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To resent FIL for being so hands-off?

(47 Posts)
wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 13:16:46

NC as I've never posted about family stuff in this detail before...

I'm going into hospital shortly to have DC2. MIL coming to look after DD & my DM arriving the next day to help me out in the hospital & relieve DH so he can go home to see DD & rest.

I had hoped FIL would be left behind, but he is coming too. He is not in great health and the unspoken rule seems to be that he can't be expected to fend for himself for 2 or 3 nights without MIL. (Neighbours would be happy to pop in on him & check he's ok, but he doesn't really cook so doesn't ever get left to his own devices).

He is not in great physical shape, it's true, so I don't expect him to be down on his hands and knees playing with DD, but he makes no effort to engage with her in other ways - reading a book together, a jigsaw, talking about her toys, anything really. It makes me so sad.
His routine consists of sitting around doing crosswords or doing any little chores MIL needs doing, until it gets to nearly 5pm and then he can start drinking. He then drinks steadily until he goes to bed around 11. He usually has a drink or two at lunchtime too if he is able to. And yes, I think his less than perfect health is linked to his drinking, although not the only factor, he does have an underlying condition.

I don't have any concerns about DD's safety, MIL is great and they will have loads of fun together, and FIL's drinking does not lead to any unpleasant behaviour, just him drinking himself into a stupor.

What I resent is:
- I will be recovering from childbirth, DH and MIL will be running around like crazy looking after me, DD and DC2 while he just sits there and drinks. Nothing, not even the birth of a new GC, is allowed to disrupt his evening routine.
- DD will be exposed to that level of drinking in her own home when I'm not there and there's nothing I can do about it. She does see it when we go to PiLs house, but we can always take her out for the day or whatever to escape from it. I hate that it's going to happen in our house and I can't do anything about it.

No solutions here really, I just needed to vent! I know DH feels similar to me but when we have so much to deal with in the next few days I can't really complain to him. Apparently FIL was always a hands-off dad anyway, and now as he's physically not so capable he's even more withdrawn from his GCs than he was as a dad.

5Foot5 Wed 04-Feb-15 13:33:34

Sorry but I think YABU. Some people just don't get small children. Don't know what to do with them, don't have very much interest in them

It's not a if he is needed to help - you will already have DH, MIL and/or your Mum. Lots of people manage with less.

How old is your DD? You say that you don't want her exposed to that level of drinking but is she really going to notice that Granddad has had a few? You say he doesn't get unpleasant so urely she will be in bed by the time he starts to get into "a stupor" as you call it.

NeedABumChange Wed 04-Feb-15 13:41:41

Why are DH and mil going to be "running around like crazy". Two adults, both are parents with a newborn and a child. Plus you'll be there probs holding the newborn a lot. Not sure there will be much for fil left to do.

Agree re the drinking though. I simply wouldn't have an alcoholic in the house but is your dd even old enough to know what alcohol is?

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 13:45:31

DD is nearly 3. Yes she won't have much of an idea of what's going on, and most of it will be after she's gone to bed, but not the first couple of hours worth of drinking. I suppose it's more that it will be under my roof when I'm not there which upsets me - but even if I was there I couldn't stop it.

DeanKoontz Wed 04-Feb-15 13:45:33

It's only a few days. If you need that many people to come and help you, I think you'll have to put up with it.

PotteringAlong Wed 04-Feb-15 13:46:40

I think you're a bit hormonal (understandable) and overthinking this.

Your DH and DMiL will be busy but not run off their feet - there's you, DH, DMiL and your DM(if I've understood correctly) to look after 2 children, one of whom is a newborn. You'll be doing it alone soon. What does FiL need to do?

If you've no concerns about safety etc I'd let it go.

UsuallyLurking1 Wed 04-Feb-15 13:50:45

Possibly more to it with what you say about the countdown to drinking.

But, depending on the ages of your children, things could well change.
I got very frustrated with my dad for being a bit disinterested, taking at least 5 "grampy"'s from my daughter before he'd respond and then calling her the name of his SGD who lives up the road from him, is a bit older, and he talks about a lot.
I resented it as I thought it was a distance thing and he'd become closer to the more local GC's but turns out he just didn't 'get' or deal with under 4s so well. got much better as they get older

kewtogetin Wed 04-Feb-15 14:01:57

Christ, are we talking about the royal birth here?! You're just having a baby, you've already got your husband, mother and MIL on tap to help out (which is a lot more than many women) and you're moaning because your FIL won't be doing your bidding? He's had his children, he's done his time, he's not interested and nor does he need to be. Get over yourself.

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 14:04:14

@Pottering - the arrival of GPs is a bit more staggered, I expect to be 2 nights in hospital so my mum will arrive the 2nd day to meet DC2 and be on hand to help me out, letting DH go home for some rest and check DD & PiLs are all good. DM won't be staying at our house at the same time, not enough room. We aren't short of help, it's just my feelings about not being comfortable around heavy drinkers (which predate me meeting my PiLs) that I suppose I'm projecting onto DD. She is too young to notice it really, I realise that.

@Usually yes I agree some GPs just don't know what to do with GCs when they're young. My own DF is a bit hands off with babies but much better with DD now.

DeliciousMonster Wed 04-Feb-15 14:20:23

Could you not just have no alcohol in the house?

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 14:24:24

@Delicious not an option sadly. They will bring some with them, and more will be purchased when it runs out.

Ultimately he is only harming himself so I try to hide how upset it makes me, for DH's sake, but DH has a pretty good idea of how I feel. It would be different of course if it was harming anyone else.

SorchaN Wed 04-Feb-15 14:59:06

Heavy drinkers just won't allow anything to interfere with their drinking routines - it can be very annoying. I can understand why you don't want it going on in your house. It's a shame that your father-in-law isn't the sort of grandparent you'd like him to be, and that your children won't have the sort of relationship with him that you'd hope for.

The thing is, though, that most alcoholics started drinking for a reason. It's a maladaptive coping mechanism and it's very sad. And most of the time you'd never know what's behind it. That's not an excuse, but sometimes it helps to know there's a reason. My father used to drink heavily and when I eventually found out some of his personal history I could sort of see why he'd turned to drink. Obviously counselling is generally a better option.

And, of course, your father-in-law's reasons for drinking are not your problem, especially at a time like this. But maybe it would help if you can think of it as something he does because he hasn't figured out a better way to live - he's not doing it to piss you off. It's selfish but not personal, if that makes sense.

I hope everything goes very well with the birth of your child, and that you get to have plenty of fun, stress-free time in between the annoyances!

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 15:09:43

@sorcha thanks for the understanding message - I totally see that it's not personal (and he is a very charming man and good company around adults when in the right mood, he just doesn't seem to know how to respond to children).

I've been up close to alcoholism of a much more destructive nature in the past, and this is what's coloured my view of it, I think.it certainly affects my ability to brush it off as 'just one of those things', but I accept there's nothing I can actually do to change it.

geekymommy Wed 04-Feb-15 16:24:36

Some people are just more comfortable than others caring hands-on for small children. My DD is 2.5, and my MIL is by far more comfortable taking care of her on her own than any of her other grandparents are.

I wish it were otherwise- my parents live much closer than my ILs, and I would love it if they could visit more often and help me with DD, but that's not what happens when they visit. They need me to plan activities for them. They have not learned how to work our DVR system, so they need help even to watch TV. If there are going to be activities out of the house, I need to plan them. They like for me to plan projects around the house for them to work on (my dad is very handy). I find that stressful and tiring- when they're visiting, I feel like I'm taking care of three people instead of one.

By way of contrast, when the ILs visit, MIL will take DD when she wakes up and let DH and me sleep in. She will change DD's diapers- none of the other grandparents will do that. She and FIL will plan visits to the zoo and other activities with DD. ILs are willing to read or watch TV on their own without help from me. When my parents go home after a visit, I breathe a sigh of relief that I'm not having to take care of them any more. When ILs leave, I'm sad to not have them around to help with DD any more. As a result, my parents don't visit much more often than my ILs do, despite living closer. Nobody's got a drinking problem or anything like that, it's just different comfort levels with caring for small children and different levels of self-sufficiency in general. I think there may also be some different expectations of guests and hosts going on- my mom would yell at me if I wanted to take a book with me when we went to visit relatives when I was living at home. She said it was rude, but I love love LOVE it when ILs bring a book when they visit us and don't rely on me for entertainment. For better or for worse, they are what they are, and I don't think there's much I can do about it.

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 16:28:40

@geeky yes that's a similar contrast between my DPs and PiLS. DD can always run into the spare room in the mornings and climb into bed with a storybook with my DPs when they are staying with us, but it would never happen with the PILs. That's just different strokes really, though - MIL will always happily sit and cuddle DD and read stories with her at other times, they just seem to have a rule that their bedroom is out of bounds.

cestlavielife Wed 04-Feb-15 16:31:01

are you having a casaerean? tere are health care assistants etc who you can call on in hospital, you dont necessarily need dm there unless there are special reasons ? so she can watch dd at home while your dh sleeps.

TidyDancer Wed 04-Feb-15 16:35:56

You've accepted your MILs help, this is what form it comes in. I think you have the right to feel however you feel about the situation but YABU to express it as its not the most reasonable of perspectives.

As a previous poster said, you have an lot more help than most people have post-birth so try not to let it stress you out.

If you really can't get past it though, could your DH and DM not take it in turns to look after your DD? You won't always have someone with you in hospital presumably so even if there was a gap where one of them needed to be elsewhere your DD would be looked after.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 04-Feb-15 16:38:25

I am sure you'll manage fine with both mums arriving to help out, your DD won't clock anything about grandad is amiss. By the sound of it this issue has existed for some time and will no doubt continue so try and focus on your imminent lovely newborn and in the meantime let DH look forward to DC2, not worry about FIL temporarily visiting.

CPtart Wed 04-Feb-15 16:51:27

I don't think you've any right to resent anything when people are going out of their way to help you (with what exactly I don't know!) It all sounds rather bizarre to me. You slate FIL for not being able to "fend for himself "but you and DH don't seem to be able to do this either. Are you easily stressed?
Your expectations seem rather high. If it's not to your liking then turn them away and get on with it.

simontowers2 Wed 04-Feb-15 16:59:59

Some people simply arent interested in children, end of.
As you admit yourself OP, your view of alcohol us somewhat coloured. If he isnt harming anybody apart from himself, and if he isnt getting nasty or anything on drink, i really dont see what the issue is. Some people just enjoy drinking. Be thankful him and other family will be around, many people have no support in your situation.

dogelove Wed 04-Feb-15 17:04:11

OP - It's your house, and therefore your rules. If you don't want him drinking himself into a stupor every night then make it clear to them now that you aren't going to allow any booze in the house. No bringing it, no buying it no nothing. If you get back and they have ignored this, then tell them to leave.

Drinking in someone's home isn't a "right".

What he does aside from that is his own business (I know plenty of GP who aren't interested in young kids), but if you don't want him drinking to excess in front of your children then that is your business.

To be clear though, you can't insist they come if they decide his drinking takes priority. But at least then you know where you stand eh?

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 17:06:10

@CPtart this is not about when I'm home from hospital, it's about who is looking after DD while I'm in hospital (yes for a c section). Pils will be going home after I've been discharged.

My experience of post natal ward last time was that help (especially at night time) was very limited - dads are expected to stay and help beyond visiting hours, in our local hospital. So that's why I've asked my DM to be on hand just so my DH can have a break every now and then.

OneDayMySleepWillCome Wed 04-Feb-15 17:17:33

That sounds like a lot of help you're anticipating needing!!! Any particular reason you expect to need all those people around? Having just had a 2nd baby with a similar gap, we had my mum and dad to look after dc1 whilst I was actually in the hospital. They stayed for an hour to meet baby then left us to it, which was the way we wanted it.

OneDayMySleepWillCome Wed 04-Feb-15 17:19:01

Just read your update. Surely if your dh needs a rest (could he not just manage for a day or so?!) then you can cope alone in the hospital for an hour or so? Will be nice for you to spend time with the baby 121 anyway!

wobblebored Wed 04-Feb-15 17:25:40

@oneday my DH really doesn't function without a bit of sleep. I'd be worried about him behind the wheel of a car if he doesn't get a bit of rest. Our hospital literally expects dads to stay 24/7 and sleep in a chair and he just can't do that.

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