Overbearing Grandfather(14 Posts)
II notice that most of the overbearing threads are about grandmothers, and that they tend to say things like “set firm boundaries, be honest, and pick your battles.” My problem is this: I have done all of these things and it hasn’t worked. I am the mother of three children under the age of six and I feel like my father is trying to usurp my role as parent. Even as a child he was extremely controlling with me and I feel like he takes it as a given that he should be allowed to do whatever he wants.
It is a complicated situation as he has helped out me and my husband financially, but I do not feel that in itself entitles him to do whatever he wants with my children, which he has outright stated is the case.
My concerns are these: He has type 2 diabetes because he eats incredibly unhealthily with sodas and deserts in excess. Unfortunately, I have also recognized that he makes any fun activity revolve around food, which causes an unhealthy emotional “good -time” association with certain foods. For example, it’s not just about going to a movie, it’s about getting popcorn, soda, candy, and fast food afterwards. He raised me and my sister this way and to this day we have problems with obesity. I have vowed to stop the cycle and give my children healthy foods and snacks, with a very occasional treat.
He undermines this every chance I get. When I was pregnant with my first child he stated that he couldn’t wait to take him fishing and give him candy bars, to which I stated: “We aren’t planning on giving him candy when he’s little.” His response was: “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” It seems like his attitude from the start has been one of “It doesn’t matter what you want, I’ll do what I want.”
He also expects to see my children at least once every two weeks, but more like once a week if he can. My husband and I are both very busy, and the time we have off we are trying to devote towards renovating one of our rooms for our daughter, plus I am in full time school and my husband works. I do not like having to take a whole day out of our two days off per week to devote to him seeing them. Now, before anybody goes there, no I will not have him babysit while we work on the renovations as he is entirely unreliable in regards to safety.
He once let my son, who was one and a half at the time, play in the dirt of an old firepit in our backyard after my husband and I had first moved in. We hadn’t cleaned out the firepit yet and the previous owners had thrown things like broken beer bottled into their fires so there were broken glass shards sprinkled throughout that dirt. He didn’t notice any of the broken glass, however, and laughed about the fact that my son was covered head-to-toe in dirt and that I would have to give him a bath immediately before he could go back in the house.
A greater concern occurred, however, when I was at his house. His house has a finished basement and while we were visiting and watching a movie downstairs my father came downstairs, grabbed my son’s hand (he was about 2 at the time) and started taking him upstairs to play with him. On our previous visit when he had been upstairs he had wandered into my father and stepmother’s bedroom and was found playing with their shotgun (which was on the floor next to their bed for “protection”). Even though the safety was on this is still an incredibly dangerous situation. So this time, when he went to take him upstairs I told him that I didn’t want my son up there unless the gun was put up on a high shelf in their closet (not unreasonable I think).
He ignored me and continued to walk my son upstairs stating “oh, it’s fine, the door to our room is shut.” Now, the door had accidentally been left open on the last occasion by my stepmom (who is definitely scatterbrained) so I don’t trust to this precaution being sufficient. I told him that I still wanted it put up or I didn’t want my son upstairs and he more vehemently told me that it was fine. So finally I stated that I was serious, to which he yelled that he was serious too. Eventually he did put the gun up but he fought with me to do so. He also would slip my son cake (at a year and a half old) during family gatherings when things were more chaotic and I couldn’t keep an eye on him, and state that “oh, he must have snatched it off my plate and I didn’t notice.” To me this is a double insult as not only is he feeding my son crap, but he is teaching him to lie to me about it.
He wants the kids with him for every holiday, including Halloween, (which I have never associated with visits with grandparents) and gives them each an Easter basket from him as well, even though each child received one already from me and my husband. It seems that he wants his claws in every aspect of their lives and wants to be more important to them than either me or my husband. It’s even in the language he uses: “There’s my boy, yes, he Grandpa’s boy isn’t he?”
He has also randomly called me to tell me he is on his way for a visit (with no prior notice), will be there in 30 minutes and wants to take my two year old to the park (which I do not allow with him for safety concerns). When I told him he could not take him to the park by himself he hung up on me and showed up anyway.
Am I out of my mind here or is this overstepping? What should I do about it as being extremely firm with him even to the point of arguing seems to do nothing and softer approaches he just bullies his way through.
It reminds me of my dad when reading this, he has similar controlling ways, especially the turning up unannounced etc- thankfully we now live 3 hours away so it doesn’t happen as much.
He sounds like a total nightmare! I know it’s hard as you are busy but you need to make every visit totally supervised- don’t let your LO out of your sight - I had to do this with my dad as he would do things with the children that he thought was funny (he didn’t think he was being cruel but acting like a ‘grandad’ - totally deluded) like pouring water all over them in a paddling pool when they were babies or lifting them to the ceiling and rubbing them on the artex (totally bizarre behaviour that we would put a stop to immediately). I had to stop bothering with him, stopped answering his calls and didn’t encourage him to come around and would never go to his house. He soon got the message, however if needed I would have had a sit down conversation and told him what I didn’t like, not to get him to change as he’s way past that but to get him to back off.
No matter how he has helped you out financially, you don’t need to take this.
I wouldn't let my child in a house that has a shotgun. Do you live in America, Op?
How far away does he live? Visits need to be short. There's no reason you need to see him for a while day. An hour here or there is fine. Go to his then leave as you're going somewhere 'very important.
This is tricky! Sorry you’re going through stress with this, any over bearing family member can leave you ruminating for days and it doesn’t feel good.
The difficulty is, from reading this it sounds like he adores his grandchildren, it doesn’t particularly strike me as something deliberate he’s doing to hurt you.
The gun being in access range is unacceptable, no question. But if he was able to put it up high somewhere safe, locked away
or throw it away could he not look after the children whilst you’re at work? That way he won’t be over demanding with his visits and you won’t have to take days off to see him, you also get free child care from someone who loves them?
As with the food part, I applaud you attempting to break the cycle. However, if they’re eating healthy food and getting lots of excercise with you they’ll be ok having treats once a week/fortnight at their grandparents.
Unless you have genuine serious concern that their lives will be in immediate danger by spending time with their Grandad whilst your at school/work (after the gun has been removed). I don’t see why not try a trial day, or trial couple of hours and see how that goes.
You could even explain to him that you’d like him to have indapendant access time with his grandchildren whilst you’re at school/work but you need him to listen to you a bit with what you think is best for your children and both be willing to make compromises?
Hope all works out for you
Are you in the UK? If so he's breaking the law by leaving the gun lying around isn't he? I thought they had to be in secure units.
This sounds like my parents house without the shotgun.
The bonkers food as reward/fun/social activity plus the undermining our rules about it and belilittling us when we complain they have done so....
plus having no common sense around ds's safety....oh let him just hold this rocket whilst i light it, its pointing away from him, he's got a glove on its fine (actual example)
No advice i'm afraud, i really struggle with dealing with them. But i do think a loaded gun on the floor is in another league entirely. No way would my child be back in that house without that gun locked away. Not for a second.
I think his behaviour is absolutely inappropriate and I would set firm boundaries to the point of arguing, yes. I would make it very clear that he never did anything you didn't want, had little to no unsupervised time, and if he shows up unannounced, I wouldn't let him in (if he becomes threatening, I'd call the police). This isn't normal behaviour and it isn't safe. There's no reason you have to tolerate it just to keep the peace.
I agree with Gem2018london. It does sound like your Dad absolutely adores his grandchildren which is lovely. I have one DS almost 9 months old and 3 of his grandparents have estranged themselves and my dad hardly sees him. I'm off on maternity leave so have all week free and wish he'd pop in every week. Very little effort from my father. I feel for DS as we have all these useless disinterested grandparents and he is their only grandchild!
I don't agree with the safety elements and the unannounced visits etc but I'm jealous my DS Doesn't have a grandparent who absolutely adores him...breaks my heart
Unfortunately I do not live in the U.K. so the gun lying around is legal in the U.S. I have no question that he loves my children but my concern is that there are always strings attached to anything he does and he would not hesitate to try to use them against me in any altercation, especially if they are attached to him.
Previously when he and I got into a fight and I stopped talking to him for awhile he started emailing my sister telling her to watch out for me because I spoke badly about her to every and tried to make everyone hate her (which never happened). This has led me to believe that he will do pretty much anything manipulative to try and get the upper hand when he is angry.
I'm hesitant to allow my children to get too attached to him for this reason, plus I don't want them learning terrible behaviors from him. He can be verbally abusive and while he never is TO them he does it in front of them. My stepmother once left his ipad around and my two year old wasn't supposed to play with it at the moment (he was allowed to play the kids games on there a lot so it wasn't an issue with him playing with it) as we were about to have dinner. When it was taken away my two year old started crying, as they do when they don't get what they want, and he started, i'll say growling for lack of a better word, at her that he told her to put that away and he should F*ing kill her.
This was all because the two year old was a little upset over essentially having a toy taken away. If he will do this in front of me and my husband what might he say when I'm not there?
My father also makes it pretty apparent that he has no interest in me or my life, I'm just the pathway to the boys he always wanted. He does adore his grandchildren but I just get this weird feeling about it that it's an unhealthy type of love. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but there's just this sense of his affection for them being pernicious.
Also to answer some questions he lives about an hour away, so just close enough to swing by, and just long enough to make it an excuse to stay quite a while.
Isn't he required to have his shotguns locked away in a locked steel cabinet? Peculiar. I can't understand it.
The random calls announcing random visits within thirty minutes reminds of my Scandinavian grandmother announcing such visits or simply turning up any time, ringing the door bell or sometimes just flinging open the front door and stepping inside, much to my mum's ultimate dismay. I have no particular advice to give, but maybe try to make it more scheduled - regular visits - habit - so you don't have to so many of those frustrating surprise visits.
What happens if you discuss the food issues of fast food and soda and candy with them? Surely he does know it's not good for anybody's health? But he doesn't know any other way to show affection than candy, perhaps.
I think you have enough reason to go NC ans to keep the dc away from him for their own physical and mental safety. Write a log of all he has done so far.
I think you absolutely must make a choice between your father and your children. Choose your children.
Your father is an absolute danger and a disgrace. This is not love, this is ownership with a side order of spite.
The letting him play near guns and in a filthy fire pit with broken glass is insane. So is the overriding of you and your wishes.
Follow your instincts here ... and why isn't your other half stepping up and saying NO NO NO.
I'm sorry that this is your -father-. But the less contact with him, the better; and it must be supervised.
Children need love, kind-but-firm boundaries, time and ethical treatment. Love without boundaries is a disaster. On top of that your father lies and tbh, since he treats you without love and even malice I'd question exactly why he is showering all this apparent-love on your son.
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