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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

Floggingmolly Sat 16-Mar-13 10:55:04

Surely the worst case scenario is that he goes on a batter while in sole charge of the children?
8 weeks on the dry after a lifetime's alcoholism is nothing to build a happy ever after on.
I wouldn't let them stay over.

BlueberryHill Sat 16-Mar-13 11:10:49

It sounds as though your DH is pleased to get his father back after his alcoholism and doesn't want to do anything to upset him and stop that happening. I think pleased is probably underplaying it. However, that doesn't mean that your children are a pawn to be used to get that to happen, I think that is what is happening, from your DH point of view.

I agree with pp and the OP, she doesn't own the children, however she is responsible for them and the tit for tat comments made by your DH are childish and aimed at forcing you to allow the visits to happen and backing you into a corner. It isn't constructive at all, I think you are being sensible in wanting to build a relationship between your DC and FIL, and be happy that your children are safe first. Your DH needs to put his children first but I don't know how to make him see that.

TidyDancer Sat 16-Mar-13 11:14:45

How much time exactly has FIL spent around the DCs lately? I may have missed it, but i didnt see this in any of the posts.

If he's spent more time around them lately then I would start with short periods of time alone with him. Perhaps him babysitting in your house, then the next time taking them out for a short trip locally, etc. just building it up and seeing how it goes, IYSWIM.

Be honest though, are you stalling with the intention of never allowing unsupervised contact? That would be very unfair to DH to lie to him if that's the case.

puddock Sat 16-Mar-13 11:17:03

YADNBU. I would not leave my children (same age) in the sole care of their paternal grandad (distractable, short-tempered, doesn't know them well, unused to small children) overnight or invite him to take them out for more than a brief outing. And there's no alcoholism in the picture here - I just don't think it'd be appropriate, he can't take care of them properly.
Sounds like you're being very fair about your FIL gradually spending more time with your family, giving your DC the opportunity to get to know him better. It's not about what your FIL might want or need, it's about what's right for your children. I hope your DH's apologized for the "playing dirty" emotional blackmail - this isn't a game, it's not about your parents vs his parent, that's ridiculous.
It doesn't sound sexist or overprotective to me either. Either parent ought to have a veto when it comes to things like this.

diddl Sat 16-Mar-13 11:24:38

"fIL has sometimes expressed the view that small children aren't very interesting/enjoyable but that he looks forward to getting to know them when they are toilet trained/well-behaved, can converse etc"

So when they wouldn't be much work?

Well I wouldn't condemn him for that, as young children can be hard work-but I would suggest that they haven't reached that age yet!

Of course it's not all about him& what he wants, anyway.

Some 5yr olds just aren't ready for a night away or getting up in a strange house/different routine.

diddl Sat 16-Mar-13 11:26:47

Actually, I'd be unsure of him even taking them both out alone when you visit-couldn't he just take the 5yr old for starters??

RedHelenB Sat 16-Mar-13 11:37:40

BTW I WAS NOT suggesting your children be used to help keep him sober BUT it could be a side affect of having a good relationship with him.

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 11:41:01

2 months sobriety is nothing to an alcoholic. I'd be cautious.

digerd Sat 16-Mar-13 11:47:38

Your DC are too young to stay overnight with a 60 year-old alchaholic GD and same applies if a GM.
You DH is not thinking rationally at all.

RooneyMara Sat 16-Mar-13 11:50:57

Ok well much of it's been said I guess but imo you're being reasonable - it is not for your DH to use his small children to placate/cheer up his dad.

Why does it have to be overnight or alone??

I wouldn't send a 4/5yo to spend the night with anyone they didn't know really, really well. He will struggle to make them feel comfortable. they will be worried, what if they wake in the night - you barely know him, he is essentially pretty much a stranger to you, though your DH knows him - it's just a mental idea.

Your DH needs to think a bit more about what his children will feel being marched off to stay with an almost complete stranger who may also have some MH issues, if he is a long term alcoholic - and is in the middle of a bereavement too - and what on EARTH is your DH thinking?

All you can really do is say no and call his bluff regrarding his ridiculous threat about your parents. I'm sorry, it is a tough situation but very clear to me that you are right and he is wrong.

again - why does it have to be overnight or alone?

alcazar Sat 16-Mar-13 11:56:58

He is not suitable to look after your dc . Hell No YADNBU!! All the people who are saying you are unreasonable, would you leave your child with an alcoholic? Because he has given up for 2 months, that is baby steps in recovery terms. My DF has been alcohol free for years now. He looks after the dc, no issues, but when he was drinking or in one of his many lapses, absolutely no way. When we were young his addiction put us in danger more than once, my DM thought he was in a "sober" phase, he wasnt. Dont do it op, its not worth the risk, he needs much longer and contact and trust built up.

TheSeniorWrangler Sat 16-Mar-13 12:04:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pandemoniaa Sat 16-Mar-13 12:47:00

I'm never sure why very small children must stay the night unaccompanied anywhere, tbh. It's surely something that occurs as and when appropriate and most importantly, when the children want to stay overnight.

I don't necessarily think your FIL will be an unsuitable person to see your dcs unaccompanied but 2 months into sobriety is almost certainly too early to start this pattern of visiting. But I'd say that of anyone who didn't really know the children. Regardless of whether they were an alcoholic. Small steps are the way to go. As for your DH, he's being totally U and not acting in the interests of his own dcs if he wants to play the emotional blackmail card. Why should their other grandparents be denied of their company (and of course the dcs similarly) simply because you are uneasy about leaving them with their paternal grandparent for very good reasons?

There's really no need for this to be all or nothing. But right now, overnight visits aren't necessary.

WinkyWinkola Sat 16-Mar-13 12:52:04

Op, how have your parents been with your dcs? Interested? involved? Responsible?

If so, then it's unfair of your dh to penalise them because of his own father's failings.

Vicky2011 Sat 16-Mar-13 13:22:49

Astounded by some of these responses...I can only assume that most of the people saying the OP is being unreasonable have no idea whatsoever about alcoholism. He's been dry for 8 weeks FFS - absolutely nothing... and his son is saying he should be left alone with 2 young children.

<shakes head>

Mumsyblouse Sat 16-Mar-13 13:46:23

I let my two stay with their grandparents overnight (who weren't local) when they were about 5 and 7 and that was quite early enough! A two year old won't like being left with someone they hardly know, let alone someone who may not be that great with children. Little children sometimes cry, have tantrums, have accidents/need their nappies changing, don't like what you have cooked for them, or cry for mummy/daddy. I don't think he would be capable at any level of care at this stage.

And life isn't fair. My MIL has never had the children to stay when they were little as she has mobility issues, so couldn't chase after the children (and one of mine ran away a lot). Sad but they had lots of visits instead.

Unsupervised nights away for children are only for people you literally trust with your life.

x2boys Sat 16-Mar-13 13:47:43

I would nt rule it out at a later date but two months sober is nt a long time and he could well relapse if he is still sober in six to twelve months reassess the situation?

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 13:56:20

Yanbu. 2 months dry is nothing at all, I wouldn't be happy with this either.

If FIL wants to spend time with his grandchildren, why not build up time gradually?

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 14:25:55

Thanks very much for all the views thanks

tidydancer I take your point about stalling, it is difficult to know how I'll feel in time, I do really want things to improve and am hopeful (for DH's sake especially), but unconvinced.

In the last couple of months we have seen FIL three times, he has made a big effort each time, and even visited BIL/SIL and us (first time in a long time) and arrived at a time to enable him to have tea with the DC, so the signs are good. Also seeing him at easter BIL/SIL's.

Graveyard Sat 16-Mar-13 14:28:21

I don't think DH would actually seek to reduce DCs' contacts with my parents (yes winky, they have been involved, spent lots of time with DC etc), think he just said it because he was upset and angry.

Chandon Sat 16-Mar-13 14:38:57


My mum did not want to hurt her MIL feelings, so she sent my DB and me to stay with her.

She had no clue about kids. We slept in the bunk bed under balnkets ( no pillow or sheet), we werre not given a towel or tokd/asked to wash or brush our teeth.

Breakfast consisted of a digestive and a few cups of tea.

We watched telly all day, no lunch forthcoming, Gran just smoked and stared onto the distance and ate chocolates.

We were given a sausage roll at night, and that was that.

She had never been a great mum to my dad, and really did not even know the basics of how to look after someone.

We tried our best never to have to return without being rude. We never told our mum, but I think she guessed ( partly from how hungry and dirty we were when we came home)

TidyDancer Sat 16-Mar-13 15:17:58

I don't know if you mean it, but you do sound as though you feel you have the deciding vote on what happens, which isn't fair.

At the moment I agree that overnight contact is not the right thing to do, but there may come a point where it is appropriate and DH feels that it is.

You were very clever in answering my question about stalling. (wink) It really seems you have no intention of ever letting this happen. That's not really a judgement on you, I can understand the cynicism, but to lie about potentially agreeing in the future is wrong and unfair.

ukatlast Sat 16-Mar-13 15:27:06

QUOTE Graveyard '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.'

Of course YANBU. Just on bad driver disqualifies him in my eyes!
Grandparents can have access in the presence of the parents, they don't need sole access - especially not when grieving and only dry for 2 months alcoholics.

I do not get the politically correct nonsense often spouted on here about kids being the equal property of various extended family members. Most kids have main carers(Mum usually) and they are best placed to make judgements about what constitutes safe care.
Your OH is being unreasonable as he is letting his 'love' for his father (/ his own desperation for some time alone with you lol) cloud his judgement over what is likely safe for your kids.
If he had reasons to feel the kids were unsafe in your parents' care (eg scary dangerous dog who they dote over - sorry couldn't resist), then fair enough but he doesn't, it is just a spiteful remark made because you have put your foot down.

No-one should ever leave their kids overnight with someone they do not 100% trust/whose driving they do not trust etc etc /whose house is not safe enough etc etc .....lots of reasons to not want to leave your kids. My kids never got left overnight at that age.
Also if your FIL is over 60 he is likely not physically up to sole charge of a 2 year old and 5 year old for many hours and the kids don't know him well enough as others have said. The 5 year old especially has got to want to stay with Grandad even for just going to the park - you are unlikely to force him if he says he wants you to tag along as well. Kids cannot be forced to love Grandparents, they either do like them or they don't based on how they have been treated.

Inertia Sat 16-Mar-13 15:27:16

Am aghast at your DH's comment about "playing dirty."

You're concerned about the welfare of your children, and your husband is openly planning to use the children to spite you?

Nobody will be happy if the children go to stay with FIL while they are all strangers. I think the way forward is to visit FIL as a family, and go out all together, and build up the relationship at an appropriate pace. Why is it so important to DH and FIL that he has the children alone from the outset?

Goodadvice1980 Sat 16-Mar-13 15:28:03

OP, you are not being unreasonable.

I have two relatives with alcohol abuse problems and even when they have "moments of soberity" I would not trust them with the welfare of a goldfish, let alone a child.

And your "D"H is a complete and utter prick for threatening to "play dirty" with your folks time with the GC.

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