Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
Thanks for writing to JA. Before I proceed, please understand that it would be unethical to "diagnose" over the internet. I know you weren't actually looking for any kind of diagnosis, but sometimes folks hope that's what we can provide. We really can't do that unless we see the person (or significant background history, including psych evals) himself or herself.
That being said, what you describe is cause for some concern. Nevertheless, as an adult, your granddaughter has certain rights that cannot be overturned by the family or the state. In short, she *may* be in need of psychological/medical help/support... but you can't force her into it.
From a legal standpoint, your granddaughter would have to demonstrate either an immediate danger to herself or others <or> she would have to be significantly violating the rights of others (e.g., committing criminal acts). The fact that she has a young child is, as you rightly point out, cause for concern. This may provide you with additional support for your desire to get your granddaughter help. While "neglect" is often very difficult to prove, documenting "abuse" can often help get a family in crisis into the helpful services they need. Of that "abuse," social and emotional abuse is the most difficult to substantiate... physical, health/medical is often more easy to document. A call to the Children & Family Services agency in your area may be helpful to elucidate your rights as a family to help your great-grandchild and, through him/her, your granddaughter.
Ultimately, your concern sounds warranted. If there is one member of the family with whom your granddaughter feels a deep connection, it might be worth approaching this individual to have a talk with her. An approach that emphasizes "we want to help" rather than "we think you're crazy and need help right now" often goes a long way toward helping. Maybe repeated, gentle, supportive offers from the family - whether to help her seek help, or to provide help yourselves through babysitting, emotional support, frequent visits - will also set the stage for current and future healing.
In the final analysis, however, "being a jerk" or "nasty on Facebook" or "just plain old nasty" doesn't REQUIRE that anyone intervenes. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) the state allows for people to be as jerky, nasty, or mean as they want to be... it's only when that behavior has the potential to harm self or others, or to violate others' rights, that the state would intervene on that person's behalf.
I *do* hope that you, your granddaughter and great-grandchild, and whole family is well. It may well be that despite a troubled history, your granddaughter may rally her resources and persevere. Continuing to provide a supporting enviornment for her will help to insure that.
Best of luck to you and your family.
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Thank you for your response; I do not have any further questions. Your memo confirms what I have researched and discussed with others. At this time, the granddaughter seems immune to intervention, although several family members have approached her constructively about helping her. We will continue to seek opportunties.
She is good to her newborn and has not commited any crimes. She is a functioning member of society. Hopefully, life will not put her a position wherein her judgements and values result in harm to others beyond the emotional damage she already inflicts.
Thanks for your reply. I hope things continue to go well for you and your family.
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