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Can She Protect Her Grandson?

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From the U.S.: My daughter in law has mental health issues. I’ve watched my grandson since he’s 3 months old. Dealing with my daughter in law has been a struggle, and I don’t know what to do. At first, I was shocked about her mothering, and I thought she was irresponsible, or had abuse issues or has substance abuse issues.

I’ve been very tentative about addressing the issue. I am concerned about her ‘care’ for the baby. She is extremely sensitive and seems to find every way that I respond to her as a way to ‘problem’ for her. I’ve tried different ways. Recently she got angry with me and informed me what she thinks. She doesn’t talk to me about her problems (even for the sake of the baby) and always responds to me as if I have a problem and am a problem for her.

Recently she went to the hospital for depression, switched her jobs, and has the baby more. The communication with me is extremely a problem because of my grandson. So I’m most concerned as to how I deal with her to best take care of my grandson, if she won’t be open with me. I’ve helped her a lot by watching my grandson, but she never opens up to me. She is under a doctor’s care and getting treatment, but what can I do about the baby?

I won’t go into the details about her care for her child but I just to say that I do need to address it. Is there a resource on how to help?

Can She Protect Her Grandson?

Answered by on -


The person you should be talking to is your son. Your daughter-in-law is touchy around you. She may feel criticized or guilty. Whatever the reason, she is not prepared to listen to you or respond to you. I suspect it makes things worse when you try. From her point of view, you are causing her more stress. To her credit, she is getting treatment.

Your son, on the other hand, has more standing with her. He loves her and is the father of the baby. If his wife is having difficulty, it is his job to step in and make the hard decisions. When in doubt, the care of the most vulnerable and unprotected comes first. In this case, it’s his son, then his wife, who needs his care and protection. If he can’t provide more practical and emotional support himself, then he needs to find the resources to ease the situation. Perhaps, for example, having a few hours a day of childcare would give your daughter-in-law a breather, so she could give the baby more attention when he is with her. If your son doesn’t share your concerns, it is his right to draw a boundary between you and his family.

However, if you feel your son’s judgment is clouded and neither parent will listen to you, you can call Children’s Protective Services and make a report. In most states, such reports are confidential. Talk to the case worker to see what the protocol is in your state and what help they may be able to offer the family.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Can She Protect Her Grandson?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Can She Protect Her Grandson?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 13 Jul 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.