I’d like help. My new sister-in-law was visiting recently from New Jersey. Looking forward to getting to know her and the kids, I was disappointed when our bonding was hi-jacked by her youngest daughter.
My sister-in-law spent much of our time together talking over, scolding and correcting her. Her oldest daughter told me that her sister is like this all the time, and she hates being around her. I watched my sister-in-law struggling and putting on a brave, apologetic face. I remember that face. It used to be mine. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s in first grade.
How do I talk to her about her daughter without insulting her?
You pose a challenging dilemma. Do you reach out and put your new relationship at risk, or remain silent in hopes of the situation resolving itself? First, I commend you for looking beyond what some may see as an undisciplined child in need of an ol’ fashioned butt whoopin’. Thanks for being compassionate.
Now, how do you open up a dialogue with your sister-in-law about her child? I don’t know. Parents rarely welcome unsolicited input on how to raise their children. I know of a mother and daughter-in-law who are in a feud that began when the mother suggested cloth diapers over disposable ones. The baby is now in middle school, (diaper rash free) while the in-laws remain estranged. Parenting advice is tricky regardless of how noble the intent may be. I suggest you first consider how you felt when you were in her shoes then, tread lightly.
With a decision to move forward with talking to your sister-in-law, my advice is to ask her open-ended questions. For example, “what activities does her daughter enjoy with friends, at school or with family.” She may share stories that will open the door for you to share about your son, specifically the challenges you face as a parent in similar situations.
Also, be ready to (gently) support her with information and resources.
Genuine caring is the sugar that helps the bitter pill go down.
It takes a village!