Baptism by fire, or my sister in law's intro to our family!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Maybe this is a watercooler post... maybe not.

    My difficult child-bro's new wife asked if they could get together with us this weekend, but because difficult child-bro is severely allergic to our cats, she suggested that if they came to our house that we just hang outside. Their condo is a small one-bedroom, so that was really not a good option either.

    So I suggested a beach outing, which she thought was great since both she and difficult child-bro have licenses and enjoy that, and my difficult child 1 loves to fish and the other kids (including husband) love the water, too.

    We met yesterday afternoon around 4pm. High tide was at 5pm, so it was good timing for surf fishing.

    difficult child 1 and his uncle (difficult child-bro) got busy scrounging the sand for bait (soft-shell sandcrabs). After about 15 minutes of no luck, I pitched in and caught three for them (yeah, I'm braggin :p), so they were soon casting their lines in the water. husband took the job of supervising the other two kids, so sister in law#4 and I sat on the beach to "chat".

    We talked a little about my difficult child-dad and his current medical issues (he's getting over yet another leg infection because of his merry-go-round with edema) and I decided it was time to share my opinions for why my difficult child-dad is ON the merry-go-round in the first place. sister in law#4 said she'd observed some odd behaviors and attitudes in my dad... his rudeness to my mom, his string of excuses for why he has the health problems he has, his paranoia, to name a few. She said she thought it was just his anxiety. So I took the opportunity to reveal a little of our family history and I essentially told her I think my dad has borderline personality disorder (among other things)... and here's why.

    At first she wasn't really convinced, but as I offered example after example of his dysfunctional behaviors over the years, her eyes widened and she was nodding her head. I don't know if she really understands the depth of his problems, or even if she knows what Borderline (BPD) entails, but I thought that since she's part of the family now it was time to air a few things. The honeymoon's over babe! Welcome to the FAMILY! :laugh:

    At one point in the conversation she said that difficult child-bro had mentioned something about my boys having behavior problems in the past and she wondered how they were doing now. I could tell she didn't really understand what the issues were, so I spelled it out to her: difficult child 1 has ADHD and difficult child 2 has bipolar.

    She suddenly looked like she swallowed a bug! She asked what medications difficult child 2 was on, and when I told her, she looked even more shocked (apparently in her experience as a P.T. and her education in kineisiology she learned about different psychiatric medications) and suggested point blank that they were very heavy-duty medications for a young kid and wasn't I worried about what they might be doing to his still-maturing brain. :ashamed:

    At that point, I thought that maybe I'd said too much. But rather than backpedal, I told her that the alternative to those medications was simply impossible to live with... and then I proceeded to describe the manic/hypomanic behaviors we've dealt with over the past few years, including the stint with the auto-immune mediated movement disorder that's currently in remission. Then she starts to ask if and practically suggest that the behavior symptoms and the movement issues were medication related. Ugh. So I just left it that I was confident in the numerous doctors who have seen difficult child 2, and that he's doing much, much better right now than he has in a long time on his current drug cocktail.

    She got very quiet about the whole topic after that. Sigh. Time will tell if she can deal with us or not, I guess. :future:

    Oh, and by the way, difficult child 1 was the only one to catch a fish -- a HUGE surf perch. His uncle was shocked, because the sandcrab he used was really too large for most of the surf-living fish. difficult child 1 was pretty jazzed about that! :D
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Do you think she is thinking about the genetics and her own children if she chooses to have them?
    Sometimes when you are young you don't make the leap from behavior of nieces and nephews to your own children. Sometimes you do and it is terrifying.
    I hope she pulls her knickers up and gets on with learning and understanding.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    That might be part of it... she's 32/33 and really does want to have children soon. But she's not sure she can -- severe endometriosis. My mom said sister in law mentioned something about adopting if she can't have her own...

    Yes, I do hope she can accept what we deal with and either be helpful or not interfere. I just thought it best if she knew the truth.
  4. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    She's going to have to learn some time and better it's sooner than later. If she doesn't really "get" it.....have her babysit sometime. That usually does it with us! LOL (Sorry, I really shouldn't laugh but I've been there. Not always with family but I've been there.)

    If she adopts....**insert "you may be in for a surprise" chuckle here** is she planning on doing an infant adoption or an older child? If she's thinking the older child, would you like me to make up a list of descriptive phrases for her to watch out for? I look back on the description we received initially of difficult If I had half the knowledge then that I do now...I might have had a clue as to what we were in for.

    Honestly though, I do feel for her. She's married into a family where difficult child's pop up regularly and she probably has no idea. If she's concerned about having children, I can relate too. I'm almost 39 years old and STILL get mad some months when I get my period. At the same time though, if I were to get pregnant, I would be nervous. My mother in law is severly schizophrenic, one of her brothers more than likely had something also but self-medicated and died in his 30's from what sounds like a partial suicide and partial OD. On my side, we have a running joke about the "faulty ~family name~ gene" because of some particular "personality" traits some of us show in varying degrees. What we joke about is very likely something that can be diagnosis'd and HAS been in a couple of family members. Things like this run in families and even if there is no has to start somewhere.'s hoping she's got the sense enough to believe you, educate herself on things and handle things in a mature manner.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks, 'Stang. :) In some ways, this woman seems very naive about a lot of things. She's got some very strong opinions that don't seem to have had the benefit of tempering with experience, Know what I mean?? I think she's a smart person who had a decent education, but who doesn't have a lot of real-world knowledge if that makes sense.

    I had to laugh... I handed her a small bag of our fresh eggs and she was a little confused about what to do with them. She gave this littel shudder and asked me if they were safe to eat, thinking that something had to be done with them before they were okay to consume since they didn't come from the store. I just laughed and said no, they were just fine and that she didn't even need to worry about keeping them cold during our short stay at the beach (it was only in the mid- '70s) -- but she made an big effort to squeeze them into her little drink cooler anyway. :p

    I don't know where she thinks eggs at the store come from... maybe this is what happens to someone who lives their whole life in an affluent planned community and doesn't stray far from home!
  6. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Reminds me of an email I got once. It was one of those that had pictures of various things demonstrating the stupidity of people. One was a picture of a clipping from a newspaper. The clipping looked to be one of those rants & raves type articles. Someone had written in scolding hunters for killing animals when they could just buy meat made at the store with no animals harmed.


    Not that I'm saying sister in law is like THAT...but it is amazing the things people just don't know or realize these days.
  7. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    My sister, due to a variety of reasons, cannot have children. She lives far enough away that I only see her and her SO only a few times a year. Son was awful when she was here on Mother's day due to the psychiatrist attempting to ween him off Risperdal. That didn't work out so well. Anyway, she had a front row seat to his GFGness. She has also seen Daughter's outbursts.

    I know that her and her SO are probably so SO happy they didn't have kids. They have seen the monumental struggles both me and our brother have had with our children. My brother has a daughter who is autistic and will never live on her own. Both my sister and SO were difficult children and were heavily into drugs and alcohol in their teens and twenties.Our father was a major difficult child who caused all his kids trauma and grief. They like kids and are very good to their nieces and nephews, but, they know their genes make it highly probable they would have difficult children and would have had similiar experiences.

    I have a confession: Once a upon a time I was anti psychotherapeutic medication for children. Honestly, I just didn't have information and what I did was bias against medication without even considering any benefits. This was when Daughter was young and ironically had been given more medication than most adults take in a lifetime to survive Leukemia.

    My family (which is fairly small at this point for many reasons), if they have any, keeps their opinions to themselves. I've made it clear that medication was the last resort and if I though I could a better quality of life for them without it, I would. If they can offer me a detailed solution, which they would be willing to help implement, I will consider it. If not, keep yer trap shut;).
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It sounds like you opened her eyes. I hope it doesn't make her run away. She may even think that adopting an older child will give her the idea that if they are older you can tell if they have "problems". My childhood bff wanted to adopt an older child because you could make sure you got one without mental or chronic physical illness. I just about lost my mind laughing at her. Not meant to be mean, but she was so far from reality it was humorous to me. She "especially" wanted to make sure she didn't get a child like Wiz - and got alughed at after she had the cajones to say that to me over the phone!

    I get very annoyed when people ask if I am "sure" that Wiz needs/needed to be on a specific medication. Usually an evening babysitting after the adhd medications wore off "fixed" that "helpful" suggestion. In my family it was frequently mixed with the "Susie doesn't know what she is doing so we have to correct her" crud. Esp from my dad's siblings.

    I hope she becomes a real ally and friend. It is hard to suddenly realize things like this though.
  9. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Funny how people can ask you that even as your difficult child is tearing through their house, waving a toy sword, terrorizing their family pet and screaming like a banshee. But, he's just being a boy.
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yeah, I completely believe she's speaking from a total lack of "real" experience. I'm sorry, but babysitting your younger cousins just does NOT count. :p
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the crabs and fish! Cool idea.

    In some ways, this woman seems very naive about a lot of things. She's got some very strong opinions that don't seem to have had the benefit of tempering with experience, Know what I mean??

    That sounds like half the people I know, LOL!
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Terry, sometimes I think she is this way (super-opinionated and outspoken) because it's in response to having grown up with an overbearing and controlling mother -- sort of a push back, if you will. A way of not letting anyone control her again.

    husband says I analyze people too much :p I'm just trying to figure out where she's coming from -- and like others said here, maybe I'll find a new ally!
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Let's hope so. Especially is she's to "push back" type.
    My husband has a theory that his worst patients, aka the most argumentative ones, end up being his best allies, because once they're okay with-the treatment and trust him, they are huge mouthpieces for his clinic, LOL!
    Go for it. I've got my fingers crossed.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Funny how people can ask you that even as your difficult child is tearing through their house, waving a toy sword, terrorizing their family pet and screaming like a banshee. But, he's just being a boy.

    Especially when he's 18. (Sorry, couldn't help it, LOL!)
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You analyse people because you need to. Because otherwise stuff cna come flying at you and you're not ready.

    It sounds to me like she is gonig to need a few more experiences, before she gets it. It's a huge culture shock, when you go through your studies and graduate with a piece of paper which guarantees you know everything. I've seen it with new medical graduates - they go into shock when the see something that challenges their knowledge and often their first reaction is denial "you can't be serious about what you just reported." Then it turns to blame - "It has to be YOUR fault that you experience this. YOU did it to yourself." or "You're nuts if you continue to tell me it is like this, because I know it can't be true."
    The only alternative, you see, is for them to doubt their recently-announced-to-be-perfect knowledge.

    It takes time and repeated exposure for them to realise that the more you know, the more you need to learn and have an open mind...

    I've told you before of a 'discussion' I got into at the local school post-presentation day lunch, with the wife of a local pharmacist (who was also selling those direct marketing 'natural food' supplement thingies, including goji juice). Their daughter had some serious health problems and they used these natural supplements to make her well. Of course, she was also getting conventional medical trreatment...

    This woman can't have known our family history, she is not generally a nasty person. She turned to me and said, making conversation, "What do you think about these parents who drug their children into submission?"
    She quickly clarified that she was referring to ADHD medications, so rather than hhiding the truth I came right out and said, "I am one such parent. I agree that those medications are being overprescribed, but they won't work if the child doesn't have ADHD. And when they're needed, they are a godsend."
    She blustered a bit then said, "But surely we shouldbe using other methods? Thosedrugs are so strong, there are natural products which are healthier."

    So I gave her a lesson on how "natural" often means "blunt instrument". I began with aspirin - it is a synthetic copy of willow bark, which was the original antipyretic and analgesic. Willow bark is VERY rough on your stomach. bad as aspirin can be, willow bark is much nastier. But it works, because it happens to contain a lot of natural salicylic acid. In fact, that's how salicylic acid gets its name, from "Salix" the genus from which willow comes.
    "Natural" doesn't mean "safe" because every drug, natural or otherwise, which has a therapeutic effect, also MUST (by definition) have side effects. Does it lower blood pressure? Then the side effect is, it lowers blood pressure in peiople who already HAVE low blood pressure. And so on. A product which is 100% safe is also 100% ineffective. By definition.

    She told me that caffeine is harmless, and it works for her as a natural ADHD medication (she has ADHD, she told me). So I told her, graphically, what caffeine has done to difficult child 1 - he grabbed a bottle, smashed it and took to a classmate. caffeine would send him into rages. It would bypass ADHD medications. Although I recognise that ADHD medications don't microscopically target the inhibitory centre of the brain, it does target it better than caffeine. So again I reminded her - ADHD medications are more accurte. Caffeine is much more of a blunt instrument and has other effecgs which may be OK for you - I'm happy for you, darling - but are disastrous for my boys."

    I finsihed with "In your eyes I know I am a bad mother, because I started difficult child 3 on ADHD medications when he was 3 years old. Even though we already had seen how miraculously they seem to work, on his older brother, I was apprehensiver at such a young age. But within a week we could see amazing changes. This non-verbal child who know knew a handful of nouns, was speaking in complete sentences within the week. At 3, that is really important to remedy. He has achieved amazing things, has our boy, but he wouldn't have been able to do it if he hadn't been put on ADHD medications. It worked -for him. And that's the point - such things need to be under the careful supervision of qualified medical professionals, not handed out according to the 'suck it and see' method. Who knows? Maybe in your case a pediatrician would be happy for you to medicate with caffeine. But who knows how you would have coped, if put on ADHD medications when younger? You're clearly functioning well now. That's great. But MY kids are also functioning, BECAUSE we do what you abhor. So open your mind, dearie. It's a big wide world out here and vive la difference."

    I know I didn't convince her, but neither did I lie to her to avoid a confrontation (which a lot of people used to do - she is VERY pushy with her views and I'd had enough). We stayed on good terms and although they have now left the village, I still hear how they are all getting on. I don't think she ever found out that I am the one who made a formal complaint against her husband, when whilehewas locuming for our regular pharmacist in the village, he tried to push his own brand of rubbish onto us while I was getting the ADHD medications script filled. "Don't drug your kids with that rubbish - here's a pamphlet on what I privately sell instead."

    Naughty naughty...

    Congrats on catching the fish. At least sometihng positive was achieved!

  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow, quite an episode, Marg!
    No one should ever come up against you. :)

    My husband was a fanatic like that, too. Being a chiro, I had to fight tooth and nail for every medication that difficult child is on. Well, except recently, husband has "seen the light."

    Yes, pharmaceuticals are abused and I hate the TV commercials that show beautiful butterflies and wonderful women sleeping on soft pillows. Just like Michael Jackson ... :(
    but then you meet kids like ours, and it's a different ballgame.