Author Topic: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question  (Read 3047 times)

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Idlewildstudios

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In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« on: May 28, 2013, 11:47:16 AM »
Hello, long time lurker, first time poster  :)

I have a question that has been bothering me for several months.  The BG is a bit legal, but that is needed to get the whole story.  I don't need help with the legal side but I felt it pertained to my question so I included it.  It's all a bit long, so please bear with me.

*BG* My Inlaws have custody of my two nieces (my husband's brother's kids).  They took custody about 9 months ago, hoping it would be a temporary deal so my BIL and his ex could get their lives together and be able to raise their kids as adults.  Things between my BIL and his ex are the things bad late night talk shows are made of and it was felt that two small children did not need to be in that environment.  The custody became legal about a month not quite a month ago, but it is not permanent yet due to the court system still needed to make a full investigation.   The odds are, honestly, that they will be retaining custody.  The girls are currently both under 5.

My inlaws are in their very early 60's.  Both were planning on being retired by this time.  My MIL has had to put that off due to money issues with having to raise the kids.  Neither really wanted to take the kids but felt it was the best thing to do.  Comments were made a few months ago when it became apparent that they were most likely going to be keeping the girls permanently that maybe my husband and I should step up and take the girls.  We are younger and have a daughter at home, so the thought was that we were better prepared to take on two more kids.  The problem is that 1) our daughter is over twice the age of either girl, 2) we would have to sell our house and move, having only a 2 bedroom home and 3) we did not want to deal with the craziness brought on by the BIL and his ex.  As in, fear the ex may come burn the house down, craziness.

*END BG*

So, now it looks like my inlaws are going to have these girls permanently.  My inlaws are exhausted mentally.  Neither truly feels up to raising these two girls.  They are resentful of my BIL for putting them in this position.  The main issues stem from the fact that the oldest girl is out of control. They have both been allowed to basically run wild and do whatever they wanted.  Their parents never put them down for naps or a regular bed time, simply letting them sleep whenever they dropped.  Food was placed out around the house for them to eat whenever they felt like it, but it mostly dry cereal and granola bars.  My inlaws are trying to change that, but it is a huge battle with the oldest.  She won't listen, hits, bites.  I had to chase her down in a parking lot when she took off and refused to stop when called.

My inlaws *won't* discipline them.  They say they do, but it consists of them talking about the bad behaviors with the kid, telling her why it's wrong and please stop doing whatever it is. That's it.  They talk about it.  Their excuse for not being stricter, like putting her in time out or taking away the stick she hitting with, is that "she has been through so much, she needs time.  She doesn't want to stay in time out, so what can we do?" 

It is driving us nuts.  They are the kids that are dancing around the restaurant bothering the other customers while my inlaws look on.  They run wild at any event, getting into things, interrupting adults, taking off and hiding, yelling and screaming to get their way.  My husband and I have tried to maintain our distance, but feel *someone* needs to step up and rein them in.  We declined to take them ourselves, but it is truly awkward being out with them.  Can we discipline them?  Or do we just have keep quiet and bite our tongues? The girls are getting worse, not better.

LeveeWoman

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2013, 11:51:06 AM »
I'd tell my in-laws that I'd not be going out in public with them until the children can behave better.

amylouky

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2013, 11:56:02 AM »
I'd suggest a caregiver support group, or even a foster parenting group. I really hope there is a social worker involved in this situation, maybe she could suggest some resources. We took a parenting/discipline class as part of our foster parent training that was very helpful, maybe there would be something like that?

Bethalize

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2013, 11:59:06 AM »
I'd tell my in-laws that I'd not be going out in public with them until the children can behave better.

This. You can't force you in-laws to change, you can only stop protecting them from the consequences of their choices, or "enabling" as it's called.

dawbs

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2013, 11:59:19 AM »
Is there a way you could direct her to resources that may help?

social worker, parenting classes for troubled kids, etc?

heartmug

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2013, 11:59:27 AM »
I would suggest counseling for them.  Do it in a gentle way.  Maybe the day they are at counseling you can help by making dinner for them that day so they have one less thing to do.

If at all possible, do help them one or two days a month.  They sound like they need a break.  My friend is raising her grandkids.  Such a hard thing to do.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

Luci

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2013, 12:00:54 PM »
The kids are really crying out for guidance and stability, whether they know it or not.

You should be allowed to help discipline them, but that takes lots of repeating and probable tantrums and other drama. I wouln't go out with them, but maybe see them in the privacy of the home.

All four of them need counseling and childcare advice from professionals, for both the grandparents' sakes and the girls' future.

And I would like to send lots of hugs and doses of patience to all of you.

Idlewildstudios

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2013, 12:08:00 PM »
They are taking classes and are part of grandparent raising grandkids support group.  The girls are also in play therapy.

It's just that they don't see the lack of discipline.  They think they *are*.  They raised my BIL this way, which is what led to this whole mess.  They discuss why things are bad but there are never consequences.  When we were in a restaurant with them and the girls were dancing around and chatting with other customers and bothering the waitresses, I did question that maybe they should stay at the table with us, but my MIL dais that she liked that they comfortable enough to go over and speak with strangers in a comfortable setting.  SHe saw it as being friendly and outgoing.  My daughter and I left soon after when the dirty looks from other patrons starting being shot my way, given my age, most thought they belonged with me.

If we refused to deal with them until the girls behaved better, we'd never see them.  We've already dropped off our interactions with them, mostly out of self preservation.  But we can't not see them.  We have their other granddaughter, who whey don't see a lot now due to the circumstances and they truly are in over their heads and need the emotional support. I just don't know how far I can go with discipline without falling into the "mind your own business" category.

heartmug

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2013, 12:16:53 PM »
I see.

I guess the only way would be to have the girls to your house, without your in-laws.  Tell your in-laws you are babysitting for them.  They would probably love a day to themselves!

Then lay down the rules for your home.  "In my home we eat at the table."  "In this house we don't yell."  etc.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

bah12

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2013, 12:17:16 PM »
This is an unfortunate situation and I feel for your whole family, but there's only so much you can do about it and that doesn't amount to much.  Your in-laws are now "parents" of these girls, and if they aren't asking your for advice, it's not really appropriate for you to tell them how to parent their children.

I think that it would be good for you to recognize that taking children out of chaos is still chaotic.  The goal might be to provide them a more stable environment to grow up in, but their behavior change isn't going to happen overnight and is likely to get worse in the interim (this is from foster experience).  That being said, if you fear that it will never improve because your in-laws won't take the right steps to improve them, then your only recourse is to back away.  You have to decide how much you are and are not willing to deal with and how much of this you are willing to expose your daughter to.  That decision is yours. 

Since they are already going to a support group, it's very likely that time is all that is needed to help.  You can offer advice and suggestions when asked, but outside of that, you decide if you can deal with it at all, how much you are willing to put up with (if any) and what your personal rules are when it comes to interacting with this family.  Then follow those rules and adjust course as, or if, the situation changes. 

MummySweet

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2013, 12:23:02 PM »
Etiquette-wise, you  just need to remove yourselves from situations so that you are not supporting the behavior of either your nieces or your in-laws.

Personally, where is your DH in all this?  You say that the in-laws are parenting their grandchildren the same way they parented BIL.  Was your DH raised significantly differently?  If so, perhaps it's time for him to point that out to his parents.

*inviteseller

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 12:24:26 PM »
I think it would be in the best interest of the girls if you could talk to their case worker and explain the issues.  It doesn't sound like this situation is good for anyone involved and, as hard as it is, they may need to be placed into a different home.  I have a neighbor who keeps getting her grandkids from one daughter who doesn't understand the concept of birth control.  And by the time these kids are placed with her, they are so screwed up and she can't handle it.  She has actually recently told the courts no more, she cannot or will not do it.  While you want to help out family, sometimes it is just nor possible and it is better to have them in a place they will thrive.  And remember, these poor kids have never had structure and will not magically change overnight, so try and give your in laws a break.

NyaChan

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2013, 12:25:16 PM »
Etiquette-wise, you  just need to remove yourselves from situations so that you are not supporting the behavior of either your nieces or your in-laws.

Personally, where is your DH in all this?  You say that the in-laws are parenting their grandchildren the same way they parented BIL.  Was your DH raised significantly differently?  If so, perhaps it's time for him to point that out to his parents.

This is what I am wondering as well.  It seems your DH did not turn out like his brother, so either he was able to overcome the bad parenting as a child or he got a different approach from his parents.  If anyone has a right to say something about the situation  to the inlaws (which I don't really think they do), it would be him. 

Wordgeek

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Re: In-laws raising grandkids, discipline question
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 01:15:01 PM »
Deep sympathies to the OP and those involved.  This matter is beyond the purview of an Internet forum on etiquette.  I urge you to seek out the appropriate professional assistance in real life.