Parent Drugs Addictions, Abuse, and Mental Illness. Print
Written by Gramie   
Hello,I was searching the internet for information about the impact of mentally ill parents on the development of young children and found a website with your contact information.I live in XXXX and have a grandchild whose mother is bi-polar. The maternal grandmother is also bi-polar with a lengthy history of physically abusing her daughter, the mother of my 3 year-old granddaughter.
The mother of my granddaugther is 20+ years old and currently not taking her medication. Just two nights ago, she cut her wrists and ended up walking to a nearby hospital emergency room. My son was able to pick up his daughter and bring her home with him. He is seeking custody and for a while the mother agreed that she was not stable enough to care for the child and would sign the legal documents to change the existing custody order.However, she has now changed her mind and we are going to court to proceed with trying to change the original custody order. I want this young woman to understand how her illness and her inability to properly care for herself is impacting her child now and how this will impact her future.Do you have anything that could be emailed or mailed to me that I can forward on to her to read? She is an intelligent young woman, but at this time in her life she is choosing to forego her meds in order to drink and smoke pot with her boyfriend and his friends. They stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. and keep the child up so she will sleep until noon when they are ready to get up. She must be made to understand how incredibly negative this is for her child. Most of the info I'm finding on the internet is geared more toward adult children of mentally ill parents or bi-polar children, but nothing about the impact on pre-school age children living in constant emotional turmoil. When the child visits with her dad, she cries when it's time to go home and doesn't want to go. She's been with her dad for three days now and has not asked even once about her mom or about going home. We have to save this child.Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated


(NNAAMI replied to above)

Dear Paul,
Thank you so much for your response, I appreciate the time you've taken to read my email and get back to me with your comments.

I am happy to report that in May my son won custody of his daughter and things have definitely improved since that time. The mother of the child does have visitation, and we never wanted to deny her access to her child. Stipulations regarding visitation include the mother providing monthly drug test results to my son, along with monthly statements from her psychiatrist and evidence that she is back on her prescribed medications.

Before we went to court I did try to speak to the mother about her experiences as a child and how, in the past, she had told me about the impact of her own mother's mental health issues on her as she was growing up. We had begun what seemed like a meaningful conversation when her boyfriend took the phone and wouldn't let me speak with her again. Since then, we have not spoken due to their anger around losing custody of the child. But, I met this young woman when she was still in high school and I know that she doesn't want to be the kind of person she turns into when she doesn't take care of herself. I don't think she has much support in getting better, so the court orders seem more like punishment to her than an avenue for an improved quality of life.

While the mother is still very angry that she lost custody, she has been complying with the court order. Another stipulation, which we are unable to really monitor, is that she maintain the regular bedtime that has been established for the child now that she is living with her dad. The difference in my granddaughter's mood and behavior is greatly improved and she's a much happier little girl these days.

We want to see her mother get better and really take care of herself so she can be the best possible mother she can be to this child. While she resents all of us at this point, we're hopeful that one day she'll come to the realization that these things can really help her have a better life, and by improving her own life she will improve the life of her daughter. We try to keep a positive thought for her success in taking better care of herself, but we're also prepared to deal with the fall-out if she is unable to continue to do so.

Yes, you may certainly post my email in the event our experiences could be helpful to others and you may use gramie as my user name.

Again, thank you for responding and for providing a valuable resource to parents and grandparents dealing with the many issues surrounding mental illness in families.

Best regards,