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Grandchild lives in squalor

(34 Posts)
Nippysweety Wed 27-Oct-21 14:15:12


I have a quandary I have been mulling over for a while and I just dont know what to do for the best so am looking for opinions.
My grandson is 7, my son (his father) is not involved in his life due to addiction issues so he is being brought up by his single parent Mum with as much help from myself and his grandad as we can offer.
I greatly admire Mum as she is bringing up grandson on her own whilst also working. She is a loving , hands on, conscientious parent and her son is a credit to her.
However, her home is squalor. I don't mean it is a bit untidy or even 'lived in' unclean. It is well established, long term filthy squalor. They have several pets which aggravate the situation and the smell.
I had to go in the other day to use the toilet and I was shocked at how bad it now was ( and i am not the delicate type).
We have also noticed lately that our grandsons hair and clothes smell unclean too.

On the one hand I feel that she is doing her best (and certainly more than his father, my son!), she is a great Mum in every other way and I dont want to jeopardise our relationship with her.
On the other hand my heart breaks at the environment my grandson is being brought up in. How can he ever bring friends home and I fear he will be bullied at school.

What would you do?

Curlywhirly Wed 27-Oct-21 15:04:22

Oh this is really difficult. It all depends on the relationship you have with your grandson's mother. My son is single and has his own house; when he moved in I asked him if he wanted me to go round and clean it once a week (I am retired and sadly quite enjoy housework 🙄). He was thrilled (and very, very grateful!) Could you say that you know she can't have much free time (especially if your son doesn't help out) and you'd be more than happy to help out more - making suggestions such as doing the garden, ironing, and tag cleaning on the end. It's a very delicate situation, only you can know whether it's the kind of thing you could say to the Mum. In the meantime, could you maybe spruce up his clothes when he visits? (But only if you think that his Mum is so busy, that she wouldn't even notice). A real dilemma indeed.

BlueBelle Wed 27-Oct-21 15:13:10

Difficult one I think I d turn a blind eye to the dreadful house as kids can be brought up in all sorts and do well but if the child himself is smelly that’s not good because he ll be a target for teasing
I think * curleys* idea of offering help may be the way forward and perhaps talk to the lad about hygiene can you get round it with a CoviD talk and washing hands Could you offer him a shower or how about buying him some young men’s soaps and other toiletries etc for Christmas you can get them with superman and other hero’s on Just an idea

VioletSky Wed 27-Oct-21 15:27:18

Single working mum, I expect at some point she has prioritised her child's needs and the housework has become overwhelming and impossible. If she is unhappy about it, that will make it worse.

Practical help is the way forward. Perhaps help her get one room nice and when she is managing to keep it up, start another.

If you can afford to, maybe a cleaner?

Smileless2012 Wed 27-Oct-21 15:38:44

I'm nor surprised you're not sure how to handle this, it's a very delicate situation isn't it Nippysweety.

If you're going to broach this matter I suggest you begin by telling her what you've told us. What a great job she's doing, what a wonderful mum, how proud you are of how she copes and grateful that your GS has her for a mum.

You say you and your H help as much as you can, does this include helping out with any house hold chores? If yes, you could ask her if she'd like you to give a bit more time to help with house work and if house hold chores aren't a part of the help you currently give, you could ask if she's like some help in that area.

You're clearly a loving and supportive m.i.l.. Lots of praise for what is good and a gentle hint at the state of the house is probably the best approach.

Good luck.

sodapop Wed 27-Oct-21 15:40:15

Sounds like you have a great relationship with your grandson's mother Nippysweety such a shame your son is missing all this. I agree with curlywhirly could you offer to clean once or twice a week as she is so busy working and looking after her son. I realise you don't want to jeopardise the relationship you have but I agree something does need to be done. Good luck

Hithere Wed 27-Oct-21 16:04:40

The danger to offer help with clean up is that it may get misinterpreted on the mum's side.

As for the risk of being bullied, if it has to happen, it will happen anyway
You can get bullied for your hair colour, name or last name, how you walk, etc.

You know your relationship with the mother.
If you feel she is receptive to a chat how more you can help, go ahead
If you feel this chat may alienate her, I would thread extremely carefully and evaluate if the cost is worth the price.

Do you feel his home is a danger to his health?

62Granny Wed 27-Oct-21 16:17:14

Are his clothes dirty or is it more that they are not being dried correctly , which can sometimes make them smell fousty . Offer to her washing/ ironing as a start, say you know how awkward it can be drying clothes properly this time of year especially if she trying to dry them over the weekend, then it this is ok you could try offering a quick tidy up before Xmas as a suggestion , ( I know it needs more than that but it's a start) good luck.

FarNorth Wed 27-Oct-21 16:17:39

Do you know if the boy's mum thinks everything is fine, or does she realise things are getting out of hand?
Could you say that you want to make up for the help that your son should be giving with housework?

FarNorth Wed 27-Oct-21 16:19:55

What is the problem with the pets, also? Can you think of what could improve things in that area?

MissAdventure Wed 27-Oct-21 16:25:31

You could perhaps tell a white lie, say you're going to find a cleaner, as you need a bit of help indoors, then, as an "afterthought", ask if she would like you to pay for a couple of hours cleaning for her, too.

JaneJudge Wed 27-Oct-21 16:27:41

When I did/do support work there really is not a level of cleanliness as to how people live. I used to go in and just generally start washing up/tidying up, folding washing etc

I suspect my own home was a bit of a mess when mine were small. I used to cover piles of stuff with throws etc. I never wanted any help to tidy it. So I think you have to trust your instincts

Allsorts Wed 27-Oct-21 16:31:15

If your little grandson is starting to look disheveled and not clean, other children can be so cruel, picking up on it. It a very delicate situation, could you offer to clean just the bathroom and kitchen in a way that wouldn’t offend her, she really needs to do something now, he will want friends home and when mothers see the mess when they collect their child they will have their own thoughts. It needs addressing I’m afraid. If I had him for a sleepover, I would wash his clothes and put him in new ones that you saw whilst out and couldn’t resist. Ibwould also make sure he had a bath and his hair washed and certainly buy him his own toiletry bag and contents. Best if he could go out with you and get invoked seeing what fragrance he wants. Nearly all grandparents buy nice clothes etc for their gc.

winterwhite Wed 27-Oct-21 16:32:35

Do you know the mother's own parents and are they local? This is a horrible situation for you.

MissAdventure Wed 27-Oct-21 16:34:29

You could have a friend of a friend who is starting their own business as a cleaner and needs work, so offer to help out by letting the friend of a friend clean your house and your daughter-in-laws too.
Doggy daycare, if the animals are left alone while she is out of the house?

MissAdventure Wed 27-Oct-21 16:53:48

You could rope grandad in to do some decorating for her (starting with grandsons bedroom) and hope that she might get the urge to have a spring clean before it's done.

seacliff Wed 27-Oct-21 17:30:21

Perhaps as a start, offer to decorate grandsons bedroom as a Christmas present. He'd choose decor and new bedding. Ask Mum first if she'd allow you both to do it? Then one room would be clean, and it might give opportunity for future help.

Nippysweety Wed 27-Oct-21 19:28:50

Thanks so much for all the comments and suggestions, much appreciated. I think I will have to have the difficult conversation and be as diplomatic as possible. I will also offer an intensive few days of deep clean to give her a new start and clean slate, as it where. I have my grandson every Sunday, often overnight. He always has a shower, washes hair and he has his own clothes, underwear etc at my house. More exciting toiletries are a good idea.
The problem with the pets is really there are too many in a small 2 bedroom flat, a dog and 2 cats and Mum just doesn't have the time to look after them properly, with the best intentions.
Anyway, thanks again for the advise, its not something I could discuss with anyone in real life so I do value the input.

Smileless2012 Wed 27-Oct-21 19:38:30

Sending you best wishes Nippysweety and hope that you can get something sorted out.

GrandmaKT Wed 27-Oct-21 20:48:08

Ah Nippysweety, I just wanted to say that you sound like a lovely, caring gran and mother in law. I'm sure you'll handle the conversation well x

Shelflife Thu 28-Oct-21 09:41:55

Nippysweety, it is a dilema and I can well understand how you feel about your GS living in that environment. On the plus side he has a Mum who is working hard and loves her son. Imagine how much worse you would feel if the flat was spotless but she was an incompetent mother !? Little consolation I know but worth thinking about. I think the suggestion that you could offer some time to help her tidy up ( tidy up is a kinder description than ' clean up' ) because your son is not there to do his share is a sound idea. I hope things improve , but in the meantime try and maintain a sound relationship with her. Fingers crossed 🤞 for a satisfying outcome.

Hetty58 Thu 28-Oct-21 09:49:21

I'd offer to help with housework too. Maybe you could do the laundry for her? Still, she's a good mum - and that's the important thing.

(I was brought up in a spotless house, wore lovely clean smart clothes - but there was no love from my mother - so I'd swap with your grandson in an instant.)

Yammy Thu 28-Oct-21 10:33:26

This is a really delicate one. Lots of praise needed to start then I would offer to buy new school uniform and shoes I do this for my GC anyway and it is appreciated. Then when you shop look for the 3 for two or two for one offers on shampoo etc and cleaning products.
If his clothes smell has she got a tumble dryer you could offer to buy a cheap one for Christmas. Or sound her out as other posters have said and get her a cleaner perhaps once a month for the house and the ironing.
I think you are doing really well but it must be like walking on

Allsorts Thu 28-Oct-21 10:38:37

All the best Nippysweety, how good you are supporting her.

Grannynise Thu 28-Oct-21 10:46:26

I have an excellent relationship with my daughter except in one respect. I offered help - gently, kindly, tactfully I thought - as she was a working single mum - and have not been allowed to enter her house since. This has been for 10 years now. Tread very very carefully. I wish I'd never said a word.