My husband's brother and his wife have a daughter, age five, who has some developmental delay, specifically with her speech, and some unusual behaviours that sometimes seem to lean towards autistic tendencies.
I went to school for developmental disability studies and work in a developmental disability class so I’m educated on "atypical development."
I know how important early intervention is.
I’m upset, as they’ve been denying it since she was age two, when her nursery school had suggested seeing a speech language pathologist.
Now her kindergarten teacher has suggested one, as well as a school psychologist see her.
They’re reluctantly going along with it and still think their daughter doesn't have any problems.
They can’t take any feedback; they believe that it’s criticism or calling their child stupid. They’re ignoring her developmental issues, and it upsets me.
But it upsets me more that they openly admit that they themselves don’t like vegetables or fruit and do not feed their daughter vegetables or fruit.
They openly admit that they feed her deep-fried foods and other unhealthy things. She also smells horrible and behaves horribly, which they allow, like not eating her meals and feeding her what she wants later.
I worry for her educational and physical wellbeing. She’s very overweight for her age.
I feel a great deal of anger towards these parents and we cannot say anything, as they’ll blow up.
My husband's parents have tried suggesting feeding her veggies/fruit, or taking her to the doctor to see how she’s doing with her development, but they respond angrily.
They scream, yell, call us awful names, and cut us all off for weeks until they receive an apology. We always tried to say things as if we care.
I feel they’re failing this child and that it’s borderline neglect. They’re able to spend money on their hobbies, so I can't imagine it has anything to do with money.
I’m unable to call children’s services because I feel the parents will know I did it.
While I empathize with your appropriate concerns about this child, I get the feeling that you personally are over-invested in judgment. It may be natural because of your education, but it’s counter-productive, as they clearly resent your opinions. They may even believe you think you’re superior and this makes them angry in response.
Fortunately, the school has moved to have the girl assessed. If you back off and let the authorities handle telling the parents what they’ve learned and what’s needed, they’ll hopefully follow through on behaviour management. The couple may also be recognized as needing family therapy.
IF they ignore what’s required at school, authorities there may decide to call in child welfare officials. But you should not do this.
Unfortunately, so long as she’s not being starved, lack of healthier nutrition isn’t considered abuse. Yes, it’s careless and irresponsible – and childhood obesity easily becomes a lifelong problem – but parents still have some legal autonomy on what they feed their child.
Your interest is well founded, but intrusion is a mistake, at this point.
It’d be far wiser, and potentially helpful, to be kind, and supportive of the girl when you see her, and try to befriend her parents.
You may not find it easy to be around some behaviours, but you could get to know the mother, away from the child. Ask about their hobbies, spend a little time together, and perhaps she’d respect your views more, and not take them as insults towards them.
My younger brother finished high school, has no job, and mostly smokes weed, still living with our parents.
I’m often in the middle of their huge blowouts, usually about money. They give him a monthly allowance. He wants more, but they’re worried he’ll spend it all on weed.
I’ve asked him why he smokes so much, but he shrugs me off or yells. I’m worried about him and my parents, but feel powerless.
Worried in Middle
He smokes to escape, because he has nothing else and doesn’t know what to do. It’s your parents’ job, not yours, to change things.
They should get him to career testing/counseling, which can boost his confidence that he has skills or dreams to follow – he goes, or no allowance. After, he gets a job or takes courses, or moves out with enough money for rent only, for a limited period of schooling or job start-up.
Tip of the day:
Criticism pushes people away, instead of helping them change.