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Fear for our son’s parental rights

(21 Posts)
Nanamar Tue 13-Oct-20 03:44:21

Our DS is recently divorced - it’s an amicable split and he and his ex even recently went on vacation together with their four-year-old son. DS lives with us, she lives a mile away and our DGS goes back and forth frequently between the two houses. DS has been going to her house nightly so they can put DGS to bed together. Unfortunately, DS has clinical depression. He sees a psychiatrist and takes meds, however, he’s been out of work since May and just got turned down for a job he really hoped to get since it was with the agency who had to terminate his contract due to the pandemic. He is devastated and when he gets like this he sinks into a very deep depression. I have a good relationship with his ex and we communicate everyday about schedules for child care which I frequently provide, etc. I’m very fond of her but I’ve lived long enough to learn not to trust people. Since this latest setback, DS has not been going over to do the usual bedtime routine and he is feeling so negative about himself that he feels he’s not able to be a good dad when he’s in this state. I am very worried that his ex will use these episodes (there have been a few in the last four years, one of which precipitated a month long stay in a residential facility) to bar him from his child, gain full custody, etc. I’ve shared this caution with our DS, urged him to follow the routine, etc. but given how he feels and how he feels about himself he still is reluctant to spend time with his son believing that his sadness will affect him, that his son is “better off without him.” My DH has stage 4 lung cancer and is quite enervated, both physically and mentally, so he isn’t a lot of help. So basically I live with two grown men who are immobilized for different reasons - one physical and one psychological. I realize a lot of this is simply out of my control but i am so worried.

OceanMama Tue 13-Oct-20 05:10:52

Please try not to worry about what hasn't happened. It sounds like the child's mother is working to keep both of you in her child's life at present. It sounds like you have enough on your plate to worry about at present. You might want to seek legal advice if you feel it is necessary at any point.

At this time, the part of your post that concerns me most is your writing that your son thinks his son is better off without him. I don't want to scare you but, is he suicidal? I know how hard it is having this sort of thing to deal with but your son has your support and care and that goes a long way.

TwiceAsNice Tue 13-Oct-20 06:31:04

You say your son has had residential psychiatric input in the past. I agree with OceanMama he sounds very seriously depressed. I would be getting in touch with his mental heath team and ask for the crisis team to come out to the house to assess him. He may well be suicidal and the least they can do is adjust his medication and they may do more.As a therapist I’ve worked with many depressed adults and I would be concerned.

Urmstongran Tue 13-Oct-20 06:44:05

Your DIL will be aware that your husband is so poorly too. You provide childcare which I’m sure she appreciates. You are in the eye of the storm at the moment but it will pass.

I hope your son gets the mental health support he needs to get better again. Such a shame about the job as that would have gone a long way to rebalance him.

Best wishes going forward and I hope your fears are unfounded.

mumofmadboys Tue 13-Oct-20 06:53:43

It sounds as if you have a lot on your plate and you are doing a great job. Take a day at a time. I agree with others about helping your son access more help. It is great you have a good relationship with your ex DIL. Just keep going but do have some time out from caring just for you. Wishing you all the best in this difficult situation.

BlueBelle Tue 13-Oct-20 07:03:31

I m so sorry for your situation it’s so difficult to be in the middle trying to juggle all the balls for everyone to keep things normal
The bit that worried me in your story was this

I am very worried that his ex will use these episodes (there have been a few in the last four years, one of which precipitated a month long stay in a residential facility) to bar him from his child, gain full custody, etc. I’ve shared this caution with our DS urged him to follow the routine, etc
You ve shared your fears (which so far are only in your mind with your son) giving him even more to worry and feel depressed about and there’s nothing in your post to suggest your daughter in law would be anything but supportive of your son and his relationship with his child
I agree with other posters talk to the crises team (but they may not be doing home visits at the moment) perhaps with all the recent knock backs he may need some more hospital treatment to get back on track
You re doing a brilliant job but need support

Libby65 Tue 13-Oct-20 07:42:58

You must get immediate medical assessment for your son as he seems to be on downward spiral. I'm sure your DIL appreciates your help with childcare. You must also look after your own mental health.
Feel sad for your DH. Life is cruel at times and you are being pulled in all directions.

We can be here for you
Even just to listen

sodapop Tue 13-Oct-20 08:18:08

I feel for you Nanamar seems like you are the one person who keeps everything going.
Don't worry about things which may or may not happen, it sounds like you have a good relationship with your daughter in law so keep that going with support for your grandson.
Encourage your son to get help for his depression and take one day at a time.
Take care of yourself in the middle of all this.

Franbern Tue 13-Oct-20 09:16:08

Can only add my voice to others here who have said that you saying that your son feels that his son would be 'better off without him' triggers of serious concerns. Please, please do contact the mental health team as soon as you can.

From what you say, your DiL knows and understands her former partners mental health problems and appears supportive. Do not catastrophise any further - you have enough real worries to concern you at present.

Think you could also talk to your GP about yourself, you are carrying a very large load at present and being so supportive - who is supporting you|?

Smileless2012 Tue 13-Oct-20 09:37:39

As others have said Nanamar try not to worry. Your ex d.i.l. is clearly putting the interests and welfare of their son first by ensuring regular contact with his dad.

You say your son is no longer taking part in the nightly bed time routine; is he seeing him at other times or was this his only point of contact?

Your son's psychiatrist needs to be made aware of your son's decline in his mental health, triggered by his understandable disappointment of not getting the job he hoped for.

Depression and mental health problems aren't a crime Nanamar, your son is receiving help with his depression so there's no reason that I can see, why he should ever lose contact or joint custody because he has an illness.

I hope the replies you've had will help to calm your fears.

Take careflowers.

Bibbity Tue 13-Oct-20 09:54:21

She is always going to prioritise her son.
And there may be times when your son shouldn’t be around his son due to his struggles.
He needs to be proactive in taking care of his MH.
As others have said those comments are very worrying. You may need to reach out to the crisis team.
She is parenting alone effectively.
So you need to stop seeing her as the bad guy and realise without her your GS has no effective parents.

Smileless2012 Tue 13-Oct-20 10:29:36

What on earth has Nanamar said for you to conclude that she sees her ex d.i.l. "the bad guy"?

Bibbity Tue 13-Oct-20 10:38:28

She is literally pulling all these catastrophising possibilities (and then dumping them on a mental unstable man) out of thin air.
This is a woman who would’ve been through hell with her son.
She is holding everything together and still managing to have him around.

Yet OP goes straight to her poor son having his rights removed!! That’s not even a possibility or realistic.

Toadinthehole Tue 13-Oct-20 11:35:29

Take each day as it comes, and try not to look too far ahead. You are just speculating what might happen at the moment...and it might not. Could you perhaps help some nights with the bedtime routine? This might take some of the pressure off your son. I really do think you need to just take things slowly, and try not to worry. Don’t try to work out what to do, before it happens. I hope your son gets the help he needs💐

Nanamar Tue 13-Oct-20 13:01:58

Thank you all for your comments. I agree that I “catastrophise” - after all, DS had to get it from somewhere, right? I also have my own therapist. He has never attempted suicide and any evaluations have deemed him as having suicidal ideation but not in danger. Ironically, the job that he lost was doing suicide prevention presentations for a local non-profit formed to promote good mental health in schools. I am also a former school psychologist but my training goes out the window when it’s my own, yeah? When I said I shared my concerns with him, I mean that I said I felt he should follow the typical routines with his son because I didn’t want the child to be wondering where his dad is and I didn’t want him to lose that contact - child is bright and I don’t want him forming his own conclusions the way a self-centered four year old would do, i.e., Dada doesn’t like me anymore. DS does carry through with some contact with him - such as doing an on-line activity while the mum works from home, taking him to/from school, etc. Does it with a painfully forced smile but does it. He had an “emergency” call with his psychiatrist yesterday but not sure it helped him - I know her and if she feels he needs to be committed she’d say so. After reading your thoughts (thanks for the slap upside the head, Bibbity, but I really did NOT tell him I thought his rights would be removed) I’m going to shut up and just fill in gaps with child care, dog-walking (very therapeutic,) etc. My life is very hard at the moment and has been for a long while and I am grateful for our delightful DGS.

Smileless2012 Tue 13-Oct-20 13:11:43

I hope that things will improve for your son Nanamar. What a pity that the job he lost was one where he could have made use of his personal experiences to help others.

"my training goes out of the window when it's me own" of course it does. It's not the same when the situation you're looking at involves someone you love.

Enjoy your child care and dog walking; take care of yourselfflowers.

Bibbity Tue 13-Oct-20 13:21:22

Did he voice his intention to apply for the job to his therapist?
Im surprised nobody told him not to do it.
It’s sad because it was like setting himself up to fail.
These roles are extremely stringent on protecting their users and he would not have been applicable for the role in his current condition.

Nanamar Tue 13-Oct-20 13:27:38

Yes his therapist knew he’d applied - what’s so heartbreaking about this situation is that he is usually pessimistic (DH and I used to call him Eeyore between ourselves) but he had generated a lot of hope about getting this position. I’m well aware that people with depression quite often set themselves up to fail because when they do it reinforces their belief that they are just worthless. That is what is so scary about this illness it’s hard, as you ALL know, to parent an adult child - which is an oxymoron.

Bibbity Tue 13-Oct-20 13:33:35

That’s absolutely tragic!
Obviously his therapist can’t tell him not to do something but did he at least counsel him that his current condition would mean he wouldn’t get the role?

Can he try to focus on little wins for now? No matter how unsubstantial just to try and build himself up again.

Nanamar Tue 13-Oct-20 13:40:34

The “hope” came from the fact that the job he applied for was the same as the one he’d lost due to the pandemic - in other words, he was attempting to get it back, and he’d gotten good reviews for his past performance, which is why I’m sure his therapist didn’t discourage him. On top of this, when he lost the job in May he wasn’t eligible for unemployment for it (we live in the states) even with the additional government allocations because he didn’t lose the part time job he was doing and still does on weekends - it’s just a mess.

Hithere Tue 13-Oct-20 16:15:09

The main priority now should be for your son to address his depression with his medical team and stabilize it.