1st baby due in a few weeks and need advice/support on managing alcoholic in-laws. — The Bump
May 2021 Moms

1st baby due in a few weeks and need advice/support on managing alcoholic in-laws.

Hey everyone,

I’ve never posted here before and I'm not sure if this is the right forum, and am currently trying to find a group in my area I can meet with regularly to also help with this.

My husband’s mother is an alcoholic and has been for 25+ years. She is functional... yet that is questionable to me as her job entails her working as a nurse in a school setting and I don’t believe she can go without drinking all day. In fact I know she can’t.

We are currently expecting our first child in a few weeks if not sooner, first grandchild on both sides, so everyone is excited. My parents do not drink and never have so I did not grow up with dealing with this. My husband has dealt with her his entire life. His dad enables her and refuses to acknowledge her addiction or put any boundaries in place. She has been nasty to my husband and her family in the past and her behavior has caused us to distance ourselves from them quite a bit. I’m afraid with the baby coming they think that type of relationship will change. My husband and I don’t want her around our child if she has been drinking-period- but we’re realizing that it’s going to be harder than we thought for his parents to actually take no for an answer. She can’t seem to accept that we won’t “need” her when the baby is here but she won’t do anything to try and move forward in any sort of recovery. He has told them multiple times they cannot stay at our home when they come in town for visits yet his dad will still make comments as if that is an option.

I’m thinking of putting all of our boundaries and expectations that we will have of them when the baby is born in a letter so that they can read it and there’s no confusion or pretending they weren’t aware. I’m afraid that we’ll be so worn down and tired when baby comes that they’ll take advantage of that so I want to be as prepared as we can. But I’m not sure if that would make things easier or really send them off the deep end.

Has anyone else done anything similar? What seems to work best in setting boundaries in a situation like this? If it were up to me there would be 0 contact with the baby if she’s been drinking but I know she’ll lie and say she hasn’t when she has if we ask her. She often drives after she's been drinking (awful) so there’s absolutely no way she’ll be left alone with the baby ever, but even knowing she could very possibly be drunk while even holding my child makes me sick to my stomach. It has made me resent her and my father-in-law for enabling her and I am having a hard time looking for any positives. I’ve told my husband if she gets herself into recovery then I will be more supportive but I don’t see the point now when she just continues on the path she’s on and expects everyone around her to just accept it and let her do whatever she wants.

Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

Re: 1st baby due in a few weeks and need advice/support on managing alcoholic in-laws.

  • Have you or your husband ever been to an Alanon meeting. It might be a good source of support for you. I don’t know how much she drinks but withdrawal from alcohol without a medically supported detox can not only be dangerous, but deadly. If she drinks daily it might not be possible for her to be sober. I don’t say that to be ugly, it just may not be a reality. You might want to start a conversation of what would be la la land best case scenario with your husband. Like would he want his lol to be sober. If she would be sober would he want her to have a close relationship with you and your child? Would you be ok with that? Does that require an apology from her? Etc. what would he want the relationship with his father to be like? Once y’all figure that out, then you can find a way to work towards it. I would start with alanon. They can probably give great advice and support. Also you may want to invite your FIL if he recognizes her alcoholism as a problem. It can help him learn how to stop enabling her. 

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  • Hi there, I don’t share your same experience of an alcoholic mother in law, but I have had experience with other family members and relationships with alcoholics. I would really recommend Al Anon. There’s lots of online meetings now a days and you might find it a helpful way to approach your situation and find answers for yourself. It has helped me a lot to deal with my relationships with alcoholics wether they are drinking or not. There are also some helpful al anon related podcasts. I would recommend trying out a few meetings and you might hear something helpful to your situation and it may take a few times. Counseling is another good option for yourself to stay in a good place and learn how to communicate your wants and needs and taking care of yourself in the situation. Best of luck and remember to focus on you and your baby through all this and your own serenity. 
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