Having no choice but to help raise the grandchildren

tanamaAugust 21, 2007

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.

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I can relate to it. My son's oldest daughter was once in the foster home system and I tried to get custody of her. The attorney said I would be wasting my money because the first time the parents always get the child back.

It sounds like there is absolutely nothing you can do about the situation, so try to focus on other things and I know that is hard to do, if not impossible. That said, if it were me, II would turn the mother in to child protective services at a time when she has left the kids alone in a filthy house with no food, etc.. If they are removed from their mother, then I would try to gain temp. custody. If the mother doesn't change, try for full custody. I could not raise any children at the age I am now.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 2:11PM
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Hi. I totally understand what you are going through. We have gone through the same thing with our 2 granddaughters almost since they were born. The oldest is almost 13 and the youngest just turned 11. Our son (their father) loves them but he is working on his third relationship. He was divorced from the first (their mother); then she died in a car wreck. He remarried a woman who we totally disagreed with and she mistreated the girls. They finally divorced after 8 years but the emotional damage was already done. He is now living with another woman who has 2 boys and she is pregnant with his baby. She won't work so every time they get in financial trouble, we have to bail him out for the sake of our grandaughters. We buy most of their clothes, we pay for their cell phones, school supplies and almost everything they need. His current girlfriend now has said she will not wash their clothes because it's just too much for her so they have to clean the house and do their laundry after school. They called me yesterday crying and asked if they could please come and live with us. I had to explain that we couldn't do that because we have no legal rights. It is a heartbreaking situation and I understand how you feel. People don't understand and they say "you aren't their parents". But even though you are "just" grandparents, you feel more like their grandparents I know. Through everything our grandaughters have been through, even they acknowledge that we are their only stability. As hard as it is, in the long run, you are saving your grandaughters. Remember that when things seem hopeless. They will remember the sacrifices you have made for them. Keep going. You are doing what's right. You just may be their only hope. God bless!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:30PM
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I can appreciate your dilemma. My son and his current girlfriend have been having difficulties for some time. They have a 18 month old together and she has a 4 year old daughter from a previous relationship. The 4 year old's paternal grandmother got legal custody because of the battling between my son and his girlfriend. The girlfriend tryed to commit suicide last month and I had to take legal custody of my 18 month old granddaughter. The parents are in NY state and I live in Florida. My granddaugher has Asperger's (of course the kids didn't tell me) and I am trying to get her OT, speech therapy and PT. It is unfortunate that the children that we worked so hard to raise have such poor values, no sense of responsibilty and a sense of entitlement. All we can do is pray for our children and grandchildren and stand in the gap. Ignore the threats. She knows that she loves the gravy. She is not going to go back to the projects.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 11:27AM
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Tanama, have you considered just asking your step daughter outright if she would let you raise the girls? If you appeal to how much easier it would make it for your step daughter..............
How often do you have the children? If you have them for long enough stretches it might make it easier for you to get an emergency custody order.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 5:39PM
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I think that you get more with honey then lemons, by this I mean make a room in your home for them, there own beds, clothes, toys, movies, games, etc.... and just don't be so quick to judge her at least not to her face, and just make yourself a bigger part of there lives, set bedtimes, what they can watch and what they eat, before you know it she will think you are helping her when the truth is you are doing what is best for your grandchildren. Keep them on weekends, don't talk bad about there parents, just be grandma and grandpa. Before you know it they will spend more time with you then her, but remember to make it sound like you want to help her, Like maybe the kids should just spend the weekend here so you can get your wash done, in between work hours, or let me pick the kids up after school so you can get to the market tonight (see it will sound like your helping her) then your really watching out for the kids while you make it sound like your on her side.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 9:45PM
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missgrannie has the smart idea here. Rebel moms without a cause usually had a PITA mother of their own and they don't need another one. But if you are helpful Tanama who even sends the mother or SM flowers on mothers day and is there to help why would anyone move away from that?: We even take the gcs
so the parents can go out to dinner or a movie. My husband and I each have a daughter and son. clearly its easier to get along with your own daughter (usually) and harder to get along with the son's wife. But it depends on you to make the effort, my son's wife is a sweetheart altho they don't live close. I was so happy when she got pregnant after years we went out and I bought a lot of maternity clothes with her.
What goes around comes around though--and I find that women who had a hated mother in law find that their sons are leery of the relationship between them and their wives. If your son grew up hearing about a grandma who was psycho (your MIL) their family may be a little leery of you. But I am not a psychologist, I'm a probate & trust attorney who listens to the families and you hear these dynamics. As an attorney I even get letters during probate from women heirs who are in prison--not a contact us suburban ladies usually have.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 10:18AM
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" They called me yesterday crying and asked if they could please come and live with us."

You need to see an attorney and get some kind of emergency hearing - if these girls are 13 and 11, they are of an age to be able to have some input into where they live, and who with.

Find out if you have some hope of getting legal custody. I bet you have more hope than you may think.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 8:12PM
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