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Concern over grandparents

(34 Posts)
PeacefulSolution Fri 31-Oct-14 14:10:29

My son is 6 and his father and I split up when he was 3. We now live an hour's flight away from him, and he in turn lives a good distance away from his mum (Nanny) and her partner.

Nanny has been keen to have our son stay overnight with them for a number of years, but we always felt he was too young. We finally agreed to allow him to have a sleepover over this half-term school holiday (for 3 nights), although Nanny & her partner travelled to near us and rented a holiday house for the period as they live a few hundred miles away from both my ex and me, and we wanted to ensure they were not too far away from me in case our son got homesick, etc.

So this was the first time Nanny had responsibility for our son for full days and nights!

Our son had great fun with them - really enjoyed himself! However when I left him up to the holiday house, I noticed there were 6-7 bottles of wine in the kitchen - they were here for 4 nights in total (3 of which our son was with them). I did feel uncomfortable (and anxious), so called up unannounced the following night when I knew our son would be asleep (to check things and put my mind at rest) with some slippers and dressing gown. Nanny was drunk - slurring, swaying and glazed eyes - at 9pm. There were 3 empty wine bottles and a couple of half drunk ones in the fridge.

Nanny's partner appeared ok - had been drinking but was more coherent. If he was not, I would have taken our son home with me!

I have phoned ex and told him what happened - that I'm disappointed that she's been drunk (potentially every night) when looking after our son and that I will not be agreeing to our son staying with them at their house on his own for quite some time. I have no issue with anyone having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner or something, but do draw the line at being drunk while being responsible for a child. What if he had to go to hospital for whatever reason, or there was a fire - could she guarantee she could get him to safety?

My ex initially agreed but has subsequently started saying that she's older (65 years old) and was probably tired. But that doesn't explain the amount of alcohol they had in the house, and we all know they drink every night and have seen Nanny in this state many times - no one (my ex or her partner) want to broach the subject with her!

Am I being too harsh or am I justified in not agreeing to sleepovers at their house?

Mishap Fri 31-Oct-14 14:22:45

Under no circumstances would I allow a child of mine to stay. Your analysis of the danger is clear and correct and no amount of trying to avoid any family rows is worth taking that risk for.

It sounds a bit as though this lady has a history of problem drinking.

If she asks to have him again, you should say no; if she asks why you should tell her.

Sorry that you are in this awkward situation, but you need to proceed with absolute clarity about what is important.

I had a MIL who drank (and hid the bottles round our house when she came to stay) and I was always worried sick that she might fall into a drunken stupour and set light to the bed with one of her cigarettes when she was with us. I used to stay up most of the night to check all was well. What a nightmare that was.

Icyalittle Fri 31-Oct-14 14:36:13

I agree categorically with mishap. Ask his father how he would feel, and how he would forgive himself for making excuses, if anything happened. This is about the safety of a very young child, and your stance is spot on.

PeacefulSolution Fri 31-Oct-14 14:39:34

Thanks Mishap. I had suggested to ex that I would have a word with them as it was me that had witnessed the situation, but he has said to leave it for the time being and he will wait to hear from them how they thought the visit went.

Another issue I had (although nowhere near as serious and is a personal preference) is that they have tried to teach our son sarcasm (he is 6 and doesn't grasp the concept). They think it's hilarious and got him to "perform" in front of me yesterday. They were saying to him "Who should you not be sarcastic to?". He replies "my teacher". They then say "and who is fair game?". He replies "Nanny", they say "Who else", he says "Grandad" and it does on under our son gets fed up and says "everyone apart from teachers". I mean "fair game"??? Who on earth teaches a kid that??? He'll end up being an obnoxious and cheeky child. I told him afterwards that I don't want him speaking like that so he now thinks he's in trouble and is confused as his Nanny taught him it. I didn't want to pull them up on this in front of my son, but think I should phone them to say. I've already forewarned my ex (as no doubt they will complain to him) but he says he agrees with me and will tell them so if they ask him.

Sarcasm (in my view) makes young children sound rude and cheeky - it is something he will learn on his own through time and does not need to be taught - especially by parents/grandparents who should act more responsibly. They are the first to complain / question the parenting of children they deem to be obnoxious!

I am beginning to question their influence on our son, but (and this will probably sound very unfair) at times I am relieved we live so far away from them!

absentgrandma Fri 31-Oct-14 14:57:23

OMG I've just gone into the ktchen and counted ...... there are 43 bottles of wine in the wine rack. Does this mean my GS is in mortal danger when he comes to stayconfused

You certainly had a good sweep of the kitchen PeacefulSolution if you clocked the exact number of bottles on view. Considering the G parents were on holiday I don't see that as excessive.... We 'drink' every night.... I have glass of wine while I prepare the evening meal, and we have 1 or 2 glasses with, depending on how we feel, or who is sharing the meal with us.Both our DDs know this.... it has never been an issue.

annsixty Fri 31-Oct-14 15:04:30

I think you are comparing apples and pears absent gran. There is no way my DC or GC would be allowed to stay with someone drunk as the OP said she was,and this is from someone who loves a glass or two of wine.

PeacefulSolution Fri 31-Oct-14 15:53:16

I too love a glass or two of wine but know my limits and would not allow myself to get into a drunken state while looking after my son. As I said, she was drunk. This is also the first time she was looking after our son. My ex has also in the past had his concerns over trusting his mother and has not been comfortable with the idea of our son sleeping overnight at her house without either him or me being there too. He knows the extent to which they drink - a bottle a night on a standard working night (ie. not a holiday, special occasion or weekend when the amount would definitely increase).

Mishap Fri 31-Oct-14 17:03:32

Oh Lord - how hard it is to deal with those who influence our children in ways that we are not comfortable with. The "teaching" of sarcasm to a 6 year old sounds really manipulative and gives me the shudders. I hate it when children are treated like performing monkeys in this way.

I sympathise wholeheartedly with your wish to keep your distance. If it were me I would make sure there were no further overnight stays; and would engineer to be around as much as possible when they are with the child - at least until he is a fair bit older and able to make his own judgements more clearly.

What a total pain for you.

rosequartz Fri 31-Oct-14 20:13:56

I would not drink more than a glass or glass and a half of wine if I am responsible for any of the DGC if they stay.

Certainly they should not be teaching him, like a little parrot, how to be so rude, sarcastic and cheeky to adults, or in fact anyone. DD has had a few problems with things that her PIL have said to DGS - it is just not acceptable. It has been very difficult to deal with.

FlicketyB Fri 31-Oct-14 22:39:34

DGD didn't stay with us until she was 6. DGS, aged 4, has yet to stay overnight with us.

There is no way I would ever allow a child to stay overnight with anyone, even a grandparent, if I thought they were likely to be drinking. My limit would be more than 2 medium or 1 large glass of wine. I know you cannot be that precise, but alcohol dulls the responses of older people more quickly and more extremely than younger people and I would not want to have any child, or grandchild of mine dependent on anyone whose responses in an emergency would be dulled by drink.

Eloethan Sat 01-Nov-14 00:13:49

I think you are absolutely right not to let your son stay overnight with his grandparents.

Being drunk would render someone completely incapable of coping in the event of an emergency, and being a bit drunk would mean much slower reactions and muddled thinking.

Also, I don't think many parents would appreciate their child being taught to be rude/sarcastic/disrespectful.

It sounds like you're a perfectly reasonable person who would not raise objections in a normal, safe situation. You're not being too harsh.

grannyactivist Sat 01-Nov-14 01:09:42

PeacefulSolution you were much more tolerant than I would have been in that situation because I'm pretty sure that I would have whisked my child away with me immediately. My husband and I are only occasional drinkers anyway, but we have a rule that if a grandchild is staying with us then one of us will abstain from alcohol in case there is some sort of emergency. As for the sarcasm - yes, I share your concerns.

PeacefulSolution Sat 01-Nov-14 08:17:25

Thanks for all your objective and unbiased comments everyone. Really appreciate it. Now just have to muddle over how best to broach the subject with them :-)

Mishap Sat 01-Nov-14 10:08:59

Don't broach it all - you do not need to take the initiative. Just wait until they next ask for him to stay or to look after him and either find some excuse or, if they is no way round it, simply say no. If they ask why, then tell them. Prior to that I would just lie low if I were you and get on with your life.

glammanana Sat 01-Nov-14 10:12:43

I think your ex should broach the subject as it is his parents that have caused the concern,it amazes me that the first time their DGC stays this has happened how totally thoughtless of them.
We enjoy a glass of wine but never ever get to a state where we are slurring,maybe she was tired but then in that case maybe she is not up to having sole charge of your little one.

goldengirl Sat 01-Nov-14 14:42:45

Neither of us ever has an alcoholic drink when we have the GC with us. We both feel the responsibility greatly and are just so pleased that we are entrusted with them and that they enjoy coming.

I agree with Mishap that you don't need to take the initiative. But if asked tell them straight. I find it totally irresponsible and as for the sarcasm, what in earth are they thinking?

rosequartz Sat 01-Nov-14 18:19:33

When I say I may have a glass or glass and a half of wine - I should emphasise that it is a very small glass indeed and I would never ever compromise the safety and wellbeing of my DGC.

FarNorth Sat 01-Nov-14 19:12:19

You may want the subject to be broached beforehand, rather than wait for an unspecified time until they suggest a visit again. If you do, it's up to you whether you think it would come best from you or from your ex.

Don't get involved in any discussion or argument about it. As the parent you are the one who should make decisions on how to ensure the safety of your son. If anyone else thinks you are being over-fussy that's just too bad. Stick to your guns.

Purpledaffodil Sat 01-Nov-14 21:49:20

On school residential trips there was always at least one designated non drinker each night and the others only had a small glass of wine at most and these were older children. I never drink when DGS stays overnight as you never know with small children what may happen. It is a shame that OP's MiL having taken the trouble to book a nearby holiday cottage, could not forgo her wine. I would have been very tempted to remove my child under these circumstances.

nannynoo Fri 07-Nov-14 14:59:06

OMG this is close to home for me but the other way round! lol

Do NOT EVER leave your child with them , full stop

Unless they seek help for their drinking it usually gets WORSE not better so they are NOT being responsible Grandparents!

She was ''eager'' to have him over to stay but could NOT stay away from alcohol for the duration even for his sake , so what or who comes first??? :-(

It is very concerning , but lesson learned , you can make an informed choice now that you see the situation

You also don't want them to ''promise'' they won't drink around your child only for them to break their promise / hide the alcohol

You are right , if she needed to get into the car with your child he would be at risk as would the public and even the next day there can still be some alcohol in your system

IT IS NOT WORTH IT to have ''Nanny'' in his life , as of course ideally it could be a WONDERFUL thing for him ( I have some LOVELY memories of staying over at my Grandparents house ) but they didn't drink , it was a calm enviroment , peaceful and homely

You want the best for your son and believe me ''the best'' does not involve being around someone who is drinking , kids look up to Grandparents and they set an example to them and offer them security and love , but there is no security in an enviroment with alcohol involved , it causes instability and irrationality / mood swings / personality changes etc and children do not understand the ''change'' which alcohol brings and NEED a stable , consistent enviroment especially something so lovely and ''fun'' as staying over with the Grandparents

I am sorry you are going through this but you have to do what is in the best interests of your child at all times xxx

nannynoo Fri 07-Nov-14 15:09:23

When you DO broach the subject you will get lots of promises / excuses etc

Do NOT give in or be manipulated

They will probably apologise and say it won't happen again , they have already proved themselves and do you really want to take that ''chance'' again as it WILL be a ''chance'' with your child you will be taking , they could stay clean for a few visits then slip back into things when they got more comfortable , it is obviously a HABIT , they pre bought the wine with every intention of drinking it whilst your son was there so there is no guarantee it ''won't happen again'' whatever they say , whatever they DO say take NO notice and keep your NO a firm no and they will just have to live with it as OMG the ONE chance they had and were looking forward to / planning etc had to be ruined by drink / their choice to drink and I feel it shows there IS a problem if they could not forego that much wine for a few days with their GS and it is not a problem which ''simply disappears'' believe me!!! So don't let them bullsh*t you is what I am trying to say

I hear it all the time! ;-)

You have to stay strong xx

nannynoo Fri 07-Nov-14 15:21:50

We are not talking about a glass or two of wine with dinner here

She was drunk and 7 bottles seems a bit excessive to me and if there was a local shop and they needed to top up their supplies they would do so

I doubt they took 3 bottles back home with them , we have to look at the facts here and although this situation is personal to me I do feel 7 bottles of wine is a bit excessive for a few days , especially as it was meant to be a special trip / visit with their Grandson staying over

It is irresponsible for anyone to be drunk while in care of a child , the child doesn't need that! Especially if they have sole care ie there was no one else with them x

alex57currie Fri 07-Nov-14 18:43:13

Nannymoo couldn't have put it better. Not having a self-righteous moment, but alcohol and DGC are a nono. I grew up with both grandmas being out and out drunks. If you knew me you'd see the results confused. I am a tad intolerent re this subject. I won't even have wine when looking after 14yr. old gs

Iam64 Fri 07-Nov-14 19:14:44

There seems to be so much excessive drinking throughout our society andn all age groups. I'm not anti alcohol, and being on various meds for RA means I'm limited to a unit a day. I'm with all the other posters, Peaceful Solution (great name by the way, especially given your OP), you seem eminently reasonable. I don't want to sound pompous, but most recent research sadly indicates that the gransnet age group (not the posters, of course) drink rather more than is wise. Your mil must have drunk a considerable amount to have glazed eyes, and be slurring her words by 9pm. Is she on any medication, that could have interacted with alcohol? That wouldn't be any excuse, of course, as she ought to have been extra cautious if that's the case.

I do feel for you, like many of the other contributors to your post, I've first hand experience of a very close relation who has a drink problem. I don't want to be a doom profit, but it does sound as though there's some kind of problem with your mil. I don't think you'll get anywhere talking it through, as problem drinkers are not honest about their consumption, will promise it won't happen again, but it usually does.

Your little boy is the most important person in this sorry situation. You want to keep him safe and secure, good for you. Could you ensure he has some kind of contact with his paternal grandparents, by way of letters, and phone calls. Videos are so easy to make now, you could offer to send them videos of special days out, birthdays etc so they aren't excluded. They could Skype perhaps, that's a great way for families separated by distance to keep in touch. If that goes well, maybe they could rent a holiday cottage again, and have days out with your little one.

Good Luck

rosequartz Fri 07-Nov-14 19:56:13

DH and I have just shared a bottle of white wine with dinner, which is most unusual - we were chatting and both feeling rather stressed so somehow the whole bottle was drunk.

Although I feel fine, and not drunk but very relaxed, I feel that I would not like to be in charge of a DGC or any child this evening.