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Continue caring for my nephew, or stop? (UPDATE post #75)

post #1 of 115
Thread Starter 
*sigh*. Remember my nephew with the too-small shoe issue? DH and I care for him 1-2 times of week. Not out of necessity- he has others who can and do watch him when we can't. He is enrolled in the same gymnastics class as our daughter 1x per week. We just wanted him to get out of the house every so often. He rarely gets out.

DN has some developmental delays. He's 2 years and 2 months old. Sometimes I feel like, when dealing with him, I'm dealing with my DD when she was 15 months old. I don't expect to reason with a 2 year old, I know that they're really not capable of that yet, and I know that for the most part kids of that age lack impulse control. That is totally understandable.

My daughter doesn't understand why he hurts her and acts out and why what he does is allowed to "fly" as opposed to her. She's 2 years and 9 months old. She is able to be reasoned with, and though she does tend to misbehave, understands the natural consequences of her actions and is at times able to predict what might happen if she does xyz misbehavior. She is one for testing boundaries and is very spirited. She just really doesn't understand why my DN can do things she can't (kick people repeatedly, punch, pinch, hit). She often asks him to stop whatever "bad" thing he's doing and attempts to explain to him what could possibly happen if he continues the behavior- but it is of course to no avail.

My DN does not really eat much food- he guzzles bottles of milk all day (walks around with them) and oh man he MUST get them. I made the mistake of forgetting his bottle when we went to gymnastics yesterday and had to use one of DDs clean sippy cups (the kind with the silicone top- had it for my now 9 month old over the summer because she liked to chomp on the spout.. never drank the water though ) that were in the car. Didn't work.. he wasn't able to drink out of it and he spilled it all over himself in the car because he didn't know what to do. I felt terrible because he was without his milk, and he needed it.

Caring for him is very similar to caring for my now 9 month old, only without the breastfeeding, and he can walk. He is extremely high-needs. He is non-verbal (knows a few words though.. "choo-choo", "mommy" (he calls ME mommy.. doesn't call his own mom mommy and my kids dont call me mommy, they call me mama, so no clue where he got that), and "te-ta" (bottle), oh and yesterday learned the word "window" from my DD ), and screams and acts out to get your attention. Much in the way that my 9 month old does It is just a lot to handle.

It is incredibly difficult for me to care for a very tall 35lb toddler who wants to flop everywhere and wander around. He frequently throws himself on the floor. He does not understand simple commands "Please stand up/sit/come here" in English or Spanish (the two languages that are spoken around him). It is SO hard for me to have to scoop him up, while still caring for my 9 month old and 2yo.

I knew what I was getting into when I offered to take him along with us on our "field trips". I knew that he was incredibly violent and had developmental delays. I LOVE my nephew. I was under the impression that "Oh, a little love will go a long way". I was wrong. I was thinking that putting him into our world of care and gentle discipline would help him out.

His parents don't really care for him as more than an accessory, which I am very sorry to say. His clothes are always the wrong size or inappropriate for the weather (because they're "in style"), They never take him outside (his mom was a SAHM for the first two years of his life and he was just dropped off at his grandmother's house for most of it). His grandmother (my gmil, DHs grandma... he's really my DHs 1st cousin, just much younger) lives upstairs from me. When he gets outside, he runs free and doesn't know what to do with himself. He is constantly spoken to in baby talk, he doesn't know his name (is starting to learn it because of DH and I) because he has had a million ridiculous nicknames (one that was, translated, "Dirty/Nasty little [insert his name here]" because it rhymed ). He is violent because he gets hit (his parents have slapped him in front of us because he hit my DD.. wonderful example...) I just feel so sorry for him. I wanted to care for him to help him out a little- let him enjoy his childhood.

My DH doesn't want us to care for him any more. He says that we are confusing our daughter by allowing him to do whatever he wants. IT Is confusing her though... she doesn't get why he can do things she can't. He is her size, they could pass for twins. It's hard to explain that "hes little and doesn't know any better" when he's really NOT as little as we're making him out to be.

What really angers me about my DHs attitude towards the situation is the fact that he says that our DN "is embarrassing and is making us look bad as parents". We do get looks and comments from strangers. They don't understand that the little boy who looks 2 years old doesn't act like a 2 year old because he is not developmentally there yet. Or maybe they do understand that- they just think we messed up as parents. Either way- it's none of their business- but my DH is a very proud person (as much as he doesn't want to admit it) and he can't stand it.

I feel like... if I don't care for him on these occasions, no one will be there for him. I was his advocate when his shoes didn't fit him (a few sizes too small). Finally new shoes were put on him and they're still small.. just not AS small.

Sorry this is long.. but wwyd? Keep caring for him and be willing to work through his quirks, knowing there's nothing you can do to help it and knowing that it is making your own child miserable? Or tell his parents sorry, we can't care for him, he is high needs and we are just not prepared to take on that responsiblity right now.

I really don't know how to feel or deal with this.
post #2 of 115
Your DH needs to adjust his attitude & stop being petty.

When the DN is with you why are you letting him get away with things you don't let your dd?

he doesn't sound that developmentally off other than the talking. Alot of his "delays" seem to be things that he can easily catch up on when treated like a 2yo & not like a baby.
post #3 of 115
I would continue taking care of him. I think your DH is completely off base. Who cares what other people think: a child's needs are much more important than the anonymous public. Deal.

I also would stop stressing so much about his delays etc. Does he really not understand the simplest commands? how does he do in class? are his developmental issues diagnosed? I am not saying that he doesn't have problems, I am just saying that maybe he doesn't. How does his grandmother care for him? Even if he wasn't with his mother for a large portion of two years he was with his grandmother, how is she?

I also don't think the sippy cup thing is a big deal, in fact I would continue giving him a cup instead of a bottle and help him learn how to use it. (maybe keep a bottle as back-up in case he really can't use it but I would expect that in a bit he will figure it out)
post #4 of 115
He doesn't sound like a 9 month old, though I get why you are comparing him to one... Just don't give in to his tantrums, talk to him like a human (no babytalk), and expect him to be a big boy in your presence (within reason). I mean, 2 is still very little, of course, but he will start acquiring more words - and using them to express how he feels. So, just model and encourage that.

If you don't want the stress of watching a 3rd child (understandable), then that's one thing, but I wouldnt stop including him b/c your DH cares what others think. There will be plenty of times when your own children will misbehave and embarrass you in public - promise! Especially as they get older and are more opinionated and stubborn. Might as well ignore the stares from outsiders now.

Since your aren't his mother, I would try not to worry or judge aboutthe bottle. Just as many 2 year olds still need to nurse frequently, he finds comfort in his bottle. If his life is as you say, then that's probably a good thing for him, yk?
post #5 of 115
Your nephew sounds a lot like my youngest son was at that age, so I completely understand the frustration of a child who can't understand or follow directions in the same way that other kids his age can and gets frustrated because he can't communicate. If you continue to care for him, you really need to just think of him as a large 12-18 month old - keep showing him by example, redirecting, etc, but don't expect complete compliance. FTR, my son is 5 now, and while he's still a little behind his peers, he's not nearly as behind as he was from about 2 to 3.5.

However, I think you do need to consider whether caring for him is in your best interest and the best interest of your children. I would be pretty annoyed if my husband was worried that a child (whether ours or someone else's) would "make us look bad" and want to stop caring for the child because of that. However, it doesn't mean it's wrong that he wants you to consider stopping. It sounds like you're really overwhelmed taking care of him and your own children and your family life is suffering. You have to decide on whether the good effects your involvement might have on your nephew is worth the negative effects you taking him on is having on the rest of your family.
post #6 of 115
I did want to add, though, that there really is a big difference between a newly 2 (your nephew) and a coming up on 3 (your dd). While your dd might have a hard time understanding it, being the same size does not equal being of the same abilities and maturity level. Those 7 months between them can be huge, especially if your dd is mature for her age and your nephew has delays. It might be a good time to talk to your daughter about this (size doesn't equal maturity, age appropriate discussion about developmental delays, compassion for the difficulties of others, etc).
post #7 of 115
My 27 month old DS is much like your nephew in some ways. He does have delays, and we are working with him to help him learn language skills to help with the frustration. Also, as a result of global delay and hypotonia, he prefers nursing or using a bottle. Yes, I still allow him access to a bottle at times. He may physically be 2, but emotionally, he is NOT, and while most of the time I hand him a sippy cup and he uses that, sometimes he is too tired to coordinate that well.

Sometimes you just go with what works because there are bigger fish to fry in a kid's life, you know?

Also, I do get some people who are judgmental about my parenting when he responds in a way most kids his age don't. If I let that define my self-worth and my skill as a parent I would never go out which is a much bigger disservice to him.

A young two year old with developmental delays is hard to understand. Kids change SO fast over the first few years that those few months really are huge. They look like they should be able to do more and understand more than they can, and that throws people off. As the family member with the child, you can certainly deflect some of that and clarify- simply modeling the approach that DOES work is usually enough.

At any rate, if you don't want to do this because it's more than YOU can manage- fine, but if you want to not take him because your husband needs outside validation to feel worthwhile as a parent and feels that somehow caring for a kid who needs a little extra love takes away from that- I think he's missed the boat.
post #8 of 115
Quote:
Your DH needs to adjust his attitude & stop being petty.
That was a little harsh. It sounds like watching him is putting a strain on everyone in the family. I don't know if we should jump on the dh for being embarassed by having this kid out in public with him.

Has your nephew been tested for developmental delays? Is he receiving any sort of therapy?
post #9 of 115
I think your DN is very fortunate to have such a great advocate in his life. I admire your efforts and your commitement to him. If you can - keep going, and it will pay off big time in this little boy's life. I wish you strength and support. Sending you and your family positive vibes.
post #10 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
I did want to add, though, that there really is a big difference between a newly 2 (your nephew) and a coming up on 3 (your dd). While your dd might have a hard time understanding it, being the same size does not equal being of the same abilities and maturity level. Those 7 months between them can be huge, especially if your dd is mature for her age and your nephew has delays. It might be a good time to talk to your daughter about this (size doesn't equal maturity, age appropriate discussion about developmental delays, compassion for the difficulties of others, etc).

and girls tend to mature faster than boys so that may contribute to the gap in their abilities also.
post #11 of 115
When you say developmental delays, are you talking a bout a specifically dx'd SN, or are you simply trying to say he is behind where your DD was a few month ago when she was his age. Everything you mention sounds like it can be clearly explained by environment. The speech may just be do to being spoken to in babytalk combined with a bilingual environment. The violence is pretty typical for the age, and if he is being hit that is just reinforcing it. The bottle is pretty common, my DS still nursed more than he drank from cups at that age.

I don't understand why you are just tolerating him hitting/kicking/etc though. If he hurts your DD, take him to a quiet place away from her for a few moments and tell him using simple clear language that he can only return to playing with her if he doesn't hit/kick/etc. Repeat as often as necessary. It is very typical for a child this age to need repeated correction for this kind of behavior.
post #12 of 115
You might consider posting some of these issues over on the special needs board, if you're not already. There are wonderful people over there who can help you think through some of this stuff. You're facing a tough situation. I can absolutely understand wanting to help out a nephew - I would want to help mine, for sure. Yet with three small kids, well, that's a lot.

I wouldn't worry much about your daughter not understanding why DN gets away with stuff and she doesn't. I would try telling her something like, DN hasn't learned X yet. You have already learned it. It's not bad that your DD tries to explain things to your DN. Our DD has tried to explain things to our cats, her stuffed animals and various inanimate objects. It is part of her learning process. If she is going to continue to spend time with DN, which I assume she is, she is going to learn that his abilities are different. I would just take most of that at face value but I do think the special needs board may have more insight. There have been some kids with special needs in our preschool and the other kids learn how to get along and also that the rules may be different for different kids.

As for your DH, well, it's easy to look down on his worries, but I bet a lot of parents have them. Here I would say that DN should come first, if you are able to keep helping him. Best of luck to you. It's a wonderful thing you are doing by including DN in your lives as much as you can.
post #13 of 115
While I certainly don't believe that the purpose of children is to make their parents and other caregivers "look good," I also don't believe that it's a good idea to just disregard your husband's feelings in this matter.

My girls are older than your two children, but even so, I don't feel I could handle caring regularly for an additional, very needy, child if I didn't have my husband's support.

But, then, I sometimes found it overwhelming to take my older dd to activities a few years ago, because of how wild my younger dd would often get in these settings. It's really hard for me to even picture myself having a 2 yo in gymnastics and having to regularly put a 9-month-old in a carseat and drive places.

So I'm pretty impressed that you're even getting out and about with your two children at such young ages. I couldn't imagine adding what sounds like a very high-need little boy into the mix.

I do think it's great that you care about meeting your nephew's needs; I just think you should be really attentive to your own needs and the needs of your immediate family. I'm not sure what the right course of action is, exactly, but (as I've already said) for me it would simply be sooooo stressful to be doing all this without my dh's support.
post #14 of 115
Thread Starter 
Thank you all soo much for being so supportive.

When I say that he gets away with stuff, I mean that even redirecting him, pulling him aside, talking with him, etc. gets nowhere. He does not understand when people speak to him- he almost does not acknowledge you. He doesn't make eye contact, unless he's coming to you for something.

His pediatrician told his parents that he had a speech delay because he was being spoken to in "baby talk". They recommended speech therapy. They never took him to the therapy because special needs are "imagined diseases so that docs can make $$$" in DHs family. It is a running joke with them... "Oh, don't talk to him in baby talk or he'll need speech therapy!! [in sarcastic tone]". One of my other nephews and his little brother both have SPD- and MIL frequently makes fun of their mother and jokes that she (overweight mil speaking of herself) has a sensory issue that makes her eat too much. It's so sad.

My DN is just.. "off". I'm not really sure how to describe it. Sure, the speech is delayed, but alot of kids have speech delays and are fine in all other departments. I suspect that DN has sensory issues as well, because he does have some behaviors that lead me to think so... (ie: must [must!!] sleep on a hard surface [the floor, in most cases] and adamantly refuses to sleep on cushiony beds, couches, etc).

Talking to him is almost like talking to a wall, except a wall is stationary and he is not... he doesn't acknowledge you, and it's almost like he doesn't hear you. His doctor said he didn't have hearing problems (says his mother).

His fine motor skills are finally more developed, and his gross motor skills were lagging behind for awhile too.

For one of his first two years, his grandmother was battling cancer, and was going through chemo (It's gone now!! ). He was at her house, but under the care of his grandfather, who is an alcoholic (starts drinking at 10am and doesn't quit until the day's end). He would frequently just fall asleep in the chair and DN would sleep in his car seat all day or be in the play pen all day. Currently, grandmother is better so she does watch him, and he has a rubbermaid tote full of probably 100 matchbox cars and odds and ends to keep him busy for the 10 hours he's there for. The television is left on all day. My MIL boasts about how"oh, he doesn't even watch the TV but he needs it on, haha, he NEEDS the TV on!" I have spoken my mind to her about that but.. you know how that goes. If grandfather is watching him, and he starts crying, grandfather leaves the room because he can't stand it. Even if no one else is there to watch DN. It's so sad.
post #15 of 115
Your DN sounds a lot like my daughter at that age. It was very hard for me to handle her, we didn't get out much, and I don't blame you (or your DH) if it's too much on top of your own kids. (Although it may seem unkind to make an abrupt change in your arrangements - perhaps there will be a natural transition when the gymnastics class ends.)

I must say though that I don't believe that delays are caused by "babying." I think that babying is often a response to delays. If you believe that delays mean the parents are doing something wrong, then it's no wonder your husband thinks that will reflect on you in public situations where you are presumed to be the primary caregivers. I had no choice but to "baby" my daughter by meeting her where she was at. She didn't even try to say a modified version of her own name until she was three, and she's never been called anything but her proper name. She's still not potty-trained at 4.5 yrs; there's not a lot I can do about it unless I want to get into unacceptable discipline techniques like hitting or shaming. The same goes for taking her out places. What I have learned is that they will respond to appropriate parenting when they are ready and sometimes that means you have to hold on for the ride. I would not blame any non-parent for not volunteering for this, but please check the judgment on your in-laws.

Oh, and about TV - TV was a great help to me with a child like this, not only to keep her occupied, but because the speech on most children's television is clear to an almost exaggerated degree. I never baby-talked her, but clearly there was something she wasn't "getting" in the muddle of daily adult speech. Right before her speech development turned a corner, she went through a phase of repeating catch-phrases from TV over and over again. I also declined speech therapy. I am of the theory that there's not a lot that can be done about asynchronous development. I had gross motor issues into my twenties. I was sent to some kind of therapeutic P.E. sessions in elementary school and it did nothing but humiliate me. The only curative was time. Similarly, my husband and I made the judgment that the once-a-week group sessions in a public school environment we were offered were unlikely to make a difference in my daughter's speech development; indeed when you think about it, the idea that that would make a major difference implies a serious insult about the quality of our home environment, and I'm not talking about just allowing TV either. I think resisting the pathologization of developmental differences is well within your in-laws' rights as parents. It may not be the choice you would make for your own, but he's not your own, so all you can do is contribute on an appropriate level considering your own family's needs. I was with you on the shoes but second-guessing parenting issues of a more discretionary nature will only drive a wedge.
post #16 of 115
There are soooo many different issues there!

About the sn stuff --
it sounds like there isn't a thing you can do about it. The parents need to get the kid a hearing check, a complete eval, and most likely some therapies, and they aren't going to do it. When the child is school age, this stuff will most likely come to a head. In the meantime, you have to figure out how much time YOU want to spend with a child who isn't getting the help he needs.

About your DD --
This is closely related to the first point. If this child had a dx and was getting help, then it would be possible to start explaining sn to her. However, that isn't the case and it seem unfair to HER to force her to spend a great deal of time with a child who is continually horrid to her.

About your DH -- on one hand, his attitude would bother me deeply. I have a sn child who sometimes makes me look bad as a parent, and I know that some people judge me. It hurts. So I don't think it's a good reason to not spend time with your nephew, but there are a lot of other reasons to really limit time with him. May be you and your DH could talk about how you would handle things if you had a child with developmental issues and what would be different -- about what you control and what you don't control. May be if you felt your DH would handle things better if it were his own child who were getting the therapies and such that he needed, you guys could get back on the same page, which is really what is best for your marrige.

For me -- my first priority is always what is best for my own children.
post #17 of 115
I would definitely take some time away without him. Your husband deserves some family time with just you and his own kids. He might be saying it wrong "making us look like bad parents", but he's being honest. Your nephew embarrasses him.

But, I wouldn't stop all together. Your nephew will mature and grow up in his own time, and he will outgrow some of this obnoxious behavior. I know how hard it is to scoop up a great big child, when you already have your own to deal with. Especially if you guys are on one level of your building, and you need to move to the other level, and he decides to turn into a puddle.

I would continue what you are doing, but perhaps do it a little less for a while.

Also, as hard as it is, you really need to try to let most of his issues go. He isn't yours, so you don't need to stress out about it. Just accept him where he is now, and completely let the rest go. The things you can't control, just don't put any thought into it. (I personally, think you should put bigger shoes on him when you take him places)

Just be the aunt and uncle that he has fond memories of. But, give your husband some time away from him, and some time of not even discussing your nephew's issues around your husband. He might be bored with the subject.
post #18 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by GalateaDunkel View Post

I must say though that I don't believe that delays are caused by "babying." I think that babying is often a response to delays. If you believe that delays mean the parents are doing something wrong, then it's no wonder your husband thinks that will reflect on you in public situations where you are presumed to be the primary caregivers. I had no choice but to "baby" my daughter by meeting her where she was at. She didn't even try to say a modified version of her own name until she was three, and she's never been called anything but her proper name. She's still not potty-trained at 4.5 yrs; there's not a lot I can do about it unless I want to get into unacceptable discipline techniques like hitting or shaming. The same goes for taking her out places. What I have learned is that they will respond to appropriate parenting when they are ready and sometimes that means you have to hold on for the ride. I would not blame any non-parent for not volunteering for this, but please check the judgment on your in-laws.

Oh, and about TV - TV was a great help to me with a child like this, not only to keep her occupied, but because the speech on most children's television is clear to an almost exaggerated degree. I never baby-talked her, but clearly there was something she wasn't "getting" in the muddle of daily adult speech. Right before her speech development turned a corner, she went through a phase of repeating catch-phrases from TV over and over again.
I want to say I agree 100% with this. I treat my son differently than I treated my older kids at 5 years old. I do more for him because he can't do those things for himself- it's not that he can't do them because I do them for him. Thankfully, I don't get much criticism because he's so much smaller than other kids his age (maybe the size of an average three year old?) and his speech is so unclear that people just assume he's much younger than he is.

Also, while we're not a big baby talk family, I'm pretty sure studies have shown that baby talk isn't detrimental to speech development and is actually a natural way that mothers tend to speak to their children. Being that he's from a bilingual family, it's really not surprising that his speech is a bit behind. The ability to follow directions and accept redirection really is a maturity thing. I mean, most people would expect a 12 month old not to listen when told not to touch something, and then scream when taken away to do another activity, and then try to return to the forbidden item right away. And it wouldn't be surprising if a 15 month old reached out and pinched or smacked someone who took a toy out of their hand, right? With kids those ages you just redirect, demonstrate, gently explain, remove problem items, wash-rinse-repeat, until they get it. Your nephew hasn't gotten it yet, so you have to just keep doing those things until he does.

On the tv - I just want to say a big yeah that to the poster I'm quoting. You know those horrid "teach your baby to read" videos? I can't tell you how many words my son learned from watching those over and over. I hated them, but they worked on a speech development level. Obviously I don't think kids should watch tv all day long, but my youngest watch far more tv than my older kids (and still does) because it helps him learn to talk.
post #19 of 115
This may or may not be helpful, but here you go.

We have friends with a 22 month old daughter. She does not make eye contact. She does not communicate - not just no talking, but no grunting, repetitive consonants, nothing. She cries constantly.

For a while, we were watching the kids (she has a brother) and hanging out with the family all the time. It got to the point that DH & I were arguing about it because I had a hard time telling my friend no but this child was just so draining. It finally came to a head when the kids (mine & theirs) were in the living room while I was getting dinner out to the table. She had been crying for 2 hours straight despite holding, singing, DH dancing, anything. She was holding a shirt and rocking back and forth. (Yes, I know that's stimming, but I don't know how to tell my friend I think there's something going on with her child.) Finally my 3.5YO, who is super patient and lovey with smaller kids, walked over and knocked the child down. Then she screamed, "I'm tired of you crying!" So DH rushes in & handles it, but we realized then that we'd let it go on too far.

We took a break from being with this family as much, and I can't tell you the difference it's made. I didn't realize how much tension there was because of watching her so much. (We were with them 3-4 times a week.) We went somewhere with them last week, and the little girl cried the 2 hours we were there. Mom is exhausted and starting to look worn down, but they still think there's nothing wrong. I love my friends, but I can't change their parenting decisions. For my family, though, it's been much better to pull back than to continue on with a stress we don't have to take on.
post #20 of 115
First: Boys and girls are different, especially verbally. Bilingual kids are different. Kids are different.

Your nephew honestly doesn't sound much different from my older child, at least as far as language comprehension and understanding rational statements. He was way over 3 before we could have "if/then, first/next" discussions, and trying to do it frustrated him immensely and made him start having screaming tantrums.

That kid today is at the top of his class for reading, writing, and anything verbal.

Of course, he wasn't being compared, every step of the way, with a cousin who was an oldest/only child, and a girl, and probably advanced for her age. I think comparing kids in the way you and your DH are doing is really risky, sometimes. ON one hand, it is important to be able to step in if a child is truly delayed. But delay is diagnosed not by comparing with one, or two, or even three other children, but with the total pool of *all* other children. You can't assume that because your DD was doing something at his age, your DN must have something wrong with him.

I know two toddlers (2yo this summer) born less than 4 months apart. They were both at a party at our house last month. One was speaking in sentences and initiating conversations. The other was pointing a lot and drooling and occasionally screaming. Both sets of parents are loving, involved, attached people. Both sets of parents have multiple high-level degrees. And both kids are well within "Normal" range for their age, developmentally.

I'm somewhat disturbed, too, by your husband's ocmment that being seen with your nephew is somehow shameful.. Children are amazingly different. My first was a challenge, my second sounds very similar to your DD. Thank goodness I had my first as my first, because it made me realize that parenting only takes you so far with some kids. Even people who have very verbal, well-behaved kids the first time may well have rambunctious, language-delayed, screaming kicking biters the second time -- and there's very little that parenting has to do with it. You and DH may have a child like your nephew in the future. Will he be ashamed then? Being *ashamed* of being with your kid in public? That could affect your child for years to come.
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