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Ex-son-in-law problem

Started by Bobsouruncle, May 20, 2015, 08:30:32 am

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I posted this on and was advised to post here also.  I am not a woman but who better to ask for wise advice.

Here's one I bet you haven't heard before.

My daughter married a very controlling person. (bi-polar) He would time her showers. She eventually turned to alcohol because of him. She left him when her son was about 3 years old and moved in with me. Nine years of hell later, the alcohol finally killer her at 43 years of age.

Knowing what kind of a person her ex-husband was and in order to keep my grandsons life somewhat normal and what he was used to, I asked my ex-son-in-law to move in with me with his son. (He wasn't working , as usual, and living in a run down crummy apartment.

Here's the problem, as if that isn't enough, my son-in-law feels he has to 'make a man' out of his 13 year old son so, as the controlling person he is, he has made a list of about 15 chores that my grandson must do weekly. If my grandson forgets to do any of these chores or they are not to the liking of my son-in-law, he is punished, which happens like clockwork. If my grandson tries to explain himself, he is punished worse.

For the slightest thing, my grandson gets grounded for weeks on end or looses his TV or notepad etc. Along with this he is also belittled and told 'he has an addictive personality just like his Mother'.

My question: How do I go about handling this? My grandson wants me to intervene but I am walking a tight rope. I don't want to aggravate my son-in-law as I don't want him to move back to some sleasy apartment and take my grandson with him. My grandson would have no one to turn to and loose the only home he knows.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.


Welcome B.  I'm glad you found us and don't let the title fool you.  Yes, it seems to be mostly women here, but men are just as welcome.  When you get a chance, please read the highlighted posts in "Open Me First".  Nothing wrong with your post, we just ask all new members to do this.

You are right.  I have heard versions of this, but not this before.  First, you are a better person than me.  I think I would have not been able to have my ex son-in-law move in with me knowing the role he played in my daughter's life.  But, saying that, I do understand you probably did it out of concern for having your grandson remain in your home.

This is super tough as I'm assuming from your post, his Dad has all the rights to him.  Have you thought about consulting a family law attorney to see if there is any legal grounds for you to possibly fight for custody?  I know morally you do, but legally if anything can be done?

In the meantime, the only thing I can say is I would be taking every opportunity to make sure grandson knows you value him and he is a good person.  That his Father doesn't define him as a person. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Welcome, B. I don't see any way you can intervene under the present circumstances. Your SIL has legal custody. He has the right to raise his son as he sees fit, as long as there is no physical abuse, as I understand it. You can't come between them without making it much worse. There are many children being raised the way you describe. Their parents feel it is the way to shape them into successful adults. What a heartbreaking situation. I agree that you need to look for a legal solution. However, it could possibly come with more issues, not would put your grandson right in the middle of more conflict. The good I see in all of it is the role model you are and the loving and positive influence that is to be offering your grandson. Sending love to you both...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Glad you found us... and welcome!

I agree with the others... there is nothing you can do regarding the way your ex SIL is raising his child.. That is so long as there is no physical abuse..    I think the best thing you can do for your grandson is to talk with him, and let him know that you love him and that likely his father was raised this way and feels it is the right way..  You need to let your grandson know that you are always there for him to talk to.  Since you have him in your home, you will be able to be there for him as often as he needs you.   


I agree with the others but I am so glad there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  In 5 years you can kick the SIL out and let your GS stay and since he will legally be an adult there is nothing your SIL will be able to do.  Your job for now is to let your GS see that not all adults act the way his father does and that he has a choice about whether to be like him or not.  You are doing a great job under extremely difficult circumstances.  I could not do it.  I salute you!  Hang in there!  Your GC will benefit from it for the rest of his life!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown

Green Thumb

Thank you for loving this grandson and wanting to do the right thing by him.

I am going to disagree and urge you to contact Child Protective Services. This is child abuse, it is emotional abuse.  CPS will talk to you about the situation. You want to be the one who is proactively protecting your grandson so that if CPS gets involved, you gain custody. If you have stood by silent and done nothing, you will likely not get custody. Your grandson can also call CPS on his dad or tell a counselor at school. There is also a 1-800 number for child abuse hotline, you could call them and get professional advice. If you take grandson to a counselor, they can figure out if this is abuse and they are mandatory reporters to CPS.

If your grandson is left to grow up in this crap, he will likely start drinking and doing drugs to manage the pain. If you stand by and do nothing, he will also start to hate you. I know, my mom stood by and did nothing while my father emotionally abused us. I turned to drugs early on to manage the pain and I was as mad at mom as I was at dad.

You need to start taking notes, keeping a journal of the terrible things dad does. You need to talk to the counselor at grandson's school for advice and what the law is in your state. I would also go to an attorney and see if you have any grandparent rights, usually not. 

I think you need to intervene with the dad at some point. You have to show grandson that a real man stands up for his loved ones and stops the abuse. Right now, being silent tells grandson he is not worthy of respect or worthy of love, no one stands up for him. This is going to be tricky and I wish you the best.


And I'm going to disagree, as I deal with this every day at work.  Giving a list of chores to a 13 year old and grounding him if things aren't done to your satisfaction is not legally considered child abuse.  If he is not beating him or calling him every name in the book, there are no grounds for CPS to step in.  From a moral standpoint, there are many things that parents do that make me cringe, but legally, are not wrong.  I could have told my child at age 13 that he was grounded until he graduated High School and wasn't allowed to leave the house, without him doing a thing in the world wrong, and it's still not legally child abuse.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell