Par­ents won­der if drunk gran is fit babysit­ter

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

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? — SOBER SALLY Dear Sober: 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.

Dear Amy: I am a woman in my mid-60s. I was sex­u­ally abused by an older brother from the ages of about 8 to 11, although it may have oc­curred when I was much younger, also. I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind all these years; never told any­one ex­cept my gy­ne­col­o­gist and a ther­a­pist a while ago.

De­spite this, I was able to main­tain a rea­son­able re­la­tion­ship with this brother.

Now he is quite sick and my two younger brothers ex­pect me to join them in tak­ing care of him. Quite sim­ply, I re­sent be­ing guilted into do­ing this.

He has three grown chil­dren who live fairly close by, but ap­par­ently, they all think I should step up to the plate along­side them.

I am hes­i­tant to tell any­one in the fam­ily be­cause I don’t want to de­stroy their per­cep­tions of our brother, but how can I han­dle this? — HEART­LESS SIS­TER Dear Sis­ter: Your sib­lings may lead you to the prover­bial guilt buf­fet, but you are re­spon­si­ble for your own choice. Don’t par­take.

Here’s how you re­spond: “I know that you want me to do this, but I’m just not able to.” Don’t say any­thing more, un­less you want to.

It sounds as if you have man­aged your re­sponse to your brother’s abuse in a bal­anced way. If this cur­rent change in his sta­tus has shaken loose some wor­ry­ing symp­toms, you should def­i­nitely seek more pro­fes­sional help.

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