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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.

Sparkletastic Sat 16-Mar-13 08:31:26

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.

DrGoogleWillSeeYouNow Sat 16-Mar-13 08:40:19

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

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