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To destroy my mother's happiness to protect my daughter from my father? Please help me.

456 replies

Haahhpy · 06/11/2018 19:43

I'm sorry in advance that this will be long. There's a lot of history and the back story is necessary. I am worried about the influence of my dad on my daughter (12 weeks old) but it would completely devestate my mum to restrict her contact with her granddaughter. There are several aspects I need help and advice on.

My dad is a very difficult man. He is I think extremely emotionally abusive. He has been diagnosed with depression but I am unsure whether there is some other mental health disorder which is undiagnosed (he lies to the GP). His default reaction to any adversity in life is rage. This used to be directed at me and my brother but since we left home this is focused solely on my mum. He can go months being very nice and kind, he's very good at DIY and loves to help people. But then when something goes wrong (can be quite a small thing) or there's any kind of slight disagreement in the family he will just turn. He becomes so angry, shouts and yells, says terrible things, is menacing and hostile. This can go on for weeks or months with long periods where he just completely ignored your existence (as a teenager living at home with him he once did not acknowledge me or speak to me for three whole months). He also gaslights when he is in these episodes (and I know the term is bandied around but I mean properly). He hides things like keys etc, breaks things and denies it, rewrites history, swears black is white and makes you question your sanity. He has had therapy, he's on antidepressants, he's done CBT and mindfulness courses. There have been numerous 'showdowns' and ultimatums about his behaviour. Things will improve for a while and each time we all start thinking maybe he has changed but eventually he slides back to his old patterns of behaviour.

My mum is a kind, patient, gentle woman. She has spent the last 35 years trying to 'fix' him. She spends a lot of her life miserable because of his episodes. We have a very close relationship and speak or see each other every day (usually just us, not with my dad too). I have thought for as long as I can remember that she should leave which she knows but does not have the strength to do / chooses not to. I feel like my heart is actually breaking watching how much he hurts her.

Through the years there have been times when I gave cut him off completely but gradually for my mum's sake I have let him back in to my life. For full disclosure out of me, my mum and brother I am the least affected by him and his behaviour. I have never been afraid of him like they are. I call him out on his shit and will say it like it is (have told him to his face I think he's an emotional abuser). He hates this as he can't stand being disagreed with. Also, for full honesty he was physically violent with me a few times growing up (kicked me quite hard a few times etc) but as I said our personalities do clash and I always gave as good as I got (verbally as I was obviously no match for him physically). I have told him that any relationship we have is for mum's benefit only.

When they found out I was pregnant both my parents were overjoyed (it's their first grandchild). They immediately offered to provide childcare for her when I go back to work and were generally very excited for the future. My dad loves kids and we all thought maybe this would be a fresh start for him. Looking after her would give his days meaning and purpose and he seemed very positive about the future so all was well. We were all very hopeful.

Fast forward to this week. His estranged step father died (virtually NC for 20 years) and he's gone into a tailspin. Screaming and raging at my mum to the point she had to come to stay with me. All our hopes that he'd changed have been dashed again.

I'm now wondering if leaving my daughter with him is an irresponsible move. I don't honestly think he'd ever hurt her but I want her to be influenced by seeing positive relationships as she grows up, not abusive ones. However, when I broached this with my mum she was devestated. She's so looking forward to having her when I'm back to work the thought of missing out on that destroyed her. I know people will say she shouldn't depend on her grandchild for happiness but what else has she got while living with him?

So to my AIBUs:

1: AIBU to accept their offer and let them care for my daughter (possibly but setting good toke midels for relationships). I feel incapable of hurting my mum by taking this away from her when I think it's basically her only source of real happiness.

2: OR AIBU to be so hard on my dad when he does after all have mental health issues? I am so unclear in my own mind how much of his behaviour is illness or if it's abuse? Where do you draw the line? And how much should you tolerate while making excuses because of his mental health? I'm so confused as to whether I'm a cold bitch with no sympathy for mental illness or whether my mum is just buying into the old chestnut that all abusive men are actually tortured souls who need a woman to save them.

Sorry it's so long and thank you if you've read to the end. Any opinions or advice are welcome. Thank you x

OP posts:
Nightmanagerfan · 06/11/2018 19:46

Sounds awful OP but you can’t let your baby daughter be around him. Can your mum come to your house to do childcare without him?

MrsBobtonTrent · 06/11/2018 19:48

I wouldn’t leave DC with this man. Your DM needs to make her own decisions without grandchild being used to reward or punish choices. Make your own childcare arrangements and give your mum alone as much access as works for you.

Congrats on baby!

QuickPollPlease · 06/11/2018 19:48

Can your mum babysit at your place?

RedLife · 06/11/2018 19:48

Could your mum have the baby at your home? And say to your Dad that's the reason why. Unless telling him would make it worse for your mum.

StoorieHoose · 06/11/2018 19:49

Please do not leave your child in the care of this man. Your mum can be granny but no need to be your child’s caregiver

Haahhpy · 06/11/2018 19:49

Sorry first AIBU should read possibly not setting good role models for relationships

OP posts:
StoorieHoose · 06/11/2018 19:50

Thing is that eventually df will start turning up at the OPs house is DM does child care there. Put your child in nursery or with a childminder. Your mum can still see you all at weekends

Elllicam · 06/11/2018 19:50

I agree with nightmanager, your priority has to be your daughter. If he has been abusive his whole life it’s unlikely to change now. If your mum can watch your daughter without him that’s great but if not I would not leave her with him.

13thWarriorWitch · 06/11/2018 19:50

Can you trust your mum to take care of baby at yours and not let your dad see her?

I wouldn't let him near her tbh. Whatever the reason for his behaviour, she's an innocent bab and you need to protect her.

She's your priority here. Not him and not your mum either in the end.

Dermymc · 06/11/2018 19:51

Could your mum come to yours without him? and stay forever

Santaispolishinghissleigh · 06/11/2018 19:51

Your dm should childcare at your home. As much for her well being as your dc.
Please don't subject your precious baby to an abusive bully.
If you do you would be failing your dc - they are more important than your dm's feelings ultimately.

Loopytiles · 06/11/2018 19:51

Sorry your father was and remains so abusive.

Good advice is available on the Stately Homes threads in the relationships section.

Never leave your DC in his sole charge, or (sadly) with your mother because it seems unlikely she is suitable either because of her situation and prioritisation of her partner over herself and her DC.

Your mother is a victim but also failed you, her DC.

blackcat86 · 06/11/2018 19:51

I also have a 12 week old and to leave her with anyone I would need to be 100% confident in her welfare. If you have concerns then don't leave her. You need to see this as you setting boundaries but your mum's choice. Your mum could choose to stay with you, leave your dad and care for your child. By choosing to be with your dad she may make herself unsuitable to care for your child because she is in an unhealthy environment. Having read your description of physical and emotional abuse I wouldn't be leaving my child there. Remember that babies grow up and find their own voices. How will your dad react when she's a stroppy teenager rather than a cute baby?

KM99 · 06/11/2018 19:51

He hurt you, his own child. Why would he be different with your daughter?

I'm so sorry this has been your life with him and your Mum. But reading this as a complete outsider my advice is please don't leave her in his care.

SprogletsMum · 06/11/2018 19:51

Sorry to be harsh but your mum allowed your dad to be verbally and physically abusive to you as a child.
I wouldn't leave my children with either of them ever.

StoorieHoose · 06/11/2018 19:51

whether my mum is just buying into the old chestnut that all abusive men are actually tortured souls who need a woman to save them.

She not managed to save him in all their years of marriage so she won’t manage it now. Why put your child in the middle of that?

ASliceOfLife · 06/11/2018 19:52

Your child's safety trumps anyone else's happiness.

That said, your mum could come to your house alone to do some childcare if that is an option? I think time with your dad would have to be supervised contact, and not it being your mum as 'the supervisor' so to speak.

I'd definitely have some back up childcare in place though as if he's having a bad day, she may not be able to make it over. Or maybe have a childminder/nursery for when you are in work and have mum babysit one evening a week?

A difficult situation, sorry you have this on your plate.

Hoppinggreen · 06/11/2018 19:53

You can have sympathy for his mental health while refusing to put your daughter in the firing line
It’s not a healthy environment for anyone, especially a small child who cant understand what’s going on and can’t express herself
You shouldn’t let your parents look after her unless your mum comes to your house

Purpleartichoke · 06/11/2018 19:53

I have a father with similar issues and a long-suffering mother.

I have never left my DD alone with my father and mother. She can be with grandma without me only if grandpa is out of town or I otherwise know there is zero chance of him being present. Dd has still had plenty of visiting time with my father, but I or my husband is always present. We don’t spend the night in their home. We get a hotel when we visit so if he isn’t on his best behavior we can simply leave. Thankfully since I tend to be such a hard ass about it, he has behaved in recent years. We haven’t had to walk out in the middle of a visit since dd was a baby.

They can’t babysit on a daily basis.

Here is what I remind myself of: It is your job to protect your child. It is your job to make sure that your child grows up with a healthy attitude on how to treat family. It is your job that your child knows how to be treated. You didn’t get that childhood. Make sure your child gets better than you.

Haahhpy · 06/11/2018 19:53

Thank you so much for replies. RedLife is right, my mum could care for her at my house but I'm worried the tension of this (my dad knowing I'm not allowing him to look after my daughter) would goad him make her home life even worse.

She's been telling her friends and family about her new future caring for her granddaughter. It just feels like the cruellest thing in the world to take that from her 😢

OP posts:
Unicornandbows · 06/11/2018 19:54

Can your mum come to your house?

IncomingCannonFire · 06/11/2018 19:55

Use alternative childcare. Dd can visit mum under your supervision or mum visit with you. No need for her to provide childcare. It's unfortunate but she has chosen to stay with her (and your) abuser. He will most definitely do it to your dd as soon as she can express her own opinions.

Pebblesandfriends · 06/11/2018 19:56

He clearly needs space and after a big emotional blow is not in a position to care for a small child at the moment. Sell that as the story and nursery when you go back to work. Your Mum will have to understand.

Loopytiles · 06/11/2018 19:56

The safety and wellbeing of your child is much, much more important than your mum’s feelings.

Your mum is sadly unsuitable to be in sole charge of her grandchildren.

Unicornandbows · 06/11/2018 19:56

Sorry posted same time as your reply.

I think your mum would need to make this choice herself, as your daughters health and well being is more important

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