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Mom bans visits with son's bio-grandparents after they ambush him with his birth mother. AITA? UPDATED.

Mom bans visits with son's bio-grandparents after they ambush him with his birth mother. AITA? UPDATED.


When this woman is upset with her son's biological grandparents, she asks Reddit:

"AITA for banning visits with my son’s bio-grandparents after they ambushed him with his birth mother?"

I will try to keep the backstory basic. My brother was married to a woman called “Kathy”. They were both addicts who entered recovery when they had a son, “Freddie”. When Freddie was 5, my brother passed away. Kathy relapsed. My husband and I got custody of Freddie when he was 6 and later adopted him. He is now 12.

We have tried to keep a relationship between Freddie and his maternal grandparents, “Pam” and “Joe”, and Freddie goes to see them once a month to spend the day and sometimes an overnight with them.

Pam and Joe have brought up that Kathy has been clean for over a year and they’d like to reintroduce her to Freddie’s life.

We’ve said no to this, because Freddie was in therapy, and his therapist has shared that he has some extremely negative feelings towards Kathy. We’ve never shared this with Pam and Joe because it’s not their business, we’ve just said no, the time isn’t right.

Last weekend, we dropped Freddie off, intending he would spend the day there, and we took our daughter to nearby riding school. After about an hour, we get a call from Freddie saying we need to pick him up because Kathy is there. We rush over to the house to find him, Joe, and Pam outside arguing.

It devolves into chaos, with Joe and Pam trying to convince Freddie to come inside while berating me. Then Kathy came outside and the arguing got worse. Eventually Freddie started shouting at Kathy and she started sobbing and we took that opportunity to leave.

Joe and Pam called and texted but I ignored them for a couple of days while we calmed down. When we called, we told them we will no longer be allowing Freddie to visit them. They betrayed our trust, and his, and the things they said about us and to us were heinous.

We said we are done with them for the foreseeable future. They pleaded with us but we held firm. We’ve blocked them from Freddie’s phone but we’re keeping the line open with us because we want to collect evidence of their harassment just in case. Kathy has reached out begging for contact with Freddie and we have ignored that as well.

Family advice is split. Some say we’ve done the right thing, some say we should allow supervised contact. Freddie has said he would see them again but not Kathy, but we just don’t feel we can guarantee that.

We’ve never got along well with Pam and Joe and I don’t know if that is clouding our judgement, and I know that this is the only link he has to Kathy’s side of the family, but on the other hand, Freddie was in tears for hours and having nightmares after seeing Kathy. AITA for thinking enough is enough?

Before we give you OP's major update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

greekamericandom writes:

NTA. Pam, Joe, and Kathy are huge assholes.

Kathy clearly traumatized Freddie. She is going to have to live with that. As much as a get a mother wanting to see her child again, that child's well-being trumps any of her needs. Her choices made her a danger to him. She is going to have to live with the consequences.

Pam and Joe have clearly demonstrated that they place their adult, addict daughter above their grandson. They are also going to have to deal with the consequences of their choices.

johnexxcerment writes:

We had a similar situation in our family. A mom completely bailed on her kids, then years later wanted to resume visitation. She was required to attend reunification counseling so there could be a determination as to whether seeing her would be in the kids’ best interests.

IF you ever decide Kathy should be given another chance, I’d strongly advise you to go this route. Such requirements may even discourage her and make her go away. This is what happened in our case; too many hoops to jump through. But meanwhile, the kids were protected emotionally and there was no residual damage. You are definitely NTA.

fianna9 writes:

NTA- they traumatized Freddie by disregarding his feelings and forcing a visit with Kathy. They also could have jeopardized Kathy’s sobriety by forcing this negative encounter.

And when Freddie wanted to leave they decided to berate his parents and demand their own way.

Keep protecting your son, you are doing great. Follow his lead, and maybe get an emergency session with his therapist. You could consider allowing Pam and Joe to visit Freddie at your house for supervised visits. BUT that is only when you think they have earned some forgiveness.

jellyfish7 writes:

NTA. You did the right thing. Ultimately, if you were to decide to allow Freddie to visit his bio grandparents, maybe only allow that to happen at your home and for a short duration of time. That way, you can have complete control over the visit.

Beyond that, once Freddie is legally old enough, he can decide on his own whether to have his bio mother involved in his life. Just because she birthed him, doesn't make her a good mother.

Freddie is your child and he needs to be assured that he is safe with you, even from his well meaning bio-grandparents. Freddie seems to have good instincts about all of this.

slownature362 writes:

NTA Freddie clearly has PTSD from his bio mom and his grandparents want to think that everything will be fine just because the bio mom is sober. That's not how it works.

IMO don't allow visits with the grandparents until Freddie has a new therapist that he clicks with. When Freddie feels ready, there should be a family therapy session with him and his bio grandparents.

The grandparents need to learn what Freddie wants and needs and to respect that over their desire to see their daughter have a relationship with him.

If it's possible, it would be a good idea for the grandparents to attend classes or read therapist recommended books about caring for children who have experienced trauma.

(My county government offers these classes, not sure about other areas. Your local CPS department might have resources.) After all that, you could discuss having supervised visits with them.

ethnathenry writes:

NTA. Something addicts never seem to understand is that their recovery timeline is not the same as that of those whom they/their addiction have damaged. They always seem to think that once they’re clean or have hit whatever step the program has where you run around apologizing, that life just resets back to normal.

Protect your son from Kathy. Since it sounds like Freddie would like to maintain a relationship with his grandparents, it’s time for those visits to be supervised and on neutral ground. A park. A library. McD’s.

A rock climbing wall. Heck, some towns have resource buildings for stuff like this (where if you had to bring your other child, they’d have toys or something she could occupy herself with).

FWIW I would disregard any y-t-a judgements. Those are from folks who have no idea how often states send kids back to shitty addict parents in the spirit of not breaking up families.

They just think “poor ol’ Grammy and Grammy, just wanting to see their recovered daughter happy,” all the while not giving a flying f about their grandson’s mental and emotional well being.

They showed their true colors; their grown junkie child is more important than their minor grandson. Believe them and proceed with caution.

No one in their right mind would call you an asshole or tell you that you suck if you stopped your son going to a place where he was getting buggered or beaten up; why they’d do so when you don’t trust a couple who violated your parental boundaries and did not make Kathy leave the moment Freddie expressed distress don’t need a second chance!

Those folks are moaning about how he wants to so you should let him but that’s not what parenting is. If further interaction is detrimental to Freddie’s well being it doesn’t matter what he wants. It matters what he needs.

telephoneover7411 writes:

NTA. If it were about you making decisions that were only for your benefit then yeah but you're not. You are respecting your sons wishes. I'm all for people getting better and reunification but the kid has to want it too and the bio parent has not be actively causing them harm.

She's still hurting him if he's that scared and messed up about her just being there. But not even just that, her being sprung on him, that poor boy was not prepared. You're not wrong in keeping them away.

Maybe after some time and if your son wants to you guys can do supervised visits with the grandparents but definitely not alone probably not ever, and again that's up to you.

You can't risk it. Idk what she did when she had custody of him but if he's that shaken it couldn't ve been good and you shouldn't let her near him. Just keep doing what you're doing.

Like you said, a lot of people don't have the whole story, like how he doesn't like her, so they're gonna have opinions that just don't matter. YOU know and you know what you need to be doing for your son. You're doing a good job.

Then, OP provides this long, major update about the history of the situation:

Why would he be upset? Quite seriously, have you ever lived with an addict? Have you ever had to call emergency services for a parent passed out in their own vomit? Have you lived with someone who can’t feed, bathe, or transport you because of the state they got themselves in, never mind give you any emotional support?

Have you been screamed at by someone in an alcoholic rage? Have you been evicted because all your money went into your mother’s arm? Would that not upset you, if those were the memories you had of someone who was supposed to put you first?

I don’t know how as a teacher it can be beyond you why he is upset. He is in between therapists right now but yes he has been in therapy for years, and he’s made a lot of progress. But he’s still a kid, with some very big feelings about being pushed aside and abandoned by someone who was supposed to look after him. So it’s understandable he doesn’t want to relive that.

I don’t know what would make you think I’ve told him anything. Idk what your experience was like with your family members, but if I’d had to live in a car with a using drug addict for a week at 6 years old, you can bet I’d remember it without anyone telling me.

Ditto for other things we know happened. We have only ever answered questions Freddie has asked about Kathy. We’ve never brought her up or spoken negatively about her, nor do we have any reason to.

He’s 12 years old, asking him to understand the biological and psychological nuances of addiction enough to forgive Kathy for the neglect and chaos she put him through is a lot to ask of him.

Yes, I do think they would have. I can only assume that their pride of their daughter being sober, her wanting to see him, and their disregard for my place as Freddie’s parent, would have translated into their disregard for his feelings.

Because they may not have known why I said no to Kathy seeing him, but they know full well what she put that child through and no sane person would reintroduce a child to the source of their trauma with no guidance or warning.

He does know what happened. He doesn’t want to see her. Based on the things he screamed at her outside Pam and Joe’s house, it will be a long time until he wants to see her, if ever.

She can’t have supervised visitation with him because he doesn’t want it. And because she is not a fit and proper person to be having contact with a young person.

Freddie was severely neglected as a result of Kathy’s substance dependency. Not fed, unstable housing situation, just generally not a safe or good way for a kid to be brought up. He doesn’t talk much about his memories from that time with us, and his therapist never shared specifics, but he remembers traumatic things that centre on neglect and psychological abuse.

Where did I vilify her? I said she was an addict, she was in recovery, and then she relapsed. You don’t see how a child who had to call emergency services because his mother was lying in her own vomit after a drug and alcohol binge wouldn’t have some negative feelings towards her?

Or maybe it was the fact that he spent time living in car after they were evicted? Kathy created parental alienation by not being a fit and proper parent. And actually, legally, she isn’t his parent.

We only adopted him when he was 9, prior to that we just had a guardianship order. She had contact for about 18months after we took custody but then she moved towns and subsequently became homeless and couldn’t keep up with contact or regular visits so she hasn’t seen him since before he turned 8.

Freddie is between therapists right now. Once we find a new one we will obviously get their view. Freddie is ambivalent about seeing them as is (which is normal for kids his age about grandparents).

We’ve sort of pushed the issue because we think it’s important, but he hasn’t necessarily been enthusiastic. We asked him if he would feel okay still seeing them (as in would he feel unsafe or uncomfortable) and he said yes, but I doubt we will get any pushback if we continued the NC.

If he really was adamant he wanted to see them this would be a very different conversation.

He doesn’t want to see her because he doesn’t have good memories of being with her. He’s an otherwise happy kid but that period of his life wasn’t happy and I can understand why he doesn’t want to see Kathy when she is the cause of that.

What is the reasoning behind ambushing a child like that? I’m sorry but I don’t think that is understandable.

Freddie is between therapists right now, hence our lack of direction. His old therapist moved and he hasn’t clicked with the couple she recommended so we’re trying to find one he connects with.

My husband and I never bring up anything he discusses in therapy with him because that’s his safe space. Why would we go and discuss that with other people? Therapy is healthcare. I wouldn’t discuss his medical care with people so I wouldn’t discuss his mental healthcare either.

We asked Freddie if he would feel okay seeing them again, and he said yes, but not Kathy. He’s always been ambivalent about visiting them (as kids his age are with grandparents) so I’m not sure how much pushback we will get if we continue the NC. If he was adamant he wanted to see them obviously that would be different.

So, what do YOU make of this situation? Is OP TA at all? Should she go NC with the grandparents. What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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