Daughter and Grandson are Living with a Loser

Reader’s Question

My daughter is 26, smart, highly educated, beautiful and a single mother of a fifteen month old boy. She is living with a bipolar man who is not on medication and is extremely manipulative, insecure and controlling. For example he does not want the baby to know about his father and wants him to grow up to believe that he is the real father. He also does not want the grandparents to see the baby and thinks the baby should be told that his parents are the real grandparents. My daughter has some issues of being afraid of being alone and not finding a father for her baby and she stays with this loser and justifies it by saying that he is her soulmate.

This guy does not like me because I see through him and even though I am polite and respectful to him he tells my daughter that I look at him funny. I have confronted him once and told him that we cannot lie to my grandson. I even was sensitive to his feelings and said that we don’t like the biological father either and that we respect him for being helpful to our daughter, however the baby deserves to know the truth. After that he sees that he cannot manipulate me and he sees me as a threat. He tries to isolate my daughter from all of her childhood friends, college friends and family. What bothers me is that my grandson who was a happy baby sometimes cries for no reason and I told my daughter that it is not normal. Her response was oh mom it is just the age.

My younger daughter told me that she went to visit her sister (the single mom) and the two of them went out for coffee and took the baby along. The baby cried for no reason and it just happened that there was this older man who noticed his cry, and came to their table and put his hand on the baby’s shoulders and asked what is the matter. My daughter said oh he has a cold, but the old man said but this is not a cry for pain or physical sickness, this is a cry of emotional sadness. He said that he is a psychologist and told my daughter that the baby is trying to tell her something and she is not listening. He gave her his business card and walked away.

I also noticed that when I went to see him, he brought me a book from his room and I was going to the living room to sit and read it for him but he would act very scared and screamed and cried like he saw a snake. I don’t know what has happened, but something was not comfortable for him. I am hoping that he was not abused in the living room by the boyfriend. He also is very afraid of taking a bath now, but he used to love the water.

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What worries me is that this baby was a very happy and calm baby and these are the recent signs that we observe when we see him. My daughter has a justification for everything and she tells me that the boyfriend never shouts or anything in front of the baby…I told her that he might feel the boyfriend’s mood swings and his depression and mania might effect the baby. Is there any article or any helpful published material that I can forward to her? She might see the light that way…because unfortunately, at this time this boyfriend of hers has managed to convince my daughter that I have bad energy and I hate him and what I say has no validity… I am not worried about what he thinks of me and am sure that in time my daughter will see I was right, however I cannot be just indifferent to what is happening especially because I see that it is affecting my innocent grandchild.

Psychologist’s Reply

I think you’re correct in your assessment of the daughter’s partner. You might want to review my article entitled Identifying Losers in Relationships on this website. A companion article, Love and Stockholm Syndrome, offers tips for family members who have a loved one involved with a Loser and controller. As you realize, she will need to understand his behavior before she detaches and sadly, she may not have the self-confidence to detach at this time. The insecurity and responsibilities of being a new mother are often so overwhelming that new mothers remain with dysfunctional partners, even if support is minimal.

I also think you’re having trouble interpreting the behavior of the 15-month old grandson. You may be so lovingly concerned about your daughter and grandchild that you are over-interpreting normal toddler behavior. In truth, 15-month old children do cry randomly. They also have cries for being wet, hungry, tight clothing, etc. They don’t have cries for emotional sadness — just for being uncomfortable. To be sad requires the ability to think about their environment and interpret it in a negative manner. That’s beyond the developmental level of 15 months. While we’d like to think that the child is capable of such complex emotional perceptions, they actually are not at that age. I’d toss out that business card, by the way.

You are also correct that the Loser now views you as a threat. As I explain in my Stockholm Syndrome article, you now want to take a position of guardian angel, monitor, and always-involved and concerned grandmother and parent. Don’t threaten him about the child’s father — or engage in lengthy debates about what needs to be done in the future. Hopefully he won’t be around long enough for that to be an issue. Rather, encourage your daughter to maximize her education and talent to be more independent — something that will slowly help her detach from this individual. Also subtly provide her with information about friends and family — but in a casual manner such as “Jimmy is considering the University of Indiana” — that kind of thing. It reminds her that she is still part of a larger social circle — even when isolated by a Loser.

Keep in mind that Losers are totally self-centered. The normal obligations of parenting and relationships often prompt them to leave. Being there for your daughter tells her that if this happens, she will not be alone and will have support.

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