Need advice! Disabled grandpa demanding unsupervised time w/toddler

Amber - posted on 01/14/2016 ( 3 moms have responded )




Hi everyone,

I will try to be brief, but I could really use some advice. I am a 29 year old (today) teacher of the blind and visually impaired, with several years of child development classes in my past, and am engaged to a wonderful man- we have a beautiful little girl, turning 3 on Saturday and she is the light of my life, my whole world. Being a working mother whom finished college at 9 months pregnant and began teaching to help support our family, our daughter has been in daycare since the age of 6 weeks. If I could have my dream, I would be a stay at home until she was school-aged, but unfortunately that isn't possible and I also see some value and benefit to the daycare she is attending. The issue is, our only local family is my father, who is a good man, a 3x bone cancer survivor (1st time before I was born, 2nd & 3rd time while I was young) which has resulted in multiple surgeries that cause him to require a cane (occasionally 2 crutches depending on pain levels). Internally, half of his pelvis is removed, one shoulder has been removed and his arm is mildly usable albeit hanging by screws- literally, and he has a strong gait in which one foot sometimes drops and trips him. He also is physically incapable of running, that is an unfortunate result of his battles with cancer. While I admire and respect him for his strength and perseverance throughout his incredible battles with cancer and subsequent surgeries, he is absolutely ADAMANT and very DEMANDING about wanting my daughter ALONE, at his house, with a steep break wall to the water, huge pointy rocks just beyond the edge (where my daughter would fall if she ran away or wasn't being careful - which are both daily norms given the fact she is 2), as well as a swimming pool that is not enclosed and without a 'working' pool alarm. While I invite my dad over often, and usually spend several hours a week with him and my daughter at his house so he can "provide experiences for her" that he insists only he can being that we live in a condo and not an actual house... (which makes me feel quite disrespected, being told on repeat that he can offer experiences we can't); however, the point is that he wants at minimum, to have her specifically alone at his house at least one day a week out of daycare, and constantly makes demands of taking her for entire days and any time away from daycare, insisting that family time is more important than being with 'strangers at daycare' (where she LOVES going and has many friends). Aside from the negative way he often treats me, I do want my daughter to spend time with him and she loves him dearly, but I am so deeply afraid that one little incident of her not listening to him or her running off (she is a runner), that as a result of being physically disabled, he will not be able to save her from inevitable danger because he is not able to keep up with the physical demands of a 2 year old. I am torn, because despite our differences, he loves being a grandpa and I feel like I provide plenty of opportunities for him to do so, but he will get explosively angry and hostile towards myself and my fiance when we gently and kindly and constantly praise him for being a good grandparent but express our concerns of her not listening and running off, because one time is all it takes... However, he turns this kind and gentle conversation into some kind of drama, declaring that we don't want our daughter (or future children) to be exposed to people with disabilities. That is a bold lie, as I work with mentally and physically disabled children for a career, and I take joy in the fact that my daughter is so accepting of disabilities being a societal norm. On top of riding me almost daily about taking my daughter from school, and gentle excuses on my end as to not upset him into getting hostile with me, he insists that my daughter "always listens" to him, and they apparently "NEVER EVER" have any listening issues. I have explained in a very kind way that we cannot entrust the listening skills of a 2 year old runner to keep her safe, but that when she is a bit older and more consistent, these things won't be an issue. He just continues to beat me down on this issue. My fiance supports me 100% on this, and is often disturbed by the 'stalker-like' persistence and methods my dad will employ to get his way. Has anyone else had to deal with and manage a situation like this? What do you suggest or recommend? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Dove - posted on 01/14/2016




Honestly... he sounds like a toddler throwing a fit. I would guess that his disabilities have left him w/ a lot of anger that he should seek counseling for, but it's not your responsibility to MAKE him seek counseling... He will need to get to that place on his own (perhaps w/ some persistence from you, but w/ what your posting here says it doesn't sound likely).

I think I would flat out tell him that he needs to respect your wishes as her parents and if he can not do that then you will have to severely limit his contact w/ her. It is wrong of him to keep badgering you when you've made your position clear. It's emotional abuse and you don't have to put up w/ it.


View replies by

Raye - posted on 01/15/2016




You are the parents, not him. I would stop arguing with him. If he brings it up, tell him that you have made your decision and the answer is no. If he continues to plead his case, ignore him and possibly remove yourself and your daughter from the area. I agree with Dove, if he can't take the hint, then you may need to inform him that any more attempts to change your mind will result in him getting less time with the family. Then follow through if he won't stop. You have to show him calmly but firmly that you mean what you say and he will not persuade you otherwise. So, he can either enjoy the time he does get, or if he makes it miserable he will get less/no time.

Amy - posted on 01/14/2016




Dear Amber,
I think that voting for the safety of your child is more important however stressful his responses may be. It sounds like having a third party there to convey some of your concerns from a professional view might help a little if he is open to hear from anyone else. I think you need to draw a boundary that there must be someone there for her safety even if they stay in another room. Is this house child-proofed? Are there objects she could pull down on herself or exposed outlets? If there are then this should be a wake up call that someone who has her best interests at heart would probably want someone else there to protect her from what two year olds don't know. You probably feel guilty about upsetting your father or about what you can't provide when he treats you this way, but that sounds like manipulation. Her safety is more important than whether she has a backyard. Maybe there is a way for her to spend time there with another person or you so that he has the joy of spending time with his granddaughter regularly. Maybe he is lonely, but that should not dictate how you raise and protect your baby. I hope everything works out for you and your family. These are candid thoughts and obviously are not professional advice at all.

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