How to make this better. . .with my MIL

Casie - posted on 01/14/2013 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My MIL has a good heart, that being said she has struggled with mental illness & heroin addiction.

My husband and I have the only grandchild. Since I was pregnant she has constantly been telling anyone who would listen that I am going to keep the baby from her. (we don't have a good history of getting along, mostly over her asking for money which I deny, her manipulations & her fake suicide attempts) I know that sounds harsh but when told no on anything she threatens suicide. Which she has stopped doing to me since I began calling 911 on her everytime she did it to me.

I have gone out of my way to invite her over at least once a week for as long as she likes to see the baby. I literally hand the baby over & wait for her to give her back.

However-I have and cannot allow her to babysit. She smokes in her home, has used heroin in the last year & has a very bad temper. Her bipolar gives her manic episodes where she has hallucinations.

When we tried to explain that we don't want her to babysit she freaked out & said, "You turned out exactly how she thought you would a cold hearted rotten bitch." She now refuses to have anything to do with my daughter until we agree to let her babysit alone at her home. Not only is her apartment unacceptable, I just can't allow someone I don't trust to have my dear daughter.

I however hate the fighting. And I truly do not want to be acting in a stigma against mental illness.

I guess I'm looking for support that I am doing the right thing. My husband stands by me and agrees.

13 Comments

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Deanna - posted on 01/28/2013

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As the daughter of a heroin addict (died from an overdose when I was 15), I have to agree with you. Heroin makes mental illness worse. She is not thinking of her grand daughter, but of how she is a victim. It is no one else's business why you don't let your MIL babysit or not. Especially since things are not what others see. Things are complicated. And they only see the one side. Do these other people know about her heroin addiction? If she wants to babysit, she needs to work on your trust. She needs to show you and your husband she can be trusted. At this point, she can't be. And because she is playing victim, you know she can't be.
You know you are making the right choice, Don't let others influence you otherwise.

Tracy - posted on 01/28/2013

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You say she is bipolar. Does she see a psychologist or a counselor? Have her do counseling and then go by the counselor's recommendation as to whether she is fit to watch her unsupervised that way it is an unbiased opinion and it is not you she has to convince.

Nicole - posted on 01/27/2013

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You are doing the right thing and seem more than fair and accommodating. She is trying to manipulate you and is a master at it. Keep up your boundaries-it's hard but it will be worth it. it might save her life and will definitely save your child.

Karen - posted on 01/27/2013

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Theres a difference in using the mental illness as an excuse as opposed to the obviously unsafe conditions and unhealthy condition of her home. From what you've said, personally, I don't think i'd allow it. Ultimately, it's your job to protect your child....there are 2 sides to each story, but from your question, then no! I would try to involve her, but that is ultimately her choice on what she does. Also, if you have your husbands full support, it's time to not feel guilty....your child is more important and you do what you feel is best.

Janessa - posted on 01/23/2013

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You are doing the right thing. Don't take what she says too personally especially if she has a heroine addiction and a mental illness. I know that is hard, but I would never feel comfortable leaving any of my children alone in that kind of situation. It is good that your husband is supportive. That helps a lot.

Heather - posted on 01/20/2013

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The main priority should be the safety of your child. From what you have described, your child would not be safe alone with her, so you shouldn't even blink about saying "no" let alone feeling guilty.

Mental health issues are tricky. People who don't have bipolar under control often use guilt as a means to manipulate others - don't listen to it because you know what is best for your child. If she truly cared about your child, she would come to visit you, or ask for you and your child to come to visit at her place. There is no reason why she should need to be alone with your child to feel like she is having a good visit.

I'm sorry that you are dealing with this - but you are not alone. I have to deal with bipolar in my mother, so I know how you feel.

Julia - posted on 01/20/2013

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My MIL did have mental issues, though she was not a drug addict, and I also refused to allow her to babysit. She was more than welcome to my house anytime she wanted, and we did go to visit her on occasion if we were on that side of town. Her house was horrible: she would leave medications out, give them food inappropriate for their age, and would lie to them about me ( her favorite was about "white girls", as they are latin), and there were feral cats everywhere. We would take them out to dinner and they were invited over for every holiday, even when my husband and I were separated. She finally caught on as my husband agreed with me, that the children always came first, and if she didn't like the rules she didn't have to come over. We had other issues with her but the mental issues trumped them all and were the cause of most of them. I agree with you and would not allow my child into that situation. It is her decision to not visit the grandbaby and she is the one being selfish.

Gigi - posted on 01/15/2013

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I also think you are doing the right thing. It sounds too dangerous to leave your kid with her alone. For me, the rule of the thumb is that person's behaviour. In this case the behaviour is too unstable and with the knowledge of drug problem, temper issues and smoking indoors, the risk is too high.
I would tell her again (and firnly) that until I can trust her she will never babysit my child. I would add that I am sorry for it, but that is how it is and that she is always welcome in your home when she wants to see her granchild.
For me safety of my child comes first and keeping peace in the family comes long after it. I left my daughter for the first time overnight with her granparents when she turned 1. They are both stabile and responsible people, but during teh night my daughter got temperture and by the morning when I came to pick her up she was burning 105F and their comment was "she doesn't feel very well". They didn't call me during the night nor in the morning to tell me she has it, nor they did anything to get the temperature down. It was like they haven't realised how bad she was. The trust is gone for me and that was the last time I left her with them for more than few hours in a day and she is now over 3 years old.

Elfrieda - posted on 01/14/2013

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Yes, you're absolutely doing the right thing. Your main responsibility is to take care of your baby.

Amy - posted on 01/14/2013

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Stick to your guns and do not allow her to manipulate you! You know how awful you would feel if you caved to her outrageous demands and something happened to your baby. Personally I would stop all contact with her until she's being reasonable and if that never happens it's her loss.

Cleaver - posted on 01/14/2013

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well then just keep asking and if she keeps refusing eventually shell say ok or youll give up

Casie - posted on 01/14/2013

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She refuses any contact with us until I leave her alone with my 5 month old for a day or sleep over at her home.. I keep inviting her to do stuff with us but she wont.

Cleaver - posted on 01/14/2013

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ask her to come with you when you do things like get a haircut, groceries or like that episode in friends ask your mil to sit at another table at the same restaurant 'in case your needed'... ive asked my grandmother to come to the hospical to watch my nb while at the hospital for my 2yo with me so i can give the audiologist my full attention. i know how manic episodes are my husband has bipolar and refuses to use medication ive only just started to leave my 2yo with him alone for more then just grocery runs

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