When is 'enough' enough with grandparents?

Catey - posted on 09/26/2013 ( 2 moms have responded )

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I apologize in advance as this will be lengthy. It has to be so you can get an accurate idea of the situation, but I promise to be as brief as I can.

To begin, my mother died when I was very young, and I grew up without a mother. This has made me uncomfortable with other women trying to mother me. I was also molested for ten years by my uncle, a man my father knew was a child molester as he had also abused my mother. Essentially, my dad knowingly handed me over to be babysat by an abuser. He has trivialized what this has done to me and my life since then, and seems incapable of understanding no matter how I try to explain that this has caused, amongst other things, to become very protective of my child.

My father re-married a few years ago a woman who is Mexican. That doesn't matter to me, but she did grow up in a culture where for her, family is everything and extremely involved with their kids and grand kids. That's the exact opposite of my family. My father has flat-out told me that she shouldn't have to temper her constant pushing, over-coddling, or butting in because to her, it is none of the above, it's just how she was raised and how she raised her own children. My father believes I should change to accommodate her. She comes over constantly, sometimes days in a row, without notice, and stays for hours. I am not a rude person by nature, so telling her to go home when she shows up out of the blue is something I find difficult. I really don't like hurting people.

I grew up with grandparents that saw you for a few hours, spoiled you rotten, then handed you back to your parents and didn't see them again for a few weeks, so it wasn't a big deal for them to act this way. I have said time and again this is what I would feel comfortable with, she could get her coddling in, and then we separate and lather/rinse/repeat a few weeks later. There has been no offer of compromise from them, just it's what they want or nothing at all. This is causing, unfortunately, me to dig in and adopt a similar stance. I do regret that, but I am becoming increasingly frustrated with them. They break my rules, she, I feel, oversteps her bounds by trying to prevent my husband and I from disciplining our son, she hangs on to him and refuses to let him go until he says it's enough, he is having trouble learning to speak because she keeps interfering there as well, (she answers my son when he says Mama. He has no idea what the word means because she won't stop answering. He just thinks it's the word for all females. And that's not the only one she's butted in on.) They both make fun of the fact I bought and read the first two volumes of the What To Expect... series, my father picks political fights with my husband on a regular basis in front of our son, he uses the n- and fa- words around our son, and he is angry that we want our son to meet his father's cousin who is gay.

The situation is becoming increasingly hostile between all of us and the frequent sit-downs to try to explain where each side is coming from continues to devolve to a shouting "you just hate us" match, with each side trying to prove how much the other side sucks basically. My husband and I are equally guilty in several matters. We have tried relaxing some of the rules while my father and his wife are around to compromise, but they still refuse to compromise on their part. My husband and I have taken up hiding from the house to keep our son away from them because of the tension and hostility. We'll be moving far enough away in a couple months that coming over constantly will not be possible, and we are seriously considering moving without telling them where we are going so they can't see us at all.

My son does love them, but I wonder if what good would come of their relationship would outweigh the bad of seeing the relationship between his parents and grandparents fighting. I also wonder, given my father's severe callousness and refusal to own up to his part in my abuse, and his continuing abuse towards me, if it is better for my own mental health to cut ties. I know it wouldn't be healthy for my son to see what interactions with my father do to me. I don't know how to get across to them what they've been doing because they keep getting defensive and shutting down (which I do understand, nobody wants to be the villian,) and I don't know if we should take a cooling off period, or just call it quits altogether.

2 Comments

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Alison - posted on 09/26/2013

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also I would only meet them with your husband there too to back you up if needed and for moral support. and mail or email the letter.

Alison - posted on 09/26/2013

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That's a really tough one. I think autonomy is important for a healthy immediate family and you have the right to control how much time they have with your son, if any at all. Since hashing it out in a family council hasn't worked, I would say write it down like this: dear dad and lucy(whatever her name is), I value family relationships and enjoy doing (this) with you. Connor (or whatever your son's name is ) enjoys spending time with you, too. We also need a lot of our own separate time as a family. Since we can't come to an agreement on boundaries within my home, you are no longer invited to it. I will happily meet you in a public place like the mall, park, or indoor playground so you can spend time with us once a month for a couple of hours. I hope you'll continue to want a relationship with us, especially your grandson. Thanks, Catey. I know the not inviting them to your home anymore is harsh, but from what you've described, I think it fits. Install a security system if you have to. Your father knowingly left you with an abuser and his new wife has no respect for boundaries and is impeding your relationship with your son and his development. There's no reason for you to be a prisoner in your own home or subject your son to unhealthy relationships. A public place will help ensure their best behavior and give you an escape route. Also, if you do that soon, you can gauge their reaction and determine whether or not to give them your new address. Best of luck.

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