Parenting Toddlers (1-5) Community
3.36k Members
Avatar universal

Is Professional intervention needed?

My visiting granddaughter (parents out of country on business trip for several weeks), 3 years old, stores food in her mouth after she is finished eating.  This morning she had milk in her mouth from cereal about an hour after breakfast.  When I saw it, I tried to get her to spit it out and she cried so hard that her whole body shook.  It took several minutes to get her to comply.  Her five year old brother said she does this all the time.  Both of them have hoarded food since they were toddlers and we had to put a lock on the pantry to keep them out.  Yes, we provide plenty (double portions probably) of food during meals and three snacks daily.  There are issues with the parents.  Mother works long hours and frequently is out of the country, the stay-at-home father (my son) has two serious medical disorders (a diagnosed psychosis (like schizophrenia but not).  And he has a  blood coagulation disorder (he takes 16cc of cumadin each day), resulting in his sleeping 12-14 hours a day.  The children are locked in the bedroom (an infant is placed on the floor with them) while he sleeps during the day.  There are lots of conflict currently between this child and both parents, but since my husband and I get to keep them about 5-8 weeks out of the year (we live over 600 miles apart), we have tried to not intervene unless it is life threatening situation (i.e. both parents go out for a jog and leave a baby sleeping in the crib), so we can keep access to the children.  For example they had both children wear thumb/finger guards to stop sucking, three year old had to wear on both fingers for over six months and I got them to take them off by pointing out this was creating a delay in hand/eye coordination.  The child in question still ***** her fingers almost continuously.  Asking them to talk to their doctor about things is not helpful, for either they don't relay accurate information to their doctor or they are misinterpreting what he is telling them.  For example, five year old had serious delayed speech issues at two and I asked them to consider having his hearing tested.  They responded doctor said he is fine.  And even at five, most strangers have problems understanding him.  Next year when he starts public schools he will get help...but back to the three year old.  Could this keeping food in her mouth for an extended time just be a phase, because she likes the sensation of food, or is it her way of having control over things or is this an indication of something serious?  I have never read of anything like this and don't know if I should put this in the "I must take action" category or put it in the "don't make a big deal out of it" category.  For example her parents making her always wear boys clothes, including underwear.   I am at a lost of how to deal with this issue with her food.  As a grandparent, I have a responsibility toward the children, but I have to be able to get along with the parents.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
Yes, you definitely need to intervene, these parents are not properly caring for their children. YOU are their only hope, you have to be their voice, but I believe you know this already.  Children who hoard food do so as a result of not being properly fed, or not fed at all.  Yes, I'm sure they are fed well at your house, but if your son is sleeping 12 hours a day, who feeds them during this time?  It sounds like their lives are misreable while with their parents, and why in the world would they insist that their little girl dress like a boy, did they not want a girl? As Foster Parents we were taught about children hoarding food, and they continued it until enough time went by for them to learn that they would always have food.  I have to wonder if a lot isn't being directed at this little girl, she is hoarding food, they're dressing her like a boy, something is seriously wrong.  As grandparents we do want to keep a relationship with our adult children, but I would never want this at the expense of my grandchildren.  If you called CPS with this information the children would immediately be removed from the home.  These parents are causing serious emotional and physical damage to their children, and they themselves need help.  You and your husband have got to intervene.  Talk to them about you raising the children until they both get proper therapy, and learn how to properly raise their children.  If they refuse this, then get to Social Services and tell then your story and that you want to care for the children until the time the parents are able to raise them.  This way they are with you and not in Foster Care.  The parents are adults, the children are helpless and hopeless if you don't act.  You will live with so much guilt if you don't help your grandchildren.  Their parents may get angry, but in the end if they don't realize that what you did was right, and the only thing to do, then they still have some serious issues of their own and should not and will not get their children back. I'd rather have my adult child angry with me and know my grandchildren are well cared for, than the opposite.  I could not in good conscience sit back and watch this, it's too sad.
1219510 tn?1266713553
Sounds more to me like someone needs to call Social Services on these 'Parents'....
Avatar universal
I agree with mammo and karynrme, These children need to be removed from that home. The hoarding food is because they are not getting fed, They feel like they are going to starve so they are saving food for later. The child not talking could be a hearing loss but it sounds like these kids are left alone all the time with the dad sleeping all day and the mom being out of the country all the time. How can they learn without being taught, kids need social interaction. Forcing the little girl to wear boy’s clothes could also be the fact they just don't care so they are passing down the older boys clothes to the little girl. I am pretty sure it is against the law to leave those young children alone for any period of time, including going jogging? Why not take the 3 yr old in a stroller and let the 5yr old ride a bike. He may not know how to ride a bike? If the dad can't care for them then they should be in daycare for 8 or more hours a day. At least they get interaction with other people; they can get some social skills, talk better, and do the things kids are supposed to do. They would have to pack them lunches and if they showed up to school with no food. The school would call social services. This has gone on for many years from what you described. Your son and daughter in-law obviously have issues if they can't see they are hurting these Children. You need to step in NOW. Get these poor little kids some help and Love. Someone needs to look out for what is in the best interested in the children. The adults have made their decision and you see what they have done. You might want to call their state and find out what you as grandparents need to do to try to get temporary custody of the children. They will need proof of what is going on, that is why so many kids end up back in bad homes. It’s just so hard to tell when it’s not physical violence. I think if a child physiologist were to talk to these children they will with out a doubt know something is wrong. Good luck and do something NOW.
973741 tn?1342346373
Some posts make me very sad, and this is one of them.  These poor children.  I'm disturbed by any parent that locks their children in a room so they can sleep, medical condition or not.  That is not only inappropriate but dangerous.  I understand your desire to stay on good terms with the parents as the fear would be that you would then have no access to the children and at that point, I would fear even more for them.  Unfortunately, this is beyond normal irresponsible parenting.   They do not seem overly concerned for their children in general.  If your son is a stay at home dad, what business does he have for 5 to 8 weeks out of the country.  Is he just traveling with his wife?  

I would wait until they are back and make the call to social services.  They are there to protect children such as these.  Perhaps being investigated would cause them to rethink some of the things that they do.  Good luck----------  I can only imagine how terrible this must be for you as the grandmother caught between.  good luck
1039620 tn?1272597604
I am sure you love your son and your DIL, but YOU are the only voice for these children. They need help and they need it now. I know you are afraid of not being able to see them and want to keep on good terms, but maybe social services will place them with you since you are their grandmother. Sometimes in life we have to make choices that we don't want to for the betterment of others. These children need you to do that for them. Good luck.
1183669 tn?1266594985
please do something so that these children can have a happy life.
Have an Answer?
Top Parenting Answerers
13167 tn?1327197724
Austin, TX
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
6 essential foods for new moms (and their newborns!)
What to expect in your growing baby
Learn which foods aren't safe to eat when you're eating for two.