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How do you deal with family members you are uncomfortable to leave your child with?

(23 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Fri 05-Dec-14 10:42:45

I really don't know if I'm being a total cow but I'm going to ask the question anyway. I'm sorry this post is long but I don't want to drop feed and want to explain myself properly.

My DS is 8.5m/o and when he was 3m/o my MIL passed away in not very nice circumstances and my FIL was absolutely devastated and obviously still is. For the record, my ILs are (were) lovely and I think the world if them.

My FIL seems very distant towards my DS. I don't think he ever really bonded because when DS was young he was understandably caught up in MIL's illness and nothing else was on his radar. MIL then died and FIL is still in a bad place. He lives on the same street as us but he maybe pops round about once every two weeks and although he will hold DS he just seems uncomfortable. I understand that some people are awkward around babies but FIL just seems to be 'elsewhere' because of his grief.

He looked after DS for us once for two hours (at his house when DS was about 5m/o) and he told us that he'd turned round to look at DS (he'd had his back to him and watching the TV) and DS had fallen asleep standing up in his walker with his head tipped forward. There was an imprint on DS's forehead from when he'd been leaning on part of the walker in his sleep. I felt really upset by this. FIL had left DS in his walker for over an hour and obviously hadn't been watching him. How can it go unnoticed that a baby is tired to the point they fall asleep standing up?

Anyway - I go back to work in 7 weeks and for the first week I need help from the family to mind DS. My parents are divorced and my mom is having him one day, my dad is having him another DH wants FIL to have him one day. It will be from 8am-4.30pm. I feel really uneasy about this.

My parents have looked after DS plenty of times (for many hours) and I know they will be absolutely fine.

But I just don't feel comfortable about DS being left with FIL. He's had no experience of babies for over 30 years, and even then MIL looked after their children, and the one time he's looked after DS for us it was for a very short time and the outcome left me feeling upset. I just don't think he's in the right place emotionally to look after DS effectively. He just seems so far away and detached from everything around him. We've all been deeply affected by MIL's death (almost 6 months ago now) but FIL has found it very very difficult for a multitude of reasons which I totally understand and empathise with.

I know it sounds awful that I'm uneasy about DS being left with him and I don't know what to say to DH.

Any advice welcome.

chariotsofire Fri 05-Dec-14 10:57:38

Does your FIL want to watch him? Or would he just feel obliged. I would imagine that a lot of older men wouldn't be comfortable with a child of that age as they had no real part in looking after there own children in the same way.

If it has already been discussed with him and he is keen you could try a couple of shorter sessions first where you give him some kind of broad routine and make it clear he can't be left unattended.

As your son grows and starts to talk etc you may feel differently and so might FIL, but I would explain how you feel to your DH- you do have a good example of why you feel uncomfortable.

magpieginglebells Fri 05-Dec-14 11:02:17

Has fil said he would like to look after him?

moodyblues Fri 05-Dec-14 11:09:58

After my mum passed away I would ask my Dad to look after my four year old for a few hours at a time occasionally. It was a disaster, Ds is a pain in the neck when he wants to be and Dad just couldn't control him - and more importantly wasn't in a place where he could cope with the situation. I didn't realise at the time but his grief was all consuming and he just couldn't focus properly on anything or anyone else.

I feel really bad for doing that to him now - but things have improved and he popped round the other day to say that he would babysit one night if me and DH wanted to go out. So things will probably look up in a few months but meanwhile I wouldn't put your fil in that situation.

Writerwannabe83 Fri 05-Dec-14 11:11:21

Thank you for your reply.

It hadn't been discussed with FIL yet. I don't know if he'd want to but I know he would do it. I know he loves DS but I just don't think he knows how to look after babies. FIL is so lovely and I feel so disappointed in myself for having these feelings.

I know he would be hurt if he knew we'd asked both my parents but not asked him.

My parents always want to see DS, they are always visiting and asking me to go round and they offer to look after DS so me and DH can spend done time together, but FIL doesn't seem to have any desire to see DS which I think upsets DH a little.

FIL has taken DS's out for a walk a few times but that's it. He's happy to do that but actually 'look after' him is not something I think he could do - especially for 8 hours as he'd have to if he had DS for a day.

I think asking him to mind DS for us for shorter periods is a good idea in order for him to get used to it and I will have to just try and put my worries to the back of my mind.

I hate myself for saying these things. FIL is such a wonderful person and it seems so unfair to him for me to have these thoughts.

Writerwannabe83 Fri 05-Dec-14 11:13:06

Thanks moody - I also think it's unfair to put FIL in that situation but how do I say all this to DH without offending him. I don't want DH to think that I trust my parents with DS but not his parents.

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 05-Dec-14 11:16:56

I suspect your FIL would welcome the time with your DS, but would need some help and encouragement. He probalby had little direct responsiblity for his own DCs - men older than about 50 didnt - it wasn't the done thing in those days. Their job was to earn the money.

As far as letting DS sleep in the walker - that's really no big deal. If DS was asleep, he obviously wasn't uncomfortable. He might have had a sore neck when he woke for a while, but it's no big deal. My DDs have fallen asleep in lots worse places than that. We took the view that you never wake a sleeping child!

chariotsofire Fri 05-Dec-14 11:17:45

I think you are right to be cautious. My mum regularly looks after my DCs but never at the same time and always just for fun stuff nothing too taxing. I realise how lucky we are to have her and want her to continue enjoying it and want to keep doing it!

The last thing you would want is to make it feel like a chore for him, it is more important that he develops his relationship with your son first and the rest should come more naturally.

He is still pretty early on in the grieving period so it would seem to be expecting a lot of him to focus on a young child for such a long time.

divingoffthebalcony Fri 05-Dec-14 14:33:42

If you don't feel comfortable with your FIL doing childcare, don't do it. Is he really for to care for a child, it's hard work after all. Could he manage feeding, nappy changes, naps, crying, illness?

I would never leave my DD with my in laws. They're a lot older than my own parents and just a bit clueless. FIL was "keeping an eye on her" and within three minutes she'd catapulted herself off the stairs. It's just not an option for me. DH totally agrees, thank god!

divingoffthebalcony Fri 05-Dec-14 14:34:43

I dont know WTF autocorrect was doing - I was trying to say "is he capable of caring for a child".

GotToBeInItToWinIt Fri 05-Dec-14 14:41:45

Gosh I wouldn't leave my DD with my FIL on his own and we have none of the circumstances/issues that you do. FIL adores her but he was barely involved in the upbringing of his own children so would have no idea how to look after a 12 month old on his own. Can you just explain how you feel to DH? Tell him that you would be happy for FIL to have him once they have developed a closer bond/relationship in the future? I know my DH would absolutely agree with me that FIL wouldn't be capable of doing it on his own.

Writerwannabe83 Fri 05-Dec-14 15:30:55

My DH is really keen for him to do it. He keeps saying, "My dad would love to have him" but I'm not sure what's giving him that impression.

I wonder sometimes if DH feels embarrassed (for want of a better word) about his dad's lack of interest in our DS compared to how my parents are. I think my DH is trying to make a point of some sort that DS means as much to his dad as he does to my parents. This absolutely doesn't need proving to me, I know that beneath the grief my FIL adores DS but at this point in time I just don't think he has enough emotional capacity to love him fully or make our DS one of his focuses. There have been a lot of issues arising from MIL's death that shocked us all and on top of dealing with his grief FIL is also trying to come to terms with some skeletons on her closet. My heart breaks for him, he's in a really bad place and I just don't think he's got it in him to care for a baby for 8 hours when he's never looked after a baby before and doesn't really know DS. But like I said, DH thinks it's a great idea confused

It's such a mess.

FurryGiraffe Fri 05-Dec-14 15:44:00

It may be less that he's trying to 'make a point' and more that he's struggling to deal with the fact that his dad isn't interested and can't bring himself to openly accept it. From your DH's perspective, FIL's lack of interest/rejection of DS is a lack of interest/rejection of DH. Your DH probably feels very hurt (but is burying it).

I'm not of course saying that your FIL is rejecting your DS (or your DH) just that it probably feels that way to your DH. Mine has struggled hugely with MIL's refusal to travel to see our DS (he's 18 months old and she's visited us once). On an intellectual level, DH views it as understandable (she doesn't drive and has never traveled any distance on public transport) but emotionally, he feels like she's just not that bothered. He has struggled seeing the close bond DS has with my parents in contrast (again, he knows it's great, but it's hard for him to see).

FurryGiraffe Fri 05-Dec-14 15:45:38

Sorry- last sentence not clear. He finds it hard to witness how close DS is to my parents, because it reminds him that DS doesn't have that relationship with MIL.

Writerwannabe83 Fri 05-Dec-14 15:56:16

You are probably right. As well as frequently visiting us and looking after DS for us, my mom in particular and my nan are constantly buying things for him (practical things as well as 'treats') and the other day my DH did pass a comment that his own dad has never bought our DS anything. This is completely irrelevant in my mind as I know that presents don't equal love but I think my DH feels a bit angry towards his dad maybe.

When I was pregnant MIL was absolutely over the moon and she was the one we were most excited about telling. Us having a baby meant so much to her and when she came to the hospital when DS was born she was overjoyed, it meant everything to her, me and DH were so happy to have been able to give her a grandson. She would have made the most wonderful Grandma to him. Sometimes I wonder if FIL struggles to be near DS because it's a strange reminder of MIL no longer being here. I know that doesn't make much sense but I know grief isn't rational.

Borttagen Fri 05-Dec-14 16:12:05

I really don't think you need to feel bad about not leaving your DS with him - it sounds like he wouldn't be capable anyway so you're doing him a favour. And you can't leave your DS in an unsafe situation just to make someone else happy.
I wouldn't leave my DC with anyone other than my siblings, my dad or my MIL for short periods . I'm not sure if other people want to mind them but I feel it should be up to them to demonstrate they're capable rather than expect that I owe them time with my DC.
It's not like you're restricting your FIL from seeing or spending time with your DS

Borttagen Fri 05-Dec-14 16:14:01

Really sorry you lost your MIL - sounds like she would have been a brilliant granny x

Hurr1cane Fri 05-Dec-14 16:15:10

I don't feel comfortable with any of my family caring for DS so they just don't. They're crap with his disability.

However, his dads family (me and his dad split up when DS was a baby) are excellent and get their own access day in addition to his dads access.

I say trust your gut.

Levismum Sat 06-Dec-14 10:02:38

I think you & your Dh are incredibly self absorbed. Find alternative care. Your poor file has lost his wife...For goodness sake!!!

Why don't you just speak to him rather then presuming lots of things?

Not everyone finds your dc fascinating, even GPs & close family...hmm

Writerwannabe83 Sat 06-Dec-14 10:16:35

And throughout all my thread levis I have said CONSTANTLY that I don't expect anything (gifts, time, focus) from FIL because of his grief. Please tell me where I've ever implied that his detachment is out of order or that I expect him to be fascinated?

Writerwannabe83 Sat 06-Dec-14 10:17:31

And nowhere have I said I expect FIL to provide childcare - quite the opposite!!!

divingoffthebalcony Sat 06-Dec-14 11:46:11

That was a harsh comment. I get the impression that DH wants his dad to do childcare as a means of getting the two of them to spend time together/ to bond / for FIL to have a distraction or something else to concentrate on.

Well, none of those are good reasons to leave your son in FIL's sole care

Like someone said upthread, lots of men of a certain generation had very little experience caring for their own children, so to expect them to be capable of caring for a baby 30-40 years later is a bit... optimistic.

OP, I hope you manage to have a talk with DH and help him see sense. There are other ways of getting his dad to show an interest in his grandson.

Writerwannabe83 Sat 06-Dec-14 12:15:19

Thanks diving. DH has a brother and he has 3 children but they live in Germany as DH's brother is in the army. When MIL took really ill they all came back to the country (thankfully in time to see her before she died) and they stayed with FIL for a month. Normally he dotes on those grandchildren (they were aged 2, 4 and 5 at the time) but due to MILs death he just couldn't engage with them understandably. Amongst his grief there's just no room for anyone or anything else. When he does pop round to see us or we go and visit him there's just this emptiness within him. He talks to us but it's like he's somewhere else.

This is why I know he can't take on a loving grandad role and I don't expect him to but I think posters are right in that I think DH thinks DS will be a good distraction. I don't think that trying to force FIL to form a relationship with DS before he's ready to is the answer though.

I will have a word with DH over the weekend I think.

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