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Previous anger towards SIL and BIL is back!
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typingcake · 23/09/2022 10:30

This is a bit of a novel but the back story is kind of needed.

Basically I feel very angry towards SIL and BIL and I'll be spending a weekend with them later in the year …

My husband and I have been together for over 17 years and married for 12 of those.

I always got on ok with my SIL, we don’t have anything in common but there has always been polite chit-chat during visits. Tho we don’t hang out together.

She has 2 older girls, high school and primary age. I’ve got a boy who is now 4. I’ve always felt that she and BIL have a kind of know-it-all / matter-of-fact way of telling you how it is… like if I say he’s teething badly, he’s been misbehaving at nursery , he’s waking at 5am every day then they’ll immediately cut you off and say ‘that’s what it’s like’, ‘it’s a phase’, ‘we went through that and this is what to do’ … that’s all fine and everything but there seems to be a lack of listening and empathy and more telling you how it was for them and how it should be for you. (not sure I’m explaining that properly).

Anyway, cut to the first lockdown in March 2020. My bow was 1 year and 10 months old. We immediately had aggressive behaviour from our boy, for about a week then he settled into the routine of being home. Nursery was closed for 17 weeks and when he started back (at just turned 2) the aggression came back. We then had 9 weeks of this behaviour. He would be ok then a ‘tantrum’ would start – mostly with no trigger we could identify. Except these didn’t feel like his usual tantrums. He would physically attack us – biting, hitting, scratching… if we put him down he would harm himself – banging his head, punching himself in the face, scratching himself… or he would throw anything and everything at us, and if we cleared everything away he would try to flip the table or go for the lamp. The meltdowns could go on for up to 4.5 hours and we really tried everything to diffuse them.

We were obviously upset and when this first started, within days we mentioned it to BIL and SIL and we were immediately met with ‘what did you expect?’, ‘they’re called tantrums’, ‘that’s what having a child is like’, ‘they don’t call it the terrible two’s for nothing!’, ‘you’re not the only people with children’… and when we tried to explain that his behaviour has changed overnight and could be linked to the change of routine that was dismissed – we were labelled as dramatic first time parents. When I brough up him harming himself I was told by SIL that ‘no, he isn’t’, when I described exactly what he was doing (as mentioned above) she said he didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t mean it… she then changed the subject abruptly and after that they stopped asking how he was and it was never mentioned till we next saw them in the garden for a socially distanced birthday meal. Where my boy was brilliantly behaved – which she pointed out – ‘he seems ok now, see, it’s just a phase’. This was after he was given a slice of chocolate cake the size of his head and a party bag! And the behaviour was still going on but again dismissed when I pointed this out.

I was very angry and upset by how they responded to it all.

Since then we don’t see much of SIL and BIL. Husband and I felt disappointed by their judgement and lack of support. I put myself into counselling a year ago to try and process it all and get my anger, mostly with SIL, out of my system as well as deal with the stress I’d been through and some other personal issues.

Going back to the terrible behaviour July 2020 – A few weeks into it, when there was no let up I called the health visitor who was brilliant. She got us Zoom behavioural workshops and did a home visit later in the year. And the nursery manager, who had the same behaviour from him, was brilliant and called us regularly to work with us to try and support him as best they could. We didn’t get to the bottom of his behaviour and the HV said it was too early to say but that it was likely the disruption to his routine and said he was displaying behaviour similar to children who had been through some sort of trauma. I did ask if she thought he might havd ADHD or something else and she said he was too young for that kind of assessment unless he had severe symptoms, which he didn’t. Nursery allowed us a place at their hub for the second lockdown and when he was back in his routine his behaviour was great and he thrived. He was a different boy – it was like night and day.

As his mum I do notice things: has only started jumping, doesn’t like to wear new jackets or shoes, has a fear of new things, diet has narrowed down, hums a lot, shouts one word repeatedly, still hits his hear or eye when he’s excited, has some pronunciation trouble and a bunch of other stuff. Then recently nursery had weeks of bad behaviour (which we think was due to about 15 3 year olds moving up to his room and some of his friends going to school), he was hitting and throwing and having meltdowns for up to 1.5 hours where they had to remove him from the room and take him into the office. The manager had me in for a meeting and while it was upsetting she was brilliant, she said she wanted to observe him for 4 weeks as she thought he could have an ASN or difficulty processing his emotions. During the observation they put different methods into place to support him and he responded really well and he’s not been removed from the room since the observation period which was July. The manager said she’s pleased with his progress and doesn’t feel the need to take it further.

But I decided to call the health visitor myself just for piece of mind and if there is something going on my husband and I just want to be able to support him as best we can, ahead of him going to school next year. When I got the call back we had a recap on the previous behaviourla stuff and how he’s been brilliant since then but how he had been having difficulty recently. Then I read her some of the things from the list above and more and she said there were some things that stood out and could indicate autism. She asked what our expectations were and I said we just wanted him to thrive and if we could get to the bottom of it all and could put a name to it then we could support him, as I said above. And she agreed.. So she’s coming out in October for a home visit and will also speak to nursery. She thinks he will likely go on the very long waiting list for an autism assessment (sorry I don’t know the correct terms or name for it).

So… that what’s been going on and this is where we are at. Husband and I decided not to tell any of our family (both sides) what’s going on till we know a bit more as we just don’t want the judgement. We’d rather be in a position to say ‘our boy has this, this is how we support him, this is how you can support him when he’s at your place’.

Now the reason for my post: since nursery said he may be ASN and HV now saying it could be autism… I feel incredibly angry towards BIL and SIL. I know that all happened 2 years ago and I thought I’d gotten over it… but it makes me extremely cross when I think about what they said and how shit husband and I were made to feel… how they just brushed it all off when all along my boy may be autistic and that’s why he reacted how he did. How we were not listened to and supported in any way.

Coming up we have a family weekend away to celebrate a big family anniversary and we’ll be staying in a big barn with them there… as we don’t see them often they will likely see some of his behaviour over the 2 night stay. They may point it out. They will likely think we’re too lenient with him and not strict enough… they may just think he’s spoilt or a bad child? This is just me getting ahead of myself I know… but I can’t help thinking about it ansd expecting the worst. They always just tell us 'how it is' and pass judgement and I'm not really feeling prepared for that so I'm apprehensive about the whole thing.

So here is my AIBU bit…

AIBU to have all this anger towards them?

And any advice on how to let it go / deal with it better / how to be in their presence?

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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mamabear715 · 23/09/2022 10:37

In a kind way, you seem to be overreacting a little re SIL / BIL.. they sound horrible people but we meet horrible people all the time.. just give them a wide berth when you're at the family 'do'.
Tbh I'd be worrying more about the effect a large gathering might have on your DS.
ASD definitely sounds likely, so plan your weekend around making it easier for him. Hope this helps, am not criticising you!

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Bicthebiro · 23/09/2022 10:38

I will be honest, I didn't read the full post and skimmed your DC symptoms.

But my DM is very similar to how you have described SIL. Lacks empathy and emotional warmth. She has a lot more autistic traits (OCD, anxiety, mood swings and outbursts etc). But never been diagnosed with anything. I don't expect anything like that from her and seek that emotional support elsewhere.

My DS was diagnosed with autism earlier this year. It usually runs in families. I reckon at least 3 of my family probably have it based on how similar they are to DS.

What I'm trying to say is that there might be a reason for SIL's attitude beyond being spiteful/not arsed.

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YellowHpok · 23/09/2022 10:42

Gently, I think you're displacing your anger unfairly towards BIL and SIL. Plenty of people make those types of comments. That had zero impact on your sons diagnosis.

Sounds like you have a lot to process, but honestly I think this will eat you up unless you find another focus for your feelings about your sons diagnosis.

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Teenyliving · 23/09/2022 10:42

You are massively displacing your understandable stress and worry on your sil and bil. MASSIVELY so.

i imagine it’s in some way helpful to you to make them the focus of your anger and fears which are about the potential autism diagnosis and your sons behavior.

i think you need to continue to work through this with your counseling.

what on earth did you expect them to say or do? I imagine that you were very stressed and hard to interact with and they responded accordingly. Even if they were a bit meh - nothing they said was actually offensive.

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properdoughnut · 23/09/2022 10:43

You were expecting to much from them. They are those shit "know it all" parents who don't do support and think everybody is the same as them. Just channel your inner elsa and let it goooo. If they try to talk to you about him just leave it be don't engage.

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Mollymoofer · 23/09/2022 10:44

You’ve got a lot on your plate, OP, and it sounds as though you’re doing a great job for your DS. I do think you’re being a bit unreasonable as regards your ILs though. They’re not experts and might have been trying to just reassure you in the best way they knew how. Maybe they felt a bit out of their depth.

Anyway, we always meet people who don’t ‘get’ us and we need to recognise their limitations. Are you sure you’re not projecting the upset you feel for your son onto them?

You and your DH sound like lovely supportive parents. I hope the road gets easier.

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OhmygodDont · 23/09/2022 10:47

You are wrong to be so angry at them for comments that most parents make. Most of them likely to try and be reassuring that all children tantrum and go though phases.

turns out your little one might have something else at play which is fine. But sil and bil are not medical professionals they won’t have any idea on that they where just saying parent things to newer parents who where voicing unwanted behaviour about their child and trying to comfort you. Apart from the your not the only person to have children that was them probably thinking your being very pfb since they don’t know there is a highly possibly medical reason for the behaviour that you was constantly talking to them about.

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Brefugee · 23/09/2022 10:47

You are stressed about this so I'm going to be gentle: nobody on earth is as interested or invested in your children as you are. Even relatives. They have older children, are they wittering on to you about teenager issues?
What did you want from them? seems to me the answers you got from them are standard, and that nursery and other professionals have given you the help you need.

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JenniferBarkley · 23/09/2022 10:54

Your fixation on them and your anger seem disproportionate to me. They aren't close to your DS and didn't witness his behaviour first hand. Thing like "oh it's the terrible twos!" are just platitudes, not judgments or dismissals.

Just be matter of fact on the weekend away, tell them that he's being assessed for ASD and so you've been advised to do x, y and z to manage his behaviour and make things easier on him.

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DrinkFeckArseBrick · 23/09/2022 10:55

Hi OP

You aren't that close, you don't have much in common, they aren't spending loads of time with your son so they only see small snapshots of his behaviour, you know she has never had much empathy...why do you care what they think and what they say? You know they have never been a support to you in the past, you don't like it how they respond when you tell them about your sons behaviour, so why do you keep talking to them about it? Why does their response matter so much to you? Just grey rock them and expect less of them and change the subject if they start talking about his behaviour.

Also when you say 'he is doing x' you seem to be expecting them to say 'oh that sounds hard' and asking you questions about it rather than talking about their own experience. They probably think that by saying 'oh that happened to us too, it was just a phase or we did x and it stopped' is a way of supporting you by reassuring you it was short lived and suggesting ways of dealing with it. Lots of people act in a similar way. It's a bit harsh on them that you say here you want empathy not advice but how are they supposed to know that?

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Hearthnhome · 23/09/2022 10:57

You are misplacing your anger.

You expected a lot of them. I have a NT Child and a ND child. I would not hazard a guess at wether someone’s else’s child’s behaviour was an indicator of being autistic. NT children have such a huge range in behaviour, as do ND children, it impossible for family to guess just because they have kids of their own.

i don’t get why you are angry and disappointed at the support they gave. They aren’t child behaviouralists/experts are they? They tried to reassure you it was normal.

I, also, don’t understand why you kept going to them if you didn’t get the response you wanted.

You have put an incredible amount of blame onto them. I would suggest (gently) that you feel guilty that you didn’t pursue a diagnosis earlier and dealing with it by blaming them. You shouldn’t feel guilty at all. These things often take a while for people to suspect.

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Icanstillrecallourlastsummer · 23/09/2022 10:59

I couldn't read your whole post, but I would say that only you can control this anger. Sure, they are a bit annoying and smug, but it's up to you how much you allow that to get to you.

And you know I get it. I used to get REALLY upset at some of the things my SIL did. The best thing I did was to let it go. She didn't change, but I changed the way I responded to the things she did and how I let it get to me. She's not my favourite person and I woudln't actively choose to spend lots of time with her, but we get on fine now.

Nothing you have described sounds awful, and sometimes with family you just have to find a way to make it work.

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Hopelessacademic · 23/09/2022 11:00

to be honest I read your whole post and thought " what on earth has this got to do with them?"
They are maybe not quite on your wavelength in terms of parenting styles, but they're not really guilty or anything except not responding exactly how you want or being sympathetic enough?? But you don't sound very close anyway?

I'm not dismissing what's happening with your son, that sounds very hard and you have my sympathy! But it sounds like you're not close to SIL for a reason, so just keep things light and fluffy where they're concerned!

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GiantTortoise · 23/09/2022 11:03

It's really stressful when you are worried about your DC maybe being SEN and I totally get why you are upset. I don't see how this is their fault though? They made some fairly normal if rather insensitive comments a couple of years ago. You need to try and get past this OP. Good luck with your DC's assessment.

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Ponoka7 · 23/09/2022 11:09

Reading your history, I was waiting for the eventual possibility of Autism. But then I'm autistic, my DD is and I helped out in her Nursery/School. Most people aren't that aware, so they would try to tell you that it's usual. It was unfortunate that he was hitting the most difficulties during Covid, so there was a lack of HV support. You've got misplaced anger. Being a parent can make you an expert on your children, but nothing beyond that. If you read any thread on children's behaviour, you can see how self congratulatory or clueless some parents are. I'd tell family that he's being assessed, then if they say stupid shit, don't hold back.

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billy1966 · 23/09/2022 11:10

Great measured responses.

OP, you sound like a great mother and couple, really focused on doing your best for your son during very difficult times.

Your HV and nursery sound amazing to.

Your SIL/BIL sound like major pain in the asses.
Know it all's that are really best avoided.

Do you really, really want to go to this gathering?
Could it be too much for your boy.

If you go, avoid them.

If they try to have your say, tell them "we didn't ask for advice, thanks" or "we are both confident and happy with out choices, thanks".

Cut them off.
Walk away mid sentence.

You are not under any obligation to stand around listening to their unasked for view on your child.

I sure as hell wouldn't.

Don't allow these awful PITA's take your peace.

You are doing an amazing job.

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TooHotToTangoToo · 23/09/2022 11:11

Your BIL and SIL sound like knobs. But I'd just leave it there if I were you. Who cares what they say or think, he's your ds and you know him better than anyone else. Sounds like you've got some fantastic support for you and your ds. I mean this kindly but you need to let go of your anger towards your sil and BIL, just put it down to the fact they are a bit of a know it all knob.

As for the 2 days, just have some choice sentences to hand if they mention anything. If they mention his behaviour just say 'well the professionals have a different opinion to you' or 'We're taking advice from professionals' or simply 'all children are different' etc. Or better still just change the subject if they talk about him.

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NumericalBlock · 23/09/2022 11:11

I just typed out a long message but it disappeared.

I'm in the same boat, you'll soon learn as you talk to parents of ND children that this is, frustratingly, something you'll have to get used to. Medical professionals do it, childcare professionals do it and well meaning people in your circles will tell you it's all normal behaviour, and actually sometimes it is normal behaviour but it's the excessive nature of that behaviour that makes it abnormal behaviour, they just assume that you are exaggerating.

My nearly 6yo daughter is Autistic and ADHD, when she was a toddler I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew something was different. Especially as she was full on ALL of the time. When I mentioned it to anybody it was put down to me thinking it was worse than it was or my anxiety and depression was making me respond to it negatively. I'm a childcare professional and had been for 10+ years at that point so I knew something wasn't quite 'right' but I was fobbed off constantly and it led to me thinking it was all me, I was a shit parent, I couldn't cope with my child, I needed to do things differently, I wasn't being consistent or responding correctly, I wasn't feeding her properly, etc etc etc.

It's shit. You are understandably angry at those who have 'dismissed' your sons behaviour as normal, which certainly isn't helped by their know-it-all attitude, but you need to remember that this is out of their realm of normal, they can't understand the extent of your sons difficulties as they are not seeing it on a day to day basis. People often pass off autistic meltdowns as a bad tantrum at that age (and as spoilt brat as they get older annoyingly, especially if your child is verbal and passes as NT in the moment). Just try to keep it in mind that, for the most part, they aren't intentionally trying to cause offence or be hurtful, they just don't get it.

Try to join some groups on FB or forums elsewhere for ND families, it's so helpful to just read through what others in a similar situation are saying and to know that you aren't alone. And when he's school age it'll help you manage your expectations and work out how you can get him the support that he needs in school to do well if you are able to (I home ed but see a lot of discussions around EHCPs, flexischooling and part time timetables and similar things that help the children).

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typingcake · 23/09/2022 11:14

There's a lot more to this…
It's more than likely that I have some form of undiagnosed autism too.
As a child I felt frustrated and my behaviour was sometimes OTT. To get me to behave my mum would say things like 'look, that woman over there thinks I'm a bad mum, behave!', 'that man thinks you're behaving like a clown', 'those children think you're bad and they won't want to play with you' … it never occurred to me till I started therapy that my mum used to shame me into behaving and all my adult life I constantly feel like I'm being judged from every angle – I'll be on the bus and I'll drive myself crazy thinking that everyone must think I have greasy hair… I know it's ridiculous, I do. Understanding myself more and seeing it like that now does help me a bit but my therapist and I think this is why I've reacted so badly to SIL and BIL's comments. Obviously they just toss therm out without much thought but it's been enough for me to get upset over. I am trying very hard to let it go and I thought I had.

Whenever I'm at a family thing I feel like I can't be myself and I just have to nod along and pair back who I am, it's draining. FIL will ask me something and midway through me speaking will turn to SIL and start speaking to her… and that kind of thing happens, not just to me. But when it does I feel small and worthless.

SIL will also cut me off if I'm talking about a current issue or a personal issue (difficulty with driving again after many years) and get her point out then change the subject. Leaving me feeling frustrated. I'm not expecting full attention on me, I don't like being in the spotlight anyway but I just find her manners to be rude. She'll also openly tell me if she doesn't like something I've made for lunch and make comment on how to improve my home and garden – that's just her I know. But that's not me and I'd never do that.

I also want to point out I didn't go into counselling because of SIL and BIL or even my son – most of the stress was burn out and a lot of work issues but we obviously cover everything else going on.

I don't let this eat away at me – the anger isn't consuming me and I'm very civil in their company, I can put it aside, it just gets to me that the people who live closest to us and are family have acted how they have.

And she's not blood related to me or my boy. She's the wife of my husband's brother.

Deep down I know I'm being unreasonable but I just want to get to a place where I can laugh it off and not let it get to me.

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Aquamarine1029 · 23/09/2022 11:17

You knew they were dimessice, yet you still kept sharing everything going on with your child. Were you expecting a different reaction? You already knew what they were like, and surprise, surprise, they behaved exactly the same way. Don't go to them for support, don't use them as a soundingboard, they aren't interested.

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typingcake · 23/09/2022 11:17

DrinkFeckArseBrick · 23/09/2022 10:55

Hi OP

You aren't that close, you don't have much in common, they aren't spending loads of time with your son so they only see small snapshots of his behaviour, you know she has never had much empathy...why do you care what they think and what they say? You know they have never been a support to you in the past, you don't like it how they respond when you tell them about your sons behaviour, so why do you keep talking to them about it? Why does their response matter so much to you? Just grey rock them and expect less of them and change the subject if they start talking about his behaviour.

Also when you say 'he is doing x' you seem to be expecting them to say 'oh that sounds hard' and asking you questions about it rather than talking about their own experience. They probably think that by saying 'oh that happened to us too, it was just a phase or we did x and it stopped' is a way of supporting you by reassuring you it was short lived and suggesting ways of dealing with it. Lots of people act in a similar way. It's a bit harsh on them that you say here you want empathy not advice but how are they supposed to know that?

Incorrect, I haven't spoken to them about his behaviour since late summer 2020. We got support elsewhere and didn't share anymore with them because we were both upset and disappointed with the harshness of their response. In between then and now there have been other judgements passed on non-child related things… I'm more thinking ahead to their reaction and judgement if we were to reveal what we've been going through. I just want to have tougher skin and be in control of that conversation when the time comes – is that so bad?

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Hadjab · 23/09/2022 11:18

In the kindest way possible, the expectations you have of them as fellow parents is misplaced. I have three kids, that doesn't make me an expert when it comes to other people's children, only my own. From the behaviour you described that occurred during lockdown, I probably would have thought along similar lines to your in-laws - would I have said it out loud? No, but that's because I realise that a lot of parents can be quite defensive in terms of how they think their parenting skills are perceived by others. The only thing that matters here is that your son gets the help he needs, from external agencies. Retaining this anger at two people who are basically on the outside of your situation, is pointless, your just using up emotional energy that should be directed towards your family unit.

In an ideal world, it would be great to have familial support, but it doesn't always work that way. That said, don't write them off totally, it's not too late for them to step up once they understand the possible severity of the situation - you never know, they could actually surprise you.

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typingcake · 23/09/2022 11:20

@Hearthnhome sorry but "I, also, don’t understand why you kept going to them if you didn’t get the response you wanted."

Where did I say I kept going to them?

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EnjoythemoneyJane · 23/09/2022 11:20

Yes, sorry OP, but YABVU. They sound like a bit of a PITA, honestly, but most new parents have experienced condescension from know-it-all friends or relatives at some point, and they can’t be expected to have detailed knowledge of the symptoms of ASD. Your description to them obviously sounded like tantrums - albeit worrying and extreme ones - and if DS has otherwise been perfectly well behaved in front of them, it’s probably reinforced their opinion that there’s nothing to worry about.

Hanging onto all this rage towards them is really unfair and will not be doing your mental health much good either - it’s very telling that you say you needed counselling to deal with your anger towards SiL, which suggests the massive level of displacement going on here.

You’re allowed not to like them, but they’re absolutely not the source of your distress and upset and it sounds like you barely interact with them anyway, so your response seems totally disproportionate.

I’m sorry the situation with your son has been so frightening and difficult for you, but it’s great you’re now getting some professional help and support.

Try to reframe the way you’re thinking about this and don’t let your relatives wind you up when you see them - having a family falling out over it is definitely not going to provide the catharsis you may imagine, and will only give you more stress on top of everything else.

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NoSquirrels · 23/09/2022 11:24

I'm more thinking ahead to their reaction and judgement if we were to reveal what we've been going through. I just want to have tougher skin and be in control of that conversation when the time comes – is that so bad?

It’s not bad. I think you could practice some ways of shutting down any conversation around his behaviour or your parenting which will make you feel more in control.

Your in-laws sound rude and annoying. They won’t change. So changing your reactions to them - having a coping mechanism- is the best and only strategy.

You sound lovely, btw. I bet you’re brilliant parents to your boy.

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