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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


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  • I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving my child with them. If your mum babysat at your house, without hubby, ok. But you’ve said that won’t happen. You need to explain why it’s a no to your mum. She’ll be hurt, but deep down I’m sure she’ll understand


  • It has been years ago since you posted your question and I wonder how things are going now. Have things settled with your mum and is there more understanding or did you take distance ?


  • That is a difficult situation.
    However personally I wouldn’t be too afraid.
    From working in the field for over 20 years as a psychiatric nurse, I know that research has shown that people receiving effective treatment for a mental illness are no more violent or dangerous than the rest of the population. People with a mental illness are more likely to harm themselves – or to be harmed – than they are to hurt other people. A person with schizophrenia is far more likely to die by suicide than they are to harm someone else, let alone children.


  • I think most moms here agree with you. You have to put your child first and if you aren’t comfortable then don’t do it. There are some really great pieces of advice I’ve read below so I’ll just say I hope it gets better for all of you. It sounds like a difficult and stressful situation.


  • Wow. I’m sorry to read your situation but I absolutely agree with you. Mental illness can be a very scary thing. In light of Rosie Batty’s story, I’d be inclined to do the same thing. Don’t feel bad for doing what you see as right or protecting your son. Your mum is making the decision to prioritise her husband and what he says first. She might be fearful of him too but not admit it. Maybe seek some support from fommunity mental health. But trust your gut and if she wants to participate in your son’s life, it has to be on your terms as you’re his mum!


  • Be as honest as possible with her, she needs to come around and if she doesn’t try not to stress. Do what is right for bubba


  • You are doing the right thing, you are your child’s voice and you need to put him first. You are also not saying she can not see him but its on your terms.


  • Yes definitely doing the right thing, there is no way you should feel guilty for telling your mum that you are not comfortable with your son being at their house. Your mums husband should be the one that feels bad that he is stopping your mum from having a relationship with you and your son when it is his outbursts that are the root of the problem. If your mum can’t see that you are only putting the best interests of your son first then maybe there is an issue of hers there


  • I’m sorry you’re in this position, but the answer seems easy to me. No way should you leave your son there. His welfare should be your main concern and if anything did happen it would be terrible. I would explain to your mum , but if she refuses to listen, I would tell her that you won’t change your mind and she will just have to accept it.All the best in this difficult situation.


  • Definitely for sure!!


  • stand your ground – a small tantrum can easily blow up into violence. rather than saying you can’t have him at her house maybe make up a reason for her to have to look after your son somewhere else or invite her along to somewhere you are going to see him. make it seem like you want her to come with you to say the shopping centre, or the playground and if she needs to babysit find a group that she “has” to take him to like a playgroup or similar. I hope it works out for you. It is hard and parents always think they know best.


  • You are Doing the right thing!


  • I think you are doing the right thing. I would have the same concerns.


  • I think you only want protect you son, nothing wrong with your decision.


  • It is a horrible situation, but i would be doing the same thing! your son is the most important thing in this all!


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