“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#1 Aug 23, 2014
Amy: I have a concern about how my mother-in-law baby-sits my toddler son. She is a very free-spirited woman who believes that my son should have a lot of freedom.

She feels that playing with sticks, running free in a store, chewing on ice and exploring the garage (which is filled with many adult tools) are all acceptable things for him to do.

His dad and I have told her how many times how we feel, but she thinks we are being too protective, and she does these things and other unsafe activities regardless of what we say. She loves her grandson very much and loves to watch him once a week while I go to the gym or run errands.

We hate to tell her that she can't watch him but we are thinking about informing her that she can only watch him supervised. How can we tell her more clearly that these activities are unacceptable? We have tried but she doesn't see our point of view. Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned: Rather than debate the relative merits of free-range versus risk-reduction, let's boil this down to its most basic component: You are the parents.

The fact is that many readers (myself included) managed to survive childhoods that were dangerous certainly by today's standards. But I know of other children who did not survive their childhoods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 9,000 children die each year (and 250,000 are hospitalized) due to unintentional injuries. At the CDC, they don't term these as "accidents" because they are "predictable and preventable."

Free play is wonderful, but no heartache could match that of a child being injured or killed while under the care of a loving grandparent.

Let's stipulate that you and your husband have the normal amount of anxiety about your child's safety. But even if you wanted Grandma to adhere to a gluten-free, risk-free, boy-in-a-bubble routine, she should respect your choice.

Your mother-in-law is behaving like a defiant, naughty toddler. There should be consequences. Invite her to spend time with him supervised until she shows she will respect you or until your son gets old enough to demonstrate better judgment than his gran has.

Amy: My husband's two sons (ages 23 and 19) have been selling drugs from their home for the past five or more years. They live with their mother, who is rarely home. Their mother is aware of this but doesn't seem to mind.

Both boys struggle to live responsibly. They pay no rent to stay there and have no ambition to go to school or get a job, etc. They party a lot and hang out playing video games all day.

I am concerned they will never grow out of this mentality if nothing changes (and nothing has in all of their formative years).

Knowing there is illegal activity going on (which is definitely a hindrance to their development) should I anonymously tell the police about it and "bust" them?

Is this my responsibility as a stepmom? Stepwondering

Dear Stepwondering: Is it your responsibility as a stepmother to call the police on your stepchildren?

Um, no.

Your responsibility is to the father of these children. He is neglecting his duty to his sons, and you should encourage him to do everything humanly possible to intervene, in the hopes that they will choose to try to turn their lives around before it's too late.

Their father should make an effort to guide them, and you should support his efforts. If in his judgment they should be busted, then you should back him up but I believe you have a naive view of whatever magical effect an arrest would have on their development.

Amy: "Terrified" worried about a mom who insisted on riding a motorcycle without a helmet. You (and others) have deemed this "selfish."

I think hey, she is a grown woman. She can do what she wants, and she should do what she wants without being judged by the likes of you. Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: The statistics on motorcycle accidents don't lie this person's choice does have a cost, which would be borne by others.
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#2 Aug 23, 2014
1: From one perspective, you and your husband are getting free babysitting and perhaps that's why you haven't put your foot down on how your m-i-l watches your child. The cost of a responsible babysitter is worth every penny if your child is saved from a horrible accident. There are some gyms that provide child care while the parent(s) are working out. Look into that. A lot of errands CAN be done with a toddler in tow if you've taught him how to behave. Your m-i-l has probably undermined you in that as well with her "free range" child care policy.

In any case, tell your m-i-l you no longer need her services because you don't feel comfortable with her style of child care and since you're the parents, you get to say how your child is raised. Do not allow her to simply give you lip service and say she'll obey your rules. I wouldn't trust her word at this point.

2: It's too bad you aren't simply a nosey neighbor as opposed to the stepmother of these two young men. Then you'd have no problem reporting them. How long has this been going on - since they were underage? If so, why didn't your husband deal with it then by getting custody through the court? Because he doesn't want to deal with or care for his sons, that's why. You can't deal with this problem if your husband doesn't care enough to step in. And if that's the case, do call in an anonymous report. Do not join the group of enablers in the family.

3: I agree with Amy. People doing dangerous things for sport are selfish and give no consideration to the effects on family emotionally, physically, and financially should that person be seriously injured while enjoying said "sport." At the very least, these people should purchase a good long term care insurance policy in addition to a health insurance policy. If they can't afford this, they can't afford the sport be it riding a motorcycle without a helmet, skydiving, or any of the other sports that could cripple if not kill you.
Cass

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

#3 Aug 23, 2014
LW1 - There is free play, and there is a toddler running around the garage with pruning shears in his hand. I don't see anything wrong with playing with sticks (Is he sticking them in his eyes or ears? No? Then relax.). As for running around the store, it's more of a bother to other shoppers and the staff (because if he creates a mess, they have to clean it up), and it teaches the kid bad manners, but it's not particularly dangerous. As for exploring the garage with adult tools, is he allowed to do it unsupervised? Bad, bad, bad idea. Is grandma or grandpa doing it with him and teaching him about the tools? Not a problem.

LW2 - Yep, call the cops. They'll gather up the SWAT and storm the house. Your step kids (step-adults, really) will end up in prison, their mother will lose her house (see laws on the seizure of assets in drug cases). That'll teach everybody a lesson. You'll be lauded in your family and community. NOT.

LW3 - Yeah, it's all fine and dandy, but a significant portion of hospitalization and rehabilitation costs for injuries sustained by unhelmeted motorcycle riders is born by taxpayer-funded state agencies. A study conducted in CA in 1989 showed that 57% of unhelmeted riders injured in motorcycle accidents listed a public (state or federal) health insurance plan as the primary payer of their medical costs. In other words, they chose to ride without a helmet, and the taxpayers footed the bill.

“On Deck”

Since: Aug 08

French Polynesia

#4 Aug 23, 2014
L3. They should pass a muffler law is what they should do.
It is a fallacy, an unban myth, that load pipes save lives..

I am just speculating here, but I think there is a certain amount of recklessness going on with a good many of those motorcycle wrecks. Be it speeding, doing circus-style wheelies on the freeway, alcohol induced euphoria, and so forth and so on.

One time we had a guy who wiped out on his motorcycle doing 100 mph. That's what he told me.
I asked him how fast he was going and he said 100. No one else could hear
He was torn up pretty badly but he didn't have any fractures. He was drunk.
So later on I asked the cop who was chasing him and who followed him in how fast he was was going.
He told me he was going 100 mph. True story

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#5 Aug 23, 2014
LW1: "How can we tell her more clearly that these activities are unacceptable? We have tried but she doesn't see our point of view."
You told her and nothing changed. How the are we supposed to know HOW you told her?

LW2: "Is this my responsibility as a stepmom?"
No. Butt the hell out. This is your husband's responsibility, or it WAS until they became adults. Don't go out behind his back to try to fix problem that is not your problem.

"He is neglecting his duty to his sons...Their father should make an effort to guide them"

How the F do you know that? He could be doing everything he can and still failing.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#6 Aug 23, 2014
Pippa wrote:
1: From one perspective, you and your husband are getting free babysitting and perhaps that's why you haven't put your foot down on how your m-i-l watches your child. The cost of a responsible babysitter is worth every penny if your child is saved from a horrible accident. There are some gyms that provide child care while the parent(s) are working out. Look into that. A lot of errands CAN be done with a toddler in tow if you've taught him how to behave. Your m-i-l has probably undermined you in that as well with her "free range" child care policy.
In any case, tell your m-i-l you no longer need her services because you don't feel comfortable with her style of child care and since you're the parents, you get to say how your child is raised. Do not allow her to simply give you lip service and say she'll obey your rules. I wouldn't trust her word at this point.
The way this letter reads to me, it does not sound as if LW is letting grandma watch the kid because it of how it benefits her(free child care). It seems to me that using that time to go to the gym is a fringe benefit of letting grandma watch the kid cause grandma WANTS to watch the kid. She does not sound like losing that benefit is of any concern to her.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#7 Aug 23, 2014
Pippa wrote:
How long has this been going on - since they were underage? If so, why didn't your husband deal with it then by getting custody through the court? Because he doesn't want to deal with or care for his sons, that's why.
How do you think this would have played out in the courts?

Does he have court ready evidence that they were selling drugs?
Does he have court ready evidence that mom knew what they were doing?

I doubt he has either, much less both. My guess is that court would end the kids up in jail/juvenile detention assuming he had proof they were dealing. Can't imagine what proof he could offer that mom was aware, so I can't see him getting custody.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#8 Aug 23, 2014
1- Why free-spirited hippies should not be allowed to be around children

2- As long as they aren't bringing it to your house, I see no reason for you to care

3- The same people who applaud seat-belt laws are the same people who boo helmet laws. Go fig

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#9 Aug 23, 2014
edogxxx wrote:
1- Why free-spirited hippies should not be allowed to be around children
2- As long as they aren't bringing it to your house, I see no reason for you to care
3- The same people who applaud seat-belt laws are the same people who boo helmet laws. Go fig
They are?
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#10 Aug 23, 2014
Mister Tonka wrote:
<quoted text>
How do you think this would have played out in the courts?
Does he have court ready evidence that they were selling drugs?
Does he have court ready evidence that mom knew what they were doing?
I doubt he has either, much less both. My guess is that court would end the kids up in jail/juvenile detention assuming he had proof they were dealing. Can't imagine what proof he could offer that mom was aware, so I can't see him getting custody.
You're right that it may not have done any good and possibly some harm. But we don't know whether the father did anything at all to try to stop this behavior. We also don't know when it started. If it was happening when the boys were younger, it sounds as though the mom didn't care and didn't do anything herself to stop it. I don't know what resources a parent has in these circumstances but there must be something. Counseling? Rehab centers if the boys were doing drugs themselves? You don't just stand by and watch your underage kids do stuff like that; you do what you can to change their behavior. It could be the mom tried and then simply gave up. My point is that the lw did not say when/how the situation began and what her husband tried to do to help them. She sounds fed up to me and that's why she's considering calling the police. Perhaps her husband always let the boys have their way without much discipline as some divorced (and not divorced) parents do. Perhaps they were living too far away at the time to see the boys on a regular basis. I just don't see that caring parents stand by and don't try to do something - at least at first.

One question I forgot to raise is what did the lw mean by saying, "Both boys struggle to live responsibly." It sounds as though they are not struggling at all and have no desire to live responsibly but are simply enjoying life as irresponsible layabouts. Oh wait. They do work. They have a business selling drugs and they keep a low overhead by running it from their mom's home. I think this family is facing a hard road no matter what happens from here on.
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#11 Aug 23, 2014
edogxxx wrote:
1- Why free-spirited hippies should not be allowed to be around children
2- As long as they aren't bringing it to your house, I see no reason for you to care
3- The same people who applaud seat-belt laws are the same people who boo helmet laws. Go fig
2: If it were your kids, I think you'd care. Parents care and worry about their kids even when the kids are middle aged and older.
3: Really? I must be out of the norm then. I was happy about seat-belt laws, child seat laws, and helmet laws. I'm also happy about laws that say you can't transport people riding in the back of your pick-up truck but I've seen people still doing that very thing. I'm not sure whether that's a law in all states though.

Since: Feb 08

Location hidden

#12 Aug 23, 2014
Mister Tonka wrote:
<quoted text>
They are?
No, they aren't. He's got his head up his rectum regarding all three letters, as usual.
Everyone who knows me would say I'm a hippie, but I NEVER allowed kids to run free in a store, or play (unattended) in a garage.
As a matter of fact, most people who've seen my parenting in action consider me strict, but not unreasonable. This includes the adults who were children in my care years ago.
Besides, we all know he knows NOTHING about long term relationships, or childrearing, except that he won't ever have either.
(Bear disagrees. He believes dog has had a long term relationship with his hand since puberty.)

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#13 Aug 23, 2014
Pippa wrote:
we don't know whether the father did anything at all to try to stop this behavior.
Correct
Pippa wrote:
We also don't know when it started.
Correct
Pippa wrote:
You don't just stand by and watch your underage kids do stuff like that;
Where does it say he did?
Pippa wrote:
you do what you can to change their behavior.
Where does it say he didn't?
Pippa wrote:
It could be the mom tried and then simply gave up.
You kknow nothing about the situation, but you're assuming the custodial parent tried but dad didn't? Why does she get a pass with such little information?
Pippa wrote:
lw did not say when/how the situation began and what her husband tried to do to help them.
Right. So why do you jump to the conclusion that dad has not tried as opposed to the conclusion you came to for mom....that she tried and then simply gave up?
Pippa wrote:
She sounds fed up to me and that's why she's considering calling the police. Perhaps her husband always let the boys have their way without much discipline as some divorced (and not divorced) parents do.
If your partner's kids are a problem for you, that's for you to work thru with your partner or call it quits. Getting his kids tossed in jail is not gonna fix any problem they might have.
Pippa wrote:
I just don't see that caring parents stand by and don't try to do something - at least at first.
Again, nothing in the letter says he didn't try. At some point, you have to stop blaming the parents and place the blame for how someone's life is going squarely on them and the choices thy made. The best parents in the world can still end up with kids who make bad choices.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#14 Aug 23, 2014
Pippa wrote:
2: If it were your kids, I think you'd care. Parents care and worry about their kids even when the kids are middle aged and older.
But its not her kids. She's not their parent. And considering the mom had custody, he does not soun like she ad any substantial role in raising them.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#15 Aug 23, 2014
NWmoon wrote:
<quoted text> No, they aren't. He's got his head up his rectum regarding all three letters, as usual.
Well, yes, I knew that, but I was specifically curious as to what makes him think people who are FOR seatbelt laws re against helmets. Where adults re concerned, I am against both. Race was on here recently as against both. Who is he talking about that is only half in?
Kuuipo

Salinas, CA

#16 Aug 23, 2014
LW1: Your best move, IMHO, is to find a better babysitter until your son is older.

LW2: Seriously? NO! Both your husband and his ex-wife need to bring the hammer down on the illegal activity, but getting the police involved will just ensure that these young men have records that will interfere with them getting any decent employment. Not a good idea.

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