Need board moms to help me help my adult married son (in faltering marriage)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son is 31 and has inherited everything I have...lucky him :(. His wife used to be very supportive of his problems, but since she had my grandson, she has not. She has put her entire life into the baby and rarely even allows him time with his son (I just found this out and it is breaking my heart). She doesn't really want OUR family to be alone with the child either as she believes that mental illness is NOT inherited, but the result of "bad parenting." So, in other words, my son has his issues because of how he was parented. But I digress:

    My son has serious social anxiety and is not a fighter. If they divorce, which is possible, he is terrified of being alone and afraid he'll never see his son much (I'm afraid I won't see our grandson either...anyone know about grandparents rights?)

    They had gone to marriage counseling, but he said it made things worse with wife pulling away from him even more and saying "I can't be that person I used to be." He called me in a very sad mood, kind of asking for advice, but I don't really have any. His wife isn't a bad person, but she can be very distant and I certainly can't talk to her about anything.

    I don't know what words to tell my son. Although she wasn't like this before, she now wants him to "buck up" and "get over it" when he has his panic attacks, etc. I understand her point of view, but I also know one can't just chose to "get over it."

    My son is in treatment. I hate to tell him this, but I think his marriage is heading for divorce, which will totally destroy any self-esteem he has. She doesn't seem willing to work on their problems. Tonight he is going to confront her about heredity and his problems and how his son will not have problems if he has more to do with raising him. He will either have problems or he won't have problems. I don't expect a good outcome.

    We saw the grandchild last weekend at my daughter's house and, while playing with him, he dumped over some soda on the floor. Nobody cared, but she over-reacted and blamed us for "playing with him by the drink." I hadn't even seen the drink, but I don't think it's a blame thing. Nobody was angry at my grandson...children do this.

    He seems so distressed. I don't have any answers. I knew we were not being allowed to see grandson in a normal way and am anxiously awaiting my DAUGHTER to have a child because I'm not going to be allowed to be close to this grandchild. It doesn't help that I live three hours away and am never invited over.

    Anything you can help me say to my son when he calls me back? Any advice to give him? He feels like an outsider in the family, has told his wife, and she doeesn't care...
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You have no rights. But you can support your son to get a good attorney and fight for 50/50 custody. Mom cannot tell him what he can and cannot do with his time so he would have more input and time with his son.
  3. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Doesn't it vary from state to state on Grandparent's rights though? Either way, I would find a good attorney and find out for sure what you can do. I don't mean this to badmouth your daughter in law in any way but if she has this attitude based on false beliefs, maybe that can help your son and or you in some way. I don't know...just thinking out loud. At any rate, she needs to realize that these things ARE inherited in case your grandson starts showing signs of something later on. If she just thinks it's a discipline thing, he won't get the help/treatment needed for a long time, if ever.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Grandparent rights do vary from state to state so you would have to check your local laws. VA has grandparent rights while NC has some very poor grandparent rights. I would have to prove my granddtrs parents both completely incompetent and basically have her taken away from them before I could get any rights.

    I cant tell you how to advise you son about keeping his marriage intact. That is such a hard thing and is so individual. daughter in law does sound like she is obstinate and not willing to listen on this subject. Maybe there is fear there. It would tick me off that she isnt letting you have contact with the grandson.

    Your son can, in most likelihood, get joint custody if he stays in the same area with her should they divorce. Now that wont mean actual 50/50 time but joint decision making. He will be lucky to get either weekends or every other weekends and then they decide on holidays and he gets fathers day and a month or two in the summer. That is our basic setup with Keyana. Though ours isnt through a court but joint decision by the parents. It is always for the best if parents can be civil and work out the parenting schedule themselves. With a child so young, they can be more lenient on the visitation and let him go longer periods to each home because of no school to worry about. It is best for the child to be raised with both parents. Courts look favorably on parents who have thought this out.
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    MWM, I'm so very sorry to hear this. I agree with whoever said that if your daughter in law has this attitude toward mental illness, then she would be much less likely to seek intervention for your grandson in the event that he does have any issues.

    Poor little one. Doesn't your daughter in law see that making things difficult for your son is bad for their child? This saddens me greatly.

    One thing I have been reading a lot about in my local papers is Parental Alienation. It's a legal concept that has been coming up more and more in family courts during divorce and custody battles. It refers to one parent taking actions to alienate the child from the other parent, and can include bad-mouthing, interfering with visits, trying to "brainwash" the child that the other parent doesn't love him, etc. etc. In some cases, parents who have been found guilty of parental alienation have lost custody of their children, because it is considered to be so very detrimental to the children's mental well being.

    I agree with the others' advice to at least speak to a lawyer to get input as to what you can and should do. Also, that you raise the issue of parental alienation in your conversation. If daughter in law is trying to alienate your son while they're married, I hate to think of what she might try if they split up.

    Hugs for your hurting mommy heart. I hate it when people put their emotions ahead of their children's well being.

  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Do Not Read This If You Need Positive Ideas.

    I think it's over. Done. No hope of unified and loving parenting.

    Your son, in my humble opinion, needs to be seeing a professional to help him prepare for the end of his marriage and the subsequent separation. If he does not do that prep work, he is apt to behave in such a way that his wife can note his unusual behaviors as evidence that he should not be given unsupervised visitation, etc. Furthermore, in my jaded thinking, I would bet more than a nickle that she has a replacement spouse in mind.

    If your son is on the best medications available, has the best therapist available and has a family ready to support him he's in the strongest position he can be in. Economically it might be a good idea for him to review his assets and have an attorney "on call" so she can not overwhelm him into making poor choices due to his anxious state.

    My husband and I know what it is like to be left out of grandparenting due to no fault. It is difficult. As you say, however, often there are other children who will bring you that joy. Sending hugs. DDD
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Having the mother get custody is NOT set in stone anymore. In our state ALL divorced couples get shared parenting. Not one week here and one there, or all at one and weekends at the other.

    My bro and his ex each have their daughter 3 days one week and 4 days the next. It is the standard that is being used more and more. exSIL is an active alcoholic with a real addiction to pain medications. She has been working hospice and clearly getting drugs that way. She lost 2 hospice jobs because this.

    Bro is sober, a really good parent and has NO chance of EVER getting full custody unless she dies or spends a LOT of time in a psychiatric hospital. She has had a couple of psychiatric hospital stays and two stays in the reg hospital in the last year. It si not enough to lose custody.

    so your son is NOT guaranteed to lose custody. things have changed a LOT the last few years. Get a GOOD lawyer for him, get him GOOD therapy and medications and be able to show that he is a good parent. If there are any parenting classes he should take one. It can go a long way in a custody case.
  8. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I agree with him trying to keep things together if the inevitable occurs.
    He really does not want to give her any ammo against him.

    If he can,he needs to keep it civil, remain the good guy through all of this. NO fighting. I wouldn't even push the genetic factor at this point. Maybe print up some info give it to her, just so that he can say he tried to inform her and work things out in different ways.
    Once he see that things will not work-
    Start documenting.
    Keep track of everything, even if he trusts her.
    But do not do anything illegal or suspicious.

    The most important thing is he needs to remain stable and look like he really is trying and a great Dad.

    As for Grandparents, I would remain neutral for now. Friendly and take no sides when around her or talking to her.

    There are reasons for laws regarding who our kids get to be with, it shouldn't be whoever wants them, regardless of blood. Case in point my father, I would go to jail before he had them again.
    Hopefully she will see that you are a good person and let you be a pert of his life.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh definitely dont alienate daughter in law...not if you want to see grandson. I am extremely nice to Keyana's mommy because she is the owner of one of my most precious items. My granddaughter. I will do anything to keep the good blood between us so I can see Keyana.
  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Is this the son who has given you such a hard time before? He is in the church and is somewhat militant about it? Maybe I'm confused. I don't remember them ever having any contact with you.
  11. dun4

    dun4 New Member

    I'm divorced so obviously have no suggestions for saving the marriage. I am a pessimist where it comes to relationships. So take what I say with a pound of salt. I can't help but wonder if the daughter in law decided she wanted out, and latched on your son's challenges as an excuse to end the marriage, in which case there's little your son can do. My easy child finished a custody case last January. I've heard that in some states the parent that initiates the custody case can sometimes get some "extra credit" in the eyes of the judge. I do not know if this is true. It didn't help my son. One thing that is of major importance is who's been the primary caregiver to the child. If both parents work then your son should have equal chance in that category. I would recommend that if he hasn't been, have him begin doing half the childrearing chores (baths, feeding, dressing, bed time). Our lawyer recommended documenting everything and having as much contact with the child as possible. (My son didn't live with the mother.) Here it's legal to record conversations as long as the person doing the recording is involved in the conversation. My son bought a digital recorder at Radio Shack about the size of a pack of cigarettes. He carried it whenever he was around the mother of my grandson and recorded everything.

    I have just finished going thru this with my easy child and may soon do so with my difficult child so my heart goes out to you! It is emotional torture but it does end. I now get to see my 2 yr old grandson every Wednesday and every other Saturday when my son has custody. If it goes to the point of lawyers, make sure you get one with a reputation for getting men custody. I wouldn't settle for the traditional every other weekend. Ask for a midweek visit too. Children need frequent access to both parents for bonding. My son gets every Wednesday afternoon and evening plus the usual weekend visits. There is also a new thing called "First Right of Refusal" that means if the custodial parent needs a baby sitter the noncustodial parent gets asked first before anyone else is asked.

    I liked acfc website, American Coalition for Fathers and Children. Hope this helps, hang it there!
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and thanks again, all. I'm on vacation, yet this bothered me enough to check this on the computer they offer (15 minutes :tongue:).

    This is my biological son who I am quite close to. He is not a fighter and is insecure about taking sole custody of J. even if he felt he could, and he knows how the rulings usually go. Also, I'm sure that wife will use his panic disorder against him. But I am urging him to do joint custody, trying to explain what it is. Unfortunately, we are in two different states or I know I could be more supportive and go to court with him etc. His social anxiety is really bad, and I don't know how he'd do in court. If it actually does come to divorce, I have no money to help him, but his father does. Although we are divorce, we do have a good relationship and I'd talk to him.

    I am always very kind to daughter in law showering her with true compliments about what a good mother I think she is. It does no good for her, the child, or us, the grandparents, to make her feel like dirt. She's NOT dirt. Like many people, she just doesn't believe mental illness is inherited. Whe was freaking out when J. didn't walk until fifteen months. She did not like it when I just shrugged and said, "Well, that's the same as M. No big deal." She doesn't like to think that the child has inherited anything at all. She used to try strategies to make him walk and said he was "just lazy." I know how silly that is. Toddlers walk when they are ready. It's not about "lazy." He is a bright, adorable little boy who is perfectly normal right now. Whether or not he later develops some of M's problems, I don't know and SHE is terrified to consider.

    And that is probably what is ruining the marriage. She believes that because M. has panic attacks that he will make J. a nervous child too. Same with me, I guess.

    Although this saddens me, I have had such bad experiences with "family" that I have learned to depend on those I love who love me back as family. Blood means little to me...I adopted four of my kids. If I can't have an active part in J's life, then I can't. I never DID have an active part in his life because of distance and the aloofness of this daughter in law. I will see him whenever I can and I know that kids have a way of seeking out relatives when they are older. I will leave the door open to J. and stay in touch.

    I feel terrible for my son. He is bright and very sweet, but his social anxiety has hindered him. I don't know if he's an Aspie or not, but I doubt it simply because he understands how to behave in social situations--he can mask his fear too--however, it's there. Big time. It is a real reason why he's afraid to look for a new job--where he is now, it's not a comfortable situation, although he has a stable job. But another person would be actively looking for a new job and he doesn't like interviews.

    In a way, the ball is in his court. He has always come to me for advice, but rarely follows it, although he is not hostile. He is simply afraid of change. While I share his serious anxiety disorder and depression, I have always been a "go for it" person, willing to help myself any way I could. He is more afraid. I guess all I can do is support him.

    I am very disappointed in his wife. She seemed really great when we first met her, but, then, now that she has a child she has changed and the child IS her life. And the idea that anything could ever be "wrong" with him just is not something she can even fathom. Sadly, I do believe she thinks my son can damage him by osmosis.

    I'll check back later. We are at Great America in Chicago today!!!! My younger kids are all excited.

    Truly, parenting is a lifetime, and it can be so draining.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am completely sure my daughter in law will blame any and all problems Jamie and her two kids could possibly have on our side of the family. Ha! Her side is chock full of them too. She is a difficult child, her brother is a difficult child, her mother was an active alcoholic and pill head so bad it killed her. I am already seeing huge red flags in Hailie.

    My daughter in law swore when we first met her that "her kids would be perfect and they wouldnt need any medicine...EVER" and she "didnt believe in medicating kids." We shall see. Jamie did set her straight on that one and told her that there are some kids who need medicating and he and Cory were two of
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the empathy, Janet.

    Even if M. hits her head on, she'll say it's not true. The only way she'll believe it, and I hope it doesn't happen, is if J. does have problems and professionals tell it to her straight.

    We'll have to see what happens. I"m going to suggest to son that she will NOT change toward him until HE changes and I'm telling him to say, "Honey, I'm taking J. to the park." And when she freaks out, he firmly say, "I want to take him to the park" without arguing. I don't know if he'll do it, but, as it is now, she keeps my grandson to herself and my son barely has time to be with his own child. She will HAVE to change her behavior if he changes his. Other than that, she won't.

    We'll see how it goes and if he listens or even if he CAN listen. Like I said, he is very much not a fighter. And he's too old for me to fight for him.

    I have no interest in alienating anybody and I won't. But my heart is with my son (and my grandson).