Somebody stop me


I’m so livid. My inlaws live two doors down, and my boys(ages 9 and 12) love to visit. I’ve had a lot of difficulty with them over a fairly minor topic. My boys have had trouble with cavities and my inlaws give them a lot of soda. I’ve told the boys not drink soda or juice there and I’ve asked my inlaws not to give them either. Both the boys and my inlaws have ignored my request/order. I finally decided that the benefits of my very loving inlaws’ relationship with my sons outweighs the dental issues. I just have been having them brush their teeth more often.

We have told the boys and my parents in law that the boys aren’t allowed to use the computer at my inlaws’ house. In fact, my husband helped put on a password on their desktop so the boys couldn’t get on without someone actually logging them on.

But, today I found out that my older son has been looking at pornography on my inlaw’s computer. I’m so angry and frustrated. One of the reasons we made this rule is because my nephew had the same problem several years ago–looking at porn on the grandparent’s computer.

I have informed both boys that they will not be allowed to visit my inlaws anymore without my husband or myself accompanying them.

This also means that I’ll have to be watching the boys all the time because they have a pattern of disobedience when it comes to visiting their grandparents contrary to orders. My inlaws have been told that if the boys are there without calling first, they are there without permission and not to let them in. They let them in anyway.

Our back yards are joined by a farm field that my fatherinlaws owns so when they go out to play I assume they are in the back yard. But, they end up at grandmas for soda and computer time, I guess.

I am dreading the family discord.

What state are you in? In certain states there are laws against showing minors pornography. I’d research if that applies to your area, and threaten your (can’t remember if they are your parents or your in-laws) with reporting them for allowing, and apparently participating in it.

I’d punish the kids for going over there, if you already haven’t. That’s directly disobeying you, and they need to learn that you, not grandma and grandpa, are in charge.

Ughh this situation bothers me so much. I’m especially frustrated with the grandparents’ attitude, and ignoring your wishes.

Is moving an option?

I’d also do everything that you can to nip this pornography thing in the bud. Have him talk to a priest, watch documentaries on how its connected to human trafficking, whatever it takes, because once it becomes a habit, it is a lot harder to stop, and it’s very pervasive in the mind.

If my inlaws were allowing my kid to look at porn I’d file a complaint with the police. Obviously they aren’t “visiting” when they are going over there anyway, so there’s no point in them going over at all. If you can’t trust them to play outside without breaking the rules, then don’t let them play outside. Can you move to another house?

I’m so very sorry! What a mess!

I think you are absolutely justified in limiting your boys to supervised visits with their grandparents. They are allowing your kids to do things that are quite harmful to them. They have not listened to your requests and demands. I can’t see that you have any real choice.

They won’t like it, but make it clear that you and your husband are absolutely adamant about these issues. It would probably be best if your husband is the one to take this on since they are his parents.

Try not to get into a fight over it. This is how I would handle it, but you may need a different approach. I would tell them very clearly:
*]You allow the boys to have soda and to use the computer unsupervised.
*]We have asked you not to allow those things.
*]You continue to do it.
*]These things are harming our kids, so they won’t be coming over without their dad or me. *]We love you and this hurts us, but we have no choice.
(I would let them fuss. Try to empathize a bit because it may help.)
*]I understand you feel hurt by this decision, but it has to stand.
*]We must do what is right for our kids.
Then, I would drop it and refuse to get back into a discussion about it. I would say simply that we have no choice. They can’t argue if you don’t participate.

Pray for guidance and for the Holy Spirit to help your in-laws understand why they were wrong in over-riding your decisions as parents. I’ll pray for you too.

As far as your boys are concerned, you will probably need to “lay down the law” with them too. If it were me, I would make it clear to my boys that any sneaking over to the grandparents would ground them for a week. They would not be allowed to play outside at all without supervision and if I were too busy to babysit, they’d be stuck inside. No excuses! I found that the best with my kids (and for my own sanity!) was to be very firm, very clear, and very proactive. I might have a bad week or two, but they get the message and then life smooths out.

I’ll pray for them too!

Did you tell your in-laws that the boys r looking at porn on their computer? If not you should.

Also, if it comes down to an argument or “laying down the law” with your in-laws, that should really be done by your spouse.

Good luck and God bless

I hate to say it, but I had to completely cut myself off from some relatives because they were drunk. They would say sexually inappropriate things to me when they were intoxicated. No one else would acknowledge there was a problem, and it was making me nuts. I spoke to my priest, and, with his consent, I walked away.

Your primary obligation as a parent is to protect your children – from tooth decay, pornography, or whatever else that might be going on at the in-laws’ house. If your in-laws feelings get hurt along the way, that’s too bad. You don’t have to be shrill, but you must be firm. God bless you in this struggle.


A prayer for parents

Grant us, O Lord Jesus,
to imitate faithfully the example of your Holy Family
and to make our home another Nazareth.
May peace, love and happiness prevail.
Grant us the grace to be the parents
we should be for our children.
Grant that our child may find solid support
for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love
within the embrace of our home.
When the time comes for each of us
to go to the everlasting home you have prepared for us,
may your glorious Mother and St. Joseph take us to you,
after the final grace of a happy death.



What does your husband say? Unfortunately, you need his support on this.

He may need to have a heart-to-heart with his father about sex offender laws. If your son takes a friend with him, shows off the pornography (as kids will do), and that friend tells his parents, it could get ugly. Especially if any of the sites have child pornography. Jail time, fines, legal fees, and being on the sex offender list, not being allowed by law to go to any school functions for his grandchildren. Additionally, your mother-in-law could also be charged if the courts decide it was her computer.

Now that it has been discovered, that the password protection at your in-laws has been circumvented, and the children have seen porn, everyone becomes legally culpable [not to mention morally] if this pattern continues.

Porn is HIGHLY dangerous for children, it can and does cause lifelong damage to some children and puts other children around those that view it at risk as well. If this happens again , I would not rule out that they are being groomed.

Imagine if they are at school and bypass the internet filtering system. Imagine if they mention to another child or to a faculty member what is going on if this continues.

I KNOW you are a great parent. It is clear by your posting that you are. Anyone that goes to the trouble of making sure no one gives them soda out of concern about dental health is a GREAT parent. Unfortunately, your in-laws lack your good parenting skills. I would be willing to risk upsetting my in-laws hands down over such dangerous lapse of custodial responsibility were it to happen again. Indeed, I would threaten at least, to report them.

God bless you and your kids. It is not my intention to upset you further, rather prevent you from easing in to the cloud of denial about the dangers out there we all face.

Wow, I want to advise against calling the cops on your own family! It’s one thing if they were abusing your kids in a violent or sexual fashion, but based on what you’ve said, it sounds to me that they are just being over-indulgent and negligent. Certainly bad things, but unless Grandpa was showing the porn to your kids, calling in the cops seems like a bad move. After all:

1 Corinthians 6

6 Suppose one of you wants to bring a charge against another believer. Should you take it to the ungodly to be judged? Why not take it to God’s people?

2 Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? And if you are going to judge the world, aren’t you able to judge small cases? 3 Don’t you know that we will judge angels? Then we should be able to judge the things of this life even more!

4 So if you want to press charges in matters like that, appoint as judges members of the church who aren’t very important! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that no one among you is wise enough to judge matters between believers? 6 Instead, one believer goes to court against another. And this happens in front of unbelievers!

7 The very fact that you take another believer to court means you have lost the battle already. Why not be treated wrongly? Why not be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong. And you do it to your brothers and sisters.

Let me laud the OP for asking for help on a Catholic forum before involving the people of this world, and steer her away from the advice of going to worldly authorities instead of handling her own household. (I say this not to shame the OP, but others who were so quick to accuse).

If the Parents in law are not just negligently permitting, but actually actively showing your children pornography, that is a different case, and perhaps such extreme measures are necessary. But my plain reading of the post indicates that the boys are using their grandparents’ over-indulgence and negligence as an opportunity, rather the grandparents actually sharing porn with them.

Some good advice has been given already: your husband should absolutely handle his own folks, just as you would likely handle your own. They are more likely to listen to their son than his wife, whom they perhaps characterize in an unflattering manner. And if you haven’t already, make sure you’ve discussed this with your husband and you’re both on the same page.

If that’s the case, ask him to be sure your in-laws (his parents) are aware of why these things are important - i.e., it is not just you being controlling, but a concern for their bodily well-being (cavities) and the well-being of their mind and soul (finding porn when unattended online). If necessary, you (i.e. your husband, with your input) may find a compromise (maybe the kids can drink fruity tea or another sweet but not sugary drink?).

If no compromise is possible, then chefmomster2 has, I think, laid down excellent advice for handling the dialogue that should be had with your in-laws (as well as the discontinued dialogue after setting the initial ground rules), and also for the treatment of your kids. There is little enough you can do to control your in-laws, but you can and SHOULD lay down the law with your own children. If grounding is effective, use that. If you need to find other ways to effectively discipline your kids (after school activities, summer camps, revoke allowance, whatever) then use those instead. Your kids are the most important thing in the entire issue, the reason for there even being a problem, and the easiest thing for you, personally, to manage.

Good luck! Pray for guidance - don’t take anyone’s advice without praying over it first, not mine or anyone’s! It’s obvious you care, that you want what’s best for your kids and your family, that you don’t want to have a rift in your family over an important issue. Pray, be respectful, be loving, and do what needs to be done thoughtfully.

You have a problem greater than the one you present here. You and your husband better come together, set some rules for the kids and then enforce them vigilantly. Do this now, move if you have too, or down the road, when they are teens you will not have sons to worry about. You will have delinquent brats.

Your in-laws are wrong to do what they are doing and are teaching the children that you in fact have no authority. And as for the pornography…I would report that incident to the law. I would also be very concerned as to why they are even figuring out how to look at this garbage at that house and why it is being permitted. Are they even being supervised or are they going there because they can do the things they do?

I am not kidding when I say move. My mother would have taken us kids and left, advising my father to come along or stay married to mama! Save your children now.

I could not disagree more. If a 12 year old boy is looking at porn at his Grandparents, it is because he learnt he could get away with it under that roof. I bet this same boy goes to a lot of other houses where he would not dream of doing that because he knows there would be consequences. That is abusive. Not to mention it makes me wonder how he found out is it OK to do this at grandpas and what other behaviour is going on.

Not to mention, the older boy is 12 and mom just found out about the porn. I doubt this is the first time he has seen it. It is simply the first time mom found out.

I would definitely get the authorities involved


You make it sound like grandpa knew that they were looking at porn, and did not stop it. My suspicion is that the grandparents aren’t watching the kids on the computer at all, and so they knew they could “get away with it” because there is no supervision. I don’t mean to downplay gross negligence, but I do assert there is a big difference between gross negligence and indecent exposure. And I do believe I gave the caveat that if the grandparents ARE directly involved in the porn access (and not ‘merely’ negligent) then that is a very different situation. In fact, I did.

Leonie should make it clear (via her husband) that there must be major changes or the grandparents will not be permitted access to their grandchildren. Perhaps it is even too late to trust that such changes will be made in good faith, and she must simply bar access immediately. Her parents-in-law must know that there will be (or already are) real consequences for such negligence and dis-respect to her family. Perhaps she should even go so far, as Cricket suggested, as moving away, even quite some distance away. But I firmly maintain that, unless it is shown the parents-in-law were actively exposing her children to such material, rather than being willing idiots, the state should not get involved. Once you call them in, you are in for the ride, and it may not go the way you planned.

Indeed. Think of the CPS as state funded kidnappers; don’t call them in unless having your kids napped is the lesser of the two evils. They aren’t for situations which can be resolved without them and once you and your kids are in the system you don’t get back out.

You don’t cut your kids off from their grandparents because of a few sodas. As to the porn everyone talking about calling the cops need to relax. No one said the grandparent was showing the child porn. Do the in-laws know the kids accessed porn on their computer? I imagine they are probably mortified. A new password and a little talk about computer security should do the trick.

It seems the issue is that the boys were looking at pornography, not that the grandparents showed them pornography deliberately. This is a huge difference and I would not involve the police. I can tell you with certainty that I know for a fact, good Catholic families that have filters, have strict internet rules for their children, have passwords and also have parental controls on their computers…YET their children were still able to access pornography. I am not defending the grandparents, they could have been more vigilant but don’t necessarily think they are criminals.
To the original poster:** while you sort out how to deal with your in-laws, I would urge you and your husband to focus on your boys. I know of one boy from a wonderful Catholic family I know that was naturally curious about girls. He searched “girls in bikinis” because he wanted to see cute girls. This was still inappropriate, however he was soon slammed with material that was way over his head. His parents were able to retrace his steps on the computer and that is what happened.

Your children need you to walk with them on this journey. They have been wounded, treat them as if they have been sexually assaulted, because in a way, they have been. They have seen images that have probably scared them that they don’t understand. They need a consequence for the computer but more than that they need LOVE. Pray with them, talk to them about pornography and how those images are of people that satan has lied to. Tell them that they will still have flashbacks of those images, and to say special prayers for those people that may have no one to pray for them.

Jason Evert has good material on how to help children through the pornography mess. There is also this website that has good prayers you can print them out for your boys:

Tell your children that they are not alone, that pornography is an evil and they need to be soldiers. Tell your children that they were wrong but that they are also victims. That pornography is meant to suck them in to get them to look at more. You need to help your boys, not just punish them. Jesus has known from all eternity that your boys would be going through this, He has allowed this evil to happen for only one reason: because a greater good can come out of it. You need to be instrumental in that greater good. Pray with your boys every day, get Holy Water for your computer and let your boys see you use it, go to church with your boys and let them see you light a candle for people in the pornography industry. Let your boys see you and feel you actively helping them on this journey, don’t just leave them to their imaginations. Walk with them, help them be strong, you can do this you are a great parent you will do a great job. God bless you.

leonie said:

“But, today I found out that my older son has been looking at pornography on my inlaw’s computer. I’m so angry and frustrated. One of the reasons we made this rule is because my nephew had the same problem several years ago–looking at porn on the grandparent’s computer.”

This has happened twice with two different sets of kids on the same set of grandparents’ computers? That’s interesting. I’m not saying you should call CPS on them, but I think CPS would find this VERY interesting. I wonder if it wouldn’t be worthwhile to find a lawyer to talk to grandma and grandpa as to the dangers of their situation and put the fear of God (and CPS) into them. Grandpa is --this-- close to winding up a registered sex offender and I can’t really say that I feel that that is unfair in this situation.

I was under the impression from the OP that the grandparents were aware that the kids were using the computer to look at porn, as she said that another boy in the family has already been caught and that the father had gone over and put a password on the computer so the boys could not access it. Did the grandparents give the boys the password so that they could use the computer, knowing that they had used it in the past to get access to porn? That’s how I understood the situation. If so, I would call the cops. I wouldn’t bother with CPS. That’s for situations where the children are actually in the care of the negligent/abusive adult.

Allegra, I wasn’t sure if it was the same set of grandparents or not, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Still, if it was the same set, that does show that these grandparents are not very worthy of trust. If this is the case, then that would seem to indicate it was not mere negligence but perhaps intentional exposure, which I did indicate would allow for such drastic actions as calling the police.

However, as that is not expressly clear in the OP, I think charity asks us to assume the best of the parents-in-law, not the worst. Leonie and her husband can make the final decision whether this was simply a lack of prudence on the in-laws part (maybe they just don’t get computers, or thought they had filters on which were insufficient?) or rises to something worse. Both cases call for serious, strict action, but the exact nature of that action may vary dramatically on the basis of which conclusion bears out.

The best we can say about the grandparents is that they are careless and negligent.

It doesn’t matter if they don’t “get” computers. After the first episode of a grandchild accessing porn in their home, they should have understood that 1) a computer should only be used by a child in a public area and 2) it should only be available to a child that is being adequately supervised. How hard is it to just say, “no, sorry!” when a child asks to use a computer or to look at appropriate stuff together?

It’s pretty obvious that the grandparents’ home is a sort of tween Las Vegas, where everything goes and “no” is not a word.

I’d be very tempted to move well beyond walking distance.

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