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Being blackmailed by in laws.

(274 Posts)
Daisytrotter Sat 28-May-11 13:17:24

Sorry, more of a wwyd but am sitting here in pieces, really need advice.

Apologies if I don't reply straight away but have to pick up my friend from the airport.

My mil was diagnosed with dementia two weeks ago. This is after a year of some behaviour which could be considered odd. Interestingly, it was me who suggested that she visit her gp after I found that she had taken the fluffy inserts out of my croc shoes and was wearing them as slippers hmm Also, she has been having some significant memory problems, but all in all she functions quite well.

Since ds was born 14 months ago, mil has come to stay with us for a week every month. Fil comes down twice a year or we go to stay with them (they live in Swansea. It's not an arrangement that I was ever happy with but ds is her first grandchild and I wanted her to have a strong relationship with him. however, her visits have become increasingly hard work for me as she turns the fridge off at the mains, leaves the back door open as well as other things which a not dangerous per se but annoying. Also dh is at work all day so I am at home with her.

When she comes down she really badgers us to go out so she can babysit. On the three occasions she has babysat, we have come back to find ds absolutely hysterical. I put it down to the fact that he doesn't really know her but now I think she may be leaving him for long periods to cry.

Anyway, since the diagnosis came to light, I spoke to dh and said that I am no longer happy for her to come for a week every month and I don't want her to babysit. I suggested that her and fil come every two months. I just have a feeling that she was using the time with us for a break for herself and i feel as her disease progresses, fil will be using the break as respite care. Dh thought this was a good idea and put it to them when he called them.

They went ballistic. Mil insisted on keeping to the arrangement of monthly visits and babysitting and fil said we were compromising her dignity. I understand that they are struggling with the diagnosis but I also have to think of ds and my own life.

Then fil dropped a bombshell. They had lent us money to buy our house and he said that if mil was not good enough to babysit then their money wasn't good enough for us either. He has demanded it back which essentially means we have to sell the house and rent as we would not be able to buy another property. He has also threatened us with legal action if we do not pay the money back in full by the end of June.

I don't know what to do. They are extremely well off and don't need the money so this is tantamount to blackmail. I have no issue with them visiting I just don't want mil every month and I certainly don't want her to babysit.


squeakytoy Sat 28-May-11 13:21:09

I have no issue with them visiting

It sounds to me like you do. It also sounds like you are quite unsympathetic to what must be a devastating illness to be comingto terms with for your in-laws, and your husband, as these are his parents.

I agree, it probably isnt safe for her to babysit alone, but I think a more tactful approach to that is needed, and your pot doesnt come across that way at all.

squeakytoy Sat 28-May-11 13:21:43

post, not pot.

LilQueenie Sat 28-May-11 13:22:22

I understand the visits may be difficult but no way would I let anyone babysit if they were prone to bouts of forgetfullness.

FetchezLaVache Sat 28-May-11 13:22:40

That's really, really shitty of your FIL, but let's hope it's just him lashing out- after all, his world has just been knocked sideways. You are quite right to insist that she no longer comes for a week every month and certainly right not to leave your DS with her. Your FIL must see that, surely?

Did you put any kind of contract in place with your FIL when he lent you the money? I should go to CAB and ask their advice, although I suspect you won't have any rights in law to the money they lent you.

Nasty situation- I hope FIL comes to his senses. He surely doesn't want his only grandson to lose his home??

DuelingFanjo Sat 28-May-11 13:22:49

oh blimey! this is awful.

Is there any way you can just stand up to them (get DH to) and call their bluff or do you really think they will go through with the legal action? I think your DH has to stand up to them and say that babysitting will not be an option now but they are free to visit as a couple when you are both around.

Bucharest Sat 28-May-11 13:23:42

Whatever the rights and wrongs and ins and outs of your relationship with your in-laws, and the money stuff, someone with a dementia diagnosis would certainly not be left with my child.

Your husband needs to speak to his father. Let him deal with this.

SarkyLady Sat 28-May-11 13:27:58

Your Dh and his father need to sit down and discuss this in person. Just the two if them. ASAP.

I don't think that any if your are handling this particularly well tbh but given the horrible circs that is not surprising.

IslaValargeone Sat 28-May-11 13:29:50

I would also agree that your post comes across as terribly unsympathetic regarding your mil's 'annoying' habits. However, from a safety point of view I would certainly agree that it wouldn't be wise to leave your dc in her sole care. Was there any written agreement re the loan? I think you definitely have to seek legal advice, although part of me thinks his reaction might have been an angry knee jerk response, perhaps triggered by the stress of what must be a terrible time for them. Could you not have them visit together but more frequently than every two months?

justpaddling Sat 28-May-11 13:30:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LilQueenie Sat 28-May-11 13:30:39

or could you camly explain that the situation is taking its toll on you and you have been told that its not a good idea for MIL to babysit with her diagnosis. Perhaps you were told this by a doctor during a recent check up or something.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 28-May-11 13:32:49

You don't sound unsympathetic to me. I wouldn't want my MIL staying for a week every month, dementia or no dementia. I don't think any legal action on his part would work unless he has a legal contract saying you promised to pay the money back by June.

But yes he could probably insist on his money back, just not by the end of June as any court would say thats very unreasonable.

How hard is your FIL finding things? Does he/your MIL need help at their end? I imagine the FIL is very stressed and maybe being a bit irrational because of this.

LDNmummy Sat 28-May-11 13:34:45

I agree with Squeakytoy, I think you didn't act well to begin with and now your FIL has reacted in like.

You all need to sit down and discuss this.

I do agree that she should not be left alone to babysit though, who knows what could happen should she take a bad turn while no one is around to help.

AnnieLobeseder Sat 28-May-11 13:35:53

What a difficult situation. I can absolutely see why you wouldn't want to be looking after your MIL for a week every month. That's 1/4 of your time caring for her. And as her disease progresses, you'll have to care for her more and more. Equally, I wouldn't let someone with dementia babysit my children.

I can also see their side; on top of this bad news about her diagnosis, now they feel you're rejecting her because of it.

What does your DH say about this? They're his parents. Does he feel it's fair that you should look after his mother 1 week in every 4 so that you can keep your house? It is blackmail on their part, and really nasty.

LDNmummy Sat 28-May-11 13:35:55

But then a week every month is also quite a lot to begin with. Were you already annoyed with this arrangement?

cjbartlett Sat 28-May-11 13:37:47

Your dh needs to sit his dad down and discuss it all with him

WhereYouLeftIt Sat 28-May-11 13:39:01

Your DH needs to deal with your FIL, not you. If your son is her first grandchild, I presume it is his too? Is he really willing to endanger him by insisting he be left with someone who cannot be expected to be able to care for him?

As to the money - what was the arrangement? Is there a written contract in place? Whatever the agreement was, I doubt there was a visiting-rights-clause, so your FIL is unlikely to be in a strong position. You could either let him bluster with that one or take the firm 'how bad do you want relations to be between us' line.

Yes, they probably have been knocked sideways by the diagnosis, but that's no excuse for visiting this upon you. You are not your MIL's carer. Really does your FIL expect you to care for a 14-month-old AND your MIL? The fridge-switching-off shows what can happen (this was how we became aware of my grandmother's dementia, which my grandfather had successfully hidden from us for years). You can't watch them both successfully.

There can be no question of her having sole care of your son. That is a non-negotiable, and your FIL will just have to accept that.

As a purely speculative aside, is the heat coming from MIL, or FIL? MIL's I could understand, she will be a little in denial, and change to the arrangement does not allow any denial. FIL on the other hand, may like his week alone per month. Is he very keen to keep that week to himself, and why? MIL is presumably not at 'respite required' level yet, what does he do with these lone weeks?

gapants Sat 28-May-11 13:39:46

call their bluff and tell them to swivel while you are at it.

The GALL of some people.

Hopefully it has been something said in the heat of the moment. You need to keep the lines of communication open, but in all honesty, I would tell them that holding the threat of money over my head was dreadful behaviour and would need a lot of bridge building on their part.

You and your DH need to work out how you are going to support your MIL and FIL in their dotage especially with the dementia. Are their other siblings of your DH?

Daisytrotter Sat 28-May-11 13:40:49

Reading back I do sound unsympathetic, but I really am not. The problem I have is that the type of dementia she has (vascular) results in a step wise decline that happens quite suddenly. I just don't want to be on my own with her during the day for a week every month, not knowing how she will be when she comes to us or what to expect.

I don't think it's fair which is why I proposed both of them coming every two months.

gallicgirl Sat 28-May-11 13:42:44

Are there any support groups which can help in regards to the dementia?

As far as the loan is concerned, I have vague memories of contract law which suggest that contracts between family members are not enforceable at law. I think this would mean that although your FIL could try to take you to court for the money, he wouldn't necessarily win. However, this would be very trying for you all in the meantime.

It really sounds like you need to look at the issues behind the behaviour eg, lack of support for FIL, is there anyone locally who can help him so he may not need respite care so badly, invite MIL to visit but on your terms so baby isn't put at risk.

coansha Sat 28-May-11 13:43:40

Bloody hell, what a nightmare scenario.... This is a tragic situation allround but ultimately they are indeed blackmailing you. Considering her behaviour I would absolutely not be leaving my child with her unsupervised as sadly she is not now capable of looking after him safely. You are well within your rights as a parent to leave him in the knowledge he is safe and secure and this is not the case and his safety is being compromised which is totally unacceptable.
Holding you to ransom is ridiculous and petulant, they are obviously upset but need to look at it from your angle, dementia is a horrid disease which robs you of many things but she sounds stable enough to understand the situation, though expect this is not permanent, so why would she put him at risk??
Your fil is obviously under lots of stress but you are not a respite centre and truly that is what he needs now and if they visit you it should be together for a weekend at a time maybe twice a month?
I would get some legal advice re the money situation as if they go down this route it will be a point of no return I fear for you and they will lose you forever, try and sit down for a long and honest chat after seeking legal advice and explain your reasons for not wanting the babysitting but I think you have to decided if push comes to shove and they do this bloody spiteful thing what you will do?? I assume you have no formal contract just a spoken agreement and that no date of returning the money was ever set? tell your Fil if he indeed wants to bankrupt you and put you , their son & grandson off the property ladder forever it will be an unforgivable act of spite and you love them but will not be blackmailed.
I think you need to investigate some respite centres and get some medical advice too.
Also they are obviously not coping with the diagnosis and future implications of the disease so are there some support groups in her local area you could chat to about her situation re visits?? They may be able to help with respite too.
What does your DH think about all of this? would it be better coming from him? could a relative offer you some support in the situation so they (mil & fil) can see that others think this is unfair??
I wish you the very best of luck sweetheart honest xx

CheshireDing Sat 28-May-11 13:44:08

Agree with everyone in that she should not be left alone with DC and can you initially not do once a month but FIL must stay at the same time too, it is not really your responsibility to entertain your MIL and surely not when she is poorly and going to get worse.

When FIL gave you the money you should have had a deed of gift drawn up saying he has no financial interest in the house and then as pea says he would not be named on the deeds. However if he just gave you the money with no official written agreement it may have some sway in court as a gentle mans agreement, if he really wants it back and is holding you to ransom in this way I suggest you remortgage, give him the money and he can stop his moaning then because otherwise he will always brin the money up.

Daisytrotter Sat 28-May-11 13:44:14

whereyouleftit you hit the nail on the head when you said fil likes his week alone every month. So true.

Dh has a brother who lives miles away and is not really helpful.

There was no contract about the loan. We are paying them back 400 a month. I do hope fil was just angry. I just can't have her every month.

TattyDevine Sat 28-May-11 13:46:32

Was there anything in writing about the loan? Did you give them a receipt? Were there any timescales laid out in writing?

I think you can probably ignore their request for the money back if so, and concentrate on coming to an agreement about visits, etc, though it might be hard to have them in your home after such a dreadful conversation, though it must be understood that emotions are running high.

There was possibly a better way of going about this, perhaps you could have gradually and subtly phased out the babysitting first (oh I'm just so tired, I don't want to go out / we are saving money / DH has man-flu) etc etc and then if things got difficult to tackle the visits. It reads a bit like dignosis has been closely followed by scrap-heap.

I do sympathise.

IslaValargeone Sat 28-May-11 13:46:41

I can wholly understand why you wouldn't want to be in that position, and I don't think it would be fair to give you that responsibility.
You are all going to have to sit down and talk though, your fil will need you when things get worse, it would be a shame for things to deteriorate between you all at such an early stage, over something hastily said which he probably regrets.

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