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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.

BlueBelle Thu 27-Feb-14 08:21:09

Very wise words Mishap

However much you dislike ex d-in-l would it be possible to make a bit more of a friend of her (with gritted teeth) maybe that way you may get even more contact especially if she wants more time with the new boyfriend
I do think you have to look at the positives at least they have 2 days out of 7 when they are bathed, clothed, fed, loved and well looked after their time away from home will be upped when they start school. A truly difficult situation

Mishap Wed 26-Feb-14 22:20:02

The father does have rights. He needs to make the decision himself as to how far he wants to take this - custody?/greater access?

Your statement that " they seem happy and definitely aren't abused" is a critical one. If that truly is the case, then SSD is unlikely to take any steps that might remove them from a parent's care - they prioritise keeping children with their natural parents wherever this might be possible. And they can offer help, as when has pointed out. Children in this situation benefit enormously from good nursery placements, and these have the great advantage that another eye is on the situation and the children's well-being.

I think it is important to make an assessment of how far the neglect is endangering their health - enough to take steps via the authorities?

One very important factor here is that you are still in contact with the children and are clearly a lynch pin in their lives, where they receive good food, clean clothes and above all else love and attention. If they are happy and not abused, there is something to be said for retaining the status quo, because, however much your son may have rights, a mother who wishes to make waves can cause a lot of disruption in a child's life by just being awkward and uncooperative over access.

It is interesting that she still goes along with you having the children every weekend, and it would be tempting to assume that this is because it leaves her free to pursue her own life free of the children. So she has an incentive to keep this going - and it needs to be maintained as a stable feature in their lives.

The key question is how far they are at risk and exactly what is it that they are at risk of? Enough to aim towards their removal from their mother's care? In my experience children love the worst of parents and can be hugely damaged by being received into care or having their parental contact radically changed. Better that some sort of support should be found to help mother make a better go of parenting.

It is a difficult dilemma for you all but if they seem happy then that does need to enter into your deliberations even if you dislike their lack of physical cleanliness. You do not suggest that they are undernourished, which is also a key question to be asking.

It may possibly be that at the moment they have a reasonable balance - the presence of their mother and their father in different amounts and different places, and the positive influence that you are able to offer to redress mother's shortcomings.

But the involvement of a health visitor could be a good way forward - they are often very experienced, tactful and supportive - so a word in the ear of the local HV could be a good move. She could perhaps drop in while the children are with you and casually run an eye over them.

It must all be a big worry for you, and feelings run very high in these situations. But it is seldom completely black and white: mum bad, dad good, although it is inevitable that it will be easier for you to see your son's side of things.

Tegan Wed 26-Feb-14 21:20:27

You need to know the address of the practice they're registered with and the name of their doctor. At least the childs own doctor will be informed of what's wrong with the child and any medication dispensed.

Galen Wed 26-Feb-14 20:35:53

They can be registered as a temporary resident. The GP gets paid extra for it.

rosequartz Wed 26-Feb-14 20:33:41

Yes, my DGS has been to our GP when he was visiting. You just fill in a form as a temporary visitor.

BlueBelle Wed 26-Feb-14 20:25:19

I think I m right in saying you can take the child to any GP if you register them as a temporary visitor that's of course presuming you and d-I-l don't live too close to one another I have taken my grandkids to my doc when staying at mine as temporary visitors

breeze Wed 26-Feb-14 10:05:15

That's worth a try. I'll suggest that to him. He's not said anything yet as he needs to try and organise the time off work. Good suggestion. Thankyou.

Elegran Wed 26-Feb-14 09:49:02

Your son could try the "I will take them to save you the trouble" approach rather than the "I will take them since you refuse to" one. That might go down better.

breeze Wed 26-Feb-14 09:44:50

I guess we are trying to deal with this with a gentle approach first. But having, so far, not persuaded the mother to do the right thing, my son said he's going to insist on taking her himself. Even if she agrees to take her, we'll never really know if she did take her and what the diagnosis was. Don't really want to escalate it to 'full on' confrontation via threats of contacting social services etc. unless things get worse of course. So much better for children if their parents aren't at war. We did consider the drop in centre but if she is prescribed medication, it could be worse than being upfront in the first place with her mother. Always antagonising to discover someone has gone behind your back I suppose. Probably better he just tells her he is taking her that's that. Without any fuss or argument. Someone in the early days of this thread said 'Tightropes and eggshells springs to mind'. Never a truer word! Very apt.

Just wanted to mention, for everyone's FYI, this morning, that you can't be registered with two different GP's. You learn all the time on this site, as I found when I discovered my son did have some rights after all.

Elegran Wed 26-Feb-14 09:38:11

From a commonsense point of view, I'd have thought that anyone who is looking after a child could take them to their GP, even without permission, if they feel it is needed. It is the child who has the appointment, not the father - he is there to explain the reason.

Flowerofthewest Wed 26-Feb-14 09:34:34

May have been said but could he not take the child to the local health centre to see the HV?

Is the law that he cannot take the child to the child's GP himself without permission if he also has parental control?

Sorry if these points have already been covered.

J52 Wed 26-Feb-14 09:25:33

Just a thought. Does the GC's GP have a walk in clinic or some time when no appointment is required? Maybe your son could just turn up with the children, then their mother would not have to be involved. A bit under hand, I know, but as we all agree, the children come first. Best wishes x

breeze Wed 26-Feb-14 09:12:48

Annoyingly, but makes sense on reflection, you can't register with two GP's. I guess it's difficult to keep track of medical records, plus two GP's can't receive funding for the same child. Soooo, back to the drawing board and now armed with the knowledge he DOES have some rights as a father, my son is going to insist he takes her to her own GP himself for a checkup. He can have the sores checked and request a hearing test. Bit annoying it will involve confrontation but as everyone pointed out to me, we have to do what's best for the child and not be afraid of her mother.

BlueBelle Tue 25-Feb-14 19:53:46

Sounds a really good start Breeze, well done

Kiora Tue 25-Feb-14 18:52:37

Well done you. Your grandchildren are lucky to have you and such a caring daddy. I hope things get betterflowers x

harrigran Tue 25-Feb-14 18:34:43

breeze flowers

Iam64 Tue 25-Feb-14 18:07:50

Thanks for the update Breeze. It's so good to hear you and your son are working well together on this. I'm sure you are taking the right approach in being cautious, focussed on the children, and that your aim is to help the children, and not alienate their mum and her family. Good luck with that flowers

merlotgran Tue 25-Feb-14 17:07:12

Well done, breeze Hope it all goes well.

J52 Tue 25-Feb-14 16:37:17

I have been reading this stream with tears in my eyes. So sad. I hope that the outcome is a good one for you and GCs. Lots of good advice from other GNs.
With all best wishes. Xflowers

whenim64 Tue 25-Feb-14 13:21:02

Sounds like a very sensible way forward, breeze. Good luck.

bikergran Tue 25-Feb-14 13:06:06

sorry "much" not "mush"

bikergran Tue 25-Feb-14 12:59:13

breeze not mush more I could say, but really hope that things will become easier very soon smile

rosequartz Tue 25-Feb-14 12:48:28

I think you are taking the right approach as you don't want to make her defensive. Hope all goes well.
flowers and sunshine

yogagran Tue 25-Feb-14 12:03:06

I think that anno has summed it up perfectly, please keep us up to date

Tegan Tue 25-Feb-14 12:00:28

I can't give you any advice but I'm so sorry for what's happening, for you, your son and the children.