Posted by fxckfeelings on October 27, 2015Share This Post
Ideally, being a grandparent offers the best of both worlds; all the fun of playing with kids with none of the pesky responsibility that comes with being directly responsible. If the actual parent isn’t responsible, however, then everything gets flipped on its head, and you’re in a worst-of-all-worlds scenario where you have all the protective instincts of parenthood without any of the authority to do something about it. So, if you feel a grandchild needs your help, don’t let your protective instincts take over, because charging in is never as effective taking small, careful steps. You may not be able to get the best results for you or your grandchild, but will certainly make things better.
My adult daughter and her toddler live with me and my husband because she has failed to maintain employment to take care of herself. She has had opportunities to work but always quits because of “issues” she has with the jobs. She is irresponsible, manipulative, and is a liar. If I put her out, my grandchild will suffer from poverty and lack of nurturing (the child’s father is not in the picture, so help from him is not an option). My goal is to find a way to handle this without hurting the child.
Lord knows that most parents knock themselves out trying to give their kids the best of everything in order to insure they will grow up to be as healthy, intelligent, and happy as possible. Unfortunately, even when you give your best, there are simply no guarantees that a child won’t grow up to be the worst.
In this case, your daughter ended up an Asshole™, which isn’t easy to hear, but is the easiest way to describe the kind of person who has a kid without any way of caring for it and expects you to take responsibility for both her and your grandchild.
As good as it is for you to focus on your grandchild’s welfare, remember that your daughter’s problems are likely to undermine your best efforts. If, as you suspect, she’s really an Asshole™, there are a number of worst-case scenarios that will punish and block your good deeds.
For instance, if she resents your help and feels displaced by your bond with your grandchild, she might eventually find a nasty, unreliable guy to go live with and offer you visitation only when she desperately needs babysitting. She might falsely accuse you of abuse or damage your home in order to punish you, which, according to Asshole™ logic, is a totally reasonable response to feeling unhappy.
So don’t let emotions, including fear and a sense of overwhelming responsibility, control your caregiving. Instead, define what make it absolutely necessary for you to provide care and then make your care conditional on your daughter’s positive activities. For instance, provide baby-sitting when she’s working or job searching, but not barhopping.
If your daughter really can’t provide a safe home or competent parenting, then gather as much documentation as you can, go to child protective services, and offer to take custody. Don’t take responsibility without also protecting your grandchild and yourselves from your daughter’s weakness and bad behavior.
It’s not fair that you have to take continuing responsibility for your daughter and any children she chooses to have. If you limit that responsibility to what’s necessary, however, you can protect them and yourself from much of the potential chaos that will otherwise ensue, and from the bad luck of having a daughter like her.
“I can’t imagine trusting my daughter and I have no confidence in her ability to parent my grandchild, but I know I can’t ensure my grandchild’s safety unless I have custody. I will use my resources to provide safety and growth when possible, and otherwise protect my ability to run my own life.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname