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Terri Mauro

When Your In-Laws Outlaw Your Child

By May 11, 2009

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When you have a child who's a handful, there are enough strangers around to give you the evil eye and wonder why you don't just stay home. It would be nice if family didn't have the same attitude. Yet often, parents of children with special needs find themselves unwelcome at events that will allegedly be "ruined" by the presence of a young family member of insufficient perfectness. That's the situation faced by Summer, who posted about the insensitivity of her husband's family on the Parenting Special Needs Forum. She wonders whether the family is right that some children should be neither seen nor heard, or whether she should stick to her guns and bring her little guy to family functions whether he's wanted or not.

Personally, I'd say that some families should be neither seen nor heard, and it's their loss if they don't want to get to know a special child. But of course, it's not that easy, especially if, as in this case, one spouse sides with his excluding parents. My advice in this case was to follow the child's lead, and either carve out something acceptable to do within the family activity, or blow off the clan altogether and do something super-fun between mother and son. I'm lucky to have never had to put that advice into practice; both sides of our family were loving and accepting of our kids, thank God. I'm curious to hear from those who have struggled with this kind of rejection -- did you fight or flee? Share your experience in the forum.

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Comments
May 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm
(1) Jill says:

I experienced this to a minimal degree. My husband is very supportive but sometimes his mother can be picky about perfectness. I don’t go out my way to visit nor do I take the 4 kids to see her often (1 is autistic). If I do we stay only briefly and I make sure she barely gets contact with my autistic son. Not as a punishment for him or as my embarrassment, but to show her she will miss out. She is getting the hint and recently told me when my son was playing with the lights again (20th time) it’s no problem I’m just worried about the such and such getting broken. You know how things can be difficult to get fixed. When I leave she now always , says, this is your home too. Sometimes denying them the right to the other children can have a wake-up call effect. Someday that special needs young boy may be the grown-up “typical” child she depends on!!

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