Parenting is hard enough when you have support from a community. But it's extra hard when you're doing it alone, and face drama and criticism from extended family.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she's wrong for telling her mother-in-law she can no longer have contact with her son. She wrote:
I’m a single mom (F42) of four- Arden (F13), Briony (F11), Robin (M10), and Kaya (F7). All of us, except Robin, are Deaf, with ASL as our first language. Arden and Briony’s dad (M46) left when the girls were 4 and 2, and I met Kaya’s dad, Alex (M43) shortly after. He had just come into custody of his nephew, Robin.
Robin’s bio mom (Layla, F47) gave Robin up to focus on recovering from her long-term dr*g addiction. Robin is fully aware of who his bio mom is, but considers Alex to be his dad, and has called me his mom since the age of 2/3ish. Layla has told me in the past how grateful she is for me filling that role, and that she feels more like Robin’s aunt than his mom.
All this to say, when Alex was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, it was pretty clear to all of us that I would continue to raise Robin as my son after Alex’s death. Alex passed away in June, and ever since, his mom has been causing problems. While she’s never been outwardly hostile towards me/my children, she often complains about our use of ASL.
(Most of the family learnt at least some basics to support communication, but MIL insisted she was too old and couldn’t do it) and has made comments in the past about my inability as a mother due to my deafness. My older girls are practically non-existent to her, and she often ‘forgets’ that Kaya is her grandchild too and focus solely on Robin.
MIL spent most of the funeral telling people that I was ‘unfit’ and trying to ‘steal Robin away from his real family’. It was hurtful, to say the least, and made me uncomfortable welcoming MIL into my home after that, but I convinced myself that it was for the benefit of the kids- they’ve just lost their dad.
I didn’t want to take away a grandparent too. Last Saturday, Robin came back from an outing with MIL looking miserable. He wouldn’t talk to anyone about what had happened and spent the rest of the weekend shut away in his room. I tried to ask MIL what was going on, but she didn’t answer any of my messages. Finally, Robin broke down in tears, asking me if ‘Grandma was really going to take him away’.
It turns out that MIL has been repeatedly telling Robin that she’s going to take him away from us, even telling him she’ll call CPS on me to have the kids removed. On Saturday, MIL had gone even further, saying she could just drive away with him, and he’d ‘never have to see us again’.
I immediately sent MIL a message informing her that she was no longer welcome in my home or near any of the kids, and let Layla know what was going on and that she was still welcome to visit/have Robin to stay, if MIL was nowhere nearby.
My phone has been blowing up ever since, with people asking me to reconsider. I haven’t said anything about what happened, so can only assume MIL is spreading false information, but all the negative responses are making me doubt if I’m actually in the right here.
NTA. You should not let this woman anywhere near the boy. This MIL is a danger to Robin. It is your duty to protect him. You should probably contact your local p*lice to discuss the issue. Perhaps engage an attorney if you can afford it.
Please contact a lawyer. Because Alex has passed, this in one of those situations where grandparents’ rights may actually apply. Start putting together an FU binder. See if anyone she carped to at the funeral will testify, if it comes to that. Maybe Robin can start journaling about his grandmother and how her words and actions affect him.
I am so very sorry for your heartbreaking loss. Beautiful for you to take all of the children. Please speak with an attorney. Grandparents can sue for visitation. Make certain your legal end has dotted the is and crossed the ts.
NTA. NOPE! You are not at all responsible for this situation. It is always hard with an older relative is negative, and when they go nuclear like your MIL, this is crazy-making. Being deaf does NOT make you an unfit parent, not even a little bit. So Robin is bi-lingual? That is a very, very good thing.
I absolutely agree with the earlier commenters: get a lawyer and a good ASL-fluent counselor. And... maybe you investigate whether CPS could help you in this situation. Check out reddit.com/r/legal
I realize this is a bit of reverse-concern issue, by reporting MIL to CPS, but you can be sure she has or will report you. Communicate these issues with your kids' teachers and school counselors - get all the support you can lined up now. Please follow-you instincts and protect your family. I believe you are doing everything you should be doing in a horrible situation. Poor Robin.
NTA. That you’re even asking speaks to your fair-mindedness. If it’s a loose arrangement, formalize custody of Robin. Consult a good lawyer. They can advise re. MIL’s threat, any legal action.
You’re wise to continue to avoid discussing MIL w/anyone weighing in who’s not directly involved. Best guess, an attorney would advise you not to contact CPS @ this time. That bell can not be un-rung.
OP is NTA, she's doing what she needs to do to protect Robin.