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I need help!

(48 Posts)
Bluegal Mon 07-Aug-17 16:49:54

Hi guys, am new to this and to be honest I am only posting because I am at my wits end and I don't even know if its the right place to post or not. Please advise me of where to go if this is totally inappropriate.

I will try to be as concise as I possibly can although its a long saga.

Background: I was widowed young in 2001 and left with four young daughters. We moved from Scotland to England to be nearer family. My husband left us in a lot of debt and Life was tough but I managed to pull it around, settled all the debts, got a reasonably paid job and got us a house etc. We weren't rich but we wanted for nothing and were happy.

Fast forward I met someone new and remarried in 2009, and my daughters found partners and had families. I was so proud of them and what they had achieved. All with good jobs etc. My husband is a great step-dad and step grandad.

Sadly one of my daughters was married to a very controlling bully of a man who literally destroyed her piece by piece. It was heartbreaking for me to have to stand by and watch it. It took a long time for her to see it and by the time she did see it she had three children. She is now on her own with the three and the youngest is not yet one. My daughter is not coping well at all and is attending therapy and taking anti depressants.

She lives locally to me so I try to support and help out. The children's father has threatened both my daughter and myself and even a solicitor! He still has parental responsibility but moved a fair distance away with a new partner. He sees them every month or so - but refuses to pay any maintenance. Anyway I digress that is not what I am writing about.

The two eldest children 8 and 4 are completely out of control. I realise they miss their dad and think he is the most amazing thing ever. We never criticise him to them but I am suspecting he is doing it in reverse.

When I have them to stay with me they do nothing but argue and fight and refuse to do anything I or my daughter ask. They are so defiant and rude to both of us. We have tried everything recommended but nothing works especially with the 4 year old boy. If I take him anywhere he fights with other kids. Other parents then complain. Its got so bad my daughter is talking about killing herself and I am beginning to feel I hate these kids! I absolutely dread having to look after them. Today I actually hit one of them! I was so upset as I have never been one for smacking and never needed to with my own.

All treat days are ruined by bad behaviour. I have felt like leaving them in the centre of town when they have run off and refused to come with me. Seriously I wanted to just walk away and leave them to it! My head felt it was bursting and I stood and cried. Obviously I then came to my senses but I really really felt like just running off and leaving them. I am scared I will do just that! Or worse - what if I hurt them? I now understand just what 'blind rage' is. Sometimes I feel such hatred for them and then others I love them to bits again. Its really hard for me to admit this to anyone which is why am pouring it all out. How can a grandma actually dread being with her grandchildren? How can I have such evil thoughts? It doesn't help my daughter either. She is extremely fragile.

On top of that I have an elderly mother I care for and I still work part-time too. Its all getting too much and its affecting my marriage also. My husband has taken a step back as he is scared he will blow his top. We should be FREE now but we just aren't. I am 64 by the way.

I need some help to cope but don't know where to turn. I am sure a lot of you will feel I am just weak but I am not!

For info I have 8 other grandchildren who are a joy to have. I accept the products of a broken home are grieving in their own way but how do I get them all back on track - my daughter included - is there any help of any kind? I am thinking maybe just a few pointers from you guys might help in some small way?

Sorry to rant........

Anything may help - except saying - its a phase because we all may not survive this 'phase' .

kezia Mon 07-Aug-17 17:07:58

Has your daughter had any support in leaving this relationship? I don't know where you are but where I am (in Devon) the local SPLITZ group (domestic abuse and violence) offers work with children too - or it has done, it's yet another victim of the cuts. Might it be worth checking?
Also try to hang on to the fact that they feel safe enough with you to show their true feelings. You can bet your bottom dollar that their father only sees perfect (scared) children - you imply that he sees them, or at least has contact

BlueBelle Mon 07-Aug-17 17:17:54

First may I say welcome and I m sorry you are having such a tough time It sounds as if both you, your daughter and the two kids need some professional help as it is all spirelling out of control, with everyone out of their depth The children really are the pawns in the middle of a huge whirl pool They are probably horrible confused picking up on their mums unhappiness and as you rightly think could be being brain washed by the dad they love although if they only see him once a month not sure how much of that he would be doing ? your daughter could have post natal depression on top of all the fears and worries she has been going through with the ex .......the kids will pick up on all this misery and become fearful themselves and the only way some kids can verbalise these fears is in outrageous behaviour Some become introverted and go into a shell others act out in disruptive behaviour
You as an adult have to be in control, loving and calm and at the moment you are not feeling that at all Your fear and confusion of their behaviour will contaminate them
Could you have the children one by one I always find individually kids are so much easier to handle but basically get some family counselling and professional help as soon as possible before someone has a complete breakdown and then no one will be able to look after the kids

Bluegal Mon 07-Aug-17 18:29:18

Thanks for your input guys. Am taking it all in. Ideally me having the kids on one to one is the best but doesn't happen as my daughter can't cope.

Its been theraputic just writing it down t.b.h. From the information, I've received we are going for family counselling but not sure how you go for it? Do you get referred by GP? My daughter is ready to try anything. She has been seeing a private counsellor about her own depression.

Thank you x

mcem Mon 07-Aug-17 18:43:22

My heart goes out to you (and yes you have posted in the right place!)

I'm dealing with a similar situation but not nearly so extreme.
My daughter also needed a lot of support but it helped when she moved back closer to home and had family around. She was depressed and not coping for a while.
Then she met a new man. We all warned her against him but within 3 years she had 2 more children. As her health deteriorated he became more and more bullying and controlling. With a lot of support she left him and finally is in a good relationship.
BUT we too have the absent dad problem especially with our GS (7). After a visit to dad he is stroppy and rude with lots of 'My dad says ....... ( insert unpleasant and misogynistic comment!)
All I can say is 'That is what dad thinks but it's not the way we speak/act at Gran's.' So difficult to remain neutral and uncritical but I don't tolerate bad behaviour and remain very firm. I also provide lots of cuddles which dad doesn't do as that's soppy!

I wish I could make practical and helpful suggestions but all I can say is draw on your patience and find someone or somewhere where you can let off steam. GN is good for that with lots of sympathetic readers.
Sit tight, grit your teeth, vent your frustrations and make the most of the good times when you can.
Positive reinforcement for the children, your daughter and YOURSELF.

Bluegal Mon 07-Aug-17 20:15:38

MCEM - thank you so much! I guess I just wanted someone to understand how I am feeling.

I posted in a state of panic!

I wanted to vent I guess....

Since then I have read the responses (posted on the Grandparenting site after this as wasn't sure what AIBU stood for)

I am now feeling calmer. Hoping I can have the patience to see it through, which I know I can have.

One thing I didn't say was the children in question are absolutely perfect at school! Such great school reports so I know their contempt of me and their mother is 'contained' for that I am grateful. I think their father has a lot to answer for!!! Grrrrr

If am honest, I am feeling "why do I need this?" At my age I should not be running after unruly kids who hit out and disobey me and say "what you going to do about it?" I also know I will continue to do it for my daughter!

My daughter has sat them down tonight and explained how ill Grandma is feeling. She said they seemed shocked but we will see. Its been like this for 9 months.

But....tomorrow is another day!!!

Thank you have helped...lots!

Moneyboss Mon 07-Aug-17 22:06:50

Hi blue gal, it would be a good idea to visit the children's gp and ask them for help. Also have you considered contacting your local social services? They can sometimes offer short term help and support until the children and yourselves are back on an even keel. I hope everything works out for you all.

ElaineI Tue 08-Aug-17 00:29:09

Bluegal what a horrible situation for you. All I can say is that you are the children's main supporting adult (your poor daughter may be unable to fulfil this role just now) and you need to remain calm and solid with the children. I agree with mcem about cuddles and not tolerating bad behaviour. The children are very young and their behaviour is learned from their father and it is completely normal for them to be behaving like this. They need you to be strong and solid and loving despite how they react and you are doing an excellent job so please rant here as much as you need. I think there are places to support children going through this. Perhaps see if your library has information or books to read with children about this kind of thing. There are books for younger children and Jacqueline Dixon has written lots of books about separated parents for your older grandchild's age group. Have a look at them and see if any are suitable x

BlueBelle Tue 08-Aug-17 02:46:53

Can I just say their behaviour is not necessarily learnt from their father ( who they only see once a month) life is much more complicated than that They are acting out in relation to the mental/ physical chaos that is going on in their home life.

They are very young they have just had a fairly new baby join them which can cause huge disruption in any child's life, their Dad (who they love ) has suddenly gone from their lives once a month is a very long time for a small child and of course they don't understand the rights and wrongs of a marriage break up Their mother is falling to pieces depressed and not able to cope and their Nan is trying to hold it altogether. but is also very stressed and unsure of how to help
Four huge life changes happened in the last year each one of those events is enough to disrupt a child's life and make them feel very unsafe and vulnerable, how do they know Mum or Nan isn't going to disappear next
The fact they are good at school is a huge clue, they feel safe and sure there, so no need to act up
Your daughter is the centre of this and needs help from a Gp ASAP
Children's behaviour mimics their surroundings If their home life is calm and safe they will have no cause to 'play up' if it's chaotic mentally or physically their behaviour will become chaotic as they cannot verbalise or work out why they are feeling so unsafe

Get professional help Bluegal

vampirequeen Tue 08-Aug-17 07:55:04

Your daughter and the children need help. Having been almost destroyed by a man I understand how your daughter is feeling.

The children are acting out their confusion. Are they well behaved at school? They need help to not only come to terms with the marriage breakup but also deal with growing up in an abusive household.

Children like to think that their parents are perfect and often idolise the absent parent. My nephew built a whole story about his absent dad. He knew his dad was a banker but decided he wanted him to be a fireman and made up elaborate stories about him.

Anya Tue 08-Aug-17 08:43:59

Thank goodness your daughter has you in her life. I agree, get professional help and support.

The boys need to see you and their mother as their protectors and nourishers so the problem that you suspect (absent father dripping poison into their ears) needs to be tackled too. I'm not sure how you would go about this but again I know this is not unusual so there must be someone who can advise you about this.

Tallulah57 Tue 08-Aug-17 09:41:10

Hi Bluegal so sorry to hear about your predicament, I feel for you, your daughter and your grandchildren. ' Womesaid' are an excellent organisation and have expert advice on signposting to the organisations you need and may be able to help you directly. Unfortunately your situation is one where they come across day in and day out. It really is a brilliant organisation, please give them a call. Good luck flowers.

Starlady Tue 08-Aug-17 09:56:38

Bluegal, I think you've gotten lots of good advice here. I'm glad you and dd are thinking about family counseling. In time, individual counseling may be needed, too, including for the kids.

I don't think you're "weak," not at all. Just the opposite - you are very strong. You pulled things together, years ago, after a rough beginning and you're holding things together now.

But it's NOT your job, imo, to get everybody "back on track." That's asking too much of one person. You and dd need to work together, along with professionals to solve this situation.

If possible, I think you should get some help caring for your elderly mother, as well. Everything shouldn't be on your shoulders. You need a break sometimes.

Lots of (((hugs)))

Caramac Tue 08-Aug-17 10:12:09

I think your daughter would benefit from having a Family Support Worker. You should be able to self refer via your local county or district council. Schools can also refer. Depending on your local service your daughter might be offered a parenting programme which offers firm boundaries but is kind and compassionate to the children. Their behaviour is almost certainly linked to witnessing domestic violence. Controlling behaviour is dv and has probably led to the children having no respect for women. A FSW can also signpost to other services which could include those specific to women who have been in abusive relationships.
I hope you are able to access support and that your daughter accepts it. BTW, you could accompany your daughter on the parenting programme. It is also available online for approx £40 - search for The Solihull Approach on google. Good luck flowers

Starlady Tue 08-Aug-17 10:13:25

Also, the fact that the boys do well in school is a good sign. You and dd have taught them well - they know how to behave. If they're taking out their frustrations on you and dd, it's probably, imo, because you're a "safe place" to do so. But they have to learn better ways to cope. Therapy can help them with that, of course.

They may have learned some of their bad behavior from their dad when he was still living with them, especially the older boy. Like others, I doubt the once a month visits have that much effect now.

They may need more of a (good) male presence in their lives though. You say dh is a "great... step grandad." Do they behave better when he's around? It may help if he steps in more instead of stepping back. What do you think? Would he do it?

Mcem, I feel for you and yours, also. Imo, you're handling things very wisely. I think it's normal for GS to act out after a visit to his dad, especially since the two environments are very different. I'm sorry that his dad fills his head with misogynistic ideas. But I hope the love you and his mum give him will counteract that.

Tessa101 Tue 08-Aug-17 10:13:40

Bluegal lots of good advise from everyone. All I would like to add is often the school will have organisations that they are connected to,and they can connect you to them as they will know the situation with the family split.GNs are always here should you need to unload. Good luck.

radicalnan Tue 08-Aug-17 10:14:43

Welcome to the group and wow, what a lot you have on your plate.

If the children are prefect at school, then it seems there is nothing too drastically wrong and what is happening is just them venting. I think they are stressed by all new things happening and their mother being unwell and you of course are a safe space for them, not that they plot things, they just react.

You can get help from the CAMHS team via their GP and there are plenty of other local groups that can offer support, so please don't struggle alone.

Is your daughter on Mums net because there are so many similar stories on there and she may meet people with information about what is local to her on there.

If the dad is in another relationship and your daughter is also settled in her new life pathway, this may just blow over when the children regain their feelings of security, new school term starts in a couple of weeks and they will have routine again.

Several of my friends who are not suffering any family crisis, tell me that the grandchildren are difficult for them to cope with and 'badly behaved', so assuming that dad is the instigator of any of this might be wrong. Three kids is a lot to handle.

I know the urge to support our children is overwhelming but consider your own marriage and health first. Your daughter is going through a process of re evaluating her own life and that is draining for her and stressful for the children but you making yourself ill isn't going to help.

Just have the kids one at a time, so that you can cope and enjoy it.

I think the clues to my advice are, your huband's reaction and the perfect behavour at school. This is a situation in which I think you need to be setting boundaries and rules, not by remonstrating with the kids but by showing them, that you just will not have them if they play up. They understand that much about school, and there is no point setting up a different pattern at your house. Telling them that you are poorly only adds to their list of concerns.

Your strength comes from putting yourself first, I know that sounds selfish but you can't help others if you can't help yourself.

justrolljanet Tue 08-Aug-17 10:16:07

Have a look at Homestart UK website, this is a brilliant organisation which may be able to help you all x

welshmaiden Tue 08-Aug-17 10:16:41

please get help for your grandchildren, they need it and so do you! They are so lucky to have you . I don't know if Action for Children exists where you are but they may be able to help, look online for local charities/organisations that deal with children's problems and good luck! Let us all know how you get on.

luluaugust Tue 08-Aug-17 10:16:54

Is there any chance of your other daughters helping at all? if not with the children perhaps with Gran. You sound a really strong person but I know that sometimes makes it harder to ask for help, do get you and OH a break sometimes, a little bit further on your daughter needs to be encouraged to get a grip on things just as you did flowers.

justrolljanet Tue 08-Aug-17 10:20:05

Shazmo24 Tue 08-Aug-17 10:22:15

It may be time to get a referral to CAMHS to help the children to process what has happened and for your daughter to also be able to talk through what's happened to her...especially if she's now talking about suicide

Lilyflower Tue 08-Aug-17 10:22:49

Bluegal, I feel for you and, no, you shouldn't have to be shouldering all this at 64.

I can't offer much but, if it is any comfort, I had a boy so naughty that his father and I used to stay up at night talking about how we would cope if and when he was taken into care and/or ended up in prison.

My son played up and defied us and his school to the extent that in the sixth form we had to take time off to see the headteacher and beg him not to expel him. Sometimes I was utterly in despair about my boy.

For every two steps forward there was one step back.

Sometimes we lost our temper, sometimes we managed to keep our cool but, in the long run, we just hacked on dealing with things from day to day and 'holding the line' on rules and discipline.

Our son only started to grow up in his mid twenties but he now holds down a very worthwhile job and is on our Parish Council. In himself, he is a lovely young man and nothing like his younger, defiant, silly self. Well, he is still full of ridiculous opinions but has learnt to express them in words not harmful actions.

My advice is to see if you can get some outside help. Boys seem to need some male influence and his father is providing the wrong sort in undermining the authority of the child's mother and grandmother, the principle carers.

Four and eight are very different ages with different needs. Perhaps it might be possible to separate the boys and deal with each on their own at times? The younger one will be picking up very bad habits from his brother and father and needs to be 'worked on' with love and discipline.

Off the top of my head I can think of the boys' school, social services and Parentline as outside agencies who might help in the short term. However, contacting SS might cause more problems than it solves.

starbird Tue 08-Aug-17 10:40:31

Whatever you do, don't neglect your husband, do whatever it takes to keep him on board.

I am wondering if your other children live nearby and if they can help with the your GC splitting them between them so that they are not together. Also, see if there are any holiday clubs or programmes, nearby, eg at a local sports centre or something, where you could perhaps take the older grandchild sometimes.

Unfortunately this is a very difficult situation for all concerned, you all have my sympathy.I hope you can find the help you need.

Judthepud2 Tue 08-Aug-17 10:41:04

Hello Bluegal. So sorry to hear about your difficulties. You have a lot to contend with so no wonder you feel at the end of your tether. As others have said, the children's lives are in chaos but being so young they can't understand and have no resources to deal with it. We have had a similar situation in our family. When I felt overwhelmed and, like you was wondering why I was having to deal with angry children at my age, I kept reminding myself that DH and I were the main point of stability in their young lives. That has become our job and we have both worked hard to ensure that we provide this.

There are some very good books suitable for children about family breakup. Look at Amazon. They have a whole section there. I got one suitable for our 7 yr old GS who was very sad. He told me it has helped him and he reads it when he is feeling upset.

Have you or your DD had a meeting with the school/preschool support person. Schools can sometimes arrange counselling for pupils going through hard times. It did help our GSs get through a bad time last year.

I find looking for opportunities to talk to the boys about their feelings can sometimes reveal deep wells of unhappiness. Cuddle times (if you get them) such as bedtime are good for this. This sounds strange, but after watching the film 'Inside Out' we were able to use the characters to generate lots of feelings talk.

The undermining talk from the father is probably the most difficult thing to contend with as it is out of your control. We have found it confuses and distresses the boys, especially the younger one who idolises his daddy. His behaviour is most difficult when he comes back from a visit. He can be quite aggressive towards his mum which upsets her. Vicious circle develops. Again, watching for them mentioning their father's behaviour and allowing them to talk about it, without being critical. This is very difficult. I feel so angry inside but try to swallow it. Very hard!

Your poor DD. Mine was in melt down for quite a while. She too needed a shoulder to cry on. Your DD sounds as if she needs a lot of specialised support. I hope she can eventually find the resources she needs. GP centres usually have info about what is available.

Finally remember the safety instructions on an aircraft. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Give yourself little treats and time out when you can. You aren't able to help anyone if you too fall apart. Been there and done that! It took a wise woman to point it out to me!

Keep posting on here. There are a lot of wise ones who can help and support you.