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(23 Posts)
GrammaNanny Sat 24-Oct-20 23:23:34

My Bonus (step) Daughter and her husband have 4 children. The oldest 2 are twin 11 year old girls, and have mild epilepsy, possibly mild autism, possibly ADD. The other girl is 7 and the boy is 6. My husband has spent an incredible amount of money and time remodeling their mobile home. It was VERY NICE! They and the kids have trashed it. Marker on the walls, trash, clothes, toys everywhere. It smells like urine in the house. They wet the beds and it’s not washed right away. We rarely go there and her mom (my husband’s ex) is not allowed to go there. It breaks my heart. The mom is a nurse and the dad is going back to college. They know better. My husband recently remodeled the 2 bathrooms and they are already being trashed. We realize this is a parenting issue but we’re not sure how to approach it with them without being “judgmental”. Their vehicles are full of trash also. The other issue is discipline. The mom will call my husband and expect him to talk to her children and basically threaten to come over and spank them. Today she called and wanted us to watch two of them because all four of them were fighting and not listening to her. She expects my husband to be the “bad guy” and that’s not fair to him. Grandparents should be fun, not disciplinarians when the kids don’t listen to mom & dad. How can we approach this respectfully? My husband and I have only been together a few years and just got married this year, so I don’t want to step on toes. Aside from this, the daughter and I have a great relationship!

Hithere Sun 25-Oct-20 01:10:15

1. Your dh should stop remodeling anything for them - the parents should provide for their kids
2. There is nothing you can say without sounding judgemental
3. Everytime they ask for grandpa or grandma to disciple the kids- an automatic no should be the answer

GrammaNanny Sun 25-Oct-20 01:43:08

I probably should have mentioned that her husband is not very handy as he was in a car accident and wasn’t supposed to ever walk again. If you saw him walk you would think he had polio. So any repairs that need done fall on my dh unfortunately. And DH is a carpenter by trade. The daughter also recently had shoulder surgery so she is off work for a few months. Not that these are excuses, just more info. Ugh. I know you are right.

Hithere Sun 25-Oct-20 01:56:01

They can hire contractors for any repairs or adjustments they need.

You have to be careful with enabling them

Davidhs Sun 25-Oct-20 07:43:14

“Mum is a nurse and dad going back to college, 4 kids 2 with learning difficulties, living in a mobile home”

Someone need to stay at home full time to parent properly.

NotSpaghetti Sun 25-Oct-20 08:27:34

I think a parenting course is in order here. Are their problems feeding back into school in any way? I wonder if it's been suggested?

I used to deliver a great course with good results but generally my referrals were through schools or social care but some parents did refer themselves. It was free to the families and actually most parents enjoyed it!

You could look online to see what might be available in their area and if there's anything likely maybe your husband could have a chat about it (on a calm day). You can tell them you hate to see them struggling, point out you won't be here forever, offer to child-mind while they go to meetings (or child mind whilst zooming). They would be so much happier if they had some control. Obviously pick your time!
Good luck.

Gingster Sun 25-Oct-20 08:43:09

My DD is a single mum with 4 children. All lovely kids. Eldest now at university, so she’s done a good job. But if there are any problems, she will tell the children, Nanna will be disappointed with you. It seems to work. I had a lot of input In Their early days. I’m not a dragon, but I do tell them how it is. DD is pleased that I do.

sodapop Sun 25-Oct-20 09:01:49

It does sound like your husband's family need a lot of help GrammaNanny, must be difficult for them with all the health problems.
I think you have all just got trapped in this cycle of knee jerk responses and you need to sit down together and decide on the best way to provide support in the future. You need to have time to live your own lives without all these extra responsibilities. I agree with NotSpaghetti a parenting course would help. I'm not sure if you are in UK but there should be help available for the twins, has your step daughter explored this avenue ?
Straighten things out now and have a clear idea of how much help you can offer.

Bibbity Sun 25-Oct-20 09:36:56

What support are they receiving for the elder two? You can’t beat the autism out of a child so they drastically need parenting classes on how to deal with nurodiverse children.

Summerlove Sun 25-Oct-20 11:55:24

I agree with HiThere. Stop enabling.

These parents sound completely overwhelmed and unused to having to be adults on their own.

Summerlove Sun 25-Oct-20 11:57:08


“Mum is a nurse and dad going back to college, 4 kids 2 with learning difficulties, living in a mobile home”

Someone need to stay at home full time to parent properly.

Many people “parent properly” while still working full time

GrammaNanny Sun 25-Oct-20 13:52:20

Mom goes to counseling as well as one of the twins and the boy. One twin is much higher functioning than the other and she is the one in counseling. She is in the regular classroom and the other is in a SPED classroom

Summerlove Sun 25-Oct-20 13:59:21

Why is second twin not in counseling?

Have you and your husband looked into it for you? It might help with enforcing boundaries

Bibbity Sun 25-Oct-20 14:12:19

Counselling doesn’t teach parenting though. Firstly physical discipline is abuse. So why is she not learning how to correctly handle the aspects of their autism that cause her to react violently?

EllanVannin Sun 25-Oct-20 14:31:55

It doesn't sound to me that any sort of a routine is in place and the children are allowed to do as they please.
Talking to the children and asking why they're behaving as they are doing would be a start. It's all too easy to blame it on an " illness or disability " when the root cause could be something entirely different.

paddyanne Sun 25-Oct-20 16:12:40

Poor souls,they have got more than their share of worries .They need help though not criticism ,maybe their GP surgery could recommend them for some help in the home an dwith the children .They must be stressed to the max.My daughter has multiple health issues and I know how hard life is for her but her 3 children are all healthy and able to help her when needed.
I dont think discipline is whats needed ,advice and a helping hand from people who understand the problems.Well done to her OH for trying to get some normality by going to college sometimes it helps to be away from the hassles that overwhelm him at home.I wish them all the luck in the world they certainly have had their share of troubles.

Callistemon Sun 25-Oct-20 16:22:43

Are you in America, GrammaNanny?

Perhaps resources are different over there. What help is available and is it free?

However, as far as the home is concerned, I would be reluctant to keep spending time and money on improvements which then get trashed. Six people in a mobile home could mean space is limited too.

Astral Sun 25-Oct-20 16:25:22

How awful for them to have so many physical issues at the same time and children with extra needs.

Physical discipline is not the answer but they obviously need extra support and if giving it has become too much for you and your husband then perhaps you need to take a step back and look.for other support until they are back on their feet.

Davidhs Sun 25-Oct-20 18:37:15



“Mum is a nurse and dad going back to college, 4 kids 2 with learning difficulties, living in a mobile home”

Someone need to stay at home full time to parent properly.

Many people “parent properly” while still working full time

Many people don’t have children with this many problems

NotSpaghetti Sun 25-Oct-20 18:39:53

Lolo81 Sun 25-Oct-20 19:31:26

My nephew is autistic, has epilepsy and adhd. My bro and SIL also have two younger boys. It can be hellish trying to get the help and support needed. My nephew who is 12 can literally go for weeks with as little as two hours sleep per night and as his spiral gets worse his destructive tendencies do too. Add into this full time work and his siblings and it can be dreadful. It took a few years for my SIL to accept practical help from our family as she was ashamed and felt like a failure who wasn’t able to cope. But when your functioning on auto pilot, without external support and very little sleep it can destroy your self esteem.
Please reassure her that it’s not her fault and offer practical help without judgement. If your SD is experiencing even half of what my brothers family is going through my heart breaks for them.

Hetty58 Sun 25-Oct-20 19:38:38

I would feel no need to 'fix' the situation. Some people do have very messy homes (and cars) but that's their business.

You could arrange to see them outside or at your place. If your husband doesn't mind helping out, then let him. Just make sure that he says a firm 'no' to being the bad guy!

Smileless2012 Mon 26-Oct-20 15:04:29

I agree with Hithere too. The problems the 11 year old twins have are no excuse for not keeping a place reasonably tidy, not laundering soiled bed linen and allowing the place to be trashed.

As this is about your H of a few years' D GrammaNanny I think this is his call and all you can do is talk to him about it. If he wants to give his time undertaking home improvements, even though his works appears to be unappreciated and taken for granted, I suppose that's up to him.

I would draw the line though at you both paying for it.