Judge, Jury and Toxic Grandparents

23 Jan


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Growing up with a super toxic mother is hard enough. But what many people who manage to disengage from the toxicity struggle with, down the adult road, is the relentless desire of toxic moms to be in their grandkids lives.

Of course, we want our children to know all of their relatives and to be part of a loving and nurturing extended family. But what if you know your own mother is toxic? What if you are sure she will emotionally or physically damage your child? What do you do?

On the Toxic Mom Toolkit Facebook page many posters write about severing contact all together and just enduring the never-ending pleas and threats from toxic moms hell-bent on playing granny. Many people have gone through the courts to acquire restraining orders to protect their children and peaceful family life. In some cases, it can be a terrible and extended emotional battle.

What would you do if your toxic mother decided to use the courts to gain access to your children? What can you do now to protect yourself against that possible future event? I asked my friend, The Lawyer, and here’s what she said:

“This is an issue that has long bothered me as there is an inherent bias in the system. If you are MARRIED, and choose no contact with the grandparents, then the court accepts the parental decision. If you are a SINGLE parent, then grandparents can petition for visitation and/or custodial time. BS, right?”

She went on to explain that the object of the law is to allow the child access to both sides of the family, which makes sense.

“Even if the (other parent)  is a loser, doesn’t mean the child shouldn’t know the whole family. If BOTH single bio/adoptive parents agree that grandparents should NOT have access, the court will listen. If they disagree is when it gets tricky…”

My friend says, even if you are single and not a mother today, it’s never to early to start documenting what your toxic mother does when she thinks nobody can see or hear her.

“As with any court action, documentation is almost EVERYTHING. The other thing that is crucial is PRESENTATION. If a client goes in insisting that their MIL is a crazy *itch who has a crazy kid and the client her(him) self is perfect, then the court will likely ignore the client. Alternatively, if the client goes in with documentation, acts calmly and reasonable, and laments that they wish their children could have two grandmas, realizes what the children miss out on, but can document ways in which that particular grandma is toxic, then the court is likely to listen and follow the client’s wishes.”

The grandparent rights movement is gaining strength and is popping up in several countries. Think about the energy your toxic mom has and think what she’d do with it if there was an actual court process that might help her WIN access to your child. That’s why today is a good day to start documenting her behavior.

Toxic Mom Toolkit: The Top Five Things You Should Track

1. Keep a small notebook in your purse or car and document each unwanted contact from your TM. Keep records like a scientist. A typical notation could be:   Sun. May 5, 4: 15 p.m. telephone call. Insists we come for dinner. Declined. Swearing. Threatens to call CPS.

2. If your mother is ranting on the phone have your spouse, or friend, or someone you trust listen in on speaker mode. They can testify for you in court later. Record her rants if you can and save them.

3. If your mother comes to your home uninvited, ask her to leave. Document the visit in your notebook. If she won’t leave, call the cops. That will generate a police report, which you could present in court at a later date.

4. Maintain an electronic folder for your mother and keep all of her emails, IM’s, texts in one place.

5. If your mother goes to court to gain access to your children, hire a lawyer. Also immediately request a Domestic Violence worker to help you navigate the court process. Once your toxic mother starts using the courts, you will need to prepare a strong defense and hire people to push back.

Of course, you need to conduct yourself in a kind and calm manner. No matter what she says or does you cannot respond in kind. Don’t call back, don’t yell back, don’t talk back.

My final thought on this topic is that if you have a toxic mother or mother-in-law it is crucial for you and your spouse or former spouse to be on the same page on this topic. If you’ve struggled with maintaining a cordial relationship with your ex, consider building a bridge on the basis of protecting your child/children from a toxic grandparent. It could be the one thing you still agree on and it could be a beginning point for a happier co-parenting arrangement.

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13 Responses to “Judge, Jury and Toxic Grandparents”

  1. Lucy Watson January 23, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    This was the thing I feared the most — that my mother would go to court to force the issue of visitation with my children. You know what the saddest part was? It never happened. In one sense, that is a very good thing. But in another sense, it’s just one more sign of the kind of person she is — her grandchildren meant so little to her that she never asked, not once, to see them.

  2. Claire January 23, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    Great article on a difficult topic! I once tried to file a complaint at the police station against my mother for taking over my parental duties (she went to my son’s school and wanted to get him tested and have him change the subjects he was taking – he was studying art & architecture and she did not like that). The police said it was no use, as it would never be followed up… I filed the complaint anyway, just because I wanted a record somewhere. My teenagers still visit my parents, they get money… and what teenager will refuse money? I can see though that at times they are confused with what is happening. I just try and explain and hope that when they are older, they will understand it better. I just have to believe.

  3. Hazel January 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Agree with Claire, great topic! It is indeed a very difficult situation especially with the idea that children should know both sides of the family. In the end though, for TM, there is a difference between rights and privilege. In our situation TM scoffs at our boundaries and has continuously neglected the loyalty of treating my husband and l as even human beings. Thank goodness my husband sees what a negative influence TM behavior is on our children. If anything her tantrums are much worse than our 3.5 yr old son. Our feelings have to be put aside when making decisions on what is in the best interests for our children and unfortunately having TM model her toxic behavior around our kids and preying on their innocence is like submitting and handing the kids over to her and her toxic abuse. Forget about it!

  4. Scared Parent January 23, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    If you are a parent living in the Province of Ontario with a Toxic Mom/Parent I would like to speak to you regarding this issue. The Ontario government has in recent years tried pushing this bill to make it law. In the past few months the NDP MP who saw this bill to second reading resigned to which allowed this bill to fall asleep for now in Parliament. There is a VERY scary Toxic Parent lobbying to the Human Rights Commission now (in Ontario) who is backed by other estranged grandparents trying to fulfill this notion that their grandparent rights are nothing less than a Human Right and their access and or custody of the grandchildren they are estranged should be granted by Ontario Family Court Judges. Here is what we can do…

    Lobby back. I would like to build a group of parents that are as equally concerned about this potential bill and family court scenario. The Ontario government has not had ONE SINGLE opposition in Parliament during the approximate 6 years it has been discussed. I would like to help Parliament understand the devastation that this bill could cause if passed.

    It is said that there are over 70,000 grandparents waiting to receive access to their grandchildren in Ontario. Without doubt there may be some legitimate situations whereby the grandparent is certainly being denied, however; as survivors/transcendors of insipid emotional abuse it is our responsibility to protect not just our children but each others. Please join me in sharing our concerns with Parliament.

    • collectingjourneys January 24, 2014 at 4:23 am #

      This is exactly what I’m talking about! Thank you for posting this information. I hope our Canadian friends mobilize and take this very seriously.

    • Herbal Biotics September 22, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      Please help me. I’m going through courts right now with my toxic parents trying to get access to my children. Both my husband and I are together and have no criminal record odds of any kind we just want to be left alone but now my parents want to harass us through the legal system. We are so desperate and fear for our children, please, someone help us!

      • collectingjourneys September 23, 2015 at 4:52 am #

        How stressful that must be. I’m glad you’ve found Toxic Mom Toolkit. This community could be a good resource for you, as many others have
        navigated the courts. One thing to be sure, the Judges in these courts know a toxic mom when they see/hear one. So just state your case; don’t get dragged into emotional stuff in court; focus on what is best for the child/children and listen to the Judge. If you can, avoid conflict with your mom/parents. Our Toxic Mom Toolkit Facebook page is a great place to post questions, with a global community ready to share their experiences and wisdom. I hope this is helpful to you. Best, Rayne Wolfe/Author, Toxic Mom Toolkit

  5. Romina Garcia January 24, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    I unfortunately had to endure this battle last year. Was the toughest year of my life, emotionally and financially. Lawyers aren’t cheap, and as a result had to return to work full time so we wouldn’t lose the house. After the fact, we discovered that her lawyer worked probono on top! Although we got the result we wanted, it placed a great deal of strain on my marriage and family life. I had to be medicated throughout the whole process, and I had to place my eldest in therapy because all the probing from the courts affected her emotionally. The fact that she would place my children under these circumstances just proved to me that I did the right thing cutting off all contact. Unforgivable.

    • collectingjourneys January 24, 2014 at 4:21 am #

      That sounds terrible. So glad you had a good outcome. Thanks for sharing your story. It will encourage and help others.

  6. The Broken Mother's Daughter March 24, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Reblogged this on My Broken Mother and commented:
    Should toxic mothers have a relationship with their grandchildren? My vote was “No Way.” When I had my last straw moment with my mother, it was at least in part because her poison had finally trickled down to my children. My daughter was sobbing because she was told her grandmother was coming over, and then she didn’t show. It wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, but goddamn it, it was the last.

  7. lost mother November 10, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    My toxic mother is going thru my 24 year old daughter and has poisoned her against me so much no one bit of logic or evidence is enough to convince my daughter that i am not to blame, i have cried so much over the lost of my daughter to my mum. Now my daughter is going thru the courts to gain access to my young sons to another relationship so my mother can have contact with them. I am so fearful that I will lose my sons to her as i did with my daughter but a lot of people think i am being silly as its only phone contact ( at this point ) but I lost my daughter in the same way. The courts are in the best interest of the child and the rights of the child to have a relationship. I need to show that it is not in my children’s best interest . and not just reflective of my own issues with her. Not once has my mother sent birthday cards or rang them on important days. they have no bond, we dont have any contact with her . but the rights of the child to have a relationship with other family is being rammed down my throat .. Iam terrified and my anxiety as hit in a big way. People who are not affected do not understand the power of the toxic narcissistic mother.. How do i prove this is not in the best interest of the children’s well being without sounding controlling myself

    • collectingjourneys November 11, 2015 at 1:48 am #

      This is not uncommon and yes, it is terribly upsetting. I would seek out an attorney to represent your interests. I wouldn’t let them know how upset you are, I’d just hire big guns/legal representation, so that your own emotions don’t become part of the proceedings. A good solicitor is a wonderful thing.

      • lost mother November 11, 2015 at 6:54 am #

        So far i have found with the court system that it seems to be a game rather than who right or just. But who the better lair and has the better lawyer. And as a single mum i do feel like a target as most of us in this position do. Its so hard to be unemotional when you know its really not about the kids but solely about control.

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