Detaching with grandkids?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by elizabrary, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    So as you may remember I let Kat move back in when she showed up with-KK on my doorstep at 2:30 am a couple of months ago. Needless to say it has been a disaster. She has a part-time job as a cashier, but otherwise same old, same old. Doesn't help around the house, stays gone all the time, spends the night with "friends" with the baby. It's driving me crazy, so I gave her a move out date. She's a terrible mother and it's making me sick to watch. Yes, I have contacted CPS, but 3 times they have closed the cases as she is doing nothing bad enough to have KK taken from her. So to save my health and sanity I told her she has to go. It is making me literally physically sick because I am so worried about my granddaughter. I have fairly successfully (most of the time) detached from Kat. But how do I get these worries for poor KK off my mind and focus on myself. I know there is nothing else I can do to improve the baby's situation, but it's really upsetting me. Anyone with grandkids in this situation, I would love to hear some advice.
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I'm not a grandma yet, but I can feel the anguish through your post. I'm sorry. Any way you could get temporary custody to provide some stability in KK's life? Maybe that would embarrass or light a fire under Kats butt to get her life together? I don't know, just a suggestion. I personally would be hard pressed to throw out granddaughter. Kat, yes, KK? Not so much, but that's me. In the meantime, big hugs.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    It's something I'm still working on Eliz. I will say though, it gets a little easier to do when they're no longer babies, not much but some.

    For me, I have to put the responsibility onto katie. Sometimes that involves me actually having to "tell" myself repeatedly that god gave her those children and they're her responsibility first and foremost. That doesn't mean that from time to time I don't step in to do something to make their lives a little brighter or easier, just means I don't run to rescue with enabling behavior. It can be a fine line to walk. And it can be awfully hard on the heart. Sometimes I have to just refuse to think about certain things that I have no control over changing. Otherwise, I'd have went over the deep end myself by now.

    I find myself somewhat in the same role my grandma did with me, and now I fully realize how terribly hard it must have been for her. It makes me appreciate what she did for me even more than I ever did before....and trust me I really appreciated it to begin with. She took me every chance she got and let me stay as long as Mom would let it go on. Mom would demand I come home a day or two here and there just to assure herself she was still in control and so the neighbors wouldn't talk. Grandma, who had to rent, took pains to live near Mom so she could do this easily as she didn't drive.

    I am sort of trying to do this with katie's kids although it's harder as I've not yet been able to get kayla for an overnighter, neither has Nichole who has been trying for months now. Helping easy child with her broken leg sort of blew most of my plans for katie's kids for the summer right out of the water....and catching up on stuff I need to do isn't helping either. But I'm still trying to bring them over here when I can. It's looking like it may be this weekend.

    There was a time I was in the same situation with Aubrey when Nichole was still being very gfgish, even when she lived with me. But since she was here since birth....I just stole precious moments with her whenever the opportunity arose which was actually quite often. Whenever Mommy was having a bad day or whatever was going on......Nana always had time to listen to her, for a hug, for lap time, to read a story, to sit and play with her. And even though these days Nichole is more easy child than difficult child, that has never changed. Aubrey and I have the same special connection I had with my grandmother.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I do this with all the grandkids to varying degrees based on need. I don't know whether other grand parents do it or not, except that mother in law did somewhat similar with my kids. It's making that child feel special, letting them know you think what they have to say (no matter what it is they're saying) is important, it's giving that hug or offering that lap or whatever when the parents don't see the need due to dealing with the child 24/7, but you do due to experience and being an outsider looking in.

    It's these moments in my opinion that make a difference in any child's life whether their parents are pcs or difficult children, but especially when their parents are difficult children. This is why extended family has always been so very important. This is where extended family can pick up the slack where certain needs are not being met in the home for whatever reason from gfgdom to just plain busy schedules.

    And while it doesn't seem like you're doing much at all, believe it or not, it can be a life saver.

    As I'm writing this post I realize that even while currently I haven't been able to do too much for katie's kids.....for kayla and Evan at least, I'm that life line. Kayla also feels that connection with her aunts. She's looking to us for her example of "normal", of how to parent, how to live, for life skills, just as I did my grandma and one of my aunts. When she was here the other day she asked me if I would not only teach her to crochet but to sew, to garden, to cook........

    So when I worry (and trust me I do worry when I don't keep my guard up against it) I remind myself that just like with my grandma, all the dozens of little ways of being there and helping do add up and can be huge for the child that needs it. Grandma didn't spoil me with things.....I remember 1 birthday present, period, occasionally she could afford a dollar toy at kressges or woolworths......she spoiled me with her time, her patience, her attention, her example, and her unwavering love, which is what I really needed. (my aunt did too whenever I saw her)

    Once again I rely on what my grandma taught me by example, and I trust in it. She's not failed me yet. So, instead of worrying myself sick over the gfgdom I can't control, I focus on the moments that I can control and make the most out of them.

  4. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    Thanks Hound- your post has me crying. I had a very special relationship with-my grandmother too, even though I have wonderful parents. It was just different with my grandma. I'll try and keep your wisdom in mind. It's very difficult though.

    Jo- I have talked to Kat repeatedly about leaving KK with-me while she gets herself together. She refuses, and since she's not doing anything bad enough I can't get custody. I hate to say this, but I have wished she would get arrested so I would be able to take the baby. I feel guilty saying this, but it's true.

    Thanks ladies- you know how much the support means and I am in a terrible place right now!
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Your post is heartbreaking.
    Situations with grandkids are terribly confusing.
    Others have mentioned and to a certain extent it reminds of my own situation, of good times with their grandparents. If nothing else, perhaps you can offer to babysit your grandchild for days at a time and those days with her will be very precious/meaningful for the child.
    You yourself will very likely need to detach as much as possible from all of this so that your heart doesn't break each and every time you see or associate with your daughter.
    You can't be held accountable for the decisions of an adult person who choses to act inapprpriately. If you are willing and able to help your grandchild now and again that is great. Know in your heart that your help might very well have a very positive impact on the child.
    Make friends with good people and spend as much time as you can with them.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I, too, completely understand. "Detaching" has not been my strong point with GFGmom's first baby. He's 24 and still lives with us. Yes there are special circumstances but...truthfully I never expected that his Mom would never get her act together. I did better with her second son (he lived with us seven years) and have stayed detached from her daughter who has never even spent the night at our house. As I said I truly understand.

    I was able to get easy child/difficult child living with us with-o going for custody. I did suggest it but there was no way she would give up "her baby". Truthfully I did believe she would mature eventually (not much has taken place) so I proposed that he stay with us so she wouldn't have to (l) find babysitters (2) pay for daycare (3) worry about getting him to his MD appointments (4) be able to work and play at her convenience knowing he was safe (5) agreeing we would coparent so he would have a stable environment......and the big one (6) she could keep her food stamps and child support to adequately support herself. Then, I had her sign a Durable Power of ATtorney giving me the right to get his medical care and later take care of school paperwork etc. That was priceless over the years (and yes I did pay her for her time and gas to go sign the paperwork at the attorneys office). She also was assured that she could visit whenever she wanted and she could take him with her whenever she wanted to.

    Sound bizarre?? Yep! But in our case it worked. He has had a stable home since he was born. Due to his Mom and his own teen choices he is not living the life we hoped. on the other hand he has never had a day with-o love, structured parenting, and a set of values demonstrated on a daily basis. She, on the other hand, has gotten to "play Mom" by taking him off to visit friends etc. when he was all clean and appropriately dressed and well behaved. She loved being praised for her great son. Plus she has had money to do her thing which is very important to her. One year in elementary school she decided he should live with her and his little brother. In his memory it was a year or so. In fact he lasted about six months and, lol, he called us at least three or four times a week to pick him up and bring him home.

    Am I suggesting you follow our course? No. It has been a long hard road and financially devestating. Would we go back and change our choices? No. Based on how she parented his brother we know he would never have felt safe and secure. Our retirement money went to rehab programs and brain surgery and post care. So in our 70's we are living a life on the financial edge and still work daily. It's a big decision. I wish you well in find the right path for you and your family. Sending caring supportive hugs your way. DDD
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I struggle with this constantly. Youngest and her 2 kids are currently living with me. I feel that she downright neglects them at times… from a nutrition, health and hygiene standpoint. Not to mention the times she ignores them while on the phone texting with whomever; I worry that the baby in particular will get hurt when she's not watching what she's getting into.. She has a new boyfriend and she's taking the kids to stay with him almost every weekend. It all drives me nuts.

    On one particular week, I was in emotional agony. I hated watching the way Youngest parented her kids, and I felt terribly sorry for them, to the point where part of me wanted to take over to be sure they had a better life. Yet, I can't take over. I know I can't take custody of two small children all by myself, even temporarily. I don't have the energy, physically or emotionally. I raised my two difficult children by myself and still have some PTSD from the trauma of the most difficult years. I can't raise two more. I was torn apart by my conflicting feelings. I went into my therapists office and quickly burst into tears.

    So, my therapist told me, I needed to get off the dang fence. She gave me the analogy of sitting on a fence, with fields on either side. One was the field where I jump in and take over parenting these kids. One was where Youngest parents her own kids without me, even if poorly. She said it's not just any fence, it's a barbed-wire fence, so sitting on it and moving back and forth between the fields was incredibly painful. Darn straight it is. I have to decide which field I'm in, and stay there, and get off that horrible fence of pain. Since I know I can't be in the field of taking over the parenting, I have to figure out how to stay comfortable on the other side.

    I'm working hard on minding my own business and biting my tongue when I disagree with her parenting techniques (I have trouble with that, last night was a particularly tough one). I have to accept that Youngest may never be a good mother, and that she may always be neglectful, and that these kids will never have the life that I might have wanted for them. I have to grieve the life they won't have, really (talk about painful). And I have to dump the guilt over not being able to take over. Even if I did take over, it wouldn't be enough for them.. they'd always, naturally, want their own mother. I wouldn't be enough. If her neglect reaches the point where I think the grandkids are in physical danger, I'll have to call CPS. But if the neglect just means she is a lousy parent, I have to let it go. That is SO hard to do.. but I'm working on it.

    Like Lisa, I just try to be a grandmother. Step in and help occasionally, and model good behavior, without taking over. I hold back … if she's not preparing healthy meals for them regularly, I can cook once a week to ensure that on that one day, they get a decent meal (but I won't take over daily meals, that's her job even if they live in my house). If she's not doing laundry often enough and they're wearing dirty clothes, I can throw a few in with one of my loads occasionally (but I won't do a special load of just their clothes). If the kids are sticky and smelly from not being bathed for a few days, I can give them a bath (but I won't take over daily bathing).

    It's really, really hard. Detaching when grandkids are involved is more difficult, and more painful, than any detachment I ever learned with either of my difficult children by themselves. I have to learn to let a lot of things go, and simply not think about them. I couldn't do it without the help of my wonderful therapist. I have good days, and bad days. But I'm getting there.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Grandkids will break your heart.
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I am not at that point in our journey. I do think it is a glimpse of our future. Could you offer to make dinner for her and the baby once a week or even a monthly overnight for the baby so she can 'have some time to herself'? Just keep your foot in the door of their lives.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I'm not there yet (thank Heavens!) but I do know what my own parents have done.

    Dad will come pick up J for a day... And he puts him to work, or has lunch at McDonald's (though Dad hates McDonald's). Or just hangs around our place with him. He's slowly teaching J to be a good man. husband does a good job, but grandfathers sometimes get through where parents can't.

    And O adores my Mom. Mom has no illusions, but she loves her. Every year they make cookies or gingerbread houses in October and December, or carve pumpkins. Mom will play Scrabble with both kids, too.

    But - and this is big - my parents aren't velcroed to the kids. This has the effect of making time with them special, as opposed to their bio mom's parents - one is very religious and ethnic, the other the kids only visited in bars until he passed; and mother in law and father in law, both of whom I love but are incredibly judgmental.
  11. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    The saga continues- yesterday I was called at work by KK's daycare. They couldn't get ahold of Kat- her cell is turned off since I wouldn't pay the bill. They were very upset and worried and said there was something in KK's diaper area which looked terrible. There was blood in her diaper. They were terribly worried, not only about this but just the general state of Kat and how she brings KK in. I had to go buy a carseat and go pick the poor child up. I took her directly to the ER. Fortunately it was NOT sexual abuse, which is what all of us were thinking. She has an abcess on her bottom- poor thing. I took the baby and drove to Kat's work- she was shocked to see me. When I started telling her what had happened and everyone's concerns she nearly lost it. I thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown on the spot. We went and got something to eat and had a long talk. This incident really shook her up like nothing else has ever. She was shocked that anyone would have that concern about KK. I told her she could come home and do what she needs to do or continue as she was and I would contact CPS EVERY SINGLE DAY until they took the baby away. She has come home and we have worked out a list of rules with consequences. If she spends the night out with the baby again she has 2 weeks to find somewhere else to live and I will start my CPS calls. She actually re-enrolled in school.

    Do I believe this is a miraculous turn around? No. I figure it will last for awhile as in the past. But it's a start and I'll take whatever good days I can get. One day at a time with her. I'll enjoy all the time I get to spend with-KK and the relative peace for a bit! It's never ending!
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    Poor KK ((((HUGS)))) But I'm so glad this might be sufficient enough to scare Kat straight. Her poor baby was hurting, and she did not notice! I'm PLEASED that KAT really freaked out - her maternal instinct finally kicking in, perhaps?

    Praying for you and KK that this is truly the beginning of a turnaround for Kat.
  13. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    How on earth could a one year old baby have an abcess on her bottom and her mother not notice???????? Babies that age need to be changed several times a day ... did she see it and just ignore it? I'm so glad that the baby got the medical attention she needed and that she's back with you where you can keep an eye on her. And I hope it all came as enough of a shock to her mom that maybe she'll straightened up her act a little bit.