Hello everyone! I am in a dither this week over my wonderful granddaughters. They are age one and four. First let me bring you up to date on how things are going.
After listening to your advice and turning my sights to things that made myself and my DH happy my life has improved by leaps and bounds! My DS eventually came back around and my DIL decided that she wanted me to be involved with their children, partially because her father and mother are not as able to keep up with two active toddlers. So once a week I have been keeping the one year old to give my DIL some alone time.
My DIL finally got some help with her condition, now diagnosed as bi-polar and recently checked into a hospital to get her medication regulated. When my DIL came home I went to their house for a week to help the two of them as my DIL settled into her new norm. Although we (of course) got on each others nerves there were no mean words exchanged and it was obvious that both she and I were working very hard to get along. During that week I took the children to their day care and picked them up several times. There were comments made by the day care workers, my DS and actually by my DIL that make me think that my DIL has been unable to bond with the one year old. My DIL brings the children home from the daycare at around 2pm and puts them down for a nap. She says that her one year old sleeps for 6 hours for that nap.
What I observed is that my DIL does not interact with either of my GC alone if she can avoid it. The 4 year old goes to daycare every weekday but the 1 year old only goes on Wed. and Fri. The 4 year old does not want to come home from the daycare center. The workers in the one year old room noted how attached to me she was and when I mentioned to my DIL that of course she cried when I left her my DIL said "she does not cry when I leave her". All of this has me very concerned about the welfare of my GC and I am considering talking to my DS about those concerns.
I have already offered (and they accepted) to keep the one year old every Monday, Monday night and Tuesday. That leaves my DIL only Thursday alone with her since on Wed and Fri she brings her home and lets her nap until my DS comes home. I am unsure if this will be enough or if there should be more done to help my GC. So.....
The question is whether I should talk to my DS about my concerns or not. I am thinking that I should get him to talk to her psychiatrist and ask his/her opinion or perhaps I should get him to check with the day care workers to see if they have any concerns or not. What do you think? And by the way my DS has already said that he could not live with himself if he left her while she is so sick but it is obvious that his is considering leaving when he can.
This is a tricky situation you have, and my heart goes out to those GC. My initial thought is that DS probably already has observed that DIL is not attaching well to the baby. Maybe he doesn't feel he can bring this up with her, maybe he's tried, maybe he is overwhelmed. I imagine he has a lot on his plate right now.
The positives here are that DIL has allowed you to take care of the kids, DS has opened up to you, DIL has gotten treatment (and hopefully will continue), and that the GC have, I assume, bonded well with you and DS. I wouldn't take any of those things for granted.
If you choose to broach the subject of your concerns about DIL's parenting and its effect on the GC with your son, I would do it gently and from the side, rather than head-on. If it's not a case of abuse or neglect, I think you want to tread lightly. I'd ask DS how it's going with family life, parenting issues, how you might be able to help... general and broad things that could then bring up an opportunity to address your/his concerns. Does the psychiatrist practice therapy with DIL?
I wonder if DIL notices the difference between her style of interacting (or not) with the baby and your style. I would think that she could learn to emulate your interactions with her children when you are together. What about DSs interactions with them? If DIL was raised in a similar way as that which she is doing with her own kids, that would explain a lot. There are Early Childhood classes for parents and young children that might be helpful, but only if she is willing. Those suggestions, and others, probably come best from a pediatrician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional.
In the end, unless there is abuse or neglect (do you think there is?), this family will have to make their own choices. Your being there to support them is invaluable. I'd be careful about how to bring up anything about DILs parenting so as not to alienate them.
Does anyone else have a perspective to share about this? I'm interested in hearing other views.
So sorry to hear about this 'new issue' concerning your GC.
It breaks my heart when children (and the elderly) go through hardships, especially when I can't help much.
I agree with Bamboo's thoughts as well.
You already realize there's a fine line here NOT to cross ... but, this is more than a 'ordinary' parenting issue, IMO, since DIL has been in the hospital regulating serious medications.
I assume your relationship with DS is now on good (decent?) terms as he has discussed with you DIL's state of illness, so I would take a chance and talk with him about your concern.
BUT -- approach it gently and choose your words carefully!
Remember that DIL is suffering with an illness and many of those drugs can be hard on people.
IOW, the effects can make them into a different person.
Or at least they did my DD who is bi-polar.
This is a hard illness to understand -- and live with.
So, if DS is willing to talk with you, I would give him, briefly, my concerns.
Then, offer to be a support (if you can) and step away from further 'advice.' Leave it with him.
Hope I've made sense here. Every situation is different so you'll need good discernment.
My point: this isn't about what a 'bad' parent DIL is, but about helping them ALL get through this struggle and, hopefully, to a more stable condition. If DIL wasn't suffering with this mental illness, things would most likely be different. (maybe not the marriage, but the natural parental bond)
I do know that Bi-polar causes difficulty for ALL that are involved.
Professional counseling is available for family members of one with bi-polar. Although your GC are too young, your DS might benefit.
My heart goes out to your DIL as she needs all the understanding, kindness and love she can muster now.
My heart goes out to you, too, Still Learning, since I've experienced this for quite awhile with my DD and haved lived through many challenges. Each day can bring something 'new.'
All is not lost, though, as I've discovered the situation has strengthened my character growth.
Your comments over the years on this forum have greatly encouraged me, SL, and I appreciate you!
I agree with Bamboo that hopefully others will chime in, as the forum has been quiet for awhile. Maybe all the 'wise women' have 'wised up' and moved on!
As for me? I'm still here -- reading and re-reading posts, trying to move on, too. I've hit a snag lately. A little stuck. But I love this forum, and Luise!
I wonder if you have an update regarding this difficult situation, perhaps something that others may learn from? I have my own concerns about the bonding between my GC and narcissistic DIL. Your problem has been on my mind since you first posted, and I hope the situation has stabilized and improved for all involved.
Marina, I have listened to the advice here and have said very little to my DS. I have asked for information on how my DIL is doing and he seems to be hopeful that she will "return to the woman he fell in love with" but it is evidently a long road. The other day when I was talking to the almost 4 year old I told her that when she grew up she was going to be a wonderful Mommy and she said "I don't want to be a Mommy, I want to be a Daddy" and my heart broke yet again. My DS is doing everything he can to make things right but he is honestly only able to paddle one side of the boat and everyone in the boat knows that they are only going around in circles. Still it is his boat and I truly trust him to make the right decisions on how to captain it so I am hopeful that things will turn out OK. Children do well as long as there are adults in their lives with whom they can connect and feel loved regardless of the mistakes they make. Some children even have to look to a neighbor for that connection. It is obvious to me that my GC have a Daddy that they connect with and I am absolutely certain that he will never leave them with my DIL if they split, and I feel that I have to trust my DS to make any decisions that need to be made. I wonder sometimes how my parents felt about my rearing skills? Anyway sometimes you just have to close your eyes and enjoy the roller coaster and trust the powers that be. I hope you can find that place of trust! Hugs!!!