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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5087
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Our 3-year old grandson and his mother and father (our son)

Customer Question

Our 3-year old grandson and his mother and father (our son) live in our home. They have been dependent on us since the baby was conceived. They have had a few jobs, but none that have lasted. Both parents have intermittent trouble with drugs and alcohol; the mother has overdosed twice in the past two years. During the 4 years they have lived with us, they both have stolen things from our house and pawned them. The mother has two other children that have been taken from her because she allowed the father (not her husband) to abuse the older one. In short, they are bad people and parents. My husband and I have talked with an attorney and it is likely that we could obtain custody, at least temporarily, by filing a "deprived child" petition. However, our hearts are aching and we are unsure how to proceed. Our concern is that our grandson loves his parents, although he does prefer to stay with and depends on us for regular meals, naps, etc. He asks for them, especially his mother, and we know he would miss them if they were not in the house. Please tell us what is best for our grandson. It has become so uncomfortable in our home that the situation cannot contiune.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 9 months ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating, distressing, and heartbreaking this situation must be for you. You are clearly loving and caring parents and grandparents. I am so sorry that this is the situation you are faced with here with your son and his wife. This must be very, very difficult for you.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. This is not how the ideal situation would be. And so it's hard to know what's the right thing to do and what's not. On one hand children love and need their parents; on the other hand, children don't thrive growing up with drugs, neglect and abuse. I've had to work with adults who grew up in that situation as kids; it's not a healthy environment or way to grow up.

But your heart is being torn apart: how can you do this to your son? Should you do this to your son? Is it better for your grandson if you just put up with it?

The key here is that there are two steps to this issue. First is your propping up your son and his wife and enabling them to avoid having their child removed from their custody by the state. The second step is then whether you should step in and preempt the state's taking the child from them.

So, even though I know it's a difficult discussion emotionally because you have a good heart, we have to discuss enabling. It's become such an important concept today that there are thousands of sites on the internet describing it and many books and articles. Enabling adult children is what you would search on.

You may already be familiar with the concept and discussing it between the two of you. If so, I want you two to act on it. You can't keep enabling your son and his wife to be dysfunctional, dishonest, criminal, and disloyal (I know these are harsh adjectives to hear about him). And even though it's hard, he has to actually live out the consequences of his behavior and not be propped up. Otherwise, he will keep on with this behavior. Let me recommend two books that are easily available online about enabling:

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents by Allison Bottke. She comes from a Christian perspective but it is not a religious book and non-religious people have found it extremely helpful.

The Enabler by Angelyn Miller. This is also excellent and not just for the usual enabling of alcoholism, etc.

I hope you see that once the enabling issue is open and discussed, the question of whether to continue with the attorney and filing for custody is not a difficult one. You need to evict your son and his wife as soon as possible. The attorney can advise you on that. You have been robbed and they were guests, not renters, is what hopefully the attorney will be able to state. But whatever their legal status in your home, you need to regain your home back with the attorney's help.

Your grandson's status is then very easy to recognize: he will certainly do better in your care than in their custody. Because otherwise, the state will put him in foster care if you do not take him as they will now be bouncing around in shelters, etc. Which is what they need to experience for a while to see that they need to now mature and change their behavior.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5087
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 months ago.


Thank you for your advice; I feel it was compassionate and that you listened with your professional self and your heart.


Sincerely,

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 9 months ago.
You are so welcome. I want you to know:


When I've worked in therapy with adults who grew up with alcoholic/drug abusing parents, if there were grandparents there who cared for them, it was like a lifeline for them. So please know how valuable you are in his life. He's young now so he doesn't know it yet and can't express it, but it's there and true.


I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 9 months ago.
Hi! I'm very glad that I was able to help you with this and thank you for your positive rating. If I can help you in the future in any way, please don't hesitate to let me know.


All the best,
Dr. Mark

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