To feel uncomfortable with fil's behaviour

(13 Posts)
awkwardas78 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:42:37

Delicate situation but will try and be brief. FIL has terminal cancer and has been through utter hell with treatment after treatment etc. I think he's getting understandably quite depressed with it all - constant hospital trips, feeling ill, never knowing how long he's got etc. etc. My heart breaks for him.

However, he is starting to treat dd (his grandchild) in a way that makes me uncomfortable. She is only 3 and very shy and obviously has no comprehension of what he is going through. He asks for kisses goodbye or tries to talk to her but sometimes she just wants to play and doesn't want to interact with him at a particular moment. Sometimes I think his appearance makes her wary of him, which can't be helped of course. I wish she would perform for him more but we can't force her and she doesn't understand that for him every moment is loaded with significance - she just wants to play by herself or do whatever she is doing.

He takes her reluctance personally and has started to get a bit nasty calling her rude, calling us up and asking her to speak to him on the phone and explain why she didn't say bye the previous day as it has upset him so much he can't sleep etc. etc. It's totally inappropriate towards a child her age and I don't like him doing it. I try to stop it when I can but I feel very awkward about how best to do so without causing further upset. I've tried talking to dh but he's so upset obviously and says his father won't be around for much longer.

How on earth do I deal with this sensitively?

FeelingSmurfy Mon 18-Jan-16 22:45:38

As this is unusual for him, and given that he has terminal cancer, I would suggest that it has possibly spread to his brain

We went through it with a relative and the nicest woman ever had me in tears with some of the things she said, it was like she really hated me and was doing whatever she could to hurt me. I knew that it was the cancer and I don't remember her like that, I tried not to take it to heart but it was difficult

It could be nothing to do with that, but its a possibility

BestZebbie Mon 18-Jan-16 22:47:49

Wouldn't the sensitive thing to do be to talk to your daughter about Grandpa is feeling sad at the moment because he is ill and so everyone needs to make a special effort to cheer him up and be his friend right now?
But yes, also try to shield her from 'I can't sleep because of you' comments.

awkwardas78 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:49:12

Thank you BestZebbie, I think I will try that although she is a typical three year old and will probably still only comply when she feels like it!

Cleensheetsandbedding Mon 18-Jan-16 22:49:58

I think personally I would just muddle through. I wouldn't put her on the phone and make excuses up why you can't do it. When he is there and she is refusing to say good bye I'd try a buffer it unless he got agressive with her then I'd take her out the room.

I'm sure better advice will come flowers

IsItIorAreTheOthersCrazy Mon 18-Jan-16 22:51:11

Do you have a MIL that may be able to help with this?

You're right, it's not appropriate for a child her age. Take control of the phone calls - "No FIL, dd is in the bath / asleep / unavailable" - your dd is never going to say "I know, I'm sorry" etc as she just doesn't understand.

When Dd is sat with him etc, can you take photos of them? Give them to him with a little silly note from her thanking him for playing / watching cartoons / singing with her? So when he says anything about her being rude, you can say she's just playing but look how much she enjoyed doing X,y,z with you.

Obv this is hard for everyone and you need to tread carefully because your DH isn't in a place to do deal with this, although the photo / notes idea may also help your DH when FIL is gone?

Hihohoho1 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:51:52

I expect the cancer has spread to his brain op. It's common in terminal cases and can change personalities.

The best thing to do is obviously protect your dd but obviously supporting your fil.

He is dying and she's only 3 so brutally put no one here will be affected long term.

Day to day basis op. Don't stress to much it's always going to be a shit time. flowers

VoldysGoneMouldy Mon 18-Jan-16 22:52:43

Absolutely you're not being unreasonable. His situation is horrible, however that doesn't mean it is down to your DD to be responsible for improving it. If he is capable of understanding you right now (depending on drugs / spread of cancer) then say to him gently, or firmly if that doesn't work, that his behaviour isn't acceptable, that you don't wish to argue but he needs to remember DD is only little. If he is unable to understand that, or doesn't take it on board, I would stop taking DD to see him.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 18-Jan-16 23:34:43

A horrible and sad situation for you and your family, OP. I think IsIt's suggestion is fabulous and that's what I'd be doing, giving FIL tangible reminders of the time that he's spending doing things with his granddaughter.

You could set your three year old daughter a quest to see how many new things she can do with him, reading her favourite book to him, watching something on and IPad together, growing some sort of plant in a pot, bringing him some jam tarts that she's made specially for him - and all of this can be photographed. It would be comforting for your husband to have these photographs as well, afterwards. So sorry for you all. thanks

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 19-Jan-16 00:21:11

So sorry for your situation. flowers Please try to shield DD as much as possible. We had a relative who used to phone us and my DM and DF used to put me on the phone. She would say awful things about how she was dying, it was terrible. In her case she wasn't dying (I think she was probably depressed) but it was traumatic for us.

TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 19-Jan-16 00:51:33

I think you will have to make excuses as to why she's not present at visits. Avoid them meeting. It IS sad but you need to protect her from this unfortunate situation.

PennyHasNoSurname Tue 19-Jan-16 00:55:23

Maybe she could make a picture "for him" - she doesnt need to know thats who you are giving it to.

Also talk about how important being polite is - saying hello and goodbye. Even if she is prompted to say "goodbye everyone" when she leaves rather than individual byes.

Definetly field his issues towards her so they never actually get to her.

Italiangreyhound Tue 19-Jan-16 01:48:34

Hi awkwardas78I this is a terrible situation and I am so sorry for it. I think you have had some good advice here and in your shoes I would probably:

Not try and involve my dh too much in all this, he may not be able to see it from you or your dd's side and his grief will be too overwhelming.

Your daughter should not be made to kiss or hug him, however ill he is, my kids hate hugging and kissing any relatives and simply won't do it, the relative makes it worse by trying to talk the kids round, it is all very uncomfortable and so we make sure our goodbyes are very quick!

Persuade your dd that it is important to be polite and say good bye nicely before departing (I must admit I woudl even try some bribery, a nice goodbye and a wave from the doorway get a comic book!

Make some things for your FIL while at home, cards etc with photos (as others have said) so when you arrive there will be things to talk to him about and show him.... Personally I would go to town on this, made a really big card with a big photo of dd on it. That way he has evidence she cares, even if this isn't enough for him, others will see it and may even comment on it 'Wow granddad what a lovely card from 781 granddaughter.

Lastly as others have said, she should not be made to come to the phone and the best excuse is she is asleep, because three year olds sleep a lot!

I hope things will be ok. My nephew was about 4 when his granddad died. He was sad but he got over it quite quickly. I would feel part of 'managing' this situation is wanting to retain some happy memories for your dd of her granddad.

Don't forge your dh in this situation, he will be going through hell and will need you a lot! You poor thing, everyone will need you. Make sure you have some support for yourself, friends you can call up and chat to, people who may be able to look after dd so you can support others in the family and someone who can come round and drink wine or coffee with you and talk about something else with you! Bless you.

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