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The Future Inlaws....


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#1 shellbell

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 07:18 PM

Whilst im not engaged or anything like that yet, i think its pretty fair to say my boyfriend and I will reach that stage one day (we both know we want to spend forever together we are both still young and not ready for it just yet). Currently we are actually doing long distance and have been for 2.5yrs (we've been together for 3) and I try get home to visit when i can which is roughly every 2-3 months and he comes to visit as well.

Luke's older brother has Cerebral Palsy (sp?), quite bad infact that he cant walk, talk, has to be fed and is practically confined to a chair all day. I dont see him very often at all cause i dont live in the same town and dont really no how to be around someone with this condition, how to communicate, what to say, how to act etc etc. To be completely honest I'm uncomfortable around his brother (I hope im not offending anyone when i say that cause i dont mean to!!)

Luke came to visit last weekend and just before he left for his 5hr drive home, he sat me down for a talking to. He told me that the past few times ive been home (Ive been home twice this yr!) that ive upset his mother because of how I interact with his brother. I was absolutely gobsmacked..a little offended, a little angry and a little upset at this. I felt like i was being attacked/getting in trouble because i dont no how to act around someone with the condition. As i said we've been doing long distance for 2.5yrs ( we were together for 6 months before i moved for study) and i never see his brother, nor have i actually been told anything about his condition, except for the obvious speaking inabilities, if my mother hadnt of asked a relative whilst in the hair salon one day what happened, I would never have known as ive never felt like i should even ask the question. To sum it all up, i was pretty much told to try harder!!

Am i overreacting and being a bit selfish and defensive? or have any of you ever been in a similar situation or have future/inlaws with a severe disability, how did it make you feel, what did you do to over come it and do you have any advice for me?

I guess im a little defensive also because at some points in time im really irritated by his mother, she is your classic example of mother not wanting her baby to leave home. Just to give u an idea of what she's like: As a bit of fun on his recent visit, he let me wax his chest, well when he got home and showed her, well she thought it was absolutely disgusting, said he looked like a girl n that he better not show his father...that irritated me sooo much, i just thought to myself Its hair it grows back!!! GRRR!

So any advice from you lovely ladies would be really really appreciated! xoxo

#2 Calzo

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 07:23 PM

Maybe it might help to talk to your partner to let him know about this. Speak to him about how you're not sure on how to interact with his brother, he may be able to give you some pointers. I have a boy in my class with CP and while he is quite high functioning i find just talking to him as i would any other person makes both himself and myself more comfortable. I honestly believe that discussing this with your other half will help both of you...all the best smile.gif
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#3 Cole29

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 07:32 PM

I know a fair bit about cerebral palsy and my advice to you would be that if you see a future for you and your boy as you say you do, you should do some research and find out a bit about the condition. There are actually several different types of CP - and each inidvidual is affected in a different way. It is obviously difficult for you given you don't see his family often, but his mum has probably faced a lot of negativity towards her son over the years and therefore is protective - you will need to understand that if you are to become a part of this family long term, his brother's CP will always be a huge part of the family too and you will need to be much much more accepting and understanding of it all. I am not having a go at you, as I said I can see that it has been difficult with the whole long distance situation, but I think will have to make more of an effort - maybe ask his mum about it next time you see her, you might find it makes her happy just to know that you are wanting to be more involved.
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#4 em2007

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 07:34 PM

I don't think there is an issue with not knowing how to act... I supervise uni students doing hospital placements and the majority of them are thrown on how to interact with someone who can't talk.

However - I think you do need to make more of an effort to involve yourself.

Hopefully you feel comfortable enough to talk to your boyfriend. Just say you are nervous and unsure. Ask him questions about his brother and be guided by his reactions. You could ask him (your boyfriend) how much he understands, what he likes etc. The spectrum is HUGE! Just because someone can't speak or move doesn't mean they don't have understanding, a sense of humour, likes and dislikes etc.biggrin.gif

When you are around his brother then be guided by how others talk to him. a good way to learn to feel comfortable is to fake it - pay attention to things your bf says to him and then you can say those things at different times. Eventually you will be more comfortable and won't analyse everything you say etc.

#5 Monica

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:15 PM

I agree with all of the above.
Talk to your boyfriend about how you feel and educate yourself so that you may feel more comfortable.

And just remember, not everything is always as it seems.
His brother has feelings, just like anyone else. He may not be able to convey them to you, but it doesn't mean they aren't there.
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#6 pinkbutterfly

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:29 PM

I have been araound people with all sorts of disabilities since I was quite young as my mother worked for an organisation which supported them. I now work at a case management program for people with complex needs and for carers of children with disabilities.

I also worked quite closely for 10 years as a care worker for an adult with cerebral palsay. She couldnt walk or talk very well, but eventually I learnet how to communicate with her. And she had a wicked sense of humour and loved to hear and tell jokes, loved to cook, even though I was her hands... and she even was a whiz on the sewing machine!

I guess it is hard for you because you have been thrown in and not told how to interact with BFs brother. I would sit down with BF and ask him what exactly his family expects from you. How to talk to his brother? What to expect his reactions to be. Maybe you could offer to feed him or help prepare his meals or something.

Also get in touch with Spastic Centre in your area and see if they have any information to support you.

And another thing to keep in mind... BFs parents KNOW they wont be around forever, and there will come a time when they can no longer care for their disabled adult child. They look at potential DILs as a future carer for the other child. Now this might not mean the day to day care but certainly his brother will be expected to have a big part in his life once they are gone... and that means his wife too. Maybe that's why she is a bit over critical.

I hope that made sense. I have some friends who the husband has a disabled brother. She knew that she'll be taking him on one day before they got married and even they bought their house based on room for the brother to come to live once parents are no longer around.
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#7 Cole29

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:35 PM

QUOTE(pinkbutterfly @ Aug 1 2009, 09:29 PM) View Post

Also get in touch with Spastic Centre in your area and see if they have any information to support you.



PB - such good advice, I meant to say this myself, the Spastic Centre is a fabulous organisation and can definitely help you with some info. There are also other organisations in certain States such as the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland.


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#8 ♥ Emsie ♥

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:43 PM

I agree with the above, you need to involve yourself.

While I can understand that you don't know anything about the condition (neither do I FWIW) I think that you need to be the one to ask how you can interact with your BF's brother.

I also think it would be a great thing for you to do some research on CP, even just the basics of the condition to begin with will help all involved.

Google is great for this sort of research, or even just reading the wikipedia page on the condition would be a great place to start.

I think making the effort to understand, and by learning as much as you can, asking them questions and asking them for help (and yes I do believe you should have to ask) will go a long way with your BF and his family.

I'm not having a go, nor am I siding with the mum, but I completely understand where she is coming from. If you've been seeing your BF for 3 years... if I were the mother, I'd have expected you to make an effort a long time ago... but thats just me.

Good luck with your research and getting to know your BF's brother. As Monica said, even though he may not be able to communicate with you, it doesn't mean that the two of you can't develop a friendship!
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#9 beth

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 08:30 AM

QUOTE(xxEmxx @ Aug 1 2009, 09:13 PM) View Post


I'm not having a go, nor am I siding with the mum, but I completely understand where she is coming from. If you've been seeing your BF for 3 years... if I were the mother, I'd have expected you to make an effort a long time ago... but thats just me.



As a Mum I agree with this. I worked in with adults and children with disabilities for many years, and frequently the parents do get hurt when their child is not acknowledged or treated as a person (not that I think that's what you are doing, just from what I have observed). He may have a communication board or some other way of communicating. When speaking with him use the same tone and volume you would with anyone else.

Perhaps it might be best to bypass your boyfriend and sit his Mum down for a coffee and just explain your discomfort, she is obviously aware of it, but might appreciate your openess and willingness to be a part of his whole family.

As an aside, I worked as a careprovider for a man who could not walk, talk, eat, cry etc, and being given the opportunity to get to know him over several years I realised that he was very smart, ran his own business and was always supportive of my decisions and is a mentor (rather than godparent) to my son, he absoloutly changed the course of my life. I also learnt from him how easy it is to be selfish when speaking to a person who cannot readily communicate back (he uses an eye alphabet which is time consuming but worth it and it is his right to be able to communicate), and I hope that he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his. Anyway, it may be an opportunity to make a new friend, and when it comes to inlaws it is far better to get along with them than to be at war smile.gif HTH
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#10 shellbell

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 07:23 PM

Thanks for all your help ladies!!

I bit the bullet and told Luke that i had something i needed to talk to him about and i just spilled it all out. I told him everything ive been feeling, how im not sure how to be and what to do etc and i asked for his help, i asked him to please tell me more about his brother so i can better understand the condition and better interact with him. He told me not to be nervous or scared and that each member of his family has a different way of interacting with craig and that no one is going to think differently of me for what i say or do cause they are all different, he also apologised for not helping me and for not telling me more about him and is going to tell me everything next time we are together so hopefully as time progresses ill be able to interact with craig much better, with more understanding and be less and less uncomfortable.

Thanks again, if it werent for all your advice I probably wouldnt have reached out to him for help!!

#11 ♥ Emsie ♥

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 08:09 PM

thats excellent to hear smile.gif So glad that it has panned out this way for you smile.gif
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#12 Cole29

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 09:57 PM

Good move - I think now that you hve taken that step things will progress, it may be slow at first but you will get there. Just give yourself time to understand and be patient, both with yourself and Craig.

Well done.
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#13 MindyT

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 01:19 PM

Perhaps you could spend some time alone with Craig and your partner, that way you can get to know him better without the feeling of being scrutinized (though I am sure that they wouldn't intentionally do this to you). As an added bonus his mum will get a little spare time which I am sure she would appreciate. But keep in mind that his care needs seem fairly high so make sure your partner is on hand with his expertise... he will know how to care for his brother and help you communicate.

Ask his mum questions if you have them I am sure she wont mind and will appreciate you showing interest in their family's life. She will be your best resource as she cares for her son day in and day out.

Good luck!! but you have made the first step in the right direction!

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