May 19, 2019, 02:35:03 pm


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How to rock the boat, without sinking it?!

Started by freespirit, November 11, 2013, 12:58:26 am

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Hello ladies.

I don't know what to do, and would really appreciate your comments.

My oldest son is married and has two young sons.

How do I describe his wife? She has two extreme sides; a slurping sugar-sweet side and a mean explosive hysterical side. She was always that way, and we could never understand what our son saw in her,...but we kept out of it.

We don't recognize our son anymore. Once an independent strong- willed, but loving man, he has turned into a withdrawn, meek, .....mouse. I really hate putting this into words. Why? Because he has a most generous loving heart, and puts himself constantly on the back burner for the sake of peace and harmony in the family.

Our two grandsons are very much a part of our lives. They are 4 and 6 years old. Our 6 year old grandson is showing signs of mental disorders. He has started smelling things, but especially his own hands. He stands in corners and counts silently to himself, and he has eating disorders. He hangs on every word his mother says, totally apprehensive and meek. The younger one is extremely aggressive, never obeys, and I honestly could never handle him alone.

My husband and I are certain that our grandsons are showing the results of her extreme upbringing. I know my DIL does not physically harm them.  She huddles over them, tucking them under her wings, can't buy them enough toys, but as soon as they act a little independently, she snaps, as in; she loses her mind, and is suddenly in their face screaming her lungs out. She does this everywhere, not just behind closed doors.

My son has crawled back into the background, sticking his head in the sand. ( I could shake him!), But the children have no place to go.  We direly feel they need to be 'rescued.' But how? We think the only person that may have anything to say is our own son. But , meanwhile , he's been so brainwashed, (I am not kidding!), he can't seem  to think for himself.  I'm afraid he will feel he has to defend her, and even worse, he would probably tell our DIL what is on our minds.

The children love being with us. We feel we are a haven of  'normality' in their unpredictable lives. But the mother is always present, (won't leave us alone with the children). No visit goes by, without her flipping out at either the children or her husband. Oh, and she has been thrown out of the kindergarten. She wanted to control the teacher, the guests that read for the children, just everything. Her reaction? She has taken the children from the school, and is looking for another school to register them in.

So, what to do? Continue watching the horror of our grandchildren slowly losing it, or risk that the parents end all contact with us? And yes, we realize she has us under her control as well. After all she is holding the lever.
It is simply awful to watch. Are our hands really tied?
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


I would go to the kindergarten that threw her out and talk to the teacher, principle and the counselors.  They have personal experience with her and should have professional opinions and advice.  They also have inroads to the authorities and since they have already offended her they may be willing, with your input, to make an official report and keep you out of it. 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


F - I have no experience as to what kind of intervention might be available...if any. It sounds like severe damage is already in evidence in everyone in your DILs household. How could anyone who is concerned not rock the boat when she will broach no interference? I know there are homes where insanity rules. All I can think of is to find a well qualified domestic attorney to help you look at realistic options. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


QuoteHe has started smelling things, but especially his own hands

This is one very common behaviour of children suffering from severe anxiety.  One thing I did to help our granddaughter with her anxiety was to work with the school (I"m a retired teacher so I was able to volunteer as a school helper).  It did help some but without parental support, well ....  But, be forewarned - if your son and DIL don't want your involvement in their children's school, they can demand the school put you on a "no contact" list - this happened to us (not the school but a local activity center).

Your son's and DIL's home reminds me of our son's and now ex-DIL's home.  After approximately 15 years of marriage, she left our son and abandoned her children.  That is where our DILs differ - ours did not care for her children; in fact, our grandchildren were neglected.  What did we do?  The best answer we could come up with (and to this day I question our choice) was to remain as close to the children as possible.  Their father (our son) would not discuss the "problems" with his wife; unfortunately when we tried to do so, we further alienated him from us.  The only way to the children was through him which meant "sucking up to his wife" and pretending everything was fine.  Eventually, though "all hell broke loose" and the last few years of their marriage, she did not speak, look, or address us in any way.  It was awful.  And the kids paid - one got tangled up in drugs and the other became depressed. 

We did not trust the authorities in our area; in fact, most in the neighbourhood (including those in our church) felt we "must" be at fault.  After all, our DIL was so charming in public.  But, eventually, the truth does come out and we were vindicated.  By this time, frankly, we just did not care any more.  And our son - several friends and family questioned whether he was suffering from a debilitating disease as he looked so gaunt and haunted.  Things are far better today although we are still rebuilding our relationship with our son and grandchildren.

Our son did contact an attorney who suggested he document, document, document every incident of negligence to the children listing only facts - date, time, place, exact words, etc. (no feelings or opinions).  By the time she left, he had amassed a large amount of "evidence" and she relinquished the children without a fight.  If your son won't document, you can.  Don't "fish" for information from the children - just watch, listen and record.  Some day, your son may thank you for this information (or some day you may destroy this information).  It's what we did (I destroyed our documentation as our son did not require it).

As Luise said there probably is no intervention possible.  Your hands are tied until the children become adults.  The only thing I can add is to stay well and strong in case you are "called into action" by the authorities and/or your son.  Take care - the road ahead will be rough ....  I'm so sorry ....


I have always felt where abuse is concerned "Physical or Mental" there is no question.  I would call CPS (child protective services) they can look into it and they will never tell her nor your son who called. IF they find abuse they may remove the children. In many cases where it is possible they will place them with other family members.
So NEVER admit you are who called. Act as surprised as they are. Then when CPS asks them if they would want the children with family or foster care they will choose you.
Most likely they wont be able to even come over without the case worker. It will also start a paper trail of proof if ever needed in the future.
If you are sure beyond any doubt that those boys are being mentally abused then you have to protect them. I'm very sorry for you, your husband and grandchildren are going through.
Maybe they (CPS) can help your DIL get help also. Good Luck


Our son did contact an attorney who suggested he document, document, document every incident of negligence to the children listing only facts - date, time, place, exact words,

Yes this too. I agree


Hi, I'm sorry you are going through this.  My advice would be different than the others.  I would recommend actually not talking to the school.  You would be going behind the parents back and if the mom finds out, you will be met with hostility and anger and could possibly lose any access you currently have with your grandchildren.  My advice would be to start with your son.  Talk to him and tell him your thoughts.  Not in an accusatory fashion, but ask if he himself has any concerns.  Ask him if there is anything you can do for them as a family and for the children?  Do you live close by?  Perhaps try to see them more without the parents.  I'm sorry to say but I think if you call CPS or talk to the school, you may lose all access to them.  Start with the father then perhaps a counselor.  I'm sorry you're going through this, you sound like a caring grandmother.  Keep what you have and try to make inroads slowly.  I'm sure its incredibly frustrating but if you jump the gun so to speak, you could end up losing what precious time you do have with them.  Good luck.


Just reading all your sympathetic  answers.  All your understanding and helpful words really got under my skin.  It  means  more than I  can say.  Thank you very much.

Stilllearning;  approaching  the  Kindergarten is a very good idea. I would just be afraid they would mention our name, intentionally or unintentionally, because the fight they had was so bad, that is was even reported in the newspapers!  It was all about how my DIL mistrusts official school authorities and even questioned elderly volunteers if they could possibly be child abusers.  It was really bad. There is so much hate in the air.  It might backfire.

Thank  you Louise.  Sending love back.

Jdtm; I never knew or heard of children smelling their hands before. It's rather shocking to see. My own instinct told me it's an expression of anxiety. It was good to read this confirmation from you. I plan to collect material on this, and show it to my son. He tends not to believe me,...but if he  sees it printed in black and white;.... Maybe so.

DixieDarling; Yes, very good advice. If we should ever go as far as  calling a CPS, we would do it annomounisly. We are  seriously thinking of going that  way, but like you suggested, we need a little more time to document document  etc. We certainly have enough material from the past, but the dates and time, well we'll have to remember.

I really  appreciate  your  suggestion, Sarah, that I should simply "ask" my son if he has any concerns. I love that approach, and maybe with that method I can get through to him. He needs help as well. He needs to see the reality of the situation. Instead he escapes to his computer or his voluntary work;  anything to get away from her.  Hopefully he can let his guard down with us, and recognize that he needs to take responsibility as a father. It will be walking on egg shells with spike shoes. But we  have to do something. And we  will.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


I suggest talking to a professional - counselor, doctor, lawyer, whatever - to find out your options.  It's easy for us to sit here and say "Call CPS" but you need to know what kind of info you would need to make a report that would be taken seriously.  Also a counselor or doctor would be able to more accurately interpret your DIL/DS/GC behavior. 

Good Luck!


Now that I have left off steam...Gosh it's so healing to vent,...I have decided to wait till a blow up occurs again at  our house. My husband will then take  our DIL to the side ( not infront of the gandchidlren) and tell her we don't like or support screaming in our house. If she can't contain herself, we must ask her to leave. ....haha...I can't wait till the next blowup.....naw,  just kidding,...but I do think we have to treat her like a naughty little girl that needs to be put in her place. No more, no less. That, hopefully will get the ball rolling, and our son  will hopefully take an example from our action.

Thanks again for all your feedbacks.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


Quotebut I do think we have to treat her like a naughty little girl that needs to be put in her place. No more, no less.

Sounds like a plan - but, be forewarned.  We tried this and our DIL (now ex-DIL) raged and raged - something I had never seen before.  My husband left crying and our son and I left stunned.  Her behaviour was a major sign of a serious mental health issue (something for which we were totally unprepared).  Hopefully, your DIL is able to be rational.  Just be forewarned ....


Just something to think about,

standing in a certain area and or the smelling of the hands can also be a sign of a tick that develops in young boys.  My middle son at around 5th grade going into 6th grade started clearing his throat and making this neck movement like he was cracking his neck.  It was really weird and I even took him to the pediatrician.  What I learned is that this is typical behavior in young boys and it will stop just as quickly as it started. 

I started talking to others and learned that many young boys do different types of movements and at different times etc.

I wonder if your DIL (while I understand the screaming and loudness of her is hard to handle) does she take good care of the kids?  Never hit them but clearly shows that she protects them etc.  Does she keep them fed and dressed properly and going to school etc?

I know that some people are just over the top vocal and while I don't like it or agree with it, I don't know if it is cause to say she's a terrible mother/ person.  It could also be how her parents parented her.

Recently I learned that my sister who has adopted a child - has spanked this young teen with a belt.  I hate it and told her so.  In my opinion a belt is a weapon and it is wrong.  But, I'm surprised at how many people do not agree with me.  And, I know also that my best friend used that method to parent her own kids.  I would say she's an amazing mother but I absolutely hate that people use belts to discipline or even spanking to discipline. 

Unfortunately, that's my opinion and not everyone's :).  I would honestly prefer that my dil yelled at her kids than ever spank them.

Wondering what your take on that is?


My take is you don't spank with a whip, as in beat, a child with one.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I don't agree with hitting either. But I do agree that everyone will parent in their own way. I wouldn't hit my dog with an object either. Just saying


I find myself sitting on this rocking boat.  After reading the newest posts here, I think I will forget about confronting my DIL. 

Jdtm, I just threw my plan away, after reading your post. You are right, It is very possible DIL has a mental issue. Her sister has one, and I'm afraid it is a family thing. I don't think, either my husband or I, could handle irrational behavior. We would be completely overwhelmed, and we don't have the know how to deal with it.

Wisewomanalso; I found your post truly comforting. Yes, my DIL  is  a loving  mother. She's overbearing, but loving.  Yes she takes good care of the boys, in all the ways you mentioned.  She and my son discipline the children by sending them to a corner. As far as I know they never hit them.

So maybe, and I'm looking hopefull :) right now, ...maybe our grandson does 'just' have a tick. I pray you are right. And that he will grow out of it.  I just felt a weight fall from my shoulders. I will seriously take this in consideration.

Isn't it against the law to hit children? It is where I live. Never mind with a belt!!! Certainly my hand slipped  sometimes, when my boys drove me up a wall,...but taking a belt?  I think that is unforgivable,...and I would think those children, in later  years, will always hold that against their parents. I  certainly would.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne