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boozy parents

(63 Posts)
Chepstow1 Tue 14-Dec-04 19:09:25

I like a glass of wine or three, don't get me wrong, but my parents are serious social drinkers. For them this means 2 large home measure G&T's at 6pm and 3/4 to a bottle of wine each (and this is on a night at home), when people come round then sky is the limit.

I am worried about their health but this is a seperate issue. My concerns lie in the fact that they want ti be "active grandparents" and look after Ds. Last week I asked them to sit for me for the first time (first time I have ever left him). My brother has a DD and has had several rather dodgy experiences with my parents (e.g going next door and leaving the baby, coming home from a nights out and regularly finding my parents trashed on a regular basis etc etc.). It is not that they drink, it is that when they drink they become much less with it on the childcare front and in fact, do rather mad things. In my experience, i came home to find 2 empty bottles of wine in the bin and the baby moniter in the living room (they were in bed on a seperate floor). When I went into my son's room, he was on top of the bed with no blankets and a bib over his face.

Next day Mum and Dad said that they "had never needed moniters in their day" and that the reason for the sheets etc, was "as Dad had put him to bed". I know from seeing them after a few sherberts, that they just lose common sense. They are quite right no harm was done, but just for once I thought they could lay off it and focus on my son. The issues that occurred were minor but I naturally assume that some of their decisions were influenced by the bevvy.Mum knows I am cheesed off but more about what occurred (moniter/sheets) than booze.

How do you raise this stuff when you also love opening a bottle or two yourself no and again and also to share it with them, without seeming like a neurotic first time parent (which is what my parents think I am)..

Any thoughts out there

Xmas is coming and I am dreading it

DoesntChristmasDragOn Tue 14-Dec-04 19:12:50

I suspect it's going to be tricky to tackle this without offending them.

FimboCLAUS Tue 14-Dec-04 19:17:04

If they don't drink in the day, perhaps they could see more of your son then and have someone else babysit in the evenings? That way you wouldn't have to say anything...

Caligulights Tue 14-Dec-04 19:27:18

I agree with DCDO, it's highly unlikely you can tackle this without offending them, but otoh, you can't risk your baby's welfare.

Nobody who has drunk 2 G+T's and a couple of bottles of wine the night before can be an active anything, let alone grandparent.

Sorry, but I just wouldn't allow them to look after your DS. They are just not safe, even in the daytime. And they don't sound like serious social drinkers to me, they sound like serious alcoholics. And alcoholics always put the need to drink above the need for anything else, including looking after a baby. It's just not worth the risk.

IwigitcouldbeXmaseveryday Tue 14-Dec-04 19:34:51

Message deleted

charlie01 Tue 14-Dec-04 19:39:52

I think it may be a bit strong to call them serious alcoholics?

However I do think it's a problem, perhaps Fimboclaus' idea of daytime babysitting is best? I think you will have to bring it up if they push the issue of being active grandparents. I had a similar issue with my inlaws and it was horrible talking about it but it had reached the point where it was only fair to tell them why I had such a problem with them looking after our DS. It was bad at the time but it was worth talking to them about it as it's sorted now.

Good luck

Caligulights Tue 14-Dec-04 19:52:46

I've just looked at the amount again and realised I read it wrong - 3/4 of a bottle of wine each, not 3 or 4 bottles! Sorry, bit of a difference!

However, I still think that people who get trashed while in charge of a baby are not suitable people to look after a baby. It's different if a child is older, can pick up the phone, and use some common sense, but really under the age of about 6 or 7, I don't think kids should be left with people who prioritise drinking over looking after them.

pipkin Tue 14-Dec-04 20:01:50

Why on earth can't they lay off the booze when they are babysitting?? It's an awkward situation - but the welfare of your DS is the main issue, and if they can't refrain from their drinking whilst being responsible for him I'de definitely not let them babysit.

charlie01 Tue 14-Dec-04 20:04:49

Glad you said that Caligulights, was worried I was pretty close to being an alcoholic too!!! (I obviously dont drink that much when I'm in charge of DS though)

wickedwinterwitch Tue 14-Dec-04 20:10:52

IMO there's no point in asking them to do anything about it - if they are alcoholics your asking them to lay off just isn't going to stop them. And if they're not, their drinking still bothers you if they're babysitting so in that case I wouldn't ask them to do it. But getting them to babysit during the day (assuming they don't drink then) sounds ok. Were they really trashed when they babysat? If they're heavy social drinkers then a bottle of wine each and a G&T over a long evening (say, 6pm - 12pm, that's just over one unit an hour plus the gin) doesn't sound that excessive to me, in that surely they weren't incapable of dealing with your son waking up on that amount? I think you should probably find other babysitters though since whether they were capable or not, you don't think they were and that's the main thing.

Chepstow1 Tue 14-Dec-04 20:13:51

Thankyou for not making me feel neurotic - my parents are great don't get me wrong, but from 09.00 - 18.00, after that it is a different story. I don't live near them (I live in London), them in Wales (yes IwigitcouldbeXmaseveryday I live in Mathern too!!!!) which makes it harder as when I see them it is always a kind of "celebration" in their eyes whenever I see them e.g mum cooks, cracks open the wine etc etc. Also when they did come and babysit they drove from Wales for one night to let us go out. Pretty good of them. I also got the nice food and wine in to be hospitable as you would with any babysitter..

Wine has been around as long as I have in our house. My Parents have not changed, they have always been like they are, but I have. I guess as a 20 year old thought it was fab having parents who got as pissed as you and your student mates and were very cool about pretty much everything . Now as a Mum, I still want them to have fun etc, but I'd like them to just for once ease it off when looking after my son.

They do not see their consumption as a problem, just me and my "new mum" attitude.

What would you do in my shoes, please more help, you guys are stars...

IwigitcouldbeXmaseveryday - are you a long term matherner!!

IwigitcouldbeXmaseveryday Tue 14-Dec-04 20:19:37

Message deleted

Caligulights Tue 14-Dec-04 22:02:02

I'd just like to add something about alcohol consumption. A couple of gins and 3/4 of a bottle of wine in one sitting is something between 6-10 units of alcohol, so quite a lot - I think it might qualify as a binge but I'm not sure. I agree that once in a while, it's not a big deal (and let's face it, most of us have done it!) But if you are doing it every night, then you are drinking something between 40 - 70 units of alcohol a week. Recommended limits are 21 for women and 28 for men. Just to put it in context.

The thing about booze is that if you are doing that much every night, it has a cumulative effect, and you still have masses of alcohol running around in your blood the next day, making you incompetent. I think people who are not familiar with alcoholism and the surprising effects of alcohol are sometimes not aware of that. Heavy drinkers may not appear to have hangovers (because they've got used to the effects of alcohol) but in fact they suffer the same loss of faculties that the rest of us do when we have storming hangovers after a fab night out. Which doesn't matter unless you're operating machinery or looking after a baby!

Chepstow1 Wed 15-Dec-04 08:02:51

You are totally right, and my parents never ever have hangovers, but Mum is very forgetful, oftern telling me the same tale several times over etc etc. She is also very defensive and can be quite aggresive when sober. She came to stay with me on her own last easter for a week and each night, even though dad was not there and I was pregnant (so no boozing), out came the whiskey or gin bottle at 6pm, and the wine open at 7pm like clockwork. I got really cheesed off with it and was in bed by 8.30pm each night as I just couldn't cope with her.

At the time the BBC were doing a massive news thing on booze consumption and there was heaps of stuff on the news about acceptable booze levels etc. We watched several of these articles and I said to Mum on a few occastions " do you ever count your units", " do you ever have booze free days" etc etc. My Mum eventually told me to "lay off her"...

A few weeks later after a particularly bad incident with my brothers DD when mum and dad were babysitting and got lashed, I took Dad out for dinner to have a chat with him about both their boozing. My Dad is a very intelligent man (PHD Chemist) and understands EXACTLY the effects, but has the attitude that he enjoys it, he is under control (his behaviour is not as affected as mums when he drinks), and that so is Mum. He left me with the impression that there was no way they were going to change.

I guess I just need to lay down the rules. Before we had DS, my husband and I said that we would say that anyone babysitting would need to be able to drive a car (at least one of Mum or Dad), that was this would not rule out them having 1 glass with dinner.

They will see this as a totally unnessessary and neurotic, harsh etc etc plus will DH and I have to comply with our own rule over Xmas, this will be hard too when we stay with them!!

What do you guys think??

hercyulelog Wed 15-Dec-04 08:47:45

Chepstow - I'm no expert on alcoholism but have an alcoholic living with us at the moment. He rarely drinks but will not admit to having a problem. What you typed sounds very familiar.
If you are worried then why not phone alanon. They are really helpful.

wrapmefestively Wed 15-Dec-04 08:48:05

Alcoholic doesn't have to mean: park bench, brown paper bag and methylated spirits....sorry no offence intended at all to Chepstow's parents who are probably lovely people, but they do sound alcoholic to me.....they appear to depend upon alcohol and can't live without it. I read an autobiography of an alcoholic once (she held down a responsible job during the day for a couple of years despite her problem) and she included at the end of a book a self diagnosis questionnaire. I was mortified at the end to find myself in a high risk category for going on to develop alcoholism, and I was drinking about the same amout, perhaps slightly less than your parents at that time.

I wouldn't let them sit for my children over night either, and depending upon my relationship with them (i.e. how they deal with frank discussions) would either tackle it head on and tell them it's because I don't want alcohol consumed whilst they are looking after their grandchild, or I would simply be evasive and just ensure that the opportunity for them to babysit overnight didn't come up anymore.

charlie01 Wed 15-Dec-04 09:58:00

I dont think it's fair to simply not let them babysit anymore without explaining the reasons why. If they want to be active grandparents they deserve to hear what your problems are with it. If they refuse to accept your reasoning (I think the need to be in a position to be able to drive is a very good point)then fair enough but I think they should be given the opportunity to not drink whilst looking after your little one.

It's difficult because alcoholics or not, their perception of a suitably safe amount to drink is going to be different to everyone elses because they drink that amount on a regular basis. I think it is clear that they wont stop drinking at the point where you would stop drinking and they obviously dont see the difference so I think you are right you will have to lay down the law and only drink the same amount as well.

I know my mum thinks most of the things I do are totally over the top and irrational but I just laugh and tell her I'm the mum now and I make the decisions!

Chepstow1 Wed 15-Dec-04 09:58:51

My parents are lovely people and by day do some very kind things e.g cook food for when they come and stay etc etc, but they are a grumpy as anything if there is ever a situation where booze is not available after 6 (particularly Dad).

I have never called any "help" organisations but may give this a try. I have tried the "head on" approach when pregnant and had some very direct conversations, but the first and only time I have left them with him, I did not tell them not to booze, but they did as normal and when incidents occurred then I could not help myself but put it down to that.

I think I'll call the professionals and see what they say, plus if the situation occurs when they need to sit, I guess I'll just have to say that I would prefer it if they did not drink when looking after him. They will not be happy I can tell you, but that is their choice.

God I sound like mother superior... I am off out tomorrow night with my antenatal group and plan to have a right skin-ful of wine (having been milking myself all week in prep), plus have a glass most nights myself,

Thanks again girls

Caligulights Wed 15-Dec-04 10:09:26

Chepstow, don't feel embarrassed about drinking yourself. Many of us feel that we can't criticise or challenge anyone else's drinking unless we restrict ourselves to a small glass of dry sherry at Christmas, but the fact that you may have a glass of wine or two most nights, and even go out and get trashed occasionally, doesn't mean that because of that, your parents drink normally and they're OK to look after your precious baby. I think alcoholics will often point to other people's drinking habits in order to justify their own, and in order to avoid being challenged on them. And we feel uncomfortable about challenging them because we drink ourselves, so we're not sure if we have a right to point out the moat in their eye when maybe we have a beam in our own. And alcoholics are aware of this discomfort, and believe me, they play on it - as long as they can poo-poo any concern by implying that you need to go away and come back and comment when you've joined the temperance society, it gives them permission to carry on drinking inappropriately. But in this case, it really does sound like you are totally justified in being worried.

foxinsocks Wed 15-Dec-04 10:31:01

Message withdrawn

wordsmith Wed 15-Dec-04 10:48:44

Chepstow, I really think you have to put an end to your parents babysitting (and so does your brother by the sound of it). Next time they come to stay why don't you suggest going out with them and getting a friend to babysit, thus letting them know that they are not depriving you of a rare night out and that you do have a friend/friends who are ready and willing to help out. You could put it to them that the evenings when they visit are probably the only time you and they can catch up on news and enjoy your time together without the baby distracting you, so you don't want to waste that precious time by going out without them. If they stay for a few days why not go out for lunch with friends instead of out at night, and suggest your parents could take the baby to the park or something?

I agree you're probably not going to be able to get them to stop drinking, and it's not been a problem until your baby came along, so just try and maximise the time they can have alone with their grandson DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS ONLY!!!!

Can't say I've ever had to face this problem, my folks had a dusty bottle of cherry brandy and one of Advocaat that came out at Christmas and that was it really! If my mum goes out for a meal she has a Cinzano and lemonade and it 'goes right to her knees'!! I remember when I started drinking alcohol they got a bottle of gin in for me when I came home from college - it lasted about 3 years!!

wrapmefestively Wed 15-Dec-04 11:22:57

Absolutely Wordsmith. Good advice.

Chepstow1 Wed 15-Dec-04 13:27:28

Thanks very much. It is so good that people can share their experiences (thanks foxinsocks) and also just common sense. Have spoken to DH and we have decided that IF we are totally cornered into asking them again then we will be totally straight about how we feel and pretty much lay down the law. I spoke to my brother today about his experiences and he said that he did this and it made absolutely no difference so now he just does not leave his daughter with them. When I was pregnant, I also had pretty direct conversations, and I see the time
last week when they babysat (when they drank as normal and "incidents" happened (owever trivial, i still lay some of the blame on the fact they boozed)), as strike 1. I may be bonkers, but I am going to spell it out and give them on last chance. Any slip ups and that is it, and I won't feel gulity about it.

The hardest part is talking to Mum. We talk a lot and are quite close, but on the booze thing we are miles apart. When my brother and her "had words" last year she was devastated and funnily enough, her defense was that "my brother likes a drink too", which is a joke as him and his wife struggle to get through a bottle of wine between them at the best of times. Mum felt gutted, let down and a real sense of rejection by my brother, but still did not accept his point, in fact blamed it all on my brothers wife!

Dad I can be as straight as anything with but he does nothing, does not deal with Mum or anything and also does very little to contribute to childcare when he is around.

As I said though, I am going to give them I more shot at it, with clearer rules, after that sod em!!!

Cheers ladies

Miriam2 Wed 15-Dec-04 14:10:33

Chepstow, I feel for you. My mum has a similar problem (I especially recognised the 'Well you like a drink too' tack) My children are older than yours but still need 'babysitting'. Last time she came, she overindulged the night before (when they were in bed) so was incredibly ratty and short-tempered with dd and ds the next day (we were at a wedding) Ds in particular was very upset as he couldn't understand why he was in trouble all the time, and tbh it has for the moment spoiled his relationship with her. I can't talk to her about it without her saying how 'naughty' he was etc. dd says he wasn't and I think she'd tell!!My only solution has been to resolve never to leave them alone with her again. It's not fair on the kids. Even if they weren't in any danger they don't deserve that kind of treatment.
You have a right to be angry- how you deal with it depends on your family circumstances. In ours, it spurred me on to find a good babysitter and it's the best thing we ever did. Sadly it has changed my relationship with mum too.

sallyhollyberry Wed 15-Dec-04 14:33:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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