Mar-13 11:47:38

Your DC are too young to stay overnight with a 60 year-old alchaholic GD and same applies if a GM.
You DH is not thinking rationally at all.

RooneyMara Sat 16-Mar-13 11:50:57

Ok well much of it's been said I guess but imo you're being reasonable - it is not for your DH to use his small children to placate/cheer up his dad.

Why does it have to be overnight or alone??

I wouldn't send a 4/5yo to spend the night with anyone they didn't know really, really well. He will struggle to make them feel comfortable. they will be worried, what if they wake in the night - you barely know him, he is essentially pretty much a stranger to you, though your DH knows him - it's just a mental idea.

Your DH needs to think a bit more about what his children will feel being marched off to stay with an almost complete stranger who may also have some MH issues, if he is a long term alcoholic - and is in the middle of a bereavement too - and what on EARTH is your DH thinking?

All you can really do is say no and call his bluff regrarding his ridiculous threat about your parents. I'm sorry, it is a tough situation but very clear to me that you are right and he is wrong.

again - why does it have to be overnight or alone?

alcazar Sat 16-Mar-13 11:56:58

He is not suitable to look after your dc . Hell No YADNBU!! All the people who are saying you are unreasonable, would you leave your child with an alcoholic? Because he has given up for 2 months, that is baby steps in recovery terms. My DF has been alcohol free for years now. He looks after the dc, no issues, but when he was drinking or in one of his many lapses, absolutely no way. When we were young his addiction put us in danger more than once, my DM thought he was in a "sober" phase, he wasnt. Dont do it op, its not worth the risk, he needs much longer and contact and trust built up.

TheSeniorWrangler Sat 16-Mar-13 12:04:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pandemoniaa Sat 16-Mar-13 12:47:00

I'm never sure why very small children must stay the night unaccompanied anywhere, tbh. It's surely something that occurs as and when appropriate and most importantly, when the children want to stay overnight.

I don't necessarily think your FIL will be an unsuitable person to see your dcs unaccompanied but 2 months into sobriety is almost certainly too early to start this pattern of visiting. But I'd say that of anyone who didn't really know the children. Regardless of whether they were an alcoholic. Small steps are the way to go. As for your DH, he's being totally U and not acting in the interests of his own dcs if he wants to play the emotional blackmail card. Why should their other grandparents be denied of their company (and of course the dcs similarly) simply because you are uneasy about leaving them with their paternal grandparent for very good reasons?

There's really no need for this to be all or nothing. But right now, overnight visits aren't necessary.

WinkyWinkola Sat 16-Mar-13 12:52:04

Op, how have your parents been with your dcs? Interested? involved? Responsible?

If so, then it's unfair of your dh to penalise them because of his own father's failings.

Vicky2011 Sat 16-Mar-13 13:22:49

Astounded by some of these responses...I can only assume that most of the people saying the OP is being unreasonable have no idea whatsoever about alcoholism. He's been dry for 8 weeks FFS - absolutely nothing... and his son is saying he should be left alone with 2 young children.

<shakes head>

Mumsyblouse Sat 16-Mar-13 13:46:23

I let my two stay with their grandparents overnight (who weren't local) when they were about 5 and 7 and that was quite early enough! A two year old won't like being left with someone they hardly know, let alone someone who may not be that great with children. Little children sometimes cry, have tantrums, have accidents/need their nappies changing, don't like what you have cooked for them, or cry for mummy/daddy. I don't think he would be capable at any level of care at this stage.

And life isn't fair. My MIL has never had the children to stay when they were little as she has mobility issues, so couldn't chase after the children (and one of mine ran away a lot). Sad but they had lots of visits instead.

Unsupervised nights away for children are only for people you literally trust with your life.

x2boys Sat 16-Mar-13 13:47:43

I would nt rule it out at a later date but two months sober is nt a long time and he could well relapse if he is still sober in six to twelve months reassess the situation?

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 13:56:20

Yanbu. 2 months dry is nothing at all, I wouldn't be happy with this either.

If FIL wants to spend time with his grandchildren, why not build up time gradually?

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 14:25:55

Thanks very much for all the views thanks

tidydancer I take your point about stalling, it is difficult to know how I'll feel in time, I do really want things to improve and am hopeful (for DH's sake especially), but unconvinced.

In the last couple of months we have seen FIL three times, he has made a big effort each time, and even visited BIL/SIL and us (first time in a long time) and arrived at a time to enable him to have tea with the DC, so the signs are good. Also seeing him at easter BIL/SIL's.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 14:28:21

I don't think DH would actually seek to reduce DCs' contacts with my parents (yes winky, they have been involved, spent lots of time with DC etc), think he just said it because he was upset and angry.

Chandon Sat 16-Mar-13 14:38:57


My mum did not want to hurt her MIL feelings, so she sent my DB and me to stay with her.

She had no clue about kids. We slept in the bunk bed under balnkets ( no pillow or sheet), we werre not given a towel or tokd/asked to wash or brush our teeth.

Breakfast consisted of a digestive and a few cups of tea.

We watched telly all day, no lunch forthcoming, Gran just smoked and stared onto the distance and ate chocolates.

We were given a sausage roll at night, and that was that.

She had never been a great mum to my dad, and really did not even know the basics of how to look after someone.

We tried our best never to have to return without being rude. We never told our mum, but I think she guessed ( partly from how hungry and dirty we were when we came home)

TidyDancer Sat 16-Mar-13 15:17:58

I don't know if you mean it, but you do sound as though you feel you have the deciding vote on what happens, which isn't fair.

At the moment I agree that overnight contact is not the right thing to do, but there may come a point where it is appropriate and DH feels that it is.

You were very clever in answering my question about stalling. (wink) It really seems you have no intention of ever letting this happen. That's not really a judgement on you, I can understand the cynicism, but to lie about potentially agreeing in the future is wrong and unfair.

ukatlast Sat 16-Mar-13 15:27:06

QUOTE Graveyard 'I just don't trust FIL. For example, at playgrounds DC2 climbs high, runs off etc. FIL is generally distracted,unused to supervising toddlers, and a bad driver.'

Of course YANBU. Just on bad driver disqualifies him in my eyes!
Grandparents can have access in the presence of the parents, they don't need sole access - especially not when grieving and only dry for 2 months alcoholics.

I do not get the politically correct nonsense often spouted on here about kids being the equal property of various extended family members. Most kids have main carers(Mum usually) and they are best placed to make judgements about what constitutes safe care.
Your OH is being unreasonable as he is letting his 'love' for his father (/ his own desperation for some time alone with you lol) cloud his judgement over what is likely safe for your kids.
If he had reasons to feel the kids were unsafe in your parents' care (eg scary dangerous dog who they dote over - sorry couldn't resist), then fair enough but he doesn't, it is just a spiteful remark made because you have put your foot down.

No-one should ever leave their kids overnight with someone they do not 100% trust/whose driving they do not trust etc etc /whose house is not safe enough etc etc .....lots of reasons to not want to leave your kids. My kids never got left overnight at that age.
Also if your FIL is over 60 he is likely not physically up to sole charge of a 2 year old and 5 year old for many hours and the kids don't know him well enough as others have said. The 5 year old especially has got to want to stay with Grandad even for just going to the park - you are unlikely to force him if he says he wants you to tag along as well. Kids cannot be forced to love Grandparents, they either do like them or they don't based on how they have been treated.

Inertia Sat 16-Mar-13 15:27:16

Am aghast at your DH's comment about "playing dirty."

You're concerned about the welfare of your children, and your husband is openly planning to use the children to spite you?

Nobody will be happy if the children go to stay with FIL while they are all strangers. I think the way forward is to visit FIL as a family, and go out all together, and build up the relationship at an appropriate pace. Why is it so important to DH and FIL that he has the children alone from the outset?

Goodadvice1980 Sat 16-Mar-13 15:28:03

OP, you are not being unreasonable.

I have two relatives with alcohol abuse problems and even when they have "moments of soberity" I would not trust them with the welfare of a goldfish, let alone a child.

And your "D"H is a complete and utter prick for threatening to "play dirty" with your folks time with the GC.

ukatlast Sat 16-Mar-13 15:32:56

Tidydancer she has the 'deciding vote' because she physically gave birth to them and therefore is likely motivated by their best interest.
She is the one who gets to grieve if the worst comes to the worst as a result of FIL's driving/drinking....whatever...

as someone else said kids are not toys to be shared and put down and picked up by all and sundry.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Catchingmockingbirds Sat 16-Mar-13 15:56:05

Yanbu, 2 months is nothing. We have the same issue here, mil's husband died and she hit the bottle really hard (although she's always been an alcoholic). She has now also been sober for about 2 months after drinking so much that she put herself in hospital for 7 weeks and almost died (the reason for her eventually quitting the drink). She will definitely not be babysitting our dc, infact DP is pretty insistent that she won't ever be babysitting as he'll never fully be able to trust her.

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Mar-13 16:14:35

BTW - if your DH does say the choice is your DCs see FIL or you reduce contact with your parents, reduce contact with your parents, loudly call them when he's in the room telling them why, including that you aren't convinced that FIL has been dry long enough to be considered perminately sober, your DCs hardly know him but your DH won't compromise on some days with FIL at your house or days out with you there to get to know them etc. It's petty, but realising how it sounds might knock some sense in him...

TidyDancer Sat 16-Mar-13 16:24:50

Ukatlast - don't be daft. Your post suggest that the OP's DH is not an equal parent and (if I read it right) that he wouldn't grieve as much if the DCs were hurt.

I can't even begin to explain just how ridiculous that concept is.

digerd Sat 16-Mar-13 16:39:13

I repeat that your DH is being totally irrational and not thinking of the welfare of his DCs.
If his main motive is the thought of a night of unlimited passion with you < at last>, then you can nip that thought in the bud, by telling him how worried you would be all night about the young DCs and would have to take a knock-out sleeping pill. < and wouldn't be. in the mood during the day either>

Fanjounchained Sat 16-Mar-13 17:05:31

Could your FIL not come and stay at yours for a night ? If his real priority is spending time with his grandchildren then when and where he sees them should be irrelevant. They'd be happy and settled in their own familiar enviroment and your mind would be at ease that they would not come to any harm.

MagicHouse Sat 16-Mar-13 17:17:21

Could your FIL not come and stay at yours for a night ? If his real priority is spending time with his grandchildren then when and where he sees them should be irrelevant

I so agree with this. I agree YANBU, he needs to get to know the children first and build up time with them, with you there. He can build up to small outings to the park etc once he feels more confident, and once you and your DH are confident they are safe with him. Two months from a bereavement is still such an emotionally difficult time, let alone with recovering alcoholism thrown in. Two months after my dad died I was still prone to sudden crying spells that came from no-where. I think you all need way more time before he has the enormous responsibilty of overnight stays.

Sally40000 Sat 16-Mar-13 22:19:37

I often look after my grandson in the day, quite often for the whole day while parents at work, he has made it quite clear he doesnt really like to stay the night, however much he likes coming here = which is a lot. He likes to get back to mum and dad in the evening. Its about what the children want in my book not the grandparents. YANBU - this doesnt really sound ok, need to put the children first here.

If he wants to build a relationship with his gc and family he should be happy to come over and do park, tea shop, feeding ducks, Easter egg hunt whatever, and have gc over to visit for meals and fun, not leaping into overnights. GC are not grief therapy or alcohol distraction tools, and OP is NBU at all. Her DH is BU though, and what he said, even is said in heat of moment in grief is disturbing.

Princessdeb Sun 17-Mar-13 00:55:57

Dear Graveyard,

I think you are absolutely right to be worried about your FIL having sole responsibility for your DC's. 2 months is no time at all in recovery and relapse is common. While I appreciate your DH want's to improve your DC's relationship with their Grandad this cannot be rushed. Your FIL needs to demonstrate to you that he can be trusted with his grandchildren and it is absolutely reasonable that you set the parameters for this. Some time spent together as a family on familiar territory will help your DC's get to know their Grandad, your FIL begin to understand what caring for young children involves, you to begin to trust him and your DH may be able to begin repairing the damage caused in his own relationship with his Father. Have you thought of contacting Al anon for advice? This is a charity that provides advice and support to family of alcoholics. You may find them helpful.

At the end of the day if you are not convinced if your children will be safe whether physically or emotionally (due to is apparent emotional disengagement) you should not be pressured into them having more contact than you are comfortable with.

aldiwhore Sun 17-Mar-13 01:06:29

If you're unsure in any way then it's your right to be as U as you see fit.

Therefore YANBU to suddenly be expected to pack off the children for overnight stays after only two months of sobriety... YANBU.

YABU to not even try to find compromise. Your FIL has lost his partner, he's sober, he probably is desparate to make amends, to find peace, to be a better person, THE person he probably wishes he could have been to your DH. If you stop that, not only are YABU you are being heartless and cold.

However, there always ALWAYS is a middle ground. Softly softly. Baby steps. You invite him over more, Sunday lunch is always good. Get him involved in a fleeting, temporary routine. Then perhaps have days out together, all of you, visit him, see how your kids are, how his house is set up for them... after about 6 months of this and sobriety THEN you can naturally and organically start overnight visits. Surely?

YWBU to think "hey he's sober, lets drop the kids off and go to Monaco for the weekend" but equally YWBU to not start setting in motion a gentle process that may well mean that one day you CAN do that.

Losing someone you love often is a huge wake up call and regardless of that, I am huge believer in when someone wakes up, loved ones should be there to give them hope. You have that power. I totally understand your reservations, but start upping contact (supervised if you wish) and give him hope, give him a chance, and see if he grasps it or fucks it up. That way you can never be accused of being the bad guy.

Bridgetbidet Sun 17-Mar-13 01:22:34

YANBU. I have had problems with booze in the past and it does seriously affect you mentally. You have problems remembering things, problems with controlling emotions, problems with dealing with situations.

I know a lot of recovering alcoholics who are fabulous with kids and I would let mine spend loads of time with (including myself).

But two months is just two soon, the recovery is too fragile, his mental state won't be sufficiently stable and recovered.

Some people on this thread are being terribly politically correct and telling you that you must do it. I don't believe that they have much real experience of alcoholism and how alcohol affects your mental state - not only when you are drunk, but the rest of the time too.

For both your children's sakes and his sake please don't do it. It's too soon.

Tell your husband that he can do it in the future but not yet.

Bridgetbidet Sun 17-Mar-13 01:29:08

Just to clarify OP. Other posters may not understand but when you drink to alcoholic levels it's not a matter of simply stopping, having a hangover then feeling normal.

When you are drinking to alcoholic levels you won't feel physically or mentally normal after days, or weeks. A lot of damage will have been done on a physical and mental level which takes a long time to heal.

I think the people who are saying 'just let him' don't really realize the level of that damage and think that two months later he will be fine. But he won't. I suffered severe levels of forgetfulness and intense emotions for a long time after stopping. Also depression and sometimes thoughts that weren't really in touch with reality for a long time.

Graveyard Sun 17-Mar-13 06:54:50

Aldi, I have said throughout that I will help FIL to spend more time with us all. Will try to support him etc. admit that am uncomfortable with the GC (rather than his own - lovely - adult children or family as a whole) being the focus of the kind of hope you mention.

Can recognise FIL in bridget and others' descriptions of the impact of alcoholism on mental, physical health etc. He has a lot on his plate right now.

Tidydancer, I haven't lied to DH, and don't have an agenda to prevent unsupervised contact in the long-term, but it is early days.

Graveyard Sun 17-Mar-13 06:57:24

Thanks princess, I have actually directed DH to al-anon in the past, but he has never contacted them as far as I know, will mention them again.

LittleBairn Sun 17-Mar-13 07:16:13

As someone who has/had alcoholic grandparents (fairly young and like to have grandchildren and great grandchildren) I would say NO for the time being.

2 months is not long enough in my opinion for someone who has been a life long alcoholic I would be waiting at least a year.
In the main time I would expect my FIL to build a relationship with his GC seeing them regularly. It's quite a turn around to go from seeing someone a few times a year to over night visits I would want to make sure he is committed to being an active part of his DC life, not just a whim because he feels lonely.

I have little sympathy for lonely alcoholics, it's usually their selfish alchol dependent behaviour over many years that creates the loneliness they can't just pretend it didn't happen they need to work hard at reconnecting with family.

LittleBairn Sun 17-Mar-13 07:17:54

Personally I'm very very wary of Al-anon the one my mum was connected to was very cultish.

WinkyWinkola Sun 17-Mar-13 08:06:01

The fil should also be seeking to establish non drunk relationships with the rest of his family, not just the gcs.

AThingInYourLife Sun 17-Mar-13 08:21:20

Your husband seems to think his children are playthings to be doled out to mollify some people and to punish others.

I would be really disturbed at his priorities here.

Bestowing a 5 year old on an alcoholic stranger as a favour is not good parenting.

Graveyard Tue 16-Apr-13 20:24:50

An update, as the situation is still difficult. We have seen FIL a few more times, for a family gathering over easter, once at ours for a thing at school, and another weekend at his. All went fine, he says he is still sober, and seems it, although there was a small amount of alcohol in the house (wine and beer, for guests) and he says he plans to have champagne when he scatters his partner's ashes (no date planned).

He spent time with DH and made an effort with the DC. One scary incident, we were all out together, he pushed DC2's pushchair out into a busy road, not right into the traffic but way too far out IYSWIM. He has also recently had a car accident (his fault) and is replacing the car with a sporty one.

He recently had DN (age 4) to stay at his overnight (BIL and SIL have obviously agreed to this) and is now asking if DN and DC1 can stay at his together "for a night or a few days" in the summer holidays. confused

he first mentioned a few times that he plans to buy bunkbeds for his spare room. Then he brought up the direct request with DH (I don't know what DH said) in the evening once I'd gone to bed, then with me the next morning when we were alone. I said that I hoped we'd all spend time with him in the summer, but didn't think that i would be happy for DC1 to do that at this time, then we both let it drop.

Not yet discussed with DH (who has since been very busy at work and not home much). Am worried we will fall out over it, again. But still haven't changed my mind, I would never forgive FIL, DH or myself if I did and something went wrong.

Graveyard Tue 16-Apr-13 20:29:53

Littlebairn, he isn't a lifelong alcoholic, maybe for around 15-20 years? Still a long time!

Athinginyourlife, I hear what you're saying, DH has a blind spot when it comes to his father, despite the way FIL has behaved over a long period of time DH is weirdly overprotective of him. He just wants everything to be OK and think the best of him. And has lost sight of the risks to the DC.

AnyoneforTurps Tue 16-Apr-13 21:38:15

YANBU but I have some sympathy for your DH. He has been through the pain of seeing his DF in the grip of alcoholism for 15+ years. He has probably dreamt of the day that his DF cared about something other than booze. Now that day is finally here and his DF wants to get involved with the grandchildren. It will be very difficult for your DH to say no.

Surely you can agree that letting your DC stay with their grandfather is an aspiration, but you need to take it gradually for everyone's sake? No elderly man should be exposed to a 2 year old for 24h hours if he has never looked after a toddler by himself smile. As others have said, get him to stay with you initially and (provided you are happy that he is learning how to cope), build up to letting him care for them for a few hours while you go out. Eventually he can have them overnight but not yet. But you have to convey to your DH that you are not rejecting his father; that your concerns are practical and that you will support his DF becoming more involved with the gc.

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