Dear Annie: I am expecting my first child. My mother is a wonderful, intelligent 68-year-old woman. She is also bipolar and seems incapable of keeping herself physically healthy and her house clean. I know her poor health almost certainly stems from the fact her living conditions are filthy.
I have tried many times over the years to help her keep her house clean, but inevitably it returns to a state of extreme disarray. The only visible floor is the pathway through piles of junk.
My main problem is that when my baby is born, I know Mom is going to want to spend time with her. I don’t feel comfortable allowing my infant child to be exposed to the unhealthy conditions of her house. I am ashamed to say that I also don’t feel comfortable placing my baby in the care of a woman who seems incapable of caring for herself.
Is there any way I can avoid breaking her heart and embarrassing her? – A Concerned Daughter and Mom-to-Be
Dear Concerned: We sympathize, but your child’s welfare will soon become your first priority. This will make it easier for you to talk to Mom. Tell her you love her and understand that her level of cleanliness and hygiene is her choice, but it is not appropriate for your child. Explain that visits with the baby will take place only in your home, under your supervision. She will promise to do better, but that is not a guarantee. So, also say that you hope this will spur her to seek professional help to make her life healthier for herself and everyone around her. Her doctor can refer her. If she is heartbroken and embarrassed, that should not change the parameters you have set up for the care of your child.
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