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(103 Posts)
breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 11:09:17

Hi, been shedding a few tears this morning. Have grandchildren every weekend after my son's relationship broke down. They weren't married, so he is constantly threatened that he can't see the kids unless he complies with everything she says. She had them very young, has never worked and now lives on benefits. It's breaking my heart because they turn up filthy, with matted hair every week. I do as much as I can, cooking them healthy meals and taking them to the park and giving them soaks in the bath and clean clothes. The eldest has been covered in sores for a few months now. My son has asked the mother to take them to GP but she refuses. I think they're off the health visitor scope after a few moves. My son is told to eff off if he tries to request clean clothing (he pays a good amount of maintenance and I buy a lot of clothes for them) or health checks. I love them so very very much, it's breaking my heart but I have no control over their care apart from what I can do at weekends. I know they're going to be the scruffy, dirty kids when they start school but I can't force their mother to be clean. I am at my wits end, it's so hard to switch off. Is there anything I should do about the sores? I don't know if it's an allergy, or maybe, and this is what I suspect, wearing dirty clothing and sleeping in unchanged bed linen. And if I took my grandchild to our GP, I would probably get into trouble. My son is afraid, as she keeps threatening to stop him seeing them if he makes a fuss. We are in bits. We are a clean (not obsessive) household and it's breaking my heart seeing them like this. How do you cope? How do you switch off? I'm making myself ill and I'm not long out of treatment for a serious illness. Any advice much appreciated. The mother hates me now, although we once got on well, so any suggestions from me would just make things worse.

annodomini Mon 24-Feb-14 12:31:57

This link explains about parental responsibility orders. It might be a good idea to have a legally binding agreement.

gillybob Mon 24-Feb-14 12:33:26

I am so very sorry to hear of your situation breeze and having read the thread right through I would like to say that I doubt very much whether your son's ex would carry out her threat to stop him from seeing his children. Looking at it from her point of view, why would she give up her unpaid babysitter who feeds and bathes her children? You say she has a new boyfriend on the go well I would play on that (if I were your son) and offer to take the children off her hands more often "to give her a break". As others have said your son has every right to take the children to see a doctor as he is their father however if I were your son I would be having a free half hour with a family solicitor before I did anything else. Good luck.

Galen Mon 24-Feb-14 12:44:05

Any pets? Sounds as though ringworm or even scabies are possibilities?

soop Mon 24-Feb-14 12:46:12

breeze the link that anno has posted will hopefully steer you in the right direction. I can only imagine how you feel. I really am terribly sorry for you, your son and his children. I wish you all a satisfactory outcome. sunshine

soop Mon 24-Feb-14 12:47:40

Galen As you suggest, either could be a possibility.

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 12:50:17

A recap. Have just re read all your mails of support. Thankyou all so very much.

I have made notes to discuss with my son this evening. I have googled Home Start UK, thankyou Granb. And I will suggest to my son to make an appointment with our GP.

If things do get worse, then knowing my son does have some rights and that we could contact a Family Lawyer is most useful, thanks cathybee.

And many thanks to everyone who posted with lots of helpful suggestions and kind words.

I think the main point I have gained from everyone's posts this morning, is my son shouldn't be afraid of the mother's threats in order to get the best for his children's health. Sometimes you are too close to a situation to see the wood through the trees and discussing it this way and been so helpful.

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 12:57:27

Oh wow. Just got a new batch from you brilliant people. The link annodomini is most useful. Thankyou. They do have pets, a dog and a lot of cats. We have a dog but he has monthly Advocate treatments and is regularly health checked. My son told me before all of this blew up, that whilst at the house, he has found cat excrement in the laundry basket. And I doubt very much the many cats (around 5 I think) are treated. Having said that, I have seen ringworm in the past and the sores don't look like it. They are small blister type things that are wet. They then go dark red. She has them on her neck, torso and arms. As they heal, she scratches them. I don't think it's Impetigo, but I'm not sure, as they aren't large and clustery. We need a GP to diagnose of course.

Thanks again. I am happily making notes and I think my son will be really relieved when I can give him some better news this evening re his options.

Charleygirl Mon 24-Feb-14 13:02:29

Yes rosequartz that is what went through my mind too because she should not be selling the children's new clothes on ebay.

Could the children be taken to their own GP but not in their cleaned up state so that he gets an idea of what is going on?

My personal feeling is that this cannot be left much longer. The first day at school in September is a long way away for the eldest child. If he/she goes there in a filthy state there will be bullying which is not fair on the child.

Iam64 Mon 24-Feb-14 13:15:39

Breeze - the link annodomini posted above sets out the parental responsibility issue clearly. I have never known a father in the position you described who was refused an application for PR. I would suggest your son makes an application for PR without much further delay. The fact he has maintained such regular contact with his children will be recognised as important.

What you are describing sounds like physical neglect. Are the children meeting developmental milestones, and are their emotional needs being met? Have you, or your son, talked to the children's mum about how worried you are about the matted hair, grubby children etc.way the children Given your comments about the children's mother, I can see that may be very difficult, and likely to result in threats etc. Getting advice from a good family lawyer as cathybee suggests feels essential in your situation. Sadly, the cuts to legal aid are really impacting on this kind of problem. Many lawyers give the first session free of charge. If you go that route, make sure the person you see is on what is called "the Children Panel". Solicitors whose names are on the panel are experienced, and can be trusted. The Family Rights Group has a good website, that may have helpful advice for you.

harrigran Mon 24-Feb-14 13:17:12

breeze I am crying as I read this, as a grandmother I could not let this go on happening. Please do whatever it takes to get these children looked after properly.

Anne58 Mon 24-Feb-14 13:19:30

Have a look on your Local Authority website, there should be an option to contact Social Services anonymously.

merlotgran Mon 24-Feb-14 13:20:42

You are providing your grandchildren with the nurturing they are missing at home so I would do everything I could to keep that relationship safe from confrontation. Although you say the mother is going out an enjoying herself, she could still be suffering from depression and low self esteem so a health visitor could be a great help if you or your son can organise a visit without your involvement being known.

They may have dealt with similar cases and know exactly how to handle it.

Flowerofthewest Mon 24-Feb-14 13:28:53

Just one thing regarding the recording of conversations. We took legal advice on this when it was suggested that recordings were taken of similar conversations. Apparently it is ok to secretly record but the permission of the person being recorded has to be given before it can be used in court etc.

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 13:41:35

Hi, to lam64, I am also worried about milestones. The eldest (who is 3 1/2) has awful speech. I think she may need grommits but when I suggested a hearing test I was shot down in flames. And of course, because I think they've gone off the HV 'radar' I doubt it's picked up on by a health professional. Sometimes, especially after she's had a cold, I can't make out a lot of what she's saying.

I always took my boys to mother and baby/toddler, tumble tots, playgroups, so when my middle child needed gromits, it was quickly picked up on. So I do recognise these things. But the hostility, should I suggest anything at all, is so nasty, that I am a bit afraid to suggest anything. Today's posts have been incredibly supportive and have given me the confidence to help my son to realise he does have some rights. Especially in the main problem of the sores. I can't tell you how painful it is to see a tiny child you love so much, not being given the basic care she deserves.

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 13:42:52

ps - sorry to those I haven't thanked personally for your suggestions/support. Have been overwhelmed with your kindness on this. But each and every posting has been much appreciated.

gillybob Mon 24-Feb-14 13:47:05

My heart breaks for you breeze and I can understand how helpless you must be feeling right now but you are obvioulsy a good grandma who loves her grandchildren. The children will know that. They will feel warm and safe and loved when they are with you so you can be sure of that. flowers

rosequartz Mon 24-Feb-14 13:59:09

I can't stop thinking about you and those little tots, so glad they have you and their daddy.
You said, i think, she lives at home, so presumably her family are aware, or does she know no better because they are all like it?

As soon as we moved here and registered with a gp the health visitor was knocking on the door, pity there are not regular visits any more, it would soon be picked up then. Does anyone follow up if they miss their milestone checkups? I suppose she wouldn't tell you anyway.

Good luck

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 14:01:04

Funnily enough, Charleygirl and rosequartz, I did consider keeping the clothes here and changing them when they get here. But how awful that the girls have to go through that 'arrival washdown' (we already have 'arrival' feeding! They are always absolutely starving hungry). I always bath them and put them in pj's to go home and bought them some snowsuits, so they wouldn't get cold on the return trip home in the car. My son takes them out of these when they go indoors (or we'd never see them again), but I never get the pj's back. So I have to buy new pj's/sleepsuits every week for them. If I ask for them back, when I return their freshly washed clothes, I get sarcastic comments like 'Yea, I have a drawer full of pyjamas and you've got all their clothes, yea'.

whenim64 Mon 24-Feb-14 14:06:27

It's a shame there is hostility about sharing information about the children, because their mum might be able to explain a few things that could reassure you a little, breeze. As you say, you don't know if a HV has seen them recently, or whether the 3.1/2 year old's speech is an issue not being looked at. It could be that one or two things have been discussed with the GP or at a local clinic as a result of it being mentioned by you, but the mum is not willing to share that with you. I've known a few such stroppy young mums who've declared they get satisfaction out of keeping their exes and in-laws guessing. I hope the friction starts to diminish for you. flowers

gillybob Mon 24-Feb-14 14:14:02

I do keep clothes at mine for all three grandchildren Breeze Drawers full of leggings (they are cheap) and tops for the girls,jeans, jumpers, underclothes, pj's, dressing gowns, slippers, school uniforms, infact you name it. It works out so much easier for us all round to do this as they are here quite a lot and even more during school holidays. Also my DGC like to be outside and its hard enough to second guess the weather never mind my DiL having to send bags of clothes (for 3) just incase.

Just had an idea I am going to send you a PM. smile

rosequartz Mon 24-Feb-14 14:17:10

I suppose you could bath them and change them into their 'play clothes' when they arrive, they are too young to realise yet that these are better clothes you keep at your house, saying you'll wash their other clothes so they are nice and clean to take home again.

breeze Mon 24-Feb-14 14:24:59

To whenim64, I really don't believe she's taken her to the GP (the spots are still there after, I think, about 4 months or so). And I'm a little concerned about confidentiality here, but a recent event, where the eldest was admitted to hospital after swallowing a whole bottle of Calpol, made us realise things were getting seriously amiss (the A&E doctors wiped the floor with her but it seems to not much effect). My son was distraught. Added to the fact her speech is poor, her hair falling out, she has lots of sores. I was so struggling this morning to find some sort of perspective but god it's tough. Being grubby isn't a crime but when does the line get crossed? This has been my issue today. I'm not a fusspot, but ignoring basic hygiene I just can't get my head around.

Thankyou all. I shall sign off for now, otherwise I shall end up 'unwashed' and neglected myself!

Thankyou so much everyone for your support. I have made notes of all the suggestions and will discuss with my son this evening.

After much reading and discussion, I think the way forward to start with is a trip to our GP/practice nurse, to see what the sores are. Then I think my son should contact the appropriate organisation for ongoing checks, to voice his concerns, but explain that a 'gentle nudge' in the right direction is perhaps what's needed. I hope we don't end up having to take a more serious action for the children as I have always believed children need their mothers and fathers if possible.

You have all given me strength today. Thankyou so much.

rosequartz Mon 24-Feb-14 14:36:35

You may not see this breeze, but hair falling out is worrying. Just going to suggest you give them children's vitamins when they are with you to boost their immune systems, but see you have decided on a way forward. Best of luck.

whenim64 Mon 24-Feb-14 14:40:07

A whole bottle of Calpol puts a completely different complexion on things. Safeguarding procedures should be employed here after a visit to A and E in such circumstances, and the HV should be reporting progress with this family. I wonder if social services already know them and mum is trying to keep information from you? A visit to the GP with the child should be undertaken to get the issue with the spots sorted, and a phone call to social services to talk it all through. It may be that you get some reassurance from this - it seems there is a lot of concern and guesswork going on, when there should be sharing of information for the wellbeing of the children.

rosesarered Mon 24-Feb-14 14:40:47

What a heartbreaking situation for you Breezethey sound really neglected by the 'mother' always left dirty and hungry.Don't think the school will do anything though [they will notice, but that's all]it's up to your son to find out his rights, if he is paying maintenence then I would think he does have rights, but maybe only visiting ones.A good idea to contact the GP though and take the little girl, otherwise doing what you are doing and keeping yourself in their lives is all you can do at this stage.They will soon get older and want to come to you more.How can any mother let her children get like this? Being young doesn't explain it. neither does coming from a dirty family [poor doesn't equal dirty.]You would think she had seen enough dirt to last her a lifetime.Do not let yourself become ill over this issue though, do what you can at the week-ends and encourage your son who is an adult after all, to take more charge of the situation.