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SIL does not let her children play outside - they are pale and miserable.

(88 Posts)
talking Mon 17-Aug-09 20:43:02

Briefly, my SIL is obsessed by cleaning.
I briefly visited her today and left after 20 minutes.

Her 4 children have been indoors all day - watching TV. They are all under 13. They have a garden and a patio.

Their mother is scared of the outside world.

The oldest has just started her period and she is having cramps. Her mother would not let her do anything today and gave me the impression that periods are an illness. She was indoors all day and I said that fresh air and walking in the garden would help.

My DH (we are married to brothers) will not say anything - despite being a medical Dr - and I have been warned off saying anything cos I will be "talked about" behind my back. The family refuse to see that there is a problem.

What can I do to help these poor children?
The mother is passing her phobia onto them.
They are already being laughed at by their peers.

leenasmom Mon 17-Aug-09 20:49:26

so similar to my sister. her children have a set time outside in the sun and then indoors.. .they have enough entertainment indoors but sometimes i do feel sorry for them...she is a clean freak aswell and the 'garden clothes' have to be removed before they sit down if they come in before the set time they are not allowed out... whereas my dc are forever outside and cannot stay indoors if there is a glimpse of sun shine... my family do think that sis is ott but do not say anything to her...we just spoil the children rotten when they come over...she always complains that the children are misbehaving after they have been with us ...they are being children!!

ZZZenAgain Mon 17-Aug-09 20:51:22

what does she think is going to happen to them outside in the garden? Germs?

OrmIrian Mon 17-Aug-09 20:54:39

I can't beleive your DH won't say anything! Surely he could tell her much damage she is doing them? Poor kids.

hocuspontas Mon 17-Aug-09 20:58:04

I imagine she doesn't want dirt brought in from the garden.

She probably needs medical help. Poor kids as well

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 21:04:46

I can only reply quickly as DH is hopping on and off the computer.
SIL's mother died of cancer a few years ago so maybe this has something to do with her way of thinking - I don't know.
I met her after her mother died.
DH says I'm criticising. I say I'm not - thank you all for backing me up.
I discussed this with a children's centre worker. She said that unless the mother wants help there's nothing that can be done. I tried staying away and felt better for it -but now i feel that the children are suffering and no-one is helping them. They look like ghosts - so pale.

SammyK Mon 17-Aug-09 21:13:02

Feel sorry for them, most kids love being outdoors and it does them good to be tearing around. How much excercise are they getting bein stuck indoors all day?

Are they old enough to play out with friends? Is that why other kids are making fun of them because they aren't allowed out? They must be bored am assuming they are in 6 weeks hols from school.

I agree with you on period pains, I suffer really badly and a walk does me the world of good.

warthog Mon 17-Aug-09 21:16:52

well i don't think you can say something. your dh can say something to his brother, but it's up to him.

why don't you get her kids round and let them loose in your back garden?

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 21:55:13

Can't get them round - she doesn't drive and I only have room for 3 passengers plus DD (it would be 4 children plus SIL). Anyway - her favourite word is "dangerous" and I've had enough. One of the children was on a bicycle on the grass in the garden - they went out cos I was there - and the 13 year-old said "bikes are dangerous". I said if it was dangerous, you wouldn't have one, would you.

I feel suffocated by her fears when I go there.
Asked DH why no-one says anything - we all know there is a problem. SIL would rather have a clean floor than happy children.

Am furious, - absolutely furious that SIL is unwittingly being cruel to her children and have warned DH that I will lose my temper - not a pretty sight - cos I have been told to keep quiet.

mamas12 Mon 17-Aug-09 21:55:40

That's exactly what I was going to say. and invite her too so that she can see that the dcs and everyone getting hot tired dirty and boisterous is NORMAL and enjoyable.
My db is like this with his dcs but he is a lazy selfish arse so that's another story. But whenever they are with me I make sure they borrow clothes and wellies and off we go.

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 22:04:25

I would like to take them out but I can't cope with 4 of them plus my own DD (18 months). Anyway, their mother wouldn't let them go out without her.

She has been banned from helping out on school trips cos she is too anxious!

She has been to my house during the day (by bus) by herself - and offered to hoover (not that it needed hoovering!)!!!

I told her that toys on the floor don't bother me - i just step over them - she was shocked!

My house is clean but i have children's things all around. Her house is like a show-home.

She looked worn-out today - i felt dreadful to look at her but a lot of this she has brought on herself. I have tried to help her, by telling her about children's centres, but she says everything is okay.

I'm furious cos everyone seems either in denial or reluctant to deal with the matter -except me - and I want to sit her down and talk to her about the effect her behaviour is having on the children. She needs to recognise that her behaviour is abnormal.

So sorry for ranting for so long.

2rebecca Mon 17-Aug-09 22:04:40

She sounds a loon, but there's nothing you can do. There are worse things you can do to your children. You could offer to take 1 or 2 of them out with you for the day (and a different 1 or 2 next time) if you want in the car, or as you're keen to get them outside take them out for a walk. Otherwise leave her to it. It's not worth losing your temper over. She's hardly an alcoholic drug addict. They'll get to play out at school and you're just describing 1 day of visiting. Ibuprofen is likely to be much more useful for period pains than fresh air and exercise. I'd have been mortified if I'd known my mum was discussing my period pains with my aunt though and my aunt then started giving me advice on fresh air and exercise. That would definitely have made me want to retreat to my bedroom and hide.

flyingbat Mon 17-Aug-09 22:05:57

Losing your temper with someone who is mentally ill won't help. I have a SIL who suffers from depression on and off and sometimes I have to really bite my tongue. But I am not willing to do anything that will compromise my relationship with my brother or my nephew. Plus, it is an illness, so what would be the point of me losing my temper with someone who needs help and support?

Take the kids out on their own, let them run around, be free, and then go home. If you do this on a regular basis they have a chance of living a regular life without phobias.

It's great that you care about your nephews and nieces, and it is really sad that your husband's family won't face up to the fact that your SIL has a problem. Until they do the best thing you can do is be a fabulous Aunty to the kids, taking them out on trips and just being there for them.

flyingbat Mon 17-Aug-09 22:07:28

ah have just spotted that it would be difficult to cope with them all on a day out, and I see your point!

Perhaps as 2rebecca says, one or two at a time?

lilacpink Mon 17-Aug-09 22:07:50

I don't agree with your SIL, but I think for your family's sake you may have to bite your tongue. Perhaps think of good things she does (feed/clothe the DCs?). In some ways putting unneccessary fear onto children is comparable to neglect because it can adversely effect their lives and their role as future parents, but sadly people can't stop neglect happening. Maybe when they're older she'll let you take them out locally and give them a chance to see some normality. Also, they must see it on the TV, hear it from friends and read about it in books?

SammyK Mon 17-Aug-09 22:09:15

If she genuinely has OCD and it is affecting her life and her children's maybe she does need someone to talk to her and ask her if she is okay?

How do you get on with her can you talk to her? A convo like the one you had about your floor with toys on if handled right could help her to open up and allow you to guage if she is deep down happy with her current outlook or not.

LadyPinkofPinkerton Mon 17-Aug-09 22:09:28

I don't undersatnd why she had so many children if she is going to keep them inside all the time. Surprised at her having that many children if she likes a clean tidy house. They don't go together. grin <Joke to all of those with larger families and beautiful clean/tidy houses>

I feel sorry for the poor children. I know what you mean about them looking like ghosts. There are a family at Dses school that are like that. Children never go out and they look awfully pallid

Lulubee Mon 17-Aug-09 22:12:21

Why doesn't her DH get involved? Is he aware of what is going on, does he facilitate it? Like Flyingbat said, all you can do is be a fantastic Aunt who can show them how to be normal.

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 22:16:32

Hi all.

My niece mentioned it herself about period pains.

How can I be there for the kids if i don't see them.

I feel a bit calmer now - thank you all.

I would only lose my temper cos I've been told to keep quiet otherwise "talk behind my back". I don't care but DH does. What about these kids? They are fed and clothed but they also need other things too. They eat very little protein.

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 22:21:44

Her DH is aware, I would assume.
He doesn't seem to have any influence over her.
The 10 year old had to have a blood test cos she was underweight.
There is a lot going on in that house and sometimes I think that I'm the only one who can see that she needs emotional help.
I saw a therapist as I found it very hard to adjust to being a mother and bonding with DD (I also had a c-section to recover from). I know help is available.
SIL can do what she wants to herself but when it impacts on children , then that's a different story.
I told SIL on the phone i was taking DD to the local park and did she want to go together - she was horrified!!
I could her my 8 year-old niece in the background begging to go and she was crying. Needless to say - they didn't come.
I told her today that she was imprisoning herself by her fear, she admitted she is scared when she goes out with the children - she laughed at me.

talking Mon 17-Aug-09 22:23:55

She said that she wanted a large family cos she was lonely being an only child. She uses the children for company and make them reliant upon her. She denies it but it's plain to see.

Whatever they try to do around the house to help her it's never up to her standards (i think even Kim and Aggie would find it hard to match her standards!).

piscesmoon Mon 17-Aug-09 22:45:27

Are the grandparents near enough to help? It seems a dire situation-they need to run around all day and get dirty, but I can't think of a solution unfortunately. Hopefully they get chance to do it all at school.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 17-Aug-09 23:05:17

Oh dear. Poor kids. I don't suppose they have the other normal kid stuff like a wormery - do they even get to do crafts?

You mentioned one had a bike - do they actually get to ride them anywhere? Bikes aren't dangerous, traffic is - are there any off-road cycle paths they would be allowed on (with an adult).

Do they get to do anything active but clean like swimming or bowling maybe? Just trying to think of something that might be acceptable to your SIL to get them off the couch.

mamas12 Mon 17-Aug-09 23:30:40

You say the dh is a dr.? Can you have word with him. This does sound worrying and is affecting you and your relationships now so agree about 'talked bout' She is being 'talked about' isn't she.
Try and get her some professional help

codinbatterindailymail Mon 17-Aug-09 23:42:12

If she has 4 children is that perhaps one of the reasons she doesn't take them out? I only have two and it's hard enough to keep an eye on them, let alone 4? You say that you couldn't cope with all 4 plus your DD, perhaps she feels the same?

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