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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 Sat 27-Jul-19 11:29:09

Believe me starbird its a huge issue splitting siblings .My father and his 2 sisters and brother were all sent to seperate homes when their mother died during WW11 .They would all have told you how awful it was for them,they hated the homes they were in and worried about the others and how they were being treated .My aunts and uncle never lived together when they came out of care,they each in turn lived with us for a while until they were able to manage alone ...but they all longed for a family they lost all their lives.In my opinion these childrens FATHER needs to step up or to pay for help for his Parents...although 48 hours a fortnight doesn't seem much to me when the mother has them the other 12 DAYS its not the mothers place to pay for time her ex should have them , if the OP finds it hard work her SS must be made to care for HIS children

starbird Sat 27-Jul-19 11:12:37

It cannot be assumed that the children would be split up if they went into foster care, however, they may be the only thing keeping their mother on the straight and narrow. It is a truly difficult situation requiring the wisdom of Soloman to solve, but I will say this: you said that your son is coming into some money next year - if they know this the court might decree that a good portion of that is put by for the children, either for when they are adults or to draw down as needed before then for education etc. The account should be handled by someone outside of the family. Also, if he is not already doing so, your son should be paying you something for having the children on his behalf. Again, if you are not already doing so, consider getting someone from a trustworthy agency to clean and do the ironing once a week for you on a day you are at work, so that you have less to do at weekends. The childrens’s mother should do the same. At least if not in person, your son must take responsibility in his pocket!
But looking on the positive side, not all men ( or even women) get on with small children, but as the children get older they find them more interesting. Perhaps this will happen with your son. Also, as he comes to you to see them, he may feel ashamed and/or embarrassed about the supervision order and what has happened in the past and/or that you are judging him as a parent - perhaps he is disguising his real feelings by pretending he doesn't care, when really he needs love and encouragement? I apologise if this is way off the mark, of course you should know your son best.
Even if, at the end of the day the children are split up, it is not necessarily such a disaster. How close are you to your sisters/brothers once you are married or before? Often friends become closer than family. What is bad is when people are split up and have no contact - they look back and imagine a rose tinted life of happiness if only they had known their long lost father/mother/sister/brother etc when in reality life may have been no better or possibly worse if they had been around. The main thing is to keep some contact which hopefully they could do by getting together occasionally with a parent and or grandparent.
Do you know how the other grandparent(s) cope? Do they also work?

GoodMama Sat 27-Jul-19 03:04:15

Mamma66, My heart goes out to all of you. What a tough situation. Bless you and your DH for doing what you can for these children. I can imagine it is hard on you and him. It's a constant roller coaster of emotion, I'm sure you never know the state of the children when you are about to receive them.

And they live in a constant state of uncertainty. Just truly heartbreaking.

You say your step son isn't interested (no judgement on him, it is what it is. You can't force someone to be something they are not). The children's moth doesn't sound stable and has been on the verge of having them removed. Her mother is at her whits end. This is truly a case of a village trying to raise these poor kiddos caught up in circumstances not of their making.

I ask this gently, but is there anyone else in the family who could take them full-time? The kids need stability and to be able to be kids. I understand wanting to keep them out of the system, especially if they are likely to be split up.

I know their mother hasn't given up rights, but if she were to lose them I wonder if there could be a plan in place to prevent the children being split up. They are awfully young and it's a long time left for her to be a mom. She doesn't sound anymore interested than your stepson.

Hugs to you.

MovingOn2018 Thu 25-Jul-19 23:56:54


Moving on, is sounds as though you’re in America. Here in the U.K. we don’t have a Protective Order, we have various Orders under the Children Act.

Think you should be addressing Petra with this. She's the initiator of that "protection order," statement.

Hope that clarifies if movingon. No need to get irritated.

There was no misunderstanding on my end. Not sure why you'd assume this, then conclude that I'm irritated over anything. Again, I know why I asked OP those specific questions - (which she does NOT have to answer) and if you've closely followed this posts, she's carefully made sure not to answer or touch on any of them. Social services doesn't just drive around peoples homes with the sole intent of being nosey for they have nothing else to do. Somebody has to call them, and I highly doubt that the school initiated that call.

Iam64 Wed 24-Jul-19 21:32:54

Moving on, is sounds as though you’re in America. Here in the U.K. we don’t have a Protective Order, we have various Orders under the Children Act. These children haven’t been the subject of care proceedings, they were found to be at risk of significant harm (Children Act term) and their names placed on the Child Protection register. No legal proceedings, more an attempt to formalise support for the children and their family. Their names are no longer on the register because things improved. Children will always be placed with relative carers, rather than foster care where possible.
It’s clear from the OPs comments she’s well aware of all this. She is doing her best, feeling tired and worried that if the parents continue to fail their children, she and her husband may have to have full time care,
Hope that clarifies if movingon. No need to get irritated.

MovingOn2018 Wed 24-Jul-19 19:58:52


I like to think that my post to you showed mamma66 that I don't support your demanding post. You demanded ( didn't ask politely) what risk

You can't tell me at my intent was and conclude that I "demanded," anything. You are however free to tell me at you "perceived," from my post. And you're perception is an individual concern, so how do you know that OP also perceived this as a "demand?" So you not only judged my intent, but also felt the need assume the manner in which OP would perceive it.

Have you any idea what's involved when children are put under a protection order? Mamma66 stated this *fact in the OP.*

Not even sure what you're asking here. Unless you've rephrased this statement, or are directly asking me a question, bottom line is this doesn't make any sense to me, or hold any relevance.

But to answer your question - yes, as a trial attorney I am well versed with what happens with children once put under protective order.

If you had simply read my post with an open mind, instead of making this all about you and how you perceived my tone, OP may have got some great advice from someone who actually knows wat they are doing. But people here are so judgmental and project their hurt and " personal feelings," on others, making it impossible for anyone to get real help.

Again, how has your post helped OP? For you saying that it showed support is (once again) all about you and what you think you've done for her. At times, its perfectly okay to exercise your right to remain silent. And if in doubt, ask if one has an undertone as opposed to playing telepathic and drawing biased judgments on others. Those questions were specifically asked for a reason, thahad nothing to do with you and how you feel.

AnfieldNannie11 Tue 23-Jul-19 20:12:28

I was in a violent and very abusive relationship with my children’s dad and when I went to his parents numerous times begging for them to help me deal with him and trying to get him the mental health assessments etc that he clearly needed they basically turned their backs and if anything blamed me for his behaviour, even telling me that I’d made him like that as I liked to feel needed and it apparently made me feel better about myself and refused to believe it was as severe as it actually was.
As I had no real relationship with my family and he’d cut me off from friends etc I never felt like I could leave him as he had me over a barrel and due to numerous threats by him saying that if I ever left him he and his parents would take my kids away and they would be awarded custody over me as I would be a single mum.
So sometimes it’s not always as easy as it seems to an outsider to get out and away from the abuser and to keep them away as you will try and do anything to keep them happy so they don’t beat the crap out of you so what you saw may not have been her putting this boyfriend above her kids but protecting them by doing whatever he said.
My wake up call was when he attacked me with a meat cleaver and had me pinned on my couch with it to my throat saying he could kill me in my sleep and he’d get away with it as he was mentally unstable and all whilst his young children were in the front room only feet away from us. And then him giving the meat cleaver to our eldest who was barely 5 at the time and telling her to go stab mummy!!
And even after all of this and having to get the police to remove him from my house his parents still didn’t believe me and kept trying to talk me into taking him back.

So have you thought that maybe the mum may be suffering from some form of ptsd from this violent relationship although you don’t mention of this was your step son or how he treated her when they were together as trust me you don’t ever fully recover from being in a relationship like that and it can still traumatise you years later and majority of ‘addicts’ drink or take drugs, as you say she smokes cannabis, could be her way of self medicating as she feel so worthless and that’s also why she may by struggling to build a relationship with your grandchildren especially if the relationship between her and her mum and/or family is strained or non existent?

It can be extremely hard being a single parent as I’ve done it with 4 children under 5 and pregnant so also feeling like people are judging you makes you feel unable to reach out if you needed help or support from anyone especially if social services were involved as she’s probably scared witless that if she admits she’s struggling to cope and needs help that social services or even you will take her kids away from her. So she’s in a no win situation as whatever way she tries she’s feeling like she’s got no one and no help and is totally alone.

Also majority of kids that do chores act and feel like it’s the absolute end of the world and will happily say how horrible mum is as they ‘have to do everything’ even though it may only be a chore like picking up after herself so your grandchild saying she wants to live elsewhere and that she does everything could only be a child over dramatising things as children often do. I know mine have all moaned and groaned over silly things over the years and still So she may be playing into your hands by saying what she knows will get a reaction out of you. As most children do. Also being the eldest and helping mum out with the younger ones isn’t that uncommon either as again majority of kids help out playing and amusing their younger siblings and also moan and groan about that too. If my lot were to be believed over the years they were my slaves and had to run my house whilst I did absolutely nothing and the youngest one of them got away with everything and never did anything even as he got So not everything is as it seems as no one knows fully what happens behind closed doors esp if your grandchildren’s mum doesn’t want you to know.


petra Tue 23-Jul-19 08:11:41

I like to think that my post to you showed mamma66 that I don't support your demanding post.
You demanded ( didn't ask politely) what risk
Have you any idea what's involved when children are put under a protection order? Mamma66 stated this fact in the OP.

Starlady Tue 23-Jul-19 07:13:34

Bless you and DH, Mama for being there for your GC! Same to all the other GPs here who are in similar situations. You are the heroes in their lives.

I'm so sorry their mum isn't fully responsible even now after her CPS scare. TG you and DH provide the kids w/ as much stability as you do.

I feel especially for the oldest one. Clearly, she is being made to play a parental role in many respects. Is Social Care aware of this? As close as she is to you, I understand her wanting to live w/ her other GM since she, basically, raised her, according to your comments. Does she get to see/talk to that GM very much these days?

It seems as if SS (stepson) is SC's main concern. If they only want him to have supervised contact, for whatever reason, then it's probably not a good idea for him to have the kids alone too much when that restriction is first lifted. I think he would do better to ease into parenting gradually. But from what you tell us (sigh), he doesn't even seem interested in that, anyway.

IMO, it's beautiful that you have tried to influence him to be a better parent. But, it's not your job, really, and at this point, I think you would do better to just accept who he is. In time, you may have to help the GC come to terms w/ that.

My heart aches for you and DH - and your GC. And I totally hear your comments about feeling "shattered." I'm not sure, though, if that's b/c you are so disappointed in the parents, especially SS or b/c you are finding it increasingly difficult to take care of the kids for whole weekends and don't see an end in sight. Or... Can you clarify?

I agree w/ the poster who pointed out that these dynamics will change as the kids get older and more independent, etc. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. You will get through this and probably have many fond memories as a result. Still, I know you're stressed and hope you can arrange for some help, after all. Hugs!

Peonyrose Tue 23-Jul-19 06:20:40

Mamma, I think it is a lot for you but you don't really have a choice. You are both young grandparents and every other weekend gives you a break, it's only until 1 on Sunday. I would make it as good as you can for them because those children didn't ask for this. You cant walk away. The mother must be worn out, imagine doing what you are 24/7, your ss sounds a waste of space. The eldest child is only saying what she is because her mother must be stretched to the limit in everything, unfortunately the one doing the graft gets it in the neck, she doesn't mean it. You are helping those children have something to look forward to in their hard little world.
Moving on, I wish you would.
Make use of Home start,M gave a conversation with their mother, she must be desperate, your ss needs to step up and grow up, they are his children too, yet he pops his head in and leaves the work to her, you must be so ashamed of him, I know I would. Too many men walk away leaving partners at breaking point emotionally and financially.
Good luck, it's a bit hard now but it will get better.

MovingOn2018 Tue 23-Jul-19 03:40:43


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

And how exactly does this post help the OP?

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 🙂

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

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

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?

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.


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!

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!

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

Ring these people....they will help

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,

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.

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.

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!!

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

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.

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.