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Complicated family situation, at the end of my tether

(41 Posts)
Nopeaceincumbria Sun 06-Aug-23 21:00:14

My first post here. Please hear with me, it's a long one.
I am 59, husband is 63. I have 3 children aged 36, 34 and 28. They are not my husband's kids. The issue is my son, aged 34. I brought them up alone following divorce from narcissist alcoholic ex husband when youngest was 2. Son started exhibiting same personality traits around the age of 14, became involved in drugs and alcohol. Basically, life has been hell with him for 20 years. String of relationships that always start with a honeymoon period then to downhill fast. Lots of money issues (I have bailed him out to the tune of 20k over the years) he's a compulsive liar, loves drama but treats me appallingly. I have spent years trying to 'fix' him but after two years of intensive private therapy (still ongoing) have stopped.

Three years ago he had a daughter with his then partner. I adore her, she is my only grandchild. Last summer I discovered her mother had been convicted of stealing £112,000 from her employer to fund a gambling addiction. She was sentenced to 28 months in prison on December 1st 2022. My granddaughter remained living with my son some 2 hours drive from us. I immediately stepped in to provide support initially travelling over at 4.30 am every Monday and staying until Wednesday. I am self employed so needed some time at home to manage my business and be with my husband. When there it quickly became clear that GD wasn't being looked after properly and that he was drinking and using drugs. When I left on a Wednesday the house was clean, washing up to date, food in cupboards. When I returned 4 days later the house was squalid. The next thing was that the house had gone, tenancy in her name only and him with no legal right to be there. So I packed the house up, arranged for storage and paid for it. He didn't do anything apart from make promises to do it. Before anyone tells me where I have gone wrong, a, I know and b, the true horror of being around this personality type can only be appreciated when you have lived around it. It has ruined my life. It's like living in a vortex, a world where you eventually don't know who you are, or even understand what is happening. It was arranged that my son would come back to us but stay with my mother who has a big house. He then announced that he had got another job 3 hours away, no discussion or consideration for his child. She then came to stay with us Monday-Friday with him taking over Friday evening to Sunday evening.....or so I thought. In 7 months it has never worked out like that. Numerous excuses about why he can't do it, always trying to bring her back early and just not being a dad when he's with her. I feel devastation for my GD and so much sadness, abandoned by both parents effectively. We are traumatised, our life as we knew it ended and we are utterly exhausted. With the help of a nursery, who, due to the circumstances, gave us priority, we get a break in order to work. I have spoken to Social Servieat length, nothing there as she is safe currently, my HV cannot assist either. If anyone else mentions kinship or Special guardianship I will actually stand in a field and scream. So we simply get through every day. GD mother was released last Friday having served 8 months and the run between her and son started immediately. Him behaving appallingly over taking GD to see her mother, something only one day earlier he had promised to do. I was then embroiled in highly charged conversations that had me at the brink of madness. I have made it clear I will not be doing that again. Now begins the process of GD being returned to her mother in a way that does not cause further trauma to my darling GD whilst trying to remain cordial and civil with her mother who wants to rush things. I have had a lifetime of being in pressured situations both personally and professionally but this is on another level. Maybe it's because I'm older, or because I'm powerless as the grandmother but this is like nothing I have ever been through. I have poured my heart into looking after this child, spoken to healthcare professionals regarding trauma in children who are still too young to articulate their fee!Inge or even have the awareness of where mummy has gone. Most of all we have done everything within our gift to ensure she feels safe, secure and loved against a backdrop of misery, failing parents and quite frankly horrible uncaring behaviour.
I'm not asking for advice, I'm a Healthcare Professional too. I have explored everything. I suppose what I would like is grandparents in a similar situation to pipe up here. This is lonely and frightening. On one hand I want to keep her safe forever with me (I don't think she is at risk of physical harm but she has already been badly let down by both parents) but I also know we would struggle to maintain this on a permanent basis and there is huge guilt and sadness associated with that. Her mum wants her back but her dad, my son, has already said he doesn't even want her every weekend, as he 'has to have a life'. How selfish and self obsessed is that, not to mention disgusting.
Thank you for reading this, it's a summary of awfulness and I forgot to mention that on top of our two dogs we also have his two dogs and a cat. My mother is also in very poor health and we have to make daily trips to check on her, take her to her numerous appointments etc. I can honestly see why people walk out of their houses and don't come back. My feelings of desperation, loneliness, anger and fear are sending me to an early grave. We have no family support as both of my daughters live away and my sister also lives 3 hours away so doesn't really help with my mother. We feel as though we have been literally left holding the baby.. I have cried everyday since December

Grannynannywanny Sun 06-Aug-23 21:23:34

What dreadful situation and no wonder you are feeling so desperate Nopeaceincumbria. Your little granddaughter is fortunate to have you in her life. I have no advice to offer other than to hope that your situation improves in the near future 💐

I’m a little concerned on your behalf at the amount of detail you’ve included in your post such as your granddaughter’s mother’s prison sentence date and your location in your username. You might want to consider asking MNHQ to edit your post and remove details which might identify you. You can do that by reporting your own post and asking for it to be edited. As it’s a public forum it can’t be read by anyone .

Grannynannywanny Sun 06-Aug-23 21:24:59

*can be read by anyone

Toetoe Sun 06-Aug-23 21:32:54

So sorry couldn't pass by without a ❤️

Luckygirl3 Sun 06-Aug-23 22:15:50

These situations where addictions and mental health problems ruin formerly normal lives are so hard to deal with, especially where children are involved. It is hard to see one's relatives going through this whilst at the same time feel so disappointed in them.
Your DGD is lucky to have you in her life, but your love for her does not automatically go with the physical or emotional health to do all you wish to do for her.
I am also aware that you will have probably found it hard to get the support you need from the statutory services.
The only thing that you can do is to steel yourself to try and keep a civil relationship with the mother in order that you can be the constant rock that you wish to be.
I do have family experience of how addiction with mental health problems can be overwhelmingly detrimental to family life. So I am simply sending a hand hold.

crazyH Sun 06-Aug-23 22:27:14

So sorry about your situation.*nopeace*. I have no experience or advice, but I’m thinking of you and hope things get better xx

silverlining48 Sun 06-Aug-23 22:54:06

Hello no peace. well done for providing consistency for your gd and hope that things settle now that her mother is in the picture.
It’s understandable that this is causing you considerable stress so please look after your own health, snd take some time out if you can. You certainly deserve s break. flowers

Smileless2012 Sun 06-Aug-23 23:03:53

Your post is heart breaking Nopeace. I'm very sorry which is so inadequate but I don't know what else to say flowers.

Joane123 Sun 06-Aug-23 23:08:22

Couldn't pass by without sending you flowers; you are the constant for your dear grand daughter.

Theexwife Sun 06-Aug-23 23:55:38

I feel so sorry for you and your family, you are so strong to keep going, a lesser person would have walked away. I can only wish you all a better future.

VioletSky Mon 07-Aug-23 00:54:21

Please be careful, your name has your location and your story would be easily identifiable

I can see you dearly love your grandchild but if you aren't coping you really need to do what is best for her and get her a stable, loving and happy home.

Your son and DIL are not going to suddenly become better people. There will be no change without a serious amount of hard work and there is absolutely nothing you can do to help them change. Change has to come from them.

So you do need to face those facts, either you go for guardianship and all the benefits and help that will entitle you too for your granddaughters childhood or you need to work with social services to ensure she gets that elsewhere.

My heart goes out to you it really does but you haven't even managed to rehome the animals that add so much work to your plate... So how are you going to prevent yourself from running into the ground?

You need to make some long term decisions and once you do you will be able to get the right help and support

Please remember, this isn't what you have chosen for yourself but what you allow is what will continue.

nanna8 Mon 07-Aug-23 01:03:45

What VioletSky says sounds harsh- but I think it is right. You have to take care of yourself otherwise things will just get worse . You are brave and strong but you do need a break and something has to change.

sukie Mon 07-Aug-23 02:40:59

I'm so sorry you're going through this. There are no magic words or easy fixes but as you say, you can't sustain the current way of doing things for the long term. This is taking such a toll on you mentally and physically, what good will you be to your gd if you fall apart?

Though it will be difficult, I also think you have to listen to what VioletSky says for the good of your gd, your dh and yourself. Read each word of what she's written carefully. It makes good sense.

The situation you describe can get worse. For instance, imagine more children entering the scenario. Act now to ensure your gd will at least be in a safe and nurturing place and then I think you'll have to detach and take care of your own health and life.

I wish you the best. flowers

Sara1954 Mon 07-Aug-23 06:21:11

Sadly, it’s hard to see an end to this terrible situation, Sukie is right about the possibility of more children, and even if this little girl is returned to her mother, the situation sounds very unstable.
Somehow you’ve got to slow everything down, and take a deep breath, maybe try and have a really sensible talk with the girls mum, tell her you are always there to help, but that if possible, the child needs to be with her, frankly I don’t think you can count on your son at all, but I think you need to stop bailing him out.
Where are the mothers family in all of this? Can they not help at all?
There is nothing more heartbreaking than a child whose parents simply don’t want her, you have been amazing, but you won’t be any use to anyone if you burn out.

Katyj Mon 07-Aug-23 06:45:19

So sorry what a terrible situation and unfortunately it’s becoming more commonplace. I know of two families like yours, both have taken guardianship of their grandchildren, it’s worked out very well for one family, but the other family are having a terrible time, the child now a teenager is in care.
Only you can decide how much care you can, and feel able to give. I expect now the mum is around social services will be involved, speak to them.
You’ve helped your son all you can, it’s painful but let him get on with it he’s made his feelings very clear. I hope things improve for you all.

Mamasperspective Mon 07-Aug-23 06:58:07

This poor child, it must feel like a game of pass the parcel for her at the moment. Can social services not manage this better? Should they not be ensuring it's a slow transition for her to take the pressure off you trying to manage her mothers expectations? My only other comment would be, is there no available funding/benefits available for you being her main carer that would help with costs for a play group/nursery or something? If you're UK based, I'm sure there's a scheme where you get about 30 hours a week free childcare.

Hetty58 Mon 07-Aug-23 07:43:48

Nopeaceincumbria, you've done so much already - too much - but you can't continue to be the 'superglue' that holds this family situation together. It's just impossible, so now's the time for a rethink. Children are, thankfully, often very resilient and adaptable, more than we realise.

Your son won't suddenly step up and become a reliable, responsible father. It's a common situation, sadly. Perhaps, in time, with support, he can manage fortnightly weekends? I wouldn't expect any more.

Your best bet is to foster a workable arrangement with your granddaughter's mother. After all, she's the one that will have the power over her everyday life. She should be with her mother. You can offer help with childcare, babysitting, maybe transport to nursery, your son and appointments etc.

You have your mother, husband (and all the pets) to care for so can only reasonably offer to have your granddaughter on a regular basis on the alternate weekends when your son is 'free' to 'have a life'.

Social services should certainly be involved in welfare and safeguarding concerns - along with nursery (and soon the school). Stay in regular contact with them - and step back. It will be very hard to distance yourself but you really must do it. It's vital to look after yourself, first, before you can support others - and you know it.

BlueBelle Mon 07-Aug-23 08:21:19

You say you want no advice as you are a professional in this field you just want to hear from others who may have been in a similar situation
Well I haven’t been in this situation so I may be no help to you whatsoever but looking from the outside inwards, and sometimes, even as professional as you are in this field you may need to see it through others eyes
My take is this
First and foremost animals need to be found a home, no way can you have all these extra animals that you ve had for 8 months give the selfish ones an ultimatum Have your animals back first or I find them homes ( are they even looked after in their crazy house)
Has daughter still got her gambling addiction? That’s a big question or do you think she’s learnt her lesson ? How is she with the grandaughter normally was she distraught to be away from her? was she desperate to have her back ? Did SHE look after her well before the prison incident
If the answer is yes she was a decent mum to her then as others have said keep her on side and find a tapered way to return her gently can you have the child for long weekends
It’s going to be a bit if a journey
It sounds as if your son has mental health issue made worse by his drug taking but until he sees that there is nothing you can do Hopefully the mother will see sense and kick him out
I m in this big tangle

Summerfly Mon 07-Aug-23 09:10:57

I cried when I read your post NOPEACEINCUMBRIA and so very sad that you’re in this awful situation. I have no advice for you, only to say you must look after yourself. Sending kind thoughts and hugs. 💐

lyleLyle Mon 07-Aug-23 12:27:31

I wish you peace and strength. You are being a rock for your granddaughter, though feeling like you crumbling inside. I cannot imagine going through what you are going through. I am sorry for you and this child.

I know you did not ask for advice, but please seriously consider getting legally ordered maintenance from your son. Do not warn him, just act. Perhaps it will sink in how much of a deadbeat dad he is being when he hears it from an objective party. His mental health and addiction issues may account for his own neglect, but certainly do not excuse why he wouldn’t facilitate his child seeing her own mother. He is being mean and nasty to every single person involved here, including his own child. Perhaps it is time he is no longer shielded from his reflection.

grandtanteJE65 Mon 07-Aug-23 12:46:28

To be honest, your grand-daughter is better off not seeing her father than seeing him, as he sounds a wildy unsiúitable person to have even weekend care of such a young child.

All you can do, which you already know, is to stay good friends with the child's mother, however hard that may be.

I am sadly afraid you will have to let the little one return to her mother when her mother wants her in order to keep the peace with the mother. Doing so is your only hope of still seeing your grand-daughter regularly.

Grandparents are exactly that and even although you are only 59 and your husband 63 the fifteen years that must pass before the little girl is legally an adult coincide with the time of life where you and your husband will be slowing down and have the right to enjoy your retirement without being principally or even partly responsible for a child.

Leave you son to sail his own sea. That's what he is going to do, come hell or high water, after all, and concentrate what energy you can spare from your marriage, business and your two other adult children on your grand-daughter and her mother.

Hithere Mon 07-Aug-23 12:59:49

What vs and lyle said

sodapop Mon 07-Aug-23 13:07:10

What an awful situation to be in nopeaceincumbria I can understand how you feel at the end of your tether. I agree with grandtanteJE65 leave your son to make his own way and concentrate on the rest of your family. Try and make time for yourself and your husband amidst all that is going on. You need some respite to be able to continue.
I hope you find the strength to continue caring for granddaughter and her mother, you are a very brave and compassionate woman. flowers

Coronation Mon 07-Aug-23 13:14:25

I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. Your granddaughter will know you love her. I know she has 2 bad parents, but many children have nobody at all who loves them. She is lucky to have you. I know that isn't much consolation but you're doing the best you can and she will know that one dayflowers

Sara1954 Mon 07-Aug-23 13:21:23

I think Bluebelle raises a lot of questions worth looking at