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DM wants to stage intervention with alcoholic(?) DIL(64 Posts)
I'll try make this as concise as possible but it's still going to be long...
I posted recently about going NC with my dad, who had taken some money from my brother via their joint business account, just before my brother's baby arrived. Brother found out around the time the baby was born. This has forced my brother to seek new employment elsewhere while finishing up a few contracts for the old company that he felt duty bound to complete before leaving my dad to his own devices re. the business they co-owned. He's been very busy - working extremely long hours to make ends meet and says to me he feels like he hasn't really spent any time with his new baby.
SIL has apparently always been surrounded by alcoholism - her mum and her sister are, according to my DM, both alcoholics. Since the birth of the baby, she too has turned to the bottle, it seems. I had a very slurred phone call from her the other night telling me she wishes my toxic DF would die (she is entitled to her opinion in that respect as DF is a knob so I wasn't upset by the content of the call - more worried about the fact she was clearly steaming drunk with a 4mo in the house). DB was with her, sober, but I understand they had been arguing.
My mum (divorced from my dad now) rang me last night as she is worried about her grandchild, and wants to 'hold a family conference with SIL, brother and SIL's family' to discuss the child's safety, the alcohol problems and SIL and DB's relationship - basically she wants to stage an intervention. She is actively encouraging my brother to leave SIL as she is worried he will become depressed and 'hurt himself' (he's not said anything to indicate he feels this way). DB was apparently planning to leave her, up until she announced the pregnancy. As far as I can see, DB can't afford to leave and rent elsewhere, and it would leave the baby in a house with an alcoholic mother. I would much rather DB stayed to ensure baby is safe when the drinking starts.
Having recently had a baby myself, my suspicion is that a combination of PND, sleep deprivation, the financial stress of DB temporally loosing his income, effectively having to act as a single mother due to the circumstances around the baby's birth (DB working long hours) and a past rooted in alcoholism is what has triggered SIL's drinking - therefore I think the honourable thing for my DB to do is to stay, to help his partner and support her through this. Or at least to try (DM does not think he has not sought any professional advice or help for her and is worried doing so would trigger SS involvement).
DM disagrees and thinks DB should leave SIL and feels we can 'manage the situation as a family' and 'pull together'. She thinks SIL will take kindly to being sat down by her MIL and told she needs help, needs to allow DB to leave her and that she shouldn't look after the child - I strongly disagree and think it would kick off. My feeling is that if DM feels the child is at any risk then social services need to become involved, but otherwise her role at present should be to council my brother how best to help his partner and help him research places to find advice and support for them as a family. I feel DM would just be seen as meddling if she stages her 'intervention' and it won't help anyone.
Am I on the right track? I have no experience with alcoholism, neither does DM. I suspect DM just wants to look out for her grandchild and her son, but I can't help but feel my SIL's needs are not being addressed. She needs some compassion and support, surely?
I'm just not sure we are the ones to do that at this point, I think DB needs be instrumental in organising help for her, and I don't see why we can't support him in that respect. Obviously if that doesn't work or there is reason to suggest social services need to be informed, then I feel that is the best way forward.
So I suppose my question is - WWYD?
Sorry that was long! I was trying not to drip feed.
Personally I would stay well away from an intervention and let SS deal with it.
I think you are morally obliged to tell them as a drunk mother of such a small baby is a major safeguarding issue.
Your poor SiL, your mum needs to back way off. If she does want to help then maybe the offer of payment for some counselling but trying to take her baby away is only going to drive the woman down a deep black hole.
I have seen alcoholism first hand in a previous life. if she is drinking all day everyday from 1st thing in the morning, then it is serious. if she is having a bottle every night after the baby is asleep as a way to relax then that would be concerning and if added to PND would be more concerning. Either way she need professional help. Your DM is not that professional help.
In the first instance I would support DB, supporting your SIL in finding a solution.
It doesn't really matter what has caused the alcoholism, the fact is that she's a danger to the child, and I think expecting your brother to work through alcohol issues with her is very naive.
She will face them as and when she is ready, and that may be never. But his embroiling himself in her issue will only bring heartache and distress to him.
He did not cause it, he cannot fix it - key tenet of AA.
Has it not crossed your db mind to move out and take the baby until she seeks professional help?
It needs to be him challenging /supporting his dw not your dm imo.
stay away from this! I agree totally that the mother seems to be coming from a totally toxic and unhelpful place.
People are SO quick to cry 'alcoholic' and it is very damaging.
The people accused deny it, to cries of 'ah, typical symptom' this leaves them unable to defend themselves.
I have seen this first hand, it is evil and unhelpful and has nothing to do with the truth of the situation.
Keep out of her business (said gently and kindly)
I think you're on the right track. I have actually been where your SIL
Is and the stress is so horrendous I honestly thought it would kill me (company going bust after being ripped off by DF members)
Some people drink more under extreme stress but getting drunk doesn't mean you're an
"I think you are morally obliged to tell them as a drunk mother of such a small baby is a major safeguarding issue."
This is bonkers. Getting drunk whilst being a mother is extremely common. Unless you know she is a problem drinker and a threat to the child SS won't give a crap
That sounds like a fucking terrible idea.
Are you close to SIL? Are you able to privately (without DM knowledge) and have a chat with her about how she is and if anyone can help her with anything? I don't know if that's the right thing to do, but it is what I would do. See if you can gently steer her towards getting some therapy or seeing her GP if she is really struggling?
There's a big difference between having 2 or 3 glasses of wine a couple of nights a week, and being an alcoholic on a bottle of gin a day.
Also would like to add you sound like the only calm one in this situation and very kind and level headed indeed...
Really though, DM should stick her nose right out and not bandy around accusations horrid.
Has it occurred to your DM that if she does this, BIL may defend her, therefore creating a them vs us divide?
I think if anything, you need to approach your DB and ask if they need any help / support. I can't believe this hasn't been done already. Some babysitting to let her sleep may help (depending on how she is).
What you and your DM want doesn't actually matter at all. It's what your DB wants that you need to find out. You may find he is already aware and handling it.
Back off, give no opinions just offer support. Unless you have evidence the child is in danger, do not get involved.
Do you know she's drinking a lot other than the one phone call when you say DB was in the house?
That's one slurred phone call with the SIL makes her an alcoholic? First few months are so tough and lots of blokes don't help out much/make things harder / expect to get attention as well as screaming baby.
Your DB needs to be supporting his partner. That means making sure he's pulling his weight with a new baby.
DM should keep out of it intervention wise.
Talk to your brother. Visit your SIL with lots of home made food, cake and have a chat with her (away from your DB) She actually needs the family support to ride this wave of parenting.
exactly... so she was a bit pissed one night...with a sober partner in the house, after a great deal of stress (not caused by her mind...)
bloody hell, stage an intervention. Ahhh, I don't think so.
I don't think SS will do anything at all about one parent being drunk whilst the other parent is home and sober TBH.
That doesn't mean SIL isn't a problem drinker though.
Has your brother expressed concerns re SIL's drinking?
I think the 'family intervention' will just make things worse.
If your brother feels SIL IS an alcoholic I'd help him find support from groups re family of alcoholics and if you have got evidence of SIL's drinking posing a risk to the baby then report that to SS but that depends on a lot of things. Simply being in the house steaming drunk when the other parent is there and sober is not an example of a risk to the DC.
If she is steaming and being abusive to your brother then yes, if she is steaming and insisting she is the only one who can care for the baby then yes, if she is drinking and driving the baby whilst over the limit yes, if she is drinking and caring for the baby without your brother there then yes etc
Thank you, some really helpful replies here and echoing my own thought processes.
To answer some of the questions:
- regarding definition of alcoholic: from what I've been told (via DM, via DB), she was drinking heavily - to the point of passing out - in evenings only before falling pregnant. Stopped entirely during pregnancy, and resumed behaviour immediately after. We live about 4 hours from them, so my only evidence of the drinking is the drunken phone call. DB has told me in the past of her drinking and the arguments it causes between them. So 'alcoholic' may or may not be appropriate, I'm not sure. There's certainly potential there.
I don't think, and neither does DM that the child is immediately at risk - the risk seems more long term in how it could affect the baby in growing up. But I have considered SS, that's certainly in mind.
It may seem like we are being unbelievably nosey to some, DM is trying to look out for her grandchild and I do get that. I just want to do what is best for all 3 of them as a family, without further fucking things up for anyone.
It's such a mess!
And you know I don't think it is just absolutely fine for one parent to be steaming drunk in the house with a 4 month old, but i don't believe anyone would think it was a safeguarding risk when the baby was in bed and the other parent was there and not drunk.
I don't think any of you are nosey. I think it is abundantly clear why you are all concerned but I suspect your mother is approaching this as a parent of your brother without adequately recognising that he is now her adult child.
And yes, she is most likely an alcoholic as that is related to having a problematic relationship with alcohol rather than how much or how often you drink.
Apologies if my replies are a bit sporadic - trying to sort toddler out and MN!!!
If your brother wants to leave her and did before the baby then he should try to work his life into something that would work re that plan.
He can't really support her through this. He should really just be focussing on protecting the child from it.
If she is an alcoholic then at least at some point, SS should be involved (preferably by him asking for their support re his concerns).
SS will remove the child from her care if she really is alcoholic and your brother needs to make his life ready for that possibility
If you or your mother make the report and they find she is a risk to the baby then he will be looked at from a perspective of 'why haven't you raised these concerns with us? Can you protect DC?'
What your mum could do is offer him help to make his life ready for full time care of the baby.
OK so she's probably got a problem with alcohol. But I suspect you're right that DM's intervention is not going to do anything to help and will probably cause a lot of trouble.
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