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Advice re in-laws please (you'll need a cuppa))

(12 Posts)
mariagoretti Fri 31-Dec-10 11:21:03

Ds has adhd also ?asd. Noisy, bouncy and whirling whenever meds wear off. Misses most of what's said to him. Oppositional to anything new / different unless it's super-fun, or specifically trained for, or carefully pre-negotiated. Meltdowns. Sibling conflict. Good 'taught' social skills but rubbish at any spontaneous ones iykwim.

Mum-in-law knows about the adhd, sort of knows about the meds, thinks, "He's a bit boisterous, isn't he naughty sometimes, you're too hard on him". No idea about any of the rest of the issues. Is quite 'needy' herself and always has been. Traumatised by her brother having a LD. Gets very distressed by the impact of other people's problems on her own life. Some asd traits herself. Had a very major mental breakdown 3 years ago which has only been 'better' for 6-12 months.

My relationship with her is ok on the surface, but there's very little mutual understanding. I've tried for years, but tbh I keep sabotaging my own efforts by resenting her inability to see beyond her own plight during any of the difficulties we've ever had.

We're going up to stay with her for New Year's. Big family parties, all the relatives coming etc. DS is not going to cope. Normally I manage that (ish) and work my backside off to hide his abnormal behaviour. This often involves being borderline abusive to him, rude to everyone else, and spending more time than I'd like dragging him screaming around the streets when we've managed to escape the house. And it's getting harder.

Right, the dilemma. Do I continue this horrible charade until he grows up or I fail and she sees it anyway? Or do I give in to my temptation to just let him be his normal self, and not worry about the inevitable consequences to MIL's emotions? The backstory is that the stress of it all does me in, but I'm sort of ok at present. So if she freaks cos 'my grandson is handicapped', now might be a better time than most.

I know there's no 'right answer' but I'm hoping you wise bunch might shed some light. Logically, I don't want to end up telling her / letting her see just because of my own irritations. But I just can't be arsed any more.

mariagoretti Fri 31-Dec-10 11:24:20

Reading this back, the answer screams 'just tell her' At the same time, she may really be more fragile than my neurologically challenged darling boy. And if she splinters, it'll affect him and the others that I love sad

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 31-Dec-10 11:29:10

Strategic bout of suspected flu and don't go? Doesn't sound like much fun for you or DS? I always think that the adults should know all the facts, and deal with it (because they're adults, not kids) but your MIL does sound like she needs kid gloves. Where is her son in all this, can he not tell her (gently)?

mariagoretti Fri 31-Dec-10 11:39:14

Tried not going already but without success grin. My DH would agree with you about adults, sickofsocalled experts, and I'm starting to feel that way. Unfortunately, he's not likely to tell her himself (and thinks both ds and mil should stop getting hysterical over nothing... so he might struggle with the 'gently' bit). I wish there was another understanding relative I could delegate the task of telling / showing to, and who would do the emotional mopping up after.

starfishmummy Fri 31-Dec-10 11:51:05

I think you need to start thinking about yourself here - it's obviously causing a lot of stress for you. Does youe DH help while you are there? I think I'd be having thosae walks by myself and letting DH deal with things for a while.
May be let DS just be himself and then having seen what it's like your MIL will be less inclined to ask you next year! (Or if she does you can say " no" and remind her why).

Good luck!

pinkorkid Fri 31-Dec-10 12:20:15

Sort of had similar dilemma but with my own dm who is bipolar. (My ds has similar diagnosis to your's). When my mum was going through a depressed episode quite likely she would have taken other people's issues so personally as to blame herself for them, as she was already convinced she was a bad person. So we didn't share until she was going through an "up stage". Because this makes her overly optimistic, she is then inclined to downplay his difficulties.

However, I do feel relieved that it is out in the open now because the concealment does place a big strain and makes get togethers fraught. From what you have described it does sound like now is likely to be as good a time as any to address it with your dmil, if she is feeling relatively better following earlier breakdown and also if you are feeling strong enough emotionally to tackle it.

What I would suggest would be to couch it in terms that you feel she can cope with. Something like " We've found out that ds has this diagnosis, it makes it hard for him to cope well in big family gatherings/social occasions. We want everyone close to him to be aware that he can't help behaving like this when he is stressed. We know you will always accept him for who he is. Maybe you could help us explain to other family members if he doesn't feel like joining in when it all gets a bit too noisy"

You and your dh know whether it's a case of describing ds's difficulties in terms she can get her head around, a bit of flattery - we know you'll be there for us, maybe some optimism of how much better people can cope these days with the right support if she's worried because of experiences with her db.

I don't know if there are other family members on your dh's side who you can talk to more easily who you could talk to first so they can make the same reassuring noises to your dmil once you have told her?

Hope it works out well for all of you.

pinkorkid Fri 31-Dec-10 12:24:12

sorry, cross-posted with the "is there another understanding relative bit"

mariagoretti Fri 31-Dec-10 14:52:39

Hi pinkor, that really is helpful. You're right about the strain of concealment. I think telling her the truth but tactfully adding and omitting bits might be do-able. I'm relieved that you've had some success with telling your dm. And although mil's diagnosis is different, when she's 'well' she will definitely downplay his difficulties. TBH that's probably a good thing, as if she understood, she'd have an angry grief reaction (probably at me, but likely to have knock-on effects on ds and everyone else).

And starfish, you're right, I've had enough of this. I can't really leave DH in charge till I've told her so I think I'll need to at least start drip feeding more info this time. There are some relations that i could give an edited version to so they can use the same line as us. That's a great idea, as canvassing for different opinions would definitely risk disagreements.

Spinkle Fri 31-Dec-10 16:19:52

Here's what I would do.

I'd say 'with little DS' problems we find travelling and large family parties difficult. Our lives with him and his issues are tiring and chaotic. We are trying very hard to help him. We need you to understand our absence at these events is not down to us not wanting to come, but not being able to. We hope you understand'

And then stay at home, in the warm and relative quiet. IF your rellies and MIL think you are being off then suggest they visit you. Then they may see better what you are talking about.

My DM dismissed my DS' problems for a long time and suffers from ill health as well. I told her time and time again. Eventually it went in and she did some reading about it and agreed. I would point out she was a primary school teacher! She could see it, she just didn't want to believe it.

mariagoretti Fri 31-Dec-10 16:36:33

spinkle thanks for posting. A bit late for this time (am packing confused) but we have cut the visits down and I think cutting them further will help. I'm sure it won't go in properly the first time, and I will have to keep telling and telling her. How did you keep your patience? And cope with your own feelings while having to 'manage' someone who 'should' be supportive?

Spinkle Fri 31-Dec-10 16:50:50

Well, my MIL was a godsend, actually. She just said that whatever he was/is 'we'll just love him even more'. She accepted him totally and I always felt that she understood we continuously shattered. She has another grandson of a similar age (DS' cousin) and NT so could see the differences quite clearly. She has always been supportive. Thank goodness for my MIL!

We simply will not exhaust ourselves mentally or physically for the sake of being polite at parties etc. One of us always has to 'wrangle' and thus spends their time chasing him round and having half a conversation with people and then having to dash off. So we don't go. Obviously, one day, we'd like to, but we have to 'work up to it'!!

My mother has been less understanding and she has been put out by our unwillingness to not go to things, or the fact we have left early. We just said 'tough'. She has now accepted it.

Keep going but stand your ground. You ARE in the right and you will do the right thing by your DS, because you are his supportive mummy.

Have a nice evening (or try to!)smile

Spinkle Fri 31-Dec-10 16:52:53

Oh, and I stopped trying to hide his 'abnormal' behviour.

Oh yes - they all believed us then!!

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