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Son & DIL Seperating Slowly

Community Member
My son has decided to seperate from his wife of a year. They have two small boys under 3 My son came to me with a heavy heart telling me he couldn't keep going to work coming home cleaning the house and taking care of both boys. I know being a stay at home is a big job but not even the basics are getting done. When I visited the kids are dirty and running around with very little supervision. I have always been scared for their safety.....I have never said a word about it to my DIL because I don't want to interfere. Anyway when my son said he was leaving her she tried to harm him and told him he would never see his children again. The Police became involved and put a Domestic Violence Order in place against my DIL. . It's a big long background story but what I'm trying to get too is my son is trying to seperate nicely by dropping in to see the boys every day after work, teaching her to cook, driving her to appointments etc. I understand his motivation ....he wants the boys not to be traumatised and wants to go through mediation rather than a big court case. All this would be fine except my DIL has mental health issues and is a self confessed every day pot user. When she is at her worst she lashes out at people and it makes it hard to reason with her. To be quite honest I am worried for the safety of my Grandchildren and my son. My son says leave it to him. He can handle everything. So I have tried to stay out of it but it's very stressful. Has anyone else been through a similar situation?
29 Replies 29

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi welcome

Yes, I’ve been in a very similar situation. I worked 3 jobs including shift work so she could be a stay at home mum, changednappies more often than her and I cooked the meals. It lasted 11 years then I had to leave.

So my advice for you? Stay clear of the issues. Continue to be a doting grandma and semi friend to your DIL. Your son is an adult and things will get complicated for him if you interfere.

You are a grandma, stick to that or you’ll lose them.

My mother lost me,her daughter and 3 grandchildren over her persistence in getting involved in issues that didn’t need her involvement

All the best.


Thanks for your advice. I have tried to stay out of it but I am so concerned for my Grandchildrens welfare that I am having major Anxiety attacks. I am not actually sure they are safe and well taken care of in this transition period.

Dear FeathersnFluff~

Welcome, I'm tempted to go along with TonyWK who offers pretty good advice and says leave things to your son, that getting involved may make thngs worse, and being a haven of safty and calm for not only your son but you grandchildren too is immensely valuable.

I would go further however and suggest you and contact professionals that are used to this sort of situation. For example Relationships Australia have a post-separation section that may well be able to offer useful advice from things you can do though to what might be done to improve your DIL's mental health.

Relationships Australia - 1300 364 277

I'd suggest you ring them and see if that can offer anything or alternately suggest a service in your area that can.

Your own conditon is important, it is not a question of trying to put up with it. Having major anxiety attacks, as I personally know, are horrible, distort one's thinking and decision making, have worrying physical effects and make live very hard. May I suggest you see your GP in a long consultation and describe these attacks in detail, and also what is happening in your life.

You need the strenght to provide that oasis of calm.

I would hope you will return and keep saying how you are going


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello FeathersnFluff, thank you for posting your comment and as Tony and Croix have said, it's much better that you as a grandparent not get too involved, probably not what you want to hear, but not at the moment, your son and DIL have to sort it out themselves for the moment.

Being a daily pot user is not a good sight for the 2 young boys, as it's not legalised in most parts of Aus. and may encourage them unfavourably.

There are many changes we'd like to make as a grandparent, but only in certain circumstances and depending on the situation, it's no different than when we were kids and our grandparents kept telling what to do, contrary to our parents, and it will keep going on.

This won't stop you talking to your son, but I would stay clear of you DIL.

Best wishes.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hi FeathersnFluff,
I’m so sorry to hear that your family is going through some turmoil right now, particularly as you have two small grandsons involved. As hard as it can be to stay on the sidelines, your son is right in this instance, it is best left to him to sort out. I remember when my ex-partners parents got involved in our relationship and it was incredibly hurtful because their son was actually a domestic violence perpetrator. They were always so blindly on his side and he had obviously told them a completely different story, and I just stood there thinking “if only you knew” but of course I kept that secret. I’m not suggesting that is occurring in this instance, rather that nobody outside a relationship can really know exactly what goes on inside a relationship. As a parent you can know your sons experience, but there is a lot that goes on behind closed doors. You may not agree with the person that your son has chosen to marry, but the reality is that he saw her fit to be the mother of his children and that is not going to change. I agree with the others on this one, no good can come from interfering, if anything you may just lose access to your grandchildren, which would be unimaginably terrible. You can be there as a support for your son and your grandsons, but I would leave it at that.

Thank you everyone. I am definitely trying to stay out of the situation. Of course my son does talk to me and I try to guide him when he asked. Both my husband and myself have a very good family Doctor that we have had for years. He also has treated our son and his children and recently my DIL. He has now made a professional choice to no longer treat my DIL as he sees it as a conflict of interest. He is strongly recommending that we advise our son to remove the children from the house and that he seek full custody. We have explained that is not how our son wants to conduct his seperation and we are backing our son's decision. Our Doctor having this opinion that the children are at risk of harm due to inattentive parenting isn't helping my anxiety.

Geoff you said stay clear of my DIL. I have actually had to go no contact because the last text she sent to me she called me an alcoholic pill popping Granny then went on to accuse me of "doing something" to my eldest Grandson when he was little. ....it made me physically sick.

My DIL was sexually abused and neglected as a child. I have spent the last two years tryingto listen to her and help her. She set up a Mental Health Plan but has never followed through even with lots of encouragement from my son. I fear we will never be able to have a civil relationship because she lashes out at people when she is unhappy.

Our son has also been asking for financial help to pay for the home our DIL and Grandchildren live in. He works hard in a manual job and is not highly paid. In fact our DIL receives $1700 per ft in Government Benefits.

My husband is a DVA Service Pensioner and we are on a fixed income.

We want the children to have stability while they sort this mess out but giving our son $250 per week is starting to hurt a little. ....do we back off with the financial help to let them run their own race or keep helping?

Hello FeathersnFluff, thank you for getting back to us, and a couple of comments you have made, I do feel so sad that this has happened, as I'm sure you tried your hardest in every way possible to listen and help your DIL through what she had to cope with, only to no avail.

Your doctor understands what is happening, and if can agree with him, not that I'm qualified to say, but if I was your friend that's exactly what I'd say.

I'm about your age and I would be horrified if this was happening and feel so sorry for you.

If you can please get back to us at any time that suits you.

Take Care.


Hi again,

I think it might be inappropriate for a GP to make judgements on a custodial situation where the law courts are the judiciary.

You didn’t mention your DIL’s exchange of abusive names in your original post, such information would be important in terms of seeking advice on what relationship you can have with her.

You said you are “backing your sons decision” well it has been suggested it’s best to stay out of conflicts and that will allow better chance of you maintaining contact with your grandkids which ,as it stands is on shaky ground.

As for your DIL’s income that figure, is her financial entitlement and your son, as I did for 14 years has to pay child support. You are not bound to help out, if you do it’s your decision. He might have to seek a second job or even a third as many dads do.