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Should Have Kept my Big Mouth Shut!

(66 Posts)
willa45 Mon 22-Jul-19 23:40:57

Some Background:
I've given a lot of advice on this forum telling other grans to bite their tongues and not offer opinions lest they get into trouble with their adult children. Alas! Today I should have bitten mine!!

My (almost twelve years old) GS has always been difficult and won't take no for an answer. He somehow manages to get decent grades at school but discipline is another matter. He is always getting into trouble for one thing or another. In a nutshell, his self esteem is low even though he's tall, good looking and smart. He has a lot of anger and a very negative attitude.

Most recently, he's been bullying other boys at school, My DD2 is constantly getting calls from his teachers, his coaches and now his summer camp adviser. She called today, quite distraught. It seems Grandson got into a row with two other boys and he gave one of the boys a bloody nose!

When DD asked me what could possibly be wrong with him, I couldn't keep my big mouth shut. " It's his own father" I blurted out..."..he's been bullying the boy since he was scarcely a toddler." Always berating him verbally even in front of us, his grandparents. We've heard him say things like " Why are you still alive?" Why can't you act like a human?" or "Stop behaving like an animal (idiot, a...hole)!" Always yelling and calling him names. I've seen him provoke the boy and then punish him when he reacts. (Incidentally, he's not like that with his sister, DGD).

The other side of this is that our SIL2 was bullied terribly as a boy by his own father (the same man who called our/his GS "a sneak and a monster").....GS was only three years old at the time.
As misguided as he may be, I know SIL2 loves his son and he loves my daughter and that deep down he's a good man, but for years, I've watched my beautiful GS get ruined by his own father's ignorance and stupidity.....and I've always stayed silent!

When DD called today, I don't know what gremlins got into me, but I blurted it out. I told her point blank that she should look at her own husband. I told her that if I was mistreated the way he mistreats his own son, I would walk around with a lot of (unresolved) anger too. I may have said some other things too, but that was the gist. Long story short, DD2 hung up on me.

Why. oh why couldn't I have stayed silent and continued to lend a sympathetic ear, as I've always done? I know I should and will apologize but I can't take back my words and I don't even know if an apology will be enough. How am I going to fix this? Help!

notanan2 Mon 22-Jul-19 23:44:42

Sounds like you had no choice. Sometimes being a silent bistander makes you complicit.
Although intervening now may be too little too late

willa45 Mon 22-Jul-19 23:46:40

Thanks are probably right, but I always expected DD2 would step in and make things right. I was her son and her husband after all.

Namsnanny Tue 23-Jul-19 00:22:26

Willa, I don't think I can say anything helpful I'm afraid.

I feel I might have done the same as you, but knowing me probably sooner rather than later.

I do feel sorry for your gs.

The only thing you've done wrong in my opinion is talk to the wrong parent. Dad is the one who needs a dressing down really.

Good luck shamrock

sharon103 Tue 23-Jul-19 00:35:37

Same here Namsnanny . I would have opened my mouth long before you did. Poor lad. You did the right thing but the wrong parent.

HopefulTraveller Tue 23-Jul-19 02:20:30

willa45. Apologies in advance as this might be quite long. You have my wholehearted sympathy. Your are in the middle of a very complex situation and because children are involved you have to be careful not to alienate anyone. I agree it is terribly difficult finding the right time and the right way to say something that is clearly obvious. Your post clearly shows you have a deep understanding of the root causes of problem. I have also reacted in anger when I was pushed against the wall in a similar situation. So, I would like to offer some possible explanations and suggestions based on my own experiences.

I am learning, because of my own traumatic childhood experiences, that people can unconsciously behave, positive or negative, like their own parents. Negative behaviour could be described as an inherited emotional disease that is passed from generation to generation
Unless the cycle is broken. Grandfather, SiL2 and now grandson (possibly great-grandfather or another role model).

You have hit the nail on the head in many points in your post. For example when you state:

"As misguided as he may be, I know SIL2 loves his son and he loves my daughter and that deep down he's a good man".

People are sometimes unaware they are behaving cruelly. Sometimes people are aware they are behaving like one of their parents but cannot stop themselves because their learned behaviour has become automatic.

Your SiL2 might not be aware that he is behaving cruelly (for example: having a scapegoat child and a golden child), like his own father, or he might be aware and is unable to stop himself because his responses to own his son is automatic. As you state:
"other side of this is that our SIL2 was bullied terribly as a boy by his own father (the same man who called our/his GS "a sneak and a monster").....GS was only three years old at the time. "

This is a suggestion and might be difficult. Starting point might be helping your SiL2. Is it possible for someone to speak to your SiL2 and gently explain to him that he is not a bad person, that he is passing on what he learnt and his behaviour can change if he is willing to learn different ways of managing.

The cycle can be broken when the person becomes aware of their own damaging learnt behaviour, accept they need to change and seek help from professionals or support groups. Starting point could be reading "The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did" by Philippa Perry.

Another source of help:
I don't know if alcohol is involved but it sounds like Dysfunctional family behaviour so finding out about getting help and support from ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families) support groups.

"I've watched my beautiful GS get ruined by his own father's ignorance and stupidity."

I hope your lovely grandson who

"In a nutshell, his self esteem is low even though he's tall, good looking and smart. He has a lot of anger and a very negative attitude"
also needs emotional support and I hope there is some counselling in his school environment to help him know and feel that he has value and worth.

The very best to you all.

BradfordLass72 Tue 23-Jul-19 04:34:43

willa45 you are a good woman who has tolerated a man's appallingly cruel behaviour to his son, your little grandson and said nothing because you did not want to make things worse.
Now you have probably seen that if this is not brought to light, your young fellow may do something drastic, as so many bullied children do.

Your daughter hung up on you because you told her an inconvenient truth which she has also seen and ignored for years - how can she NOT have seen this going on in her own home?

The chances are, this bully, who picks on the weakest, also gives his wife a hard time as well. She may even be afraid to stop him for fear her son suffers even more.

You are gracious to say and that deep down he's a good man.
Deep down is not enough, in fact deep down is totally ineffective, it is on the surface that we must show love to our children. It is by our daily, up-front actions that our children know they are valued and respected.

This poor little boy has spent 11+ years being made to feel useless, worthless and unwanted - of course he's having problems, who wouldn't? and you, god bless you, seem to be his only safe haven.

All I can suggest is that you explain to him that he MUST NOT believe the things his father says about him. He must turn his mind to what he can see is the truth, that he is a fine, wonderful, capable young man who is very much loved by you.

By an amazing and brutal coincidence, just minutes before I read your post, a friend who works in Suicide Watch sent me two posters, which I attach.

Do not be ashamed of speaking up - many, many grandparents wish to goodness they had - when it's too late.

rosecarmel Tue 23-Jul-19 06:04:24

It's ok what you did- You spoke up- You broke the ice- You were a little gruff, and perhaps you can apologize for your tone but not for expressing your concern and initiating a difficult discussion long over due- Hopefully it will continue-

I doubt that it matters much who you spoke to first about the matter, her or him- You are leading by example, by expressing concern and exhibiting strength- Dont be surprised if your daughter isn't a fan at first- And don't be surprised when she finally exercises her own- Just be supportive- You both share the same concerns-

I know this post is about your grandson, but it's just as much about your relationship with your daughter - Always providing a listening ear, and no more, isn't support, isn't a conversation, isn't a relationship- Its venting-

I know lots of people are fearful about opening their mouths, or offering unsolicited advice- But this isn't about what color to paint a house, or anything trivial that one could easily not comment on- Its about allowing abuse to continue from one generation to the next-

My mother kept her mouth shut- Tighter than a ducks butt-It didn't turn out well-

Starlady Tue 23-Jul-19 06:20:16

IMO, the "bite your tongue" advice ends where abuse is involved, and SIL2's treatment of DGS is abuse - verbal/emotional abuse, not physical, but abuse just the same. I'm sorry your thoughts came through in such an outburst, but I'm glad you spoke up. If you feel you were too harsh, you might apologize for that, as another poster suggested, but I don't think you should backtrack on your main point - SIL is bullying DGS and that is causing his anger and bullying behavior at school, etc. DD2 needs to face it and see what she can do. Perhaps family counseling will help.

Sara65 Tue 23-Jul-19 06:21:18

Your daughter has obviously been aware of the brutish bullying of her son by her husband, and quite frankly she should have stepped in years ago and put a stop to it, “good men” do not talk to their children in this way

It’s probably good advice generally, to not interfere with our children’s lives, but who is going to defend children like your poor grandson, maybe something should have been said a long time ago

I’m not being critical of you Willa, I can’t say what I would have done, but I think your daughter should have defended her boy, and put a stop to it

SparklyGrandma Tue 23-Jul-19 06:27:20

Where children are involved, being bullied verbally or otherwise, someone has to speak up. The child can’t. You did the right thing, willa45.

Peonyrose Tue 23-Jul-19 06:39:39

I would have done the same. Your gs is being bullied. You're in trouble because you told the truth and perhaps now she will speak out for her son. Unfortunately although you are in the right, you cannot watch him abused, sometimes people don't want to face up to their problems and when attention is drawn to them they take offence. Your grandsons wellbeing has to come first. I hope you tell him, his dad shouldn't speak like that to him, he is wrong, that he is a wonderful person and you love him to bits. It makes me angry to think of him being bullied and I'm not his grandma, do good for you.

NanKate Tue 23-Jul-19 07:25:54

IMO you did the right thing. You need to be helping your grandson now. By ignoring his father’s dreadful behaviour it is condoning what he says, so well done to you getting it out into the open.

MawBroonsback Tue 23-Jul-19 08:11:48

IMO you have absolutely done the right thing.
It can be hard to speak up, but the alternatives are worse.
She will be shocked, but it needed saying.

dragonfly46 Tue 23-Jul-19 08:21:41

You were absolutely right to say something. Your DD has gone away to think about it.
I may have said something sooner, however, for example when your SiL was berating your DGS. Maybe intervened and said in a light hearted way that what he was saying wasn't true as he is such a lovely boy etc.

Shropshirelass Tue 23-Jul-19 08:31:07

I think you were right to say something. All too often we stay quiet when something should be done. Your daughter hung up on you because she knows you are right and is probably unable to say anything herself. I think there is a deeper situation here. Stay strong and continue with your support for your GS, your daughter will come round I am sure when she has had time to realise that you only said something because you love then and care so much. Good luck..

sodapop Tue 23-Jul-19 08:54:06

I agree with Shropshirelass you had to say something. Once she has cooled down your daughter may well want to talk more about this, your support for the family will mean a lot to her.

Luckygirl Tue 23-Jul-19 08:56:42

Of course you have done the right thing. I cannot bear it when I see the "macho" dad thing going on - some men are so peculiar with their sons - all this "toughening up" stuff is utterly cringe-worthy.= and so so damaging.

I am glad you spoke up - what else could you have done?Your poor GS will benefit from this. It will no doubt cause problems for you in your relationship with SIL but it had to be dine, and I commend you for it.

A "listening ear" would not have cut the mustard in this instance.

Children so badly need affirmation of their worth - as badly as they need food. This poor young man has been starved.

Nannylovesshopping Tue 23-Jul-19 09:05:48

You absolutely did the right thing.

Callistemon Tue 23-Jul-19 09:14:04

Willa I also believe in saying nothing - but in a situation like this where a grandchild has been bullied and undermined for all his life by his own father (and grandfather too) I would have said something too.

This is a pattern of behaviour which is being passed down the generations; it will seem like the norm for your SIL but it is not the right way to behave towards a child and the results are now evident as he is becoming a frustrated bully himself.

Something needs to be done to break this pattern of behaviour and perhaps this could be the first step.

Do not apologise but, when your daughter has got over the shock of having this pointed out to her, she should realise what the problem is. I hope she will come back to you so that you can talk about this calmly and rationally and she can talk to your SIL and get him to understand how damaging his attitude is, or persuade him that they may need family counselling.

I hope she has the strength to stand up to your SIL without causing a row.
Some men, unfortunately, seem to think that this is 'how to make a man' of their sons and that behaving in a loving way will make them 'soft'.

Good luck, don't feel bad about this, and I hope that this could be the breakthrough they need.

lemongrove Tue 23-Jul-19 09:16:31

Briefly...I think you did the right thing!

Grammaretto Tue 23-Jul-19 09:16:32

You had to speak out when you did. Everyone needs a champion and your DGS does especially.
I wonder if the camp leaders can help.
SiL2 needs a talking to but how?

I was once berating my 3yr old loudly in the garden and my next door neighbour overheard and said something like: He's only little, can't you leave him alone.

I was startled but once the shock had subsided I realised she was quite right. How could I talk to a small child like that however mad he was driving me at the time.
I am grateful to that woman now for stopping me when she did.

I am sure your DD will forgive you and hopefully will accept some advice and help with nipping this pattern of behaviour in the bud before it gets worse.

Dolcelatte Tue 23-Jul-19 09:21:43

I am sure I would have done the same. Just wait for the dust to settle and I have a feeling that it will all turn out for the best. It is natural to want to protect those we love.

Harris27 Tue 23-Jul-19 09:28:19

Interesting reading this. My oldest grandson who's 11 has the most appalling attitude to my son and berates him( other side of your problem) he has no respect and calls him awful names and has filthy temper. I must say he doesn't have this attitude with us but we don't live with him. I've sided to say something and have held my tongue he does have problems at school and I'm leaving it to them. However waiting for further expulsions.minthink you did right.

EllanVannin Tue 23-Jul-19 09:33:25

Good grief I couldn't have held back and I'm usually not a critical nor troublesome person but where children are concerned I start to boil up but instead of me being diplomatic I tend to be fiery because I'm no good at throwing hints.
No, you shouldn't have kept your mouth shut at all, enough is enough and this poor lad will suffer in time to come as speaking to someone like his father does has a drastic effect on their mental health and well-being. Poor lad it's disgraceful I feel for him and like yourself I couldn't just be a bystander when this is going on.

It's just tuff if anyone takes umbrage !