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Grandparenting

Trapped in an impossible situation...

(62 Posts)
Mamma66 Sun 21-Jul-19 06:26:58

I have posted about this before, so apologies for that, but we feel so trapped and can see no way out.

We have three grandchildren aged seven, five and almost three. Their parents very dysfunctional relationship broke down 18 months ago. Both are poor parents; each in their own way and until recently the children have been under Child Protection. The children live with their Mum and come to us every other weekend. It used to be 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday, but we reduced this recently to 1pm Sunday.

We love the children dearly and told both parents a year or so ago that we would always put the children first even if this meant raising concerns with Social Services.

The children are lovely, love coming to us and really benefit from the stability and routine we give them. We love them so much but are shattered. We have to supervise contact with their father although this will end soon. Whilst he loves them in his own way the reality is that he isn’t prepared to actually parent. No matter how much we try to make him he doesn’t actually spend any time with them when they’re here. Last time he spent about three hours with them over the whole weekend which is more than usual.

The oldest child is really starting to clash with her Mother. She is a very bright little girl and whilst she has been fiercely loyal to her Mum I think she is beginning to recognise her shortcomings. She is starting to say regularly that she doesn’t want to live with Mum and actually means it.

We have always been petrified of them going into Care, mainly because we feared they would be split up and they love each other dearly. I can’t imagine there are too many foster parents who would be in a position to take on three small children together. Social Services are not currently involved but there is a risk they’re heading that way again.

I know this sounds selfish but we are absolutely shattered. We thought that we would be supporting our Stepson for a few months but he has moved away and comes to ours to see the children. He has never spoken to us about the future but obviously intends this situation will continue for the foreseeable future. He will be coming into a lot of money next year and will probably be able to buy a house, but I can’t see much else changing. When it comes down to it he doesn’t really want to put the effort in with parenting.

We feel so trapped. We love the kids dearly but are constantly shattered. We can’t walk away as they need the stability we provide. I don’t think there is a solution we can live with, I just don’t know what to do. My husband feels the same way.

paddyann Mon 22-Jul-19 12:28:11

I seem to remember that the mother isn't a bad parent just not the greatest parent and thet she had to enforce the court order for your son to have them at all is that right?The wee girl is just coming to an age where Daddy can do no wrong so in my experience its normal for her to want o live with her dad,I've had two who did that around that age .one whose dad is a waste of space and who has a wonderful mother,the other whose mother is as equally a good parent as her dad .Kids just see it differently,mine have both come through that phase and are happy with the situation as it is though both have been told that when they are older IF they want to move to live with their dads that will be their choice.I wouldn't think this is anything to be concerned about unless the mum is abusive and I seem to remember its ONLY the dad who has to be supervised so I'd guess not .
At the end of the day its down to whether you can keep having them at weekends or force your SS to look afterhis own children ..if he's reluctant he can pay for someone to do the care in your home .The children must always come first with someone ,their mother has them most of the time so it appears to be that she wants them but 3 children on her own when he's getting off scot free would make me angry too .He needs to step up .Sorry if that not what you want to hear .

Gonegirl Mon 22-Jul-19 12:32:50

To be honest, I don't see the problem if it's only every other weekend.

Gonegirl Mon 22-Jul-19 12:33:53

Doris19 you need to start a new thread under Chat.

MovingOn2018 Mon 22-Jul-19 13:29:24

tickingbird

Movingon2018 I don’t find your post helpful to the OP. She doesn’t need interrogating. Be helpful or move on

Goodness gracious! Did you just wake up miserable and looking for some company in misery or what? Maybe you should look up the meaning of the word, "interrogating" before using it? And actually what was thee relevance of this post? You didn't offer OP any advice so what's your purpose? Unless of course to be nothing but dramatic?

icanhandthemback

I suspect that MovingOn2018 * was trying to get more info in order to give more structured advice as you wouldn't want to advise someone to leave things as they are if the children were in serious danger*

Thank you icanhandthemback. I thought is would be common sense to all. It apparently is rocket science to a select few.

Gonegirl Mon 22-Jul-19 13:31:49

I thought your post sounded bossy and demanding.

granny4hugs Mon 22-Jul-19 15:09:39

icanhandthemback speaks SO much commonsense. Always useful. Plus, if you are tired having them from Friday to Sunday lunchtime with your husband, imagine what its like for mum on her own all the time. I too worry about what is said about the eldest girl. Kids have a canny knack of working out what they think adults want to hear. Be careful. You may be having an unintentionally negative influence.

Mamma66 Mon 22-Jul-19 15:19:40

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply - I really appreciate it and there have been some helpful suggestions.

To answer some of the questions raised; sadly both parents are poor, Mum loves them but has made some disastrous relationship choices and also smokes cannabis regularly. She also simply doesn’t put them first. The two eldest had their sports days recently and even though Mum doesn’t work and the little one was at nursery and school is literally round the corner, she ‘forgot’ to go. Social Services are aware of Mum’s cannabis use and don’t seem to view it as a problem unless she smokes it in the same room as them.

The other Grandma is really nice but she has supported her daughter for a long time and to be honest I think she is a bit fed up and will no longer have the children overnight.

Our finances are a bit tight at the moment and as much as I would love a cleaner and other support it’s not an option right now. We both work full time, I am 53, my husband almost 57, he works shifts and only has seven weekends off a year, so most of the care falls to me although he does help if he’s there. I do think I will have a look into a bit of help and support. The kids are pretty good, bless them. I was lucky enough to be brought up by fantastic parents and I am trying to replicate the care they gave. The children do help putting toys away, laying the table etc and they behave beautifully for me. I would never dream of saying anything negative about their Mum to them; sadly the two eldest have been critical of Dad and their loyalty to Mum is being eroded as she keeps letting them down.

Finally whilst I appreciate your support and comments to the person who said ‘you only have them every other weekend I can’t see the problem’. Thanks for that. Try working a 40 hour week, having three small children every other weekend without exception for 14 months and see if YOU still feel the same...

petra Mon 22-Jul-19 15:24:52

Movingon2018
I suggest you 'Moveon' as you obviously have no idea what it's like to live in a dysfunctional 'family'

paddyann Mon 22-Jul-19 15:28:26

Get their DAD to look after them !!He seems to be untouchable in this ,poor mother is slated and dad walks scot free ...honestly the world has moved on they are HIS responsibility .My GC's dad rarely sees them yet we had exactly this "I want to live with my dad" thing from his daughter ,thankfully she has realised the man who puts pictures of hie NEW baby all over FB isn't ever going to abe a good dad to her and her brother .Dont take these children if you resent it .I have had children here for 16 years sometimes one sometimes 3 or 4 ,one for half of every week for 9 years I work and I'm 65 ,if you want to do it you'll find a way

Mamma66 Mon 22-Jul-19 15:56:43

One final point, I am ashamed of my Stepson. I have tried every way possible (as has my husband) to support, encourage and push him towards stepping up for the children. As much as it pains me to say it, he simply isn’t prepared to parent his children. No amount of encouragement or cajoling have worked and he doesn’t really figure in their lives much.

The eldest has said she wants to live with her other grandmother who pretty much brought her up for the first two years of her life. She is not biologically our granddaughter but she has been in our lives since she was 15 months old and to us she is ours. Social Services always approved and encouraged our continuing involvement with her even when her parents where knocking figurative lumps out of each other.

I don’t think the eldest is hormonal yet, I just think that she feels resentful of her Mother’s reliance on her. The seven year old has been putting the two little ones to bed for the last two years for example. If the two little ones are hurt or upset they call for their sister, not their Mum.

Lessismore Mon 22-Jul-19 16:02:30

Miss Adventure's suggestions seem worth look OP?

BonnieBlooming Mon 22-Jul-19 16:03:31

I would recommend an organisation called Home-Start if there is one in your area. They are a voluntary org that support families with under 5s who are under stress. You can self refer and they will support grandparents as well. Support would be in the form of a volunteer (with personal parenting experience) who would come for a few hours to help with the children. They are not babysitters but they would play/read to the children to give you a break. They have a website where you can check if they are in your area. I used to work for them and know they can provide great support.

MissAdventure Mon 22-Jul-19 16:09:44

www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/policy-practice/practice-information/kinship-care/kinship-care-in-england

Perhaps if you look into different possibilities you may come up with a workable solution.

I really don't blame you for not wanting to take on parenting.
It would be good if someone could 'knock' the actual parents into some sort of shape.

quizqueen Mon 22-Jul-19 17:43:03

Perhaps you may have to consider just having the oldest child to stay with you or cutting down the weekend hours for all of them a bit- maybe picking them up Saturday morning and returning them after lunch on Sunday then it is only one overnight sleep to cope with. Also, you need to insist the father plays his part more and has an activity planned, in advance, for them on the Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning- not just hanging around your house watching you doing all the run around- and he should be providing their meal during that time too. I wonder why his visits have to be supervised; can someone else offer to do that? A volunteer?

If you do too much and you become ill with the stress, they won't have you in their lives (even temporary) at all and their mum manages to look after them the rest of the fortnight in between. Sometimes people just have to be left to get on with life as best as they can as, often, the more you do for them, the less they want to do for themselves.

I've just read through the whole thread about the cannabis use so I now think that the children would be better off in care. Druggies care only about themselves, I'm afraid, and there is no way that little girl of 7 should be doing so much of the caring. In my opinion, children should never be allowed to live with drug addicts or alcoholics. Then the mum wouldn't have all the added money with comes with the children so may actually have to find work. Shock, horror. Some people don't seem know how to parent but they certainly know how to procreate!!

Diane227 Mon 22-Jul-19 18:02:28

If dad is having his contact supervised then its because of a concern. If he isnt doing his bit SS need to know before it reverts to unsupervised.
Some parents use far worse than cannabis around their children . Its not possible to remove every child from drug using parents. Ot wont happen unless abuse is taking place.Its the age we live in unfortunately.

TATT Mon 22-Jul-19 19:11:40

I do empathise with you as I am in a similar position. I can’t see any easy answer, unfortunately, save that as time passes, things should become easier with the children. It’s very hard sometimes when retirement is nothing like what was anticipated.
Things will work out and I hope that it all ends amicably and happily for you all.

Minshy Mon 22-Jul-19 19:46:49

Try and have the children living with you if it comes to it.
They will be forever grateful..
it’s not their fault their lives have turned out like this.. they are so young and vulnerable,

NanaWilson Mon 22-Jul-19 21:21:21

Ring these people....they will help www.grandparentsplus.org.uk/

Allie2 Mon 22-Jul-19 21:27:22

First of all, I want to say that what you and your husband are doing for your grandchildren is amazing! You are positive role models for them. The love, care, and attention you give them is something that they will cherish forever. They are indeed lucky grandchildren. I understand that at your age, you should be winding down to “retirement” and not starting to raise children again. I believe that your grandchildren need you, and that you should look for someone or an organization that can help you. I commend your efforts and wish you both good luck!

hellymart Mon 22-Jul-19 21:35:56

Mamma66, obviously I don't know what part of the country you live in, but someone else mentioned children's charities and the possibility of someone taking the children out at weekends. The Friendship Project for Children in Warwickshire offers this kind of 'service', through carefully vetted volunteer befrienders. If you're not in that area, there may be other similar charities in your area. It's definitely worth checking out. You could ask at your local volunteer bureau, as a starting point. Good luck!

AnfieldNannie11 Mon 22-Jul-19 22:28:51

I’m sorry but slating the mum of these kids because she’s ‘poor’ doesn’t really help.
I have been in this situation but on the other side of it and was the mum trying to deal with judgemental grandparents who thought everything I did or didn’t do was never good enough or what they would have done. It just makes the situation and the relationship a hell of a lot harder than it should be.

I had 5 of their grandchildren, all teenagers and 3 younger children with my husband (not their son) and have been disabled with limited movingly for nigh on 10 years so was therefore having to live on benefits so was in your eyes ‘poor’ and still managed to be a decent mum, my kids all helped out around the house doing chores etc to earn pocket money and had done since were a lot younger. The grandparents had always been happy with how my children were raised and although we had never exactly been friends I had always been nice to them, had always involved them with the children and they were always able to see the children whenever they wanted. The children were all registered as young Carers but were all happy healthy and amazing children and I wasn’t and never had been known to social services. Their son, the 5 children’s dad used to see them when at the grandparents although due to various problems including mental illness, cannabis use and then leukaemia he was never really interested in seeing the children and if not for my pushing he would have happy not bothered seeing them at all. Then in 2014 he died from the leukaemia and due to issues with the grandparents and the children who were all old enough to know their own minds they all had a massive falling out partly due to the grandparents overbearing attitudes including making the funeral all about them and only mentioning the children’s existence once during the service, changing the poem the children chose for the service and then forcing the children to agree to scattering the ashes despite the children wanting to have them at the Crem in a plot for them to visit etc and had so much trouble with the grandparents in the end they just gave up fighting and to stop the pressure etc agreed to scatter them despite not actually wanting to. So for over 2 years there was no contact between the grandparents and the children and the grandparents blamed me for this even though I did my best to try and repair the broken relationship.
Then when the grandparents came into some money after selling their house they all of a sudden remembered they had grandchildren and basically started grooming them one by one. Reporting me to social services over and over with numerous malicious reports, all of which were proven to be malicious but due to duty of care social services were dutybound to investigate every report even though they knew there was no concerns over any of my children or my parenting of my children nor any concerns due to my disability as the grandparents were basically saying I was unfit to care for my children as I was disabled even though no concerns had ever been raised by them in the 10 years prior to this so were just trying to stir up enough trouble for me as possible. Accusing me of taking and selling illegal and prescription drugs as I am on medication for my health issues so according to them that made me a drug addict, when that didn’t work they they accused me of being an alcoholic. Basically anything and everything they could think of I was accused of just because they were being spiteful. Even telling social services all of my children would be better off in care than with me, using me being on benefits as yet another reason why I was an unfit parent.
Long story short after picking the kids off one by one and having 4 living with them they then decided parenting teenagers and pandering to them so letting them run wild whilst also giving them unlimited financial spending. So basically undoing all the effort that went into raising them correctly. They also have emotionally abused the children by slagging me off, blaming me for their son being mentally ill and dying, how I moved on with my life ans got married and had more children but he didn’t as rarely left the house or socialised but that was due to his mental health not me as the grandparents claim, so basically turned my children against me to the point where I had no contact with any of the children living with the grandparents for over a year and still don’t now. So when the grandparents realised how hard it was caring for teenagers they then dumped off the 2 they saw as the most work ans due to the fact the children would no longer talk to me ans refused to come home and there was no one else to take them they have now ended up in separate foster homes, then the grandparents kicked my 18yo out so she now has her own flat ( the grandparents were so desperate to get rid of her they paid the deposit on the flat, kitted it out and paid 6 months rent in advance for her) my 19yo (the favourite of the grandparents) is allowed to continue living with them, and the 17yo that they didn’t manage to groom and completely turn against me has now returned home so what started out as them claiming to ‘want the family to be together’ ‘having their sons children with his family rather than with me’ ‘that the children would be so much better off with them than with a poor, disabled mum’ etc etc has now turned into 5 kids all now living in 5 different places and barely talking to each other let alone the grandparents and I haven’t spoken or seen 4 of my children for over 18 months except in passing at my nans funeral in February and even then you could see how out of control and disrespectful they were so are now the complete opposite of the children I raised and due to the emotional abuse will never be the same kids again.

So although as a grandparent you may think you are helping when actually your whole attitude even without saying it in front of the children they do pick up on as kids aren’t stupid and see and hear things that you don’t realise so you may unwittingly be influencing their view of their mum esp if you spoil them and treat them more than the mum can and comment on this fact etc. As you don’t need to spend loads of money on children for them to feel loved and special to you and being poor doesn’t make you any worse a parent than someone who’s got money as usually it means your children grow up to appreciate money more than a rich child that’s been brought everything they want when they want it.
So please, for your grandchildren’s sake stop judging the mum and instead talk to her and see if she’s ok and coping and if there’s anything you can do to make things easier for her etc as she manages all the rest of the time when you haven’t got the kids so she’s not doing as bad as you may think she is as if anyone at the schools, nursery etc had any concerns about any of the children they would have reported it to social services by now so maybe things aren’t as dire as you may think they are and mum is doing the best she can with what she has especially if your step son is useless and doesn’t see the kids or financially support them so you need to be sorting your stepson out more than you need to judge the mum. He needs to step up or sod off completely as being in and out of the kids lives is actually worse for the kids than you may think.
Support rather than judging may help you more in this situation.

Xxxx

gmelon Tue 23-Jul-19 00:31:51

I took the "poor" parents to mean "not very good at being parents".
Was it financial criticism?

GrauntyHelen Tue 23-Jul-19 00:34:39

Home Start could be a GREAT support to the children's mother (as it is her they live with) and enable her to improve her parenting too

Grandgypsy Tue 23-Jul-19 01:31:55

Hi Everyone, is forgive me for going off subject. I am new here and trying to post a new discussion and I find no post message button. Is it because I am on a tablet? I see there is a post message button here but not when you try to start a new Convo or subject for discussion. Please forgive my ignorance and thank you for any help. New grandparent and feeling already so alienated by Daughter in law

Mamma66 Tue 23-Jul-19 02:50:54

AnfieldNannie11 I am really sorry for your situation, but this really isn’t the same. Firstly, I meant ‘poor’ as in parenting rather than financially. Secondly, Social Services became heavily involved (and nearly removed the children) not at our instigation, but because Mum neglected the children (concerns raised by school etc) and because she was in a relationship with a violent and abusive man and repeatedly prioritised the relationship with him over the children. In the end Social Services said him or them and even then she secretly continued the relationship. We NEVER ever criticise Mum in front of the children or discuss her at all whilst they are there, the kids don’t need that. Social Services have been involved off and on since the eldest was born, and whilst I was hopeful that Mum had stepped up to the plate at the shock of nearly losing the kids and had become ‘good enough’, she then started yet another disastrous relationship with someone who is a heavy cannabis user and has followed suit.

In response to someone suggesting Home Start, they are brilliant - I am a big fan of their work, sadly in this area they have lost the majority of their funding and are operating a shoestring service. I will try the local young carers organisation though - I don’t know why, but it hadn’t occurred to me.

Thank you again for your advice and support, it really has helped and given me strength to carry on. We love the children dearly and I know that we provide a little beacon of stability, consistency and love in their lives.

Social Services were on the cusp of assessing us as potential kinship carers at one point. I actually have a reasonable relationship with Mum, I have always tried to support rather than judge, maybe a conversation about other services supporting might get her back on track. Sadly she is all they have got as Dad will never be the Father the children deserve.

Onwards and upwards and thanks again 🙂