What do I do about my physically healthy but mentally unhealthy father-in-law? - AgingCare.com

What do I do about my physically healthy but mentally unhealthy father-in-law?

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My husband's father moved in about six months ago, due to financial difficulties. He lost his house and quit his job to move in with us. We have two very young children. A toddler and a baby. He's dealing with depression and has no motivation to do anything outside of the house. When I agreed to this, it was supposed to be a temporary situation to help him get back on his feet. He's young enough to still make a living for himself but it's as though he just gave up and is content to live here with us for the rest of his life. The first month was fine. He seemed to be happy to be here and enjoyEd being around the kids. It got to a point recently, however, that it seems he thinks he is one of the parents. When it comes to disciplining my oldest child, he always steps in and tries to take over and explain why he's getting in trouble. I am then looking like the bad guy. He ends up being the person my kid runs to. It's putting a wedge between myself and my oldest child but I don't know how to set boundaries in that regard. He's always saying the kids help him distract himself from his own mind, but I also don't like my kids being used as an antidepressant. It's not healthy for them. How do I begin to even explain these things to him? Keeping in mind that he is very sensitive and takes offense very easily. I like to avoid conflict which is why he is here in the first place. He has also moved all of his very expensive furniture in to our home so now it is more of a museum than a house for children. It puts a lot of restrictions on what my kids are allowed to do. He tells me how much it cost him and it puts a lot of stress on me to keep my kids on their best behaviour around the furniture. I never pictured raising my kids like this. I want them to feel comfortable in their own home. I don't want to be afraid of spills and dirty hands being immediately washed coming in from outside before touching anything. I've never been one for expensive things. Those things don't matter to me. I'd rather make memories than preserve the material things. Then there's the financial stress. I have a baby under one and a toddler as I've said before. It's my job to be there for them. But we can't afford to have only one income and support all of us including my father in law. The pressure is on for me to get a job. It has been suggested several times that I get a job and he will stay home and watch the kids. I am the only one who seems to think this isnt a good idea. He is still filly capable of working, physically. But isnt mentally fit to go and find a job. This concerns me because if somebody isn't fit to work at a job that doesn't require much mental/emotional investment, how is he supposed to be able to do the hard work that goes in to taking care of my children? It requires a whole lot of patients and a whole lot of care and love. Not to mention that kids pick up on the moods and energy of people around them. I also don't think it's right that I will have to leave my livelihood and my passion. So he can live more "comfortably". (I should mention he has a major spending problem. The money he does get doesn't ever last more than a few days). I'm very good at living within my means. I almost pride myself on how good I am at it. I watch the bank account diminish as we struggle to pay our bills and I start to resent not only him but my husband as well. My husband is always away working so he doesn't see the inner workings of our home. I tell him about these things but nothing is ever mentioned or dealt with. And then one more issue is that he always wants me to take on projects with him that help him keep distracted. I obviously feel bad which then makes me feel obligated to do these things. Because like I said I feel bad. But I'm not qualified for this. And neither are my kids. We need to look after us first and we can't. I'm looking any and all advice. I'm at my breaking point where I feel like I should take my kids and get out.

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I'm not sure how old your FIL is. Is he on disability for depression? I'd find out what his resources are. If he is receiving Disability, there could be restrictions about how much money, if any, he can earn and still get his disability. I'd check this out before he starts earning money, since they might cut him off his check.

Is he able to return to work and support himself? I'd insist that husband obtain this information from FI, so you and husband can make a plan for his relocation.

Regardless, it sounds like he needs a financial planner to sit down with him and make a budget. He'll need that no matter where he lives. I'd insist that he do that immediately, so he doesn't run out of money so quickly. If he is not able to manage his income, then that's another issue.

I'd share your frustration with your husband, since he is the one who will explain to dad that he must find another place, right?

If he is on disability and has limited resources, I'd try to see what he may qualify for, such as reduced cost housing, reduced energy bill, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. With low income, a tight budget and other benefits, he may be able to make it by himself in the right setting. I'd explain that he can come and visit. I'd try to keep things positive.

If he's teaching the children to respect property and good manners, I think I'd appreciate that. Of course, discipline is up to the parents, but if you don't do it, then I can see where he may feel he has to step up. I've watched some of the grandchildren almost ruin my parent's furniture and the parents stay silent. I had to jump in and stop them.) Perhaps covers for the furniture could protect it, until he can relocate.
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After he lost his job your FIL might have felt lost and like one other person said, without bringing in a paycheck his life might have lost almost all of its meaning. So he moves in with you and sponges off of your life. He takes it upon himself to try to parent your children and is now undermining your role as their mother.

It sounds like, in his mind, he's found a new life. The only drawback is it's YOUR life. He's raising kids and doing projects around the house. This part of his life is over. He did these things already when your husband was his young child. This is your path he's walking, not his.

Have a long conversation with your husband. I don't hear anything about him in your post. Where's he? Tell him what you've told us. Don't give him an "It's him or me!" ultimatum. Don't let your discussion evolve into a litany of complaints. Just lay it out for your husband to examine and let him decide what he needs to do.
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This was going to be temporary, to give him a little break while he gets back on his feet. Break's over. Time to get back to reality, FIL.

Can he get disability for his mental health problems that prevent him from working?

Would he qualify for a subsidized senior apartment?

Where is his son, your husband in all this? Does he understand your feelings? Is he on your side?

Because FIL has to go. He is NOT qualified to raise your kids while you go out to work. HE should go out to work. But I do understand that mental illness can be disabling, and I am sympathetic. Maybe he can't work. But whatever his genuine problems are, he is not entitled to pass them on to you. If you don't feel comfortable leaving the children with him then that is the end of the matter. No more discussion needed.

Your husband needs to give him a deadline. "By the end of the summer, unless a good apartment for you opens up sooner."

First step, get that expensive furniture out of there. Your family house is not a museum. Find some storage space. Bring the brochure and contract back to FIL and explain that you want your home back the way it was, and that since he'll be having his own place soon you want to make sure nothing happens to his furniture.

Seeing his father in this condition must be very hard on your husband. He also needs to understand fully what this is doing to you. You are very articulate. If he doesn't know, tell him!
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My hairdresser has a client who is the head of a think tank on Alzimers at the state teaching hospital. He say she told him the worst thing a man can do in avoiding age related mental decline is retire. It also seems that volunteer work doesn't have the same effect - it's related to getting a paycheck and being held accountable. So I'd make it a priority to get your FIL back to work - even if it's a part time job. What does he enjoy doing and can it be parlayed into employment? Home Depot, a plant nursery, automotive store? A low pressure sales job may be easier to make happen than a career type job. Perhaps approach it that you're having a tough time financially and since YOU ARE STAYING HOME to rise YOUR children - could he help out by contributing to the household expenses? Regarding the backseat parenting - can you say something like "Jon, I need your help. You've done a great job raising your kids, obviously I feel that way since I choose to spend my life with the son you raised. If I'm ever going to be half the parent you are, I'm gonna have to learn how and when to correct my kids and not be a big push-over. So when they need to be corrected I want to try and do it on my own - you know, practice for the teenage years! If I get stuck, can I come to you later - away from the kids seeing - and get some advice"?
It might be laying it on a little thick but in my experience flattery and ego boosting almost always works with men. Sorry guys!
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I didn't read your entire post; it's too hard for these old eyes to read long paragraphs without breaks. But your FIL needs to be in his own place, especially since you state that you want to avoid conflicts, and he's apparently a bit more aggressive in establishing his turf.

Start a project to not just encourage, but help (if not push) him to find another job, even if it's part-time. He doesn't have anything to direct those job skills to, so he's using them in your family.

Is he getting unemployment? Is he getting SS? If he has any income at all, start looking for subsidized housing.

He needs to find a life of his own, for his sake as well as yours.
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