How would I handle this situation without causing irreparable harm to my family’s relationships? I have an adult child who is married and has a 2 year old son, my grandson. Both he and his wife work long hours, not necessarily needed but more of a desire on the mothers part. The child is almost always with a sitter, sometimes until 10pm unless I get him on my days off so he can be with family and also so I can spend time with him. More times than not, when we have family functions and holidays and gatherings, both parents have to work and can’t attend. So instead of this grandchild being at a sitter who is unrelated, I will bring the baby so he can be with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and etc. It is to the point where my other children think it’s the parents are being neglectful. The wife is not domestically inclined. She does not keep him clean, do his laundry, or keep the house clean, even on her days off. My little grandson is very small for his age, almost malnourished.
How do I approach both parents and tell them they are neglecting thier child both physically and emotionally without causing a rift in the family and having them prevent me from seeing my grandson?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
There is probably no way for you to handle this situation without stirring a “hornets nest.” However, the hornets nest may have to be stirred. Let me explain.
You are making very serious allegations about your son and daughter-in-law, that they are neglecting your grandson. In fact, you are alleging malnutrition. In other words, the baby’s health and well being is at risk, if you are correct.
If you truly believe that what you are alleging is the truth then you have to call Child Protective Services in your state and have the parents investigated. If the investigation proves that you are correct, there is a chance the baby will be removed from the home. More likey is that CPS will demand changes be made and a warning issued that, if not followed, will later result in the child being taken into custody. Today, the protective services are reluctant to remove children.
I must add a note of caution here. I sense more than a little anger in your E. Mail, and resentment against your daughter-in-law, suggesting that you believe this is all her fault. I doubt that. She and your son live the kind of life they have mutually chosen. You are very generous in caring for your grandchild and that is wonderful. However, many married couples with children work multiple jobs and place their kids in one or another type of childcare.
Also, please remember that I do not know you or them and am not able ot assess the situation. Therefore, what I write her is only my opinion. Natually, child protective services goes to the home and does a direct assessment. But, you are correct when you state that there are family consequences to this. What I mean is that you must be very sure that there is neglect and abuse going on.
Yes, I believe that talking to them is a good idea, if you do it in a non threatening and helpful way. I suspect that they will not react well if you use words such as “neglect” with them. You can express your concern about baby sitters, suggest nursery school childcare, and offer to help more. You should express concern about the baby’s health and nutrition, including about weight. If they are sensible, and you are gentle, they might respond well. I don’t see why an open and helpful discussion, without harshness or judgement, should cause a rift in the family.
However, in the end, if they react angrily, refuse to hear your worries and try to shut you up, you can report the situation to protective services.
By the way, if you choose to report this please remember that you are only a grandparent and have few if any rights in terms of this child.
Good luck with a difficult situation