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Really need some advice about ds and dp

(82 Posts)
primrose22 Thu 02-Jan-14 16:31:12

My ds got very upset yesterday, he tends to be a 'bottle it up' type but he opened up to me last night and I am now so torn sad He said that he 'sort of' doesn't want dp to live with us anymore, which I presume is him trying to minimise the fact he doesn't want him here at all?
Dp isn't his df but has been in his life since he was 3, he is now 9. They are very close and my ds is spontaneously cuddly with dp and will often choose to spend time with dp over anyone else. Confusingly he often asks why we aren't married!
Now, my dp has type 1 diabetes and when he is out of balance is very unrecognisable and gets very irrational, angry and at times (for a few hrs) extremely hard to live with. Ds admitted he is scared when he's like this and worries about it happening. Both of us hate the dcs seeing him like this and always talk openly after it happens and try and reassure them. Dp is trying very hard to keep his blood level and has a drs appt tomorrow to ask for extra help. When he is in balance, he is a loving, kind and incredibly supportive dp and step father and he is devastated about the way ds feels.
What on earth do I do? Nothing is more important to me than my dcs happiness but both myself and dd would hate dp to leave and I honestly think ds would be devastated too. Dp is determined to do whatever is best for the dcs and although he is hiding it from the children he is distraught about it all.
Thank-you for getting this far, any advice very very welcome.

Aussiemum78 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:20:02

I have a diabetic friend and have seen her irrational moods when her levels aren't right...pp it really is a thing!

She got a pump, and levels are much better. I think it's more responsive, quicker to correct tiny variations in levels.

aaaaaaa Thu 02-Jan-14 19:20:59

Ah ok

Thetallesttower Thu 02-Jan-14 19:23:01

Illness of any time can bring out the worst in people, my husband had a pain related condition a year or two ago and he was horrible, just horrible. I had to tell him to stop it because I couldn't live like that. He has changed his medication and is back to his usual self.

It is such a shame your son is so upset, but very good he can talk with you and that this has turned into an open discussion about how best to manage his condition rather than some hidden resentment. I don't think a 9 year old having a say in whether your partner lives with you is a good idea- one of mine went off their dad for a bit recently, feeling neglected and probably would have said dismissive things, but this stemmed from anger and frustration, and the worst thing would have been for him to move out. A bit different as he is their bio-father, but I think the 9 year old can't make that decision, only you can decide if this is all too much for you as a whole family and perhaps ask your partner to move out for a while til he gets sorted (although I certainly didn't ask my husband to move out).

I agree with going to the drs, and if there is no joy there, go private. I know the NHS should do xyz, but if we had waited for the NHS my husband would still be in pain and grumpy and turning nasty. I would pay to see a consultant, a really excellent one who specialises in diabetes care and if they recommend the pump, go for it. You can also dip in and out of the private/NHS system, that may be an other option.

I would talk more with your son- perhaps he can see the improvement in the last two months? Are there specific incidents in the past that really scared him? Keeping talking is crucial here, even though things may be said which are upsetting.

primrose22 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:23:48

The anger really only comes with being out of balance, so when he's really on top of his diabetes (eg on holidays or lazy days) it really is not a case of him managing his anger. He is generally laid back, patient etc and only grumpy after a bad day but never angry. My 2 dcs are wonderful but trying at times (dd is 13!) and its always me who blows my top with them not dp. He does always take himself off to our bedroom when its really bad.

tethersend Thu 02-Jan-14 19:24:45

Having seen the moods poorly managed diabetes can induce, I think you need to be very clear at the doctors that if the current situation continues, it will break up the family.

His condition is impacting negatively on his mental health, which could mean he meets the criteria for referral for a pump.

I don't think it's as simple as him trying harder to control his moods; diabetes can turn someone into a different person if not correctly managed.

Smartiepants79 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:26:54

I quite surprised at how many people think he should move out! He is not violent or threatening. You believe you are aware of why he behaves like this sometimes and he is doing all he can to control it. Your children love him and so do you. Is he the man you expect to spend the rest of your life with? If so then he needs you in sickness and in health. This is part of who he is. Of course he doesn't like seeing him in a state but If this is for life your son is going to have to learn to deal with it.
If you truly believe him to be a good man who is ill he needs your support. If he is not a risk to you or the children then I would expect a 9 yr old to start being able to understand that the illness causes the moods and between you as a family come up with some better coping strategies for your son.

tethersend Thu 02-Jan-14 19:28:21

Good point- OP, does your DS know why your DP gets in such a bad mood?

primrose22 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:29:05

Thank-you all and tower I'm so glad things are better for your family. Diabetes is massively misunderstood, I was guilty of knowing nothing before meeting dp. I think we would consider going private as the more I look into the pump the more hopeful I am.
I do keep talking to ds, he is happy today and much less 'closed' than previously.

wannaBe Thu 02-Jan-14 19:29:47

I think it depends tbh on what form this behaviour takes. If he's not threatening or violent and is simply moody/shouty then you all need to find a strategy to cope with it, even if that means him taking himself off somewhere/you potentially going out and leaving him to it for a couple of hours.

This is someone whose behaviour is as a result of a medical condition, not someone who is habitually aggressive. And while your ds may not like the times when things are difficult, IMO you shouldn't be considering having him move out at the request of a nine year old child. Your dp needs to try to manage his condition better obviously, something which it appears he is trying to do, but your ds also needs to develop a bit of understanding of how your dp's condition can affect him. And saying that you know other diabetics who don't react like this isn't the answer - everyone is different, and everyone's condition is different.

As for those saying he should move out, where do you draw the line at that? If someone suffered bad pmt every month would you think it appropriate that the kids request they move out? or had ceasures (sp?) which were scary? or depression? or another medical condition?

You can't just illuminate the afflicted individual from your lives, you have to work with it and try to have some understanding and reach a compromise if possible, a compromise which doesn't involve isolating someone who is trying their best to control a situation which they didn't seek to be in in the first place.

It is also worth bearing in mind that your ds is nine and approaching an age where his own hormones will be all over the place soon and his own thinking isn't going to be all that rational all of the time.

don't approach this as a troubled child, approach this as a partner with an illness and how you can best manage this in order that everyone can continue to live happily together.

Jaffacakesallround Thu 02-Jan-14 19:32:18

if he manages it when on hols or being lazy etc as you say does that mean he is negligent of his health needs when he's at work? Is he disorganised and not managing his food intake as he ought to?

Has he spoken to HR at work and tried to get some support from them- re; hours worked and breaks so he can eat?

This is an occupational health issue in some ways.

JeanSeberg Thu 02-Jan-14 19:33:22

I think it's too much to expect a 7 year old to understand the situation. Listen to what he's telling you, he's playing it down as it is.

primrose22 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:34:48

Sorry cross posts with smartie and tether. Dp sister is also diabetic and she is horrendous when out of balance, it really affects sufferers mentally sad
Interestingly, dd is very caring and understanding when it occurs, she doesn't like it but at 13 she is very accepting. We always talk about it and are generally very loving and open as a family.
Yes, I do see him as being with me for life, diabetes aside, he's a lovely man.

Twinklestein Thu 02-Jan-14 19:34:56

But on holidays or 'lazy days' he's got less stress - so he's likely to be more relaxed anyway.

I've seen blood sugar related irritability and mood swings in diabetics - but not this level of anger - apart from my uncle, who as I said, was angry way before the diabetes.

Even if he controls his condition better - inevitably his blood sugar will sometimes go out of balance - & he has to learn how to control his anger when it does.

I feel for your kids because he's not really their problem. If he was their own dad that would be one thing - but why should their entire childhoods be lived in the shadow of a man who can't control his illness? To whom they're not even related?

In your situation I'd say that he's got to get it under control, or consider living elsewhere and continuing the relationship that way.

Bottom line - your responsibility is to your kids not to him.

Thetallesttower Thu 02-Jan-14 19:42:38

Hopefully if your son understands more about mood swings and diabetes, you do, and your husband does, you can put a plan into action to deal with them. I would not take no for an answer within the healthcare system, get the facts, read the NICE guidelines, go to a decent consultant and take it from there. Simply going to the local GP who has been designated the diabetes expert at that surgery may not be enough or they may not know enough about the guidelines to know when to refer on. Work out what you want and then go and (nicely) ask for it- it may be the pump isn't the best solution but there are other ways to manage it as well.

If anyone doubts that insulin dependent diabetes can cause mood swings and depression, just google it.

wouldbemedic Thu 02-Jan-14 19:42:45

I don't think DP should move out. That would be giving a nine year old more control than is fair to him. You are the parents. You decide what's best. So if your nine year old is expressing anxiety and other negative feelings, you take it very very seriously. But you don't start chucking people out when you would otherwise have believed DP to be an important, overwhelmingly positive part of the picture for DS. Your DS will be aware of the way this is making you feel now but he won't be able to imagine the guilt and sadness he'll feel when/if DP goes. Sons often feel protective towards their mums and I suspect he'd feel that he had been very selfish. (If your DP is a great dad almost all the time, I wonder if his suggested solution to the very valid problem is actually rather selfish?)

This is a man who has taken on other people's children, rather heroically by all accounts, is now struggling with a serious illness while working very, very hard - presumably to help look after everyone. What kind of example is it setting to DS if you all refuse to bear with him through this time?

Why can't DP go into the garage and lock the door? Why is he storming around like this? Can't there be an agreement put in place so the family space is protected?

As an aside, how many of us would have thrown our parents out at some point, if we could have done?

wannaBe Thu 02-Jan-14 19:54:45

wow the lack of empathy on this thread is astounding. "Bottom line - your responsibility is to your kids not to him." really? in sickness and in health and all that goes out the window because he's not the kids' biological parent? wtf?

And people saying they've never known this to happen really isn't helpful either. We can all only speak from our own personal perspective, just because someone hasn't known it to happen doesn't mean that it can't. Have people never heard of diabetics being arrested by the authorities in the belief they were drunk, for instance, because they were aggressive and falling around and on the verge of passing out when actually it was an imbalance? Or is it ok to assume that it can't be real because someone hasn't seen it?

Where do we draw the line at the kids being allowed to dictate what impacts negatively on them because the partner isn't their biological parent? In fact shouldn't biology be taken into account anyway? if this was the biological father causing anxiety because of his condition why should biology mean he be treated differently?

but to take it back, if a partner had a stroke and sustained serious disabilities, if they were incontinent/in a wheelchair, had ceasures, sustained a brain injury which made them unpredictable, or a brain tumour, would it be ok to throw them out too?

All those calling for him to move out because his illness appears to be unmanageable at this point should think hard because there but for the grace of god go any of us.

Twinklestein Thu 02-Jan-14 19:57:48

And where's the empathy for the son?? They're not married, they've only been together 6 years.

I'm not suggesting that his moving out should be considered because the 9 year old asked for it - but because from the OP's posts - this issue is seriously affecting family life in general and her children's lives in particular. Her son says that he is 'scared' of DP's outbursts & 'he worries about it happening'.

That for me is a major issue: first of all for a 9 year old to even say that he 'sort of' didn't want the DP living with them must have taken a lot of guts, & I agree with the OP that he is likely minimising; secondly what her son reports - essentially being afraid of the DP and being anxious about his outbursts - could cause mental health problems in the son, such as anxiety and depression.

Bottom line is - whatever is behind the anger - whether it be diabetes, mental health issues, or being EA for example (I'm not suggesting he is the latter two I'm just using them for comparison) - the effect is the same.

Her children were born first, and this relationship developed later: imo her primary responsibility is for the health and well-being of her kids.
Her partner is unfortunately inflicting his problems on the whole family who are of no relation.

JeanSeberg Thu 02-Jan-14 20:03:44

Completely agree with Twinkle. The OP and her partner's needs are secondary in this.

Your son has asked for your help in the only way a 9 year old can and you've basically ignored him.

No reason you have to split up but living together isn't an option at this point.

Thetallesttower Thu 02-Jan-14 20:11:07

So- his parenting of the child since the age of three doesn't count then basically? If you are not a bio-parent you are never ever to be treated like a member of the family?

I am not saying he for sure should move out, just that the decision should rest with the parents here and not a 9 year old.

Matildathecat Thu 02-Jan-14 20:11:46

M lovely bil can get exactly like this, and it's a sign that his sugars are dangerously low. Unfortunately it takes a long time to settle even when he's been fed.

This will sound a bit of a 'nanny' approach, but primrose, could you actually give him food every couple of hours to try to avoid the lows? I second the pushing for a pump and emphasising how bad it can be. For my bil this moodiness can be the precursor to fitting, which leads to coma and worse so it is serious. Bil now has one and is much improved. He, too always seems to have episodes when at home. It's more complicated than just not trying.

Your dc sound great. They sound mature enough to understand the problem. Hopefully by managing the situation with various strategies things will improve.

tethersend Thu 02-Jan-14 20:16:38

Putting her son's needs first need not mean the end of the OP's relationship, or even her DP moving out at all.

It's clear that his medical condition needs intervention. This man has been part of the children's lives for six years, and I agree that the children should feel like he is part of the family and not completely dispensable; however, this does need to be balanced with them needing to feel safe, which of course is the bottom line.

It may be possible to allay the son's fears without moving DP out, either through better management of his condition, or family therapy, or both. If this turns out to be impossible, then of course other options, including him moving out, should be considered.

Jaffacakesallround Thu 02-Jan-14 20:18:44

Is it really the OP's job though to feed an adult every 2 hours?

It's down to him surely.

If he cannot cope with his work, irregular meals and diabetes then he has to look at making lifestyle changes.

I can't work out if he's not taking his meds correctly, not eating correctly, or what....

wannaBe Thu 02-Jan-14 20:24:30

no, biology is irrelevant. either the illness is adversely affecting the children or it isn't. Or should we only teach our children to have empathy for those who are related to us and the rest can be dispensed with? hmm no wonder so many people would be reluctant to ever get involved with someone with children if this is the prevailing attitude.

There is putting your children first in terms of if the dp is emotionally abusive, for instance, but when it comes to something like an illness I think that the children do need to learn some empathy. And you can have empathy with a child's distress without giving in to their wish for the partner to move out.

And I ask again, where do we draw the line? Woman with pmt who gets moody every month, should she be asked to move out because her kids don't like it? perfectly reasonable to suggest that, no? partner with epilepsy who has serious ceasures which can be very, very scary and distressing to witness, should move out if the kids are scared of it happening, yes? No didn't think so. Get real.

Lweji Thu 02-Jan-14 20:26:32

And the OP can't do it for him at work. But surely he could take some cereal bars or other food to keep him going and being in a better mood at home.

He should be able to manage his mood at home as well as in work, though.
For example, by retreating, after eating and only coming back when he's better.

primrose22 Thu 02-Jan-14 20:31:25

As far as I can see, there is plenty of empathy from posters for my son (and rightly so) I do help dp offering food, reminders to blood test and I'm happy to do so, diabetes is a chronic condition and all consuming, tiring and frightening for those who have it.
I will again stress that I have no intention of playing down my ds's feelings and he (and dd) are my no 1 priority.

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