I’m really lucky to have a wonderful mum that I have a great relationship with. We live in the same town and she has a great bond with my son. She has been married to her husband for the last 12 years (her split from my father was amicable, I have no ill feelings about her remarriage), and he in general is a nice guy, he is kind to my son and does nice things like sit and draw with crayons with him when we visit. My concern is the fact this man has schizophrenia and can have sudden psychotic episodes… my mother won’t admit as to how bad they can be, and the ones we have witnessed have been brief but alarming. For example, we were there for dinner and my mum asked him if he liked the chicken. He suddenly threw his plate across the room, shouted awful things, ran out the door yelling and slamming things. 5 minutes later he casually walked back in and started chatting about sports to my husband like nothing had happened. My mum just brushed it off like ‘oh, just a little tantrum’. He doesn’t like to be left alone while my mum goes out, so to see her we either have a 20 minute lunch date or we go to her house. Now that my son is older (I used to use breastfeeding as an excuse), she’s started to nag at me to let her babysit and have sleepovers. She knows my in-laws have babysat when I’ve had appointments or events, and she is desperate to have special one-on-one time with her grandson. I am more than happy for her to watch him, I feel it is hugely important for him to develop these relationships, but I am too scared to leave him with my mum’s husband there out of fear of him having an episode and my child being harmed. I’ve spoken to my mum about this, and suggested she can babysit at my house while I go out, or she could take him out for the day to a park etc but her husband doesn’t want her to go out and she puts his requests before anyone else. She doesn’t see a problem with my child at her house because ‘husband loves him, he’d never hurt him, he just gets a bit cranky’, but I don’t feel comfortable with it at all. Its starting to cause tension because my mum just wants us to go there all the time, I feel constantly on edge as though I need to be ready to grab my son and shield him at any second, and now her husband is starting to get angry that we are upsetting her by not letting her babysit, and so he won’t let her come here even if i needed help (last week I had awful food poisoning, and asked her to please come and watch my lo for an hour until my husband got home while I was in bed, he told her to tell me if i wanted him babysat I had to bring him there). I feel trapped, like I’m the bad guy, and she keeps guilting me like I don’t trust her or want her in my sons life. I’m just trying to protect him from a situation that could frighten/harm him. I just don’t know what to do…. am I doing the right thing?
Posted anonymously, 18th March 2014