myboy's picture

Inlaws and special needs child

I do not know how to handle my in-laws anymore. We have a 3 year old son born with down syndrome. My in-laws do not treat him well. My father-inlaw idea of giving him attention is to rub his head and say hey boy. He has never spent a night with them but yet they have another grandson that is age 5 that has been staing with them since birth. My husband told them that we thought they were showing favorites and they said that they did not start keeping there other grandson until he was potty trained. Well our 3 year old is not potty trained yet so he can not stay with them. I think it is bullcrap. Or just an excuse.

They have gone 2 months without seeing there grandson even though we live 2 houses down from them. They even have a myspace page and they have everyone of there grandchildrens pictures on it except our sons.

Help me I do not know what to do anymore. We moved 5 hours away from my family. We had a house built down from theres thinking things were going to be great. I spend most of my time alone. They spend allot of time with there other grandchildren but not ours. When they talk about there other grandchildren they are always saing things like he he is so smart for his age etc.

acitez's picture

Do you have someone in a Down's support group that you can talk to about this?

I think a couple of things may be going on. It may be that your in-laws don't know how to have a relationship with a person who has a disability. They just don't know how. Maybe you could offer to teach them. They may still be grieving, just like you did when you were getting used to this new idea of what your child would be like. And, sometimes people say things that hurt without meaning to hurt you. They are allowed to celebrate the talents the other children have. You just need to help them learn to celebrate your child, too.

Only2boys's picture


I'm really sorry you are going through this situation. Have you tried sitting down and explaining to them that it hurts you and your family that they treat your son differently then the other grandchildren? I would either have your husband talk with them alone or with you, depending on which you think would be taken best.

It may be that they just don't know how to interact with your son. Maybe they fear doing things wrong or that he would possibly get hurt in their care. The only way they will know is if you have a talk with them.

I can tell you this that you are not alone in your upset feelings about how others treat your child(ren). I am in a situation where my neighbors are not real nice with my sons at times. My oldest was dignosed with a neurological disorder (NLD) where you can't tell he is disabled. He just seems over talkative, immature, and sometimes annoying by things he says and does. It is not a handicap you can see, so people just assume we are a dysfunctional family and we don't know how to parent our kids. It is really hard when people give us looks, and/or make comments and they have no idea what we are dealing with. So I am there with you with hurt feelings. I do hope your situation gets better. Please try communicating with your inlaws. Maybe they don't realize what they are doing and how you are hurt. Good luck.


concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I feel what you're going through too. My oldest son has a disability, so it's hard dealing w/ other people's comments and treatment of our son. I think what everyone has said here is true to some extent. People seem to be so ignorant sometimes, but honestly I think it's b/c they really don't understand, and they really don't know what to say or how to act. I had a mom come up to me and say, "I always tell your son he's the most special boy in the class." This made me feel horrible b/c the last thing I want is for my son to be treated as
"special" or different from his peers. Thinking about it afterwards, I realized the mom probably had good intentions, but she really wasn't thinking about the impact of what she said. Unless others experience what you're going through w/ your son, they really will never get it. I don't think your in-laws want to shut your son out, at least I really hope not. I know how hard it is to open up to people and trust them to be kind and supportive, but you shld try. These are your son's grandparents. I, too, am very sensitive to rejection, but I found that if I don't allow people in so that they may better understand my son and our situation, it makes things harder. I to this day am still very protective of my son, but when people say things, I now tell them right out how I feel. You don't have to do this w/ everyone, but those people you feel more comfortable w/ can be surprisingly more understanding once you open up to them. I've learned to be direct but not volunteer too much information. If your in-laws want your grandson in their lives, they will come around. They may sense your uneasiness w/ them, and maybe that's why they're backing off. Try talking to them, and tell them exactly how you feel. Tell them it's important to you to have them in your son's life. Give them time to come around. Hopefully a lot of good will come out of this sitation, and you can all feel like a close family again. Try not to let your emotions get in the way too much. Once your in-laws really get to know your son, they too will see the beauty in him as you and your husband do each day you spend w/ him. I wish you all the best, and I hope everything works out to bring you and your in-laws closer together again.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

PS--Counceling has also been helpful to us in dealing w/ our son's disability as well as handling other people's reactions. Allow others to support you, especially those you trust. I find friends can be so much more helpful than family sometimes. Family want to be supportive, but often emotions get in the way, and words don't always come out they way you expect them to. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were in a situation that you didn't fully comprehend, you might say the wrong things too. I know it can be hurtful and frustrating to feel others are not being sensitive to your family's needs, but hang in there. Some people never change, but hopefully others will come around for the better. Unfortunately, in situations like ours, you have to take the good w/ the bad. It just comes w/ the territory I guess, b/c as harsh as that sounds, it's a reality. In time you'll toughen up, you'll see. You're priorities will also change, and you'll put your energy elsewhere. If I can do it, you can do it. Don't let others break your spirit. Your son shld be your top priority, so please don't stress over other people's trivial reactions. It's not worth it.