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Oniarip

Adult child with possible squalor syndrome

14 posts in this topic

I am the mother of a married daughter who was diagnosed with anxiety as a teenager. She has a 14 month old baby boy that we all love dearly. She spends great quality time with the baby - but her house is a shambles. I have sleepless nights wording about the conditions my grandchild is being raised in. For instance, if the baby spits up it may be months before it is cleaned up. The bathroom sink hasn't worked in months. Every surface in the kitchen is piled high with dirty dishes that lay around for at least a week, and dried up food is dripping down the sides of the stove and crusted all over the burners. Their hot water was scalding or freezing with no in between for about a year. My husband and I have spent thousands of dollars at least trying to fix major safety issues because we worry about the baby's safety. I am also concerned he will never be able to have friends to his house. My daughter shuts us down if we say anything at all about how they live. We don't want to risk alienating her as we want her and her family in our lives. How do we support her and live through this. Whatever we give them to improve their situation turns into trash. We are going broke trying to help - but to no avail. We don't want to jeopardize our retirement giving a we have worked so hard for these many years to them when they don't want or care about any material items. I'm at my wits end. My daughter seems happy (she doesn't want to be on any medication and manages her illness through exercise, yoga, etc. She does not allow anything she views as pressure into her life (cleaning, yard work, a job, etc). She and her husband have very little money.

Help! Does anyone have advice?

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I'm so sorry that you are finding yourselves in this situation. I have no advise, but I do want you to know that I understand the part about, "We don't want to jeopardize our retirement giving a we have worked so hard for these many years to them when they don't want or care about any material items."

Many people have been raised with very little money and have made a good life for themselves. I guess as long as the child isn't in physical danger, there isn't much you can do. Maybe when their son gets more mobile she will be concerned about his safety and do a little better job of taking care of the home so it won't stress her to worry about what he is getting into.

Do you have a clue how her husband feels about all this? If he is concerned, he could help clean also.

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My heart goes out to you Oniarip! I, too, understand the conflict you feel between wanting to help DD (dear daughter) and family and not wanting to sacrifice what you've "worked so hard for" when it doesn't seem to be appreciated or treated with the care you expect.

 

I think Sue has made some excellent comments. Don't have anything else to contribute, right now. Often, we advise GPs not to try to weigh in on how the parents keep their house. But the conditions you describe sound really bad, at least, at first reading. I want to mull this over some more before I say anything else.

 

Meanwhile glad you reached out to us. Welcome!

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"Whatever we give them to improve their situation turns into trash. We are going broke trying to help - but to no avail."

 

Have you considered a weekly or bi-weekly housekeeper (gift) instead of giving "stuff"? Sometimes "outside help" is appreciated--

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"Whatever we give them to improve their situation turns into trash. We are going broke trying to help - but to no avail."

 

Have you considered a weekly or bi-weekly housekeeper (gift) instead of giving "stuff"? Sometimes "outside help" is appreciated--

 

I was thinking about this, too. Instead of commenting to DD about the conditions of her home, just offer to pay for a housekeeping service or something like that, if you can afford it. If she's avoiding cleaning, etc. to lower her anxiety levels, she is probably doing the right thing, in her way. An outside source would help her do that.

 

Granted, even that suggestion may upset her. So you may have to back off, for a while, and wait till she expresses some concerns, herself. Chances are, she will when baby gets older and begins getting into more things. Then, perhaps, DD will welcome the offer of outside help... Patience...

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In your shoes I'd see that if she's okay with it then the problem would be mine. I'd make an appointment and go speak with a social worker regarding my feelings and let the social worker ask the pertinent questions and give me advice. If the baby is in unfit living conditions or in danger and the parents are exhibiting some form of mental illness that endangers the child's welfare let the social worker make and/or help you come to that conclusion and guide your actions. Without seeing the conditions or knowing the parents myself I couldn't even begin to feel comfortable giving any advice other than to refer you to a professional. 

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You say she has anxiety issues. Your daughter could have post partum depression or depression with some other cause. Has her house always been this way or is it just since the baby? Is she on her own or does she have a husband? What does he think? Perhaps with her husband's help, you could talk her into being evaluated by a medical professional. Tread carefully here. As long as the baby is healthy and not in IMMEDIATE danger, it might be best just to back off.

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I agree with Saralinda - I think it is important to pinpoint some critical starting points. The anxiety she has had for a while. Did it get worse after the baby was born? Was the house an issue before the baby was born?  If so, did it get worse after the baby was born? Is it filth (it sounds like it might be from some of the things you describe but I don't want to assume) or clutter? Is the baby in danger? Is there a room that the baby plays/sleeps in that is reasonably clean in comparison?  There are standards that Child Protective Services (or whatever name it may go by in your area) has for fit and unfit environments for a child. If you feel that the baby is in danger, then a call to CPS is likely in order. No amount of money that you throw at fixing the problem is going to fix it. You are literally throwing money away and achieving nothing. If there is a very real fear that your grand is in danger because of the living conditions something else will need to be done.

 

I know that isn't what you want to hear. Your daughter loves that baby. But I think SHE needs the kind of help that you can't give her right now. Money isn't going to fix it. If she is truly mentally ill, she needs professional help. She isn't going to change what is happening otherwise. She CAN'T.

 

Out of curiosity..where is her DH in all of this? What is he doing to help or get her help?

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I am the mother of a married daughter who was diagnosed with anxiety as a teenager. She has a 14 month old baby boy that we all love dearly. She spends great quality time with the baby - but her house is a shambles. I have sleepless nights wording about the conditions my grandchild is being raised in. For instance, if the baby spits up it may be months before it is cleaned up. The bathroom sink hasn't worked in months. Every surface in the kitchen is piled high with dirty dishes that lay around for at least a week, and dried up food is dripping down the sides of the stove and crusted all over the burners. Their hot water was scalding or freezing with no in between for about a year. My husband and I have spent thousands of dollars at least trying to fix major safety issues because we worry about the baby's safety. I am also concerned he will never be able to have friends to his house. My daughter shuts us down if we say anything at all about how they live. We don't want to risk alienating her as we want her and her family in our lives. How do we support her and live through this. Whatever we give them to improve their situation turns into trash. We are going broke trying to help - but to no avail. We don't want to jeopardize our retirement giving a we have worked so hard for these many years to them when they don't want or care about any material items. I'm at my wits end. My daughter seems happy (she doesn't want to be on any medication and manages her illness through exercise, yoga, etc. She does not allow anything she views as pressure into her life (cleaning, yard work, a job, etc). She and her husband have very little money.

Help! Does anyone have advice?

Does she rent or own the house? If she rents it, how about asking the landlord to "evaluate" the situation to see if it's how they want their property to be kept. How old is the baby? What is the baby's room like? What about air conditioning/heat? How old is your daughter? Is she married & if so, is her husband the same way? How does she pay for things if she doesn't have a job? If by gov't help then a social worker should be involved, especially if the baby is living in filth. 

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    This is none of your business, as long as her husband agrees and the child is not sick and seems happy.  You simply must accept your daughter as she is if you want contact with your grandson.  Invite them to your house.  Meet at a designated place or a restaurant.  You are not going to be rewarded for giving them money---they are adults with a child and should and must be self supporting.  Good luck!  You know a little objective concern is needed here---and maybe down the road you will be pleasantly surprised!

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you should call cps. if she doesnt want stress then she cant be responsible with a child. being a parent means doing your best for your child safety n well being. you are doing her a favor n yourself from worrying anymore. sometimes when they wont listen tough love works. hugs

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What you described is my daughter to a "T".  The only exception is now my grand girls are ages 3, 5, 8, and 10.  I cried far too many nights.  At one point, when she only had the first two girls, five of my daughter's friends were going to report her, but they were waiting for Christmas to be over.  As I was living in an adjoining state, I talked to her.  I explained that is just a matter of days until she was turned in to CPS.  She voluntarily gave me custody of the two girls, at that time, ages one and a half and three years old, rather than they go into foster care.  I had (voluntary) custody for over four years.  By the time they returned to mom she had two more girls.  Once again I did not want to "be the one to make the call".  I didn't need to.  Since the girls returned in 2011, all four have been removed from their home three times.  This was to give mom and stepdad time to get the house clean, and the roach infestation under control.  This last time they were with me almost three months.  

 

Some people commented that when your grandchild was able to get around maybe she would clean up?  At 14 months this child is very mobile.  The child is in danger.  At the age of 20 months my oldest granddaughter once used muscle linament for toothpaste and EMS had to be called.  This child IS IN DANGER!  My daughter has had several different agencies in to help her over the last four years.  They get the house cleaned up and keep it that way long enough to get the girls back home.  Then over the next weeks and months she reverts back.  Her husband does not really help her at all.  

 

My daughter has been seeing a therapist and a doctor now for a few months.  She is finally on medication.  It has helped some but she now uses that as a crutch.  Her two oldest children are in therapy now also,  My daughter has finally quit shutting me out and is allowing me to be involved.  Although she still gets defensive with me when I say things she does not like.  

 

I know each situation is different.  I do agree your daughter could be still dealing with post-partem depression.  Either way she needs help and intervention or at some point you as grandmother will have no say or influence.  Once CPS is involved it makes everyone's life difficult.  If grandmother says nothing CPS could very well judge her for not saying anything sooner and jeopardizing her grandson.  

 

Please try to talk to your daughter.  Show her this if you think it will help.  You are walking a very difficult road, one I would not choose for anyone, having walked it over and over myself.

 

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@ omabecky - Welcome! I'm so sorry you and yours have been through so much! And I think it's very kind and caring of you to draw on your own painful experience to advise someone else.

 

Yes, you're right, now that I think it over, that, at 14 months, a baby can be fairly mobile, maybe even walking. Even though I have little GC, they are both schoolage, now, so I have forgotten a little.

 

Onarip, I think it boils down to this. If you really believe your GS is in danger/in an unhealthy environment, you must call CPS. If you do, however, please realize that, if DD knows or suspects that you made the call, it may seriously damage your relationship with her. If her baby is removed from her home, even temporarily, once she gets him back, she may never let you see him again. Obviously, that hasn't been the case with omabecky's DD, but it has been with others who have come here and it could be with yours. That's the risk you have to be willing to take, IMO, if you feel the situation is serious. If you don't think it's worth taking this risk, then you need, IMO, to let it go.

 

If you call and if the child is taken away (sometimes they give the parents the chance to get their act together with the kids still in the house), CPS may or may not ask you to take him. Are you prepared to say "yes?" If not, and he goes to some other relative or a stranger, are you prepared to accept that fact? And the fact that you might not be able to get to visit him, for a while? A call to CPS can open up quite a new can of worms. But it may be worth it if you really think GS's welfare is endangered.

 

 Either way she needs help and intervention or at some point you as grandmother will have no say or influence.

 

I get what omabelcy is saying here, but it seems to me that you have no "influence" now since DD "shuts down" if you raise your concerns. And, technically, GPs don't have a "say," anyhow, unless they have custody, as oma has had, on and off.

 

 If grandmother says nothing CPS could very well judge her for not saying anything sooner and jeopardizing her grandson.  

 

IMO, it's very kind and thoughtful of oma to worry about this. However, I've never heard of a GM being held responsible for her GC's welfare, again, unless she has custody. To my knowledge, only the parents are held responsible for their children's health and safety at home, no one else (unless someone else is actively doing something to jeopardize that health and safety). CPS is not likely to "judge" you, in any way shape or form, if you don't call them or don't make the call at a certain point. The only criterion, IMO, for whether or not to call them is whether or not you feel the child's welfare is being endangered. Again, if you don't then, as I said above, I think you need to let it go, as difficult as that may be.

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I think, if a grandparent knows something is going on, that endangers his or her grandchild in any way, and does nothing, the grandparent wouldn't be considered an option for custody if the children are removed from their home. Maybe this is what was meant by the words that CPS could judge the grandmother.

If people know something and do nothing, they become part of the problem...

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