Q&A: Grandparent worried about troubling health and living conditions


I love my son and daughter-in-law, but I’m worried about their ten-month-old daughter’s health. The house is piled deep with trash, there’s mouldy food stuck to the carpet, and dirty diapers are left lying around everywhere. My granddaughter is constrained to an infant seat to keep her from getting into these messes even though she’s old enough to start crawling. Should I express my concerns over these troubling health conditions?

Answer: In most cases it’s best for grandparents to keep their advice to themselves until asked. But if the situation is as unhealthy as you’ve described, it may be time to intervene.

So what can you do? It might be a good idea to begin by enlisting the help of another adult — preferably someone your son likes and respects — who can join you in advocating for your granddaughter. Raise the subject gently but as straightforwardly as possible. Help your son and his wife see that this is more than just a question of personal preferences and different “styles” of housekeeping, but that they are, in fact, endangering the health and well-being of their child. Make yourself available to help with the clean-up and to offer assistance where needed.

Among other things, it’s clear that your son and daughter-in-law need practical training in the fundamentals of child-care. Counselling may also be necessary, but this is something for skilled professionals to decide. The important thing is for you, as a grandparent, to do everything you can to enlist the support and community services necessary to raise your son’s family to a higher-functioning level.

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