Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Family Problems - Part 1(27 Posts)
Hello, This story is very specific, so if you know me, please don’t out me – I’m desperate.
There are several issues here – don’t know whether to break them all down or not – but basically – the culmination of all of these problems is leaving me spiralling into depression.
I am married with two boys. Marriage fine, kids fine.
Problem 1 – My husband’s sister was killed many years ago – she had a baby daughter who went to live with her grandparents (my in-laws). We thought this was the very best decision for her at the time. We have always played a very active role in her care – taking her on holidays and day trips as one of our own. Now, my mother in-law is terminally ill and we are taking a much bigger role in her care. My problem is although she is being well cared for on a normal basis, the personal care details are being overlooked. Her hair is often unwashed – which I have broached with her, but it’s not getting through. I have taken her to buy bras as she now needs them, but often doesn’t wear them, when she needs to. Her dress is often inappropriate – not only for her age, but for weather conditions etc… I am losing sleep over this and don’t know what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. In fact – this is so long – I am going to post the other half of my problem in a separate post. Thanks in advance. I’m fragile – please be nice.
This is related to:
Is it a possibility for her to go and live with you on a permanent basis? When your MIL passes away, what are the care arrangements in place for her? She sounds like she needs to be taken under someones wing, and you sound lovely and caring. Personal care is taking a back seat as I found in my own family when someone was older these things were not a priority, which of course leads to the younger person perhaps having a hard time at school etc. How old is your niece? Do you have daughters her age? Does she get to mix with others her own age outside of a school setting?
We would love to have her on a permanent basis, but her grandparents won't let her go. She has her won bedroom at our house as I have two boys. She is 11.5, my boys are 13 and 8.
Since this summer she has finally started mixing with girls her own age, because of my insistence - so I'm happy with that side of her life.
I have nieces her age who all mix frequently.
When my MIL passes she will continue to live with my FIL. She comes to us when they are both gone.
She has become very clingy to me and always talks about the future as part of our family, which is lovely, but my PIL soon put a stop to all that.
Yesterday she asked 'What are we doing for Christmas this year?'. My husband quickly jumped in saying we would be at my mums (we alternate every year). Because he knows if we invited her/made arrangements they would be stopped by my PIL and I would be devastated.
Her question has been running round in my head all night and I haven't slept.
She's old enough to decide for herself. You can ask SS to assess the situation. Unfortunately the family won't be happy. Sounds like a no brainier tbh.
She's had an awful lot of change and trauma. Adolescence could be very tricky. I would think that if she was to move it should be before that hits. Could your FIL cope?
Btw, where's her father in all this?
SS have been heavily involved in the past as her father murdered her mother - so he is in prison (although we will be dealing with his parole soon).
I think she is torn between the two to be fair. She loves the 'normal' family life with us, but I think she feels unable to confront FIL. If she does make a plan that involves her staying with us which PIL haven't arranged directly they phone to cancel - blatantly lying about the reason why she can't stay.
FIL can manage the house/cooking/cleaning etc..
I do clothes shopping ( particularly underwear) / homework and general chats about personal care / hygiene.
I have discretely left all types of sanitary items in the bathroom which I know she has been looking at, but she hasn't started her periods yet ( I think we're a little way off of that). But undoubtedly I will have to deal with that too.
She is old enough to decide were she wants to live. I think she will need to be with you and your family very soon because when her grandmother dies it will be horrendous for her and your father in law may not be able to cope and seeing as you say she's not really being looked after now it's better to move her now before she gets stuck into studying for her GCSE's. I would involve social services too and try and explain to the in laws that she needs to be with you as it's for the best. It must be horrendous living there knowing that your grandmother is so ill and if you can change it for the better than you should. The in laws have done brilliantly but they need a rest too.
How far away do PIL live from you? It sounds like they are perhaps viewing her as a "replacement"daughter forwant a better word rather than a grandchild especially as FIL doesn't want her to leave and with cancelled plans.
Imo it sounds like she would be better with you full time. The personal care / hair washing etc is a big part of life so although you say she is being well cared for, that's really only because you are filling in the gaps.
I'd perhaps try to get DH to speak to PIL and if not then raise ir with SS as where she wants to live instead. This is assuming of course that they are reasonable and not likely to cut contact completely. That would raise other issues I guess.
I'm sorry this is on your plate. The whole thing sounds very difficult with lots of things going on.
What's your DH's relationship like with his parents?
PIL live about 1/4 of a mile away - only a 5 minute walk.
DH relationship with his parents is very good. They helped us buy our house so we were so close to them and so that my DS's and DN were at the same school. But they just simply ignore anything to do with her living with us 'because they will be lonely'. It always seems to be about their feelings and not hers.
It not a good environment for her to be in - things are getting worse and obviously the situation won't improve.
who are regisered as her official guardians?
jsut her graqndparents? do you or your h have any recognized role formally? eg special guadianship?
does the child express wish to live with you (full time or more) ? has it been made clear that if she does move to lvie with you she would still visit with grandfather? what kind of arrangement might tehre be or that? has that been rpesented to FIL eg - she will live with us school nights and alternate weekends as better for school bla bla bla but would spend every other weekend with you etcetc
what do her school/teachers say?
is she getting any pre-bereavement counselling to cope with dying grandmother? would FIL be open to her getting some kind of support with that - which could then lead into the bigger picture? so the child gets a chance for her views to be taken into account?
Sounds very emotionally stressful.
What does your DH feel about your niece's welfare. It may be the case that in order to do the right thing for your niece it is inevitable that your DPILs need to be upset. I can understand how awful a prospect that seems under the circumstances, but it seems to me that this child needs someone who isn't afraid to stand up and take control of the situation, and it seems fairly obvious that the best place for her to be right now is with you. That doesn't mean cutting off the relationship with her GPs.
I really feel for you. There are no easy answers.
Yes, she needs to live with you. And it would probably be better all round if she could move before MIL passes away - I think being stuck with FIL by herself in the aftermath of MIL's death and possibly being used as an emotional prop by him would not be healthy for her. And it will only get harder to move her then because everyone will feel bad about leaving him living on his own.
If PIL will not discuss it with you and DH you don't have any other option than to involve SS. You need to tell them that personal care is only happening because you are doing it and that FIL probably won't cope with it on his own. How old is he? Is your DH in agreement with you that she should come to you now?
The thing about only just starting to mix with girls her age is odd - why on earth wasn't she doing that? It sounds really unusual given that she is 11. Why did you have to insist?
You also need to think about how being bereaved of a female carer is going to affect her given the circumstances of your SIL's death - some counselling might help. If PIL haven't thought of that that is another thing you could point out to SS.
Thanks for the advice - no, there is no easy answer and I like things black and white. I struggle emotionally when there's not a clear solution.
There is no question of her ever not seeing GPs - we see them on a daily basis - so she and they know that this would never change.
DN says she wants to be with us, but when we mention the subject in front of FIL she denies ever saying it. I can't make out if she is attention seeking from me or genuinely too scared to say in case she hurts his feelings.
Due to MIL's treatment, she was staying with us Fri/Sat/Sun going home on a Sunday night. MIL sleeps about 18 hrs. per day, so there is no quality to be had by DN being at home. They cannot go out, so she is stuck at home with her Granddad, hence we try and take her out with us whenever they allow.
This weekend she just came on Friday after school to do her homework, then she stayed Saturday night and all day Sunday. MIL started treatment again on Friday, so is very poorly again.
DH feels very stuck in the middle - he thinks she would be better with us but feels that DN manipulates the situation to her advantage - playing one off against the other to get the best of both worlds. He is angry because he knows I am struggling emotionally with this behaviour from DN.
No pre bereavement counselling - with I have questioned several times and have been ignored. I find this strange as I remember my DS1 having it for my DDad and DS1 was only 3 !
She has just started senior school in Sept and don't think they are aware of home life - feel its not my place to talk to school.
FairPhyllis - I agree with you entirely. I am seeing my GP next week ( who is the whole family's GP) think I will speak to him about it.
MIL made her play tennis - four evenings a week and all day Saturday and Sunday - as soon as MIL became ill DN finally said that she hated tennis and wasn't going any more. MIL as always used DN as a surrogate for the DD she lost - I have often raised this, but as she is not 'harming' her - no one will help.
As soon as she gave up tennis I started organising play dates with her school friends / held a birthday party for her etc..
No, I don't think FIL will cope after MIL dies and agree that now is the best time for her to come to us. It's just getting them to agree it!
They are legal guardians and we do not become legal guardians until both PILs die.
I think you need some sort of external person whom your niece trusts to talk to her - social worker, counsellor, someone like that.
I can't tell whether she is genuinely ambivalent about where she lives, or doesn't want to live with your PIL at all but is scared of saying so. It is not possible for you or your PIL to find out because she is afraid of hurting someone's feelings. She is too young to have to manage that, it is really hard to tell the truth as an adult to someone who doesn't want to hear it and she is very young.
there are two issues:
1 - what needs to happen is what is best for her. This is not even necessarily what she wants though that does have a bearing on it. It is certainly not about which adults need her company more, though you know that.
2 - she needs someone who is not directly in the situation to talk to, otherwise it's all "tug of love" and that is impossible. I think you can take steps to arrange that for her, maybe ask the school if she can see a counsellor, or ask her social worker to arrange something.
then she will be better placed to express what she actually wants; however it may be that this should be over-ridden because hygiene is not a trivial matter, can lead to serious social problems, and if this is not being looked after by her grandparents they are not suitable guardians
Oh sorry forgot to say: I don't think it can be fair to say she manipulates the situation. I think that is a very unfair word to use about someone who is very young and is having all sorts of stuff projected onto her.
I think talking to your GP is a good start. You need a professional, probably a social worker, to help you as a family decide if the current arrangements are still working, and to do that sensitively, without fracturing relationships. It's unrealistic to place the burden of deciding solely on an 11 year old's shoulders, so your DH is being a bit unreasonable to feel she is being manipulative.
Tennis almost every day? WTF?
You need to make it clear to whoever ends up mediating that you are the one is now doing: 1. personal care 2. looking after social development 3. thinking about emotional needs like counselling. PIL obviously have a lot on their plate atm but it's not OK to let this stuff slide, or to put their emotional wants over her needs.
i would push for her getting exernal help eg counsellor, sell it to FIL on guise of preparing for Granmother's death.
is important just for that anyway.
FIL should also but tht is up to him - but you and DH can push for FIL to accpt that having lost her mother and father (efectively) dn is owlosing another key figure - so she DOES need some support with this.
so it could be thru the charity related to GP's illness etc. or a hospice or via GP.
that way she has someone external outside the situiton to talk to and over next few months can be helped to deicde what she want and who she is responsible for (ie herself - not for happiness of Grandfather etc)
Yes, I think I will start with my GP next week. She no longer has contact with her original social workers as far as I know. PIL's tend to keep very guarded about these things. It's very odd.
As to the manipulative comment, yes it was a bit strong. What I meant was, she will weigh one offer against the other - she will often say we have offered to take her somewhere and gets GD to make a 'better offer'.
Also to clarify, we never put pressure on her to stay here - we have always maintained that she has a room here and if she needs to use it, she doesn't need to ask us if it's OK, but she must tell GD what she's doing.
The bottom line is - all I want is for her to be supported through this and for her to be in the best place possible for her and I hope someone out there can help me achieve this.
You are so lucky she has you, you are doing a great job.
Thank you. I hope so.
Just an update...
Got nowhere with the GP this morning. He said unless there is significant neglect they cannot intervene. Offered me AD's to cope!
Glad I came on here - at least your advice was more productive !
Thanks for all your replies!
Hi I really feel for you all what a terrible situation you are in. Some practical advice would be to broach with FIL about a winter wardrobe for DN and as MIL is not well enough you'll do this. Get clothes that all go with each other so they can't be mismatched. Pack up all the summer clothes and put them in a vacuum bag and put them out of the way.
What about treating DN to a pampering session. You could get her hair done or both sit and have a girlie pamper. Do her hair for her or go to a hairdresser and get something fancy done like a funky plait etc. You can't control the full situation but you could show her a few techniques in grooming. She is so lucky to have such a wonderful caring person in her life.
Join the discussion
Please login first.