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Nephew (resident) going out with his mum, mum has mental illness.

(6 Posts)
greencolorpack Mon 20-Jun-11 10:39:40

My dn lives with us. His Mum and his Nana live together in a flat nearby. At the moment we have access visits on a Monday and Friday - dn goes round there after school to see Mum and Nana. Nana (my MIL) used to be the guardian of dn. My sister-in-law, dn's Mum, is mentally ill, on anti-psychotic medication.

Problem: MIL thinks SIL is capable of walking dn home from school (which means crossing two roads). I train dn as much as I can in how to cross roads but he's still apt to walk in front of traffic now and then. With my two children, dn tends to be flighty and irresponsible but I think when with his Mum he will look out for her (so he's the adult of the pair, he is nearly 11). SIL is not a responsible adult, she is a vulnerable person, and needs someone to tell her what to do the whole time. She can go shopping, but she's not all that sensible and I'm very wary about her "looking after" dn.

If I said to MIL "I'm not sure SIL can walk dn safely home from school" it would drop a 50 megatonne drama bomb and MIL would go off on one. She's HUGELY paranoid and thinks everyone hates her beloved daughter, and makes it all about us hating SIL when really it's an issue of dn's safety. So I've been a moral coward so far and hoped that dn is actually good enough to cross roads for the pair of them. It's only two little roads in a busy town, the side roads are never busy. And they cross at the lights quite efficiently.

So advice please..... also...

Other problem: last week, my dn needed a haircut. I wanted him to have a military short back and sides because it suits us better in the uniform we wear in our community group, and dn agreed. My MIL offered to take him to get a haircut. I thought, that given he knows what he wants, it would not be controversial, and MIL loves to feel useful to us in helping with things like haircuts and shoe buying.

DN came home with a haircut, it was okay but not quite short enough. I asked him who had asked for that haircut, and he said "Mum took me, she did all the talking to the hairdresser." So in other words - dn deferred to him Mum, because she was the adult in the situation - and ended up with not quite the right haircut.

How do I tactfully explain to dn "Your mum is not mentally fit to make decisions about your haircut, when she is around, you have to speak up for yourself and be a bit more active." The hairdresser would not have known any better, would have just seen a mum out with a son, would not have realised she is mentally ill and not really up to playing the mum role. And dn is incredibly passive, he makes no decisions for himself, he always defers to authority, something I'm trying desperately to get him to grow out of given he's on the cusp of being independent. (Going to school alone etc). I fear it will be another situation with dn in floods of tears, his go-to response like Nana is "You hate my mum!"

Also I thought that Nana and his Mum would be taking him for a haircut, didn't realise that Nana is getting SIL to do all the going out work with dn. I know the haircut is like a very minor issue, it's good enough, but dn needs to know NOT to sit around waiting for his Mum to make decisions because she never will. Or she will try and get it wrong, oblivious, in her own little drugged up world.

psiloveyou Mon 20-Jun-11 17:04:01

What is your legal relationship with your dn?.
I'm sorry but it sounds to me as if you do hate his mum. I'm not surprised dn is picking up on that. She took him for a haircut. You admit it's ok just not what you wanted. So she has different tastes to you, how does that make her " not mentally fit to make decisions about your haircut".
As for the safety issues is there a Sw involved who can help you speak to your MiL about your concerns?.

MoreCrackThanHarlem Mon 20-Jun-11 17:10:13

Who has legal responsibility for him?
Is there an official arrangement in place?

From the details you have posted about the haircut it sounds as though there is a battle for control between you and SIL/MIL.

hester Mon 20-Jun-11 17:31:00

I agree with the others: this is about legal status and responsibility. If dn is just living with you temporarily, and plans to move back in with his mum when she is managing better, then it is right that she should continue in some kind of parental role, even if she can't do all of it. I do appreciate that this is difficult to achieve in practice, but I would think that a haircut is one area where you could afford to let her exercise some parental influence. It's not like he came out with mohican, is it?

If he is with you permanently or semi-permanently, then yes you need to feel confident that it is clear who is exercising parental responsibility and that should not be undermined by poor communication or conflict within the family.

Above all, though, you should all be working together to ensure your dn doesn't feel split loyalties between you.

I realise this is much easier said than done, and I know from experience how exhausting and enraging it can be to be around someone with a psychotic mental illness.

By the way, 11 seems very old to not be able to cross two roads independently. Is there a reason for this, or is it possible youa re being over-protective?

psiloveyou Mon 20-Jun-11 18:25:21

Sorry my response was a little grumpy there.

<<slaps face to remind me this is not AIBU>>

Agree with hester and as usual she says it so much more kindly than me blush

psiloveyou Mon 20-Jun-11 18:25:48

me=myself duh

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