My In-Laws Lack Understanding of Developmental Disabilities

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 40s raising twin boys in second grade of elementary school. Both boys have developmental disabilities and attend a special needs school. However, my in-laws don’t understanding my sons’ situation.

Since they were born, my in-laws have said they refuse to take care of their grandchildren. Whenever something happens while at their house, they say things like, “Developmental disabilities are the invention of doctors and you’ve been misled.”

When my sons throw tantrums, my in-laws say the boys are not disciplined enough. When I tried to speak up, they told me to shut up.

When I invited my parents to join a meeting with me, my husband and his parents, my in-laws said that discipline is more important than love for our children. They even added that my husband and I don’t know how to raise our twins.

My parents understand developmental disabilities, so they were appalled by such comments.

My husband, who is the eldest son, asks me to respect his parents. Even when I say I don’t want to see them anymore, he doesn’t understand. What should I do?

J, Tokyo

Dear Ms. J:

You are a very kind person. You can listen to others and express your own opinions. Your children are lucky to have such a mother.

Children with developmental disabilities often have difficulty with personal relationships. Therefore, the presence of such a mother is crucial for them to build secure relationships.

However, depending on the person you are dealing with, your strength can become an obstacle. No matter how well you make your case, there are some people who will not understand.

Your husband and his parents are a case in point. It’s important to talk to people like that, but it’s impossible to make them understand your position.

The best thing you can do is to avoid seeing your in-laws by telling your husband that you cannot get along with them.

The wife of my senior associate, whom I respect, stopped socializing with her husband’s family, saying that she married him, not his family. While her husband and in-laws were initially against the idea, they eventually accepted it.

It may take time, but for the sake of your precious children, your husband and yourself, please take your feelings into consideration as you begin to act.

Yutaka Ono, psychiatrist