Par­ents won­der if drunk gran is fit babysit­ter

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - COFFEE BREAK - AMY DICK­IN­SON

DEAR AMY: My hus­band and I are new par­ents of a 5-month-old son. Over a month ago we left the baby with my in-laws for a few hours to have a date night. When we re­turned that night, my mother-in-law, who was sup­posed to be the baby’s pri­mary care­taker for the evening, was drunk (well past the point of be­ing tipsy).

I have seen my MIL drunk count­less times, but I thought she would re­frain from drink­ing while tak­ing care of a needy in­fant.

I was hor­ri­fied, as was my hus­band. Un­for­tu­nately, my hus­band does not want to make any “waves” with his mother, and will not dis­cuss it with her.

Now, they keep ask­ing to watch the baby again. I’m run­ning out of ex­cuses for why we don’t want to leave him with them.

My hus­band wants to give them an­other chance, and even sug­gested an overnight visit! The idea of some­thing hap­pen­ing due to their ac­tions is caus­ing me a tremen­dous amount of anx­i­ety.

Any sug­ges­tions on how to ad­dress this tact­fully? Am I be­ing too sen­si­tive in as­sum­ing she should not drink around a baby?


DEAR SOBER: In my opin­ion, your baby is too young for an overnight visit (ex­cept in an emer­gency) with any­one other than his par­ents.

Given your (valid) con­cerns, you should not leave this to your hus­band to han­dle. He is al­ready telling you that he can’t/won’t con­front his mother, or even ask her about this.

Your son can­not take care of or ad­vo­cate for him­self. You are his mother. It is time to step up and be his ad­vo­cate in this -and ev­ery -- way. If you feel the child’s grand­fa­ther is in­ca­pable of be­ing com­pletely sober and re­spon­si­ble (to com­pen­sate for your mother-in-law’s drink­ing), then yes -- you should speak with your mother-in-law di­rectly and re­spect­fully about this.

You should say to her, “I need to be hon­est about my con­cerns with you babysit­ting. When we left him with you be­fore and re­turned to pick him up, I no­ticed that you had been drink­ing. I un­der­stand that you might want to have a glass of wine with din­ner, but this makes me very ner­vous when you have the baby. Are you will­ing not to have al­co­hol while the baby is with you?”

Don’t state this with judg­ment or con­dem­na­tion. You are speak­ing to her as an adult, and sim­ply ask­ing if she would be will­ing to com­ply in or­der to min­i­mize any risk. Given the cir­cum­stances, it is a per­fectly rea­son­able thing to ask.

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