Having no choice but to help raise the grandchildren
Is anyone else in this predicament? I am at the point where I seriously need to talk to someone else who gets it.
We have two granddaughters, 15 months and almost-12. Same mom (my step-d) and different dads. Dad #2 lives there when he's not in jail or on the run because he violated probation. The eldest's dad feels that his role is to call randomly, promise things that he never follows up on, then disappear for months again. The kids live on koolaid, fast food, canned ravioli, and cupasoups. They have no structure, MTV or some non-kid-appropriate show is blaring on the constantly-on TV all the time. Mom is fond of doing things like waking up the kids at 11pm (where they've fallen asleep in the living room because they're exhausted but not put to bed) because she needs cigarettes or wants something from McDonald's.
Because mom and dad both work food service in a vacation resort area, they work pretty much every weekend which at least means that we have them on the weekends. We love having them there but we're just in a really sucky position: We can't be the fun, spoiling grandparents we'd like to be because we're their only hope for any structure and discipline. We have zero social life, and can't get things done on the house we're trying every so slowly to renovate. It's even harder on us and on them to have them only on the weekends than if we had them all the time, so that we could have more structure, more routine.
We do our best to not enable my step-d with her poor choices but she knows that she has us trapped: Many times, particularly after we've tried to get her to take more responsibility for the kids and do things that are to their greater benefit, she's make it clear that if we dare get on her case or give her any trouble, she'll move with the kids to some other state and move back into the projects and we won't have any access to them at all. Not only would our hearts be broken by this, but we also know that we're the only stable force in those kids' lives, the only ones really focused on trying to help our bright pre-teen gd get a good education and think in terms of graduating and going to college instead of being a dropout doing food service like her mom and step-dad. We're the only ones who read to the baby, who give her vegetables, protein, water and milk instead of kool-aid and french fries.
And of course we have zero legal rights. Mom is doing nothing that would justify getting family services involved or allow us to fight for custody. She could disappear tomorrow and we'd have zero rights to even see them. People keep telling us "make her stop!" or "just take the kids" and they don't freakin' get that we have no ability to control a 32 year old woman's behavior, and zero legal right to those kids.
Anyway, sorry to ramble on. I just hope that someone out there can relate.