Relationship Rescue: Help! My Family Leaves My Special Needs Daughter out of Invites
Help! My Family Leaves My Special Needs Daughter out of Invites
Question: My issue is how most of my family will leave my special needs daughter out from invites. My sister will invite my oldest daughter to come for the summer to spend a couple of days, and never invite the younger one with special needs. Sometimes she will ask right in front of the daughter with special needs. My daughter with special needs knows she is not being invited and it hurts her feelings as well as mine. What can I do?
Advice: More often than not, the people who we believe should support us, fall short of our expectations… especially, when you have a special needs child. The question is “how do I get my extended family to include my special needs child in family celebrations and sleepovers?”
This is not an easy question to answer. First of all, I think that it’s important to acknowledge that what we don’t understand frightens us. Many families face these feelings on a daily basis. It’s easy for the parents of a special needs child to have empathy because we live with the daily stressors and struggles. For an outsider, however, they don’t always see these things and find it difficult to have the same level of empathy.
I have two special needs children who were frequently overlooked when it came to invitations for sleepovers and celebratory situations. I calmly sat and discussed the fears and concerns that my extended family had regarding my children. I also laid out a script with instructions that could be helpful to them in case a “situation” arouse. Trust me, those situations did arise. There were times when my husband and I would receive the phone call from the aunt or grandparent. That was when it hit me that they needed to be validated and have an emergency script made available to them.
When we had family discussions, it was important to get to the “fears” of the family members. I believe that is so important for us to understand. I think as much as we would like the acceptance, we have to accept as well… even if it is hurtful. Some of the feelings that we may have to listen to can be upsetting, however, everyone needs to be heard.
In my opinion, the following questions may be asked:
- What is your largest concern regarding my child?
- Would it be helpful if I scripted something for you to refer to?
- If I give you a list of things that could entertain my child, would that be helpful for you?
- Is it perfect? No. Will the children or child be left out of certain things? Probably. I believe, though, that it will not occur as often if we allow for open communication with our families.
Robin Newman, LCSW-R PC
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2011 Magazine