Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grandmother fears for her 3 year old grandson's home situation

Hello, My 21 year old daughter has a beautiful 3 year old son that she leaves with her boyfriend of 2 years, off and on, ( not the father) while she works full time. They do not live together (yet. Have talked about moving in together soon.) the boyfriend lives at home with his parents. My grandson has recently started crying whenever my daughter says they are going to the bf's house and says he doesn't like him. My daughter just ignores his cry and argues that they get along fine. However, I have witnessed on several occasions the bf being rude, bossy, demanding and very strict with my grandson. I've never seen him play with my grandson, or show him any affection, praise, or patience. The bf has even openly admitted that he doesn't have the patience to watch over S. (3 year old grandson.) Tonight I had to tell the bf to leave my home when he began yelling at S to stop crying and then began saying unprovoked, disrespectful things to me. I am in fear for my grandsons well being, safety, and health. And this is not just because of the bf's behavior this evening. My daughter has recently started denying S healthy snacks in the evening when he is hungry, saying that some doctor says its not good for him to eat hours before bed. Yet, S has no weight issues or any other health reasons for this restriction. She has also become very impatient with him and has even referred to S's behavior as being bratty and calls him her little brat! I've asked her not to do this and explained the harm that it causes, but she still does it and demands that I say out of her parenting her child. I am not able to watch over S while my daughter works, as I am also a single parent of two boys. One with a disability and on going issues with failed public school programs and placement. As well, once the school problems are resolved, I have to find work to support myself and the boys, as I receive no financial support from their father for the last 12 years. (Long court battles and no solutions provided so far.) and my daughter can not afford to pay for child care and has lost all funding from the state to cover child care costs. As well, I had to sign a contract that states my daughter would not be living with me past the age of 18, so that I could get help from the state, to pay my monthly rent. To top it all off, my daughter is now pregnant by the bf and is afraid if she ends the pregnancy the bf will no longer help her or even talk to her. She depends on him for financial help (thought very little), baby sitting, and has her car registered in his name because she can't pay off her tickets to get her license back. As of last week, he is helping her move in a studio where he is friends with the landlord. I understand that these are her problems, but her choices are now affecting my grandson and endangering him too. She is not open to listening to anything I have to say and admits she is not happy and that the bf is not a very nice person at all, but then says she has no choice because he is her only help. What can I do? I can't just turn my back knowing my grandson is being mentally, emotionally abused. Yet I can't help in any way financially, or otherwise to take care of my grandson either. S’s father lives at a rehab and does not take part in S’s life, by choice. It’s very heartbreaking. And again, my daughter will not listen to her own baby who tells her the bf is mean to him and to please not make him stay with him! It makes me sick inside!

When life gets as sticky as it seems to be with you and your family right now it can feel like there is no choices, no movement and it literally is being between a rock and a hard place. I can literally feel the stress come from each turn as I read your email, and quite honestly I sense it from your daughter as well. It must feel so hopeless to her to be in a loveless relationship, pregnant and worried about losing the financial support of her boyfriend. Through in the upset of her 3 year old boy, and also the upset of yourself, and she is in a hard place indeed. It seems like everyone is in a panic.
It is clear that the situation between your daughter’s boyfriend and your grandson has come to a head and can’t continue as its going. As a grandmother you have very little room legally, especially if you can’t manage to take care of him, and it sounds like your daughter is closing her eyes to the whole thing, probably because she’s scared what it means. Criticizing the boyfriend is just going to make things worse as it pushes her in a corner. She needs options. Personally, I would be on the look out for charitable neighbors or friends who could help a couple days a week once they know the issue or start asking around daycares (churches or other religious institutions may have solutions too once they know his immediate need), anyone who can offer your grandson a couple of hours reprieve a few times a week. It doesn’t have to be a complete solution, just lightening the load of the boyfriend by a few days, maybe adding an afternoon or two by you.
We can’t change people, no matter how much we wish we could sometimes, and we can’t make their choices for them. The only choice we ever have is to be the best version of ourselves we can be and to offer others the chance to be the best they can be. You stand as the grandmother, a position that I can tell you take seriously and passionately. Your grandson is very lucky to have you as an advocate. At the same time you are a mother, and your daughter is still young. Therefore, on an emotional and energy level, you have a strong position. You can offer change, but it’s best done on an energy, feeling space level, which will then effect the whole picture.
Perspective is a strange thing, for what and who we are around can convince us that we only have certain choices, and when those run out, we can see a situation as hopeless. Also, when we see people and know them by the actions they present to us, we hold them to that concept of themselves, we see them in their worst light, and then they have no space to rise to if they want to improve. I like Abraham Hicks’ analogy comparing it to a high school reunion, people always see us as who we were and when we are seen in that light, we feel we have to act the same as we were, rather than the newest version of ourselves.
I would suggest that the situation can be helped by shifting the feeling of the whole thing. It seems like you would like to be able to take care of your grandson, but it doesn’t have to be that drastic. It sounds like you still see him quite often. Therefore, rather than putting the focus on what your daughter is saying or doing, or her boyfriend, shift from the problem and look at your grandson as himself, as a three year old. He needs feeding love and that’s what you can give him. Encourage him, notice him, take part in his world. Play with him, no matter how much the adults want to talk, make your home a place of laughter and wonder that he can relax into whenever, no matter how infrequently, he walks through the doors. Be the grandma that “gets” him. He chose his parents and his situation. Before he was born he knew his life would start just as it has. The danger comes when he grows up thinking that’s all there is. By having you he has the two sides of the coin and can decide how he wants to be. Be the light, be the listener, talk to him about his time at your daughter’s boyfriends, offer support, tell him you’re waiting to see what you can do, but right now you don’t know the right answer. Remind him that you love his mother very much and that times are really rough right now. Be his trustful confidant. By seeing the best in him, by taking joy in his company, the energy will start to shift, and your daughter may start to see him through your eyes, rather than through the eyes of her boyfriend’s. You will be acting the change. It may even influence her boyfriend as well. It will also provide your grandson with a balance, seeing a different version of himself.
Another thing you could do is open up the problem to a higher power. As you know my advice is centred in Spiritually Aware Parenting. With that comes the understanding that there is deeper mechanics working in everyday life, and when we shift our focus, asking for help and then releasing the outcome, new options come. When we have problems, it’s so easy to let that become the focus, but each problem has a solution on its flipside. When we stop spinning around the problem and release it to whatever we perceive a higher power to be, we allow the solution to flow in. Therefore, take a moment to stop, sit quietly, focus on your breathing, appreciate what you have and those in you love, ponder on the little things that give you joy. When you feel better, when you feel true, relax and offer the problem up. You can write it down, or simply state it to yourself, even if it’s vague. “I would like my grandson to have a joyful home life.” Or “I wish my daughter would find happier solutions.” Whatever feels right to you. Then trust. I have experienced answers incredibly quickly, solutions literally appearing out of nowhere overnight. You never know what will happen, and what will help. Just asking, and then trusting it will flow in, starts to shift situations to better feeling options. Just say yes when they show up, for you never know where they will lead.
Life is ever flowing and things can change quickly. It is a question of being true to ourselves and following our gut instincts to things. If something feels off then admit it and try to find a feeling better option. But if something feels right, even if logically it doesn’t add up, then sometimes we have to take the plunge and see where it leads. Remind your daughter that she is worthy of great love and happiness. Encourage her, knowing that she is in a rough spot and must be scared. Her boyfriend must be overwhelmed as well and it sounds like he is trying to voice his concerns.... just badly.