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Do I let her see gradparents?

(24 Posts)
cherry Wed 22-May-02 00:39:54

Until 10 days ago, my parents would babysit dd while I went to work. My dad has had a drink problem for some time now, as long as I can remember really, and he seemed to be getting over it after a stay in hospital. However after 2 wks of not drinking, he started again. Now I'm not just talking a few cans of lager, this is a litre of vodka in a day, and he works full time which doesn't leave much drinking time when he's drunk and passed out by 8pm most nights.

Anyway, he has never liked dh, and gets a bee in his bonnet about him whenever he's had a drink. It all came to a head a week past Friday though, and among alot of other things he said the unthinkable about dh: "I wish he would touch her (dd) so I can get him done". Now what kind of grandparent would wish for their granddaughter to be "touched"?

I went to work that night, but told my boss I wouldn't be back, collected dd the following morning (a messy affair that was too, but thats another story), and I have not spoken to any of my family since.

The dilemma facing me is, my mother works at the school attached to dd's nursery. She is passing messages thru dd's teacher and generally harrassing me to see her. Dd is not distressed about not seeing them even though she did spend alot of time with them. Do I allow my mother access and risk upsetting dd, or do I stick to my guns that there will be no contact until my father stops drinking completely?

ANY advice will be greatly appreciated!

cherry Wed 22-May-02 00:41:15

Sorry, you've probably all realised that "gradparents" should be "grandparents"!!!

LiamsMum Wed 22-May-02 03:40:07

Cherry what a horrible situation. A couple of questions though... does your mother feel the same way as your father toward your dh, or is she on your side? Also, do you think your father has any reason whatsoever to say such a thing about your dh? Has anything ever happened to make your father feel this way toward him? It's hard to judge without knowing any background. My feeling is that I can understand how you've reacted, but if your mother is the "innocent" one in this situation, it's not really fair to keep her from seeing her granddaughter - like I said, it's hard to judge without knowing the whole situation. If your father is acting like this because he has a drinking problem and is saying these things simply because he doesn't like your dh, then his behaviour is unacceptable. I just wonder why his feelings toward your husband are so strong. Perhaps you could explain to your mother than you won't be allowing your dd to see your father again unless he changes his behaviour... it's a tough situation.

SofiaAmes Wed 22-May-02 08:10:36

cherry, I so sorry. I have a somewhat similar situation where I came from a lovely loving family and my parents are the most wonderful grandparents. However my husband came from an alcoholic physically abusive family (he went into care at the age of 12). His father is dead (thankfully), but his mother is still alive and descends on us 3 or 4 times a year. She is a drunk (though not violent...that was her husband's job), but she is still my son's (18 mo.) grandmother and part of his history. I let her spend time with him, but only with me or my husband there to supervise. When he is older (much older) I will have to have a talk with him about alcohol and his father's family, but now she is just a grandmother who smells a bit funny (she also chainsmokes father who is the world's expert on the causes of cancer) and plays with him. My best friend's mother was mentally ill and on and off lived on the streets. There was no hope of her ever getting better...she just wouldn't take her meds. My friend worked very hard to have her children have a relationship with her mother and just explained to them that grandma sometimes says funny things, but that she still loved them. And of course never left the children alone with her. Her mother died recently and I think she was really thankful that she had allowed her children the chance to know her (they are still quite young).
I know it isn't ideal, but can you let your mother (and maybe sometimes even your father) spend time with your daughter with you there. And if things become too abusive try to figure out a plan in advance for leaving the situation with your daughter in a way that is not upsetting to her (dd). It doesn't sound like your father is going to stop drinking in the near future and maybe never will like your husband (probably makes him feel inadequate). Although you will be sheltering your daughter from the truth about your father (and your mother for condoning it), in a way that's what we do as parents throughout our children's lives and when she is older she will thank you for making it possible for her to have a relationship with her grandparents no matter how idealized. They are part of your and her history and will help her know herself better and be a better person for it. Hopefully. Good luck, there are no right answers. The best you can do learn from history and not repeat the bad bits.

aloha Wed 22-May-02 09:59:00

It is clearly a very hard situation for you and I do sympathise, but it does seem as if your mother is really stuck and suffering here as well as you. Presumably she is worried and upset about your father's drinking but, from what I understand about alcoholism, she won't be able able to 'make' him stop. She also loves her granddaughter and it seems a little harsh to stop her seeing her for something that basically isn't her fault. Though I can understand your not wanting your father to look after her while drunk, wouldn't it be possible to still let your mother see her? Maybe the 'harrassment' is really a sign of her own desperation? Her life must be pretty crummy with an alcoholic husband. Hope it works out. I let my dad visit us to see his grandson even though we had a pretty terrible relationship before (he behaved very badly towards my mum and is v selfish) because he had a heart attack a while back and I felt I couldn't live with myself if he died having not had a relationship with his grandson, whom he loves and is so proud of.

PS I'm sure your dad didn't really want your dh to abuse your daugher - he was probably just very drunk and very angry. Alcoholics say a lot of things they bitterly regret. Why does he feel like this about dh?

cherry Wed 22-May-02 10:12:29

Liamsmum, my father simply has always resented anyone I have ever met. I think it goes back to dd's natural father, and the way he treated me, who he hated from day one and looking back I can say he was right. However you can't tar everyone with the same brush and at 55 you'd think my dad would realise that.
Although my father is on his 3rd marriage with 3 kids a result of the 1st and just me and my sister from the 3rd, he holds it against dh that he was married before and thinks he is going to run off and have an affair at the first opportunity. So other than having a life before me, dh has done nothing wrong.
The reason I am weary about letting dd spend time with my mum is that on the day I collected dd from their house, I went upstairs to get what clothes she had there and her doll, and my mother insisted on making the situation ten times worse by telling dd that mummy was taking her away and wasn't going to let her see them ever again.

Now until that point I had been more than happy to let my mother see dd when my father was at work, but when she did that and caused dd totally unnecessary distress I had to wonder if I was doing the right thing. I am worried that she will worsen the situation if I let her see dd, and to be honest I don't think I can be in the same room as my mother right now! I know I should push my feelings aside for dd, but I just want to protect her which is why I had to stop her spending time there in the first place.

cherry Wed 22-May-02 10:26:26

SofiaAmes, thanx for sharing your experience, and Aloha, thanx for your views too. Basically I don't think my dad will see the end of this year. He was told when in hospital that if he stopped drinking then his liver could repair itself but if he carried on it would be beyond repair, I think we can safely say its beyond repair now. I understand what you are saying and I think I'd deeply regret it if this wasn't resolved and he does die. However the things that he said I cannot forgive him, and it wasn't just what he said about dh, there was alot of very hurtful things said about me aswell.
My mother used to constantly tell me how he'd behaved the night before, mostly verbal abuse because he knows that it upsets my mum, but there have been occasions when he has thrown plates etc at her, choked her, kicked her; one time he even threw a glass, cut himself with it, then said to my mum "see what you've done throwing a glass at me?". The next day he asked how he'd got a cut on his hand. Now all of a sudden I am the bad one, and she now "hates" dh. Two weeks ago she thought he was great. If my dad can poison my mother against me, what hope do I have with a 4 year old?

LiamsMum Wed 22-May-02 10:42:29

Cherry it sounds like a very toxic environment and your dd is better off away from it. I don't understand how your mother can be brainwashed by your father when he has abused her so much, surely she knows what he is like - it's a wonder she listens to him at all. It's so hard because your dd may love her grandparents, but I would be very reluctant to let my child stay in an environment like that. And your mother should not have made that comment to your dd, even if she was hurt or angry at the time. I don't know what you can do except say as simply as possible that they won't be seeing your dd unless they get their act together. I would probably be wary about leaving my child alone with them too, considering the abuse that's gone on... sorry if this hasn't been very helpful!

cherry Wed 22-May-02 10:51:26

Everything thats been said so far is helping, its hard for dh to support me because he is so angry about what has been said about him and he is finding it difficult to push the anger to one side and realise that its not just about him. I think that he has forgotten that they are my parents and how much it hurts to have your parents take that attitude towards you.
Yesterday I had a note given to me by dd's teacher, it was from my mother. No it wasn't asking how dd is or if she can see her, it was asking for a video that my sister bought for dd and now wants back!

bundle Wed 22-May-02 10:54:58

Cherry..just when you thought it couldn't get any worse! Personally, I think your sister should ask for it back herself! Have you been in touch with Al-anon, some of their members might have had similar experiences to your own & could share how they dealt with them. just a thought.

cherry Wed 22-May-02 10:56:27

I hadn't thought of that, maybe I will give them a call. I just couldn't believe that after everything, their main concern is a video!

bundle Wed 22-May-02 11:04:13

their website is :

(can't quite get to grips with the fancy link thing, tried it a couple of times)
the video thing is obviously meant to wind you up, a petty little stab at you for actually taking the initiative and protecting your own family.

Zoya Wed 22-May-02 11:10:09

Cherry, this is a bit of a minor aspect of what is clearly a terrible situation for you, but if you haven't already done so I think you should ask the teacher to stop acting as a go-between. It's inappropriate, unprofessional behaviour, and causing the mess to seep into your dd's time at nursery, which should be kept clear of it.

Also, I'm distressed about what you say about your dh not being able to get beyond his own stake in the situation to support you. He's letting your father's remark drive a wedge between you, which is presumably exactly the kind of result your father was hoping for. You, dh, and dd really all need to be there for each other - as you clearly are for dd. Maybe dh needs a bit of encouraging to think about the whole situation, and what it means to everyone involved.

cherry Wed 22-May-02 11:13:39

I have just had a look and there is no video! But there's contact information there I'll give them a call later on. Thank you x

cherry Wed 22-May-02 11:22:30

Zoya, I spoke to the teacher immediately and told her that only I am to pick dd up from nursery and asked that my mother did not go into the nursery when dd is there so as not to upset her. She basically told me that as my mum works at the school, if she needs to go in then there's not alot she can do about it. I was not happy about this but I decided to leave it at that, knowing dd will tell me if she does go in, in which case I would go to the head and tell him my instructions had been ignored just because my mother works there.
As for the note thing, teacher has been told not to accept any more messages to pass on, her job is to teach my daughter not act as messenger for my mum.
I didn't mean to put it across that dh doesn't support me at all, he just seems to think "why are you getting so upset about someone who says things like that?". He doesn't seem to grasp that its because they are my parents that its so upsetting.

sobernow Wed 22-May-02 13:13:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cherry Wed 22-May-02 16:05:47

Sobernow, you're so right, I don't think he knows what his drinking is doing to everyone, never mind cares!
My mum left another little package today with dd's teacher, with a note in asking for £10 that I owe her... even though she has £40 belonging to dd (provided dad hasn't done his usual and "borrowed" it to buy vodka). One word; priorities! If she feels stuck in the middle and all she cares about is £10, your right it IS her problem!

aloha Wed 22-May-02 18:49:36

Dear Cherry - this does sound awful and sad. You must do what you think is right, and I can understand you not wanting anything to do with your parents, but maybe you can leave the door open for your mum in future. She does sound to be behaving oddly to say the least but with a dying alcoholic husband her life is pretty grim too. Hang on in there. x

Art Wed 22-May-02 19:47:36

Cherry - what a terrible situation for you all. I know what having a member of the family with an addiction is like. I would try speaking to your mother, even if you only decide to have contact with her and not your father. She must be going thru' a hard time herself, being in the middle of this situation.

Whatever you decide, we're thinking of you, and you know we are always here to talk to.

cherry Wed 22-May-02 21:00:37

Thankyou Art, I came over all emotional there for a minute! I'm still all over the place about what to do, but I think now its up to my mum. If she wants to see dd she has my phone number, but she can't do this thru messages via teacher. I don't feel that I should be the one to go to her and offer; she should come to me and ask. What do you all think?

sobernow Wed 22-May-02 21:54:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tigermoth Thu 23-May-02 07:43:00

Cherry, your messages show just how true it is that one person's alcoholism affects their whole family.

I think it is right to protect your daughter from your father's outbursts.

However, I believe you should think carefully about cutting off all contact with your mother and father, and not allowing your daughter to see them ever. From what you say, your father does not accept he has a problem so will not be seeking help. With no solution on the horizon, you could end up not seeing either of them for years, if you follow this route.

Your mother is not the alcoholic, and must be having a grotty time living with one. Can you arrange to see her on her own sometimes for now, just to keep some contact going. The main issue is between keeping your dd and your father apart, isn't it?

And is it possiblle that your mother may be making a clumsy attempt at contact via the notes? finding a practical reason to get a reaction from you?

I don't think you should close the door on them completely - after all a miracle may happen and your father may accept help. You may be able to speed this process along if you have some contact with your mother.

But, for the next week or two, I agree with sobernow, just keep your distance and let things cool off.

Zoya Thu 23-May-02 12:02:45

Cherry I'm sorry to come across as harsh on your dh, I certainly didn't wish to be critical or unsupportive. I interpreted your comment 'its hard for dh to support me ... he is finding it difficult to push the anger to one side and realise that its not just about him' as meaning that you didn't feel he was supporting you emotionally, but obviously I misunderstood. Apologies for that

It's interesting to see that people who post here are interpreting your mother's behaviour in quite different ways. I wonder if maybe she herself isn't sure what she wants in this situation, and that's why she's sending mixed messages? I used to live with someone who was the child of an alcoholic (he spent quite a bit of his adult life before I knew him living with and looking after his drunk old mum) and he was often quite devious, self-decieiving, and unpredictable, I think partly because he'd spent so long trying to second-guess and work around an expert in deceit and manipulation! I suppose what I'm trying to say is that these maddening little notes might be BOTH an attempt to wind you up, and a genuine - if clumsy - desire to re-establish contact.

In other words, when you say it's up to your mum to take the initiative and make contact if she wants to see your dd, she may feel (rightly or wrongly) that she's already done that. Her notes do seem a bit weird and aggressive, but on the other hand she can't necessarily guess that you would be more receptive to a phone call. Seems like you would like to keep communications channels open, on your terms, which is fair enough - is there perhaps a family member who could act as intermediary between you and your mum and help you achieve that?

cherry Thu 23-May-02 22:08:41

Zoya, no need to apologise at all. Unfortunately we have no family locally, 1/2 are in Scotland, 1/2 are Devon. All that is here is my sister and we haven't spoken for a year! What a family eh!

I broke down today, I don't know how I went so long without doing so. It was a good thing though, because I felt like a weight was off my shoulders, also it led to dh and I having a chat about it all so things are better in that respect.

As for my parents: I still have no intentions off dd seeing my father at this point in time. However I am thinking about speaking to my mother and arranging something with her. I think I will wait til next week though, as things are always worse at weekends!

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