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Aibu to limit DC's interaction with grandparents?

(6 Posts)
PeaceLillies Sat 23-May-20 15:31:52

My parents are complex people, with their own strengths and weaknesses, but I can't pretend that my upbringing wasn't horrible.

Withholding food and clean clothes, beatings, controlling in fine detail what I could wear or where I could go, and talking cruelly about myself or anyone else who had annoyed them were common things that my parents did on and off throughout my childhood. Because of all these factors, I never really got to feel relaxed or safe around them, despite the holidays abroad and private education. I couldn't wait to leave home, and was so happy when I did.

I repeatedly confronted them about how they treated me once I was in my teens, and they denied and minimised it, but did change their behaviour. They now at least try not to criticise me constantly, though still enjoy giving a blow by blow history about everything that is wrong with people that they don't like.

My DP and I are expecting our first child soon. We haven't told them yet. Lockdown has made it much easier to avoid telling them, but obviously we have to tell them eventually.

I worry about them trying to take over my child's upbringing and vicariously attempting to do a better job of parenting through them (something that I am 100% unwilling for them to try). They've gone so far in the past as to hint that I somehow wouldn't be able to cope with parenthood (despite excellent mental health after counselling regarding my upbringing, and the fact that DP and I have a stable home...etc) and that they would want to raise any child that I had so that they were brought up "properly".

Naturally, we'll only let this child see my parents under supervision, as we don't trust them, but don't want them to have no relationship with their grandparents (my own grandfather was a terrible parent, but a wonderful grandpa).

The reason I am making this thread is to ask aibu about this, and if so what am I doing that is unreasonable?

Also, if I'm not being unreasonable:
1. How can I legally make it so (i.e: in my will) that, if anything happened to myself and DP, our DC would only go into my parents' custody if there was literally nobody else (no other family, friends of ours ...etc) to raise them (i.e: if the only other option was to go into care)?
- My parents can be quite charming, and I don't want them to be able to persuade anyone into giving them custody of our DC in the remote chance that something awful happens to me and DP.

2. Is there a good way to let them know that they'll only get to see our DC supervised?
- I'm really not looking forward to eventually breaking that to them, but that's the way that it has to be.

3. Does anyone who's been in a similar situation have any tips?

Thank you x

Nanny0gg Sat 23-May-20 15:38:51

Firstly, congratulations.

Secondly, make a will and appoint suitable (can't be contested) guardians.

Thirdly, why are you even in contact still?

Windyatthebeach Sat 23-May-20 15:44:03

Ime shit dps make for shit dgps.
Do not offer up your precious dc as a sacrifice to their abuse.
No law says they have to have a relationship with any of you - as an adult you get to decide that.
And believe me once you hold you baby you will wonder how you ever contemplated having them anywhere near...

BumpBundle Sat 23-May-20 15:46:56

Hi,
I'm a lawyer and my husband has no contact with his mother (starting one week after our first child was born) because of her behaviour so I think I can help a bit here.
1. You can't. Courts will decide where your children live if you cannot raise them (if you die, are unable for medical reasons or if social services decide your children are not safe with you). You can write in your will what your wishes are and those wishes will be taken into account - but the court can override it. What is best for your child is what the court will want to do. See a wills and probate lawyer to get your will finalised and make it very clear what you do want and why (don't just say "I don't want them" say who you do want and your reasons for choosing them - then be clear why you don't want to have you parents as the custodians). Also make sure you revisit and reaffirm this regularly. If you make the will now and don't revisit it until your child is 12 and you die, the court may assume things are different if your parents have had contact with your child during that time.
2. I'd recommend keeping an open mind here. You've stated that your grandpa was a terrible parent but brilliant grandparent so the same thing may apply. I also think that honesty is important. Tell them why you've made your decision. You're an adult, you're a parent and you shouldn't try to lie or sugar coat decisions that you're making for the best interest of your child. We decided when our son was born that MIL would have one final chance and she took eight days to blow it. We told her explicitly which behaviours were unacceptable, why and what would happen if she couldn't behave appropriately. She made her decision and she will never see our son again.
3. My tips honestly would be to tread very carefully. Grandparents have no right to contact with their grandchildren unless there is an established relationship. If you're wary of the impact of your parents on your child then I would be cautious in establishing any relationship. First, I would write a calm email to your parents outlining your concerns and why - try to avoid any accusation or emotion and try to make it future facing. You aren't doing this because of how they treated you and as a punishment, you're worried about how they'll treat your child and as a preventative measure. See if they're willing to acknowledge what you've said and change. Try to be fair but firm.

PeaceLillies Sat 23-May-20 15:53:23

@Nanny0gg I'm still in contact as they are improving.

If they were totally unchanging then I would cut them off entirely, but they are getting better. Not enough that I'll ever leave them alone with my DC, but enough that they can do day visits without saying or doing anything toxic (they can be polite and civil for day visits, they can't yet maintain that civility for longer, hence why we keep their visits short currently). With firm boundaries they seem to be falling into line.

As well as that, my own grandpa was an absolutely awful parent (probably worse than my own parents), but was a fantastic grandpa. I have many wonderful memories with him that wouldn't have been possible if my parents had gone NC with him.

If my parents are in any way harmful to our DC then we will go NC, but, as someone who grew up estranged from their other grandparents, having never met them (even just to see if they are as terrible as my parents say) makes me feel empty and alone, and I don't want that for our DC.

Either they're nice with our DC or we don't see them, but our DC understands why not, having met them.

PeaceLillies Sat 23-May-20 15:55:19

@BumpBundle thank you, your response is incredibly helpful

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