Grandparent Concerned About Health Conditions in Grandchild’s Home

Is it my place to get involved if I'm convinced that the physical environment in my son's house has become unsafe and unhealthful for my grandchild? I love my son and daughter-in-law, but I'm worried about their ten-month-old daughter's health. The house is piled with trash, the floors are filthy, there's month-old pizza stuck to the carpet and dirty diapers are left lying in every corner. To prevent my granddaughter from getting into these messes, they keep her in an infant seat most of the time - even though she's old enough to start crawling. Should I express my concerns over these troubling health conditions? If so, how can I help change the situation?

In most cases we tell grandparents to keep their advice to themselves until it’s requested. But if the situation is really as bad as you’ve painted it, it may be time for somebody to take some kind of decisive action.

The conditions inside your son’s house present a serious health hazard for everyone concerned. This is especially true for crawling infants and toddlers. Whether he and his wife realize it or not, they won’t be able to keep their child restrained in an infant seat forever – a ten-month-old needs to make the transition from “a body at rest” to “a body in motion.” This mobility is essential to the proper development of motor skills and muscular-skeletal strength. Unfortunately, unless something changes soon, it sounds like your granddaughter isn’t going to be able to get this vitally important exercise without coming into contact with toxic levels of filth, bugs and bacteria.

So what can you do? It might be a good idea to begin by enlisting the help of another adult or two – preferably people your son knows, likes and respects – who can join you in advocating for your granddaughter. Bring up 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 direction and assistance where needed.

If they won’t listen to you, or if you don’t see significant improvements within a reasonable amount of time, you may need to contact your county’s agency of Family Services. Social workers at the agency will advise you as to the various options available. Among other things, it seems obvious that your son and daughter-in-law need practical training in the fundamentals of child-care. Mandatory counseling may also be necessary, but this is something for skilled professionals to assess and 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.

As part of your efforts, we’d highly recommend that you give your son and his wife a copy of the Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care. This comprehensive volume offers detailed advice from more than fifty of the country’s most highly respected physicians and medical authorities. This resource is available through our ministry and can be ordered by calling our offices or visiting our
Online Store.

In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss your concerns at greater length with a member of our staff, we hope you’ll feel free you to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department. Our counselors would be pleased to assist you in any way they can.



Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents 



Establishing Boundaries with Adult Kids

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