Family Matters
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Sensitive Subject

Hi All,

I'm writing for the first time in this forum and it is on a rather sensitive subject. My husband and I got married 2 months ago and about 1 week after our honeymoon, picked up our first puppy. We had planned this and were fully prepared for it.

My husband's brother is severely autistic. He's 18 years old and in his parents care. He cannot speak, he cannot go to the bathroom on his own, he can feed himself but only when the food is placed in front of him, he cannot prepare it on his own. He also does not have very good balance, so when he walks, he stomps. He is unaware of anything in his path or anything small. 

About 1 year prior to our wedding, We were over at my future in-laws home. His brother was walking around and decided to walk down the stairs onto the deck. Their family cat was sitting on one of the steps. He stomped down the steps and right onto the family cat's back. I'm not sure how he wasn't injured but I was more disturbed that no one flinched that he did this! Now I realize that he can't help it, but wouldn't they shoo the cat away if they noticed he was sitting there? (Which they did-They kept saying "Well I hope kitty moves") 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My FIL and now BIL came over to our house. Our puppy was out walking around. He was sitting right in the kitchen and my BIL stomps right on his foot. He squeals loudly and is careful on it for the next several minutes. I was not home when this happened but it made me furious. Again, I realize that it isn't my BIL fault but I feel like my Inlaws don't care about anyone else's feelings but his. I asked my husband to tell his parents if they bring his brother over, to make sure the puppy is safely in his cage first before he comes inside. I don't think thats too much to ask. My husband is afraid that this will hurt their feelings but I think he should be worried for his puppy's safety.....This also makes me wonder what would happen if we would have a child and if my BIL would stomp on him/her if they were playing on the floor! Am I being insensitive? I don't plan to approach my inlaws about this topic. I think my husband should. I just want to know how to proceed with this. Thanks everyone.

Re: Sensitive Subject

  • In the future you or your husband should put the dog in his crate, no one needs to say anything. You cannot blame your BIL or FIL for something that your husband should have prevented. 

    If you have children they will have to be supervised in his presence and off the floor. You cannot expect him to act and understand social normals or someone else's pain. Clearly that is not something he is capable of understanding fully. When you have kids you'll probably have to talk to your in-laws and set up some strategies to keep everyone safe. 
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  • Why can't H put the dog away of they show up?
  • In the future you or your husband should put the dog in his crate, no one needs to say anything. You cannot blame your BIL or FIL for something that your husband should have prevented. 

    If you have children they will have to be supervised in his presence and off the floor. You cannot expect him to act and understand social normals or someone else's pain. Clearly that is not something he is capable of understanding fully. When you have kids you'll probably have to talk to your in-laws and set up some strategies to keep everyone safe. 

    Came back to pretty much add what she said. So, nothing to add ;)
  • Hi ladies, thanks for the replies! Yes, you are right. I should make sure my husband knows to put him in the cage each time my BIL comes over.

    We will most definitely need to have a conversation when kids come into the picture.
  • " My husband is afraid that this will hurt their feelings"

    Yeah, well, what about hurting YOUR feelings when the puppy is stomped on? Much less what about the puppy's feelings? I'm sure dogs feel pain. Your husband needs to grow some balls and be supportive of you and your family (puppy included)!
  • edited November 2013
    I agree! Crate the dog and keep him out of harm's way.

    You crate the dog. This way you'll know where he is.

    Crating is also good for a dog. NILF -- google that and learn -- and a crate is second nature to a dog. it is more or less similar to a den.

    Keep all breakables and perishables out of BIL's way.

    And indeed: your H needs to stand up for what's right. "Will hurt their feelings"? Really? Come on..
  • 1.  Your ILs need to rehome their cat since it's not safe at home.

    2   Your DH needs to put away his own dog before his brother comes over. 

    3.  When you have a child, you'll supervise.  You don't live with the brother, it's not a problem to keep a constant eye on your child for visits.
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  • I don't know about crating the dog. You could, but I'm also willing to bet that the dog is already planning to stay away from your BIL.

    Are you planning to put your future babies in a crate too? Or are you planning to just not leave them together unsupervised. Why not just do the same thing with the dog?

    I would definitely not bring this up to the parents. It will sound like you care more for your dog than your husband's brother, as he isn't safe to be in your home if there is a puppy there. That is just a can of worms that I wouldn't want to open.


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  • Thanks for the replies everyone! I agree that my H needs to work on standing up for us and our dog and make sure his feelings are known to his parents. I will need to have a discussion with his parents when a child comes into the picture....right now im not real confident about their ability to watch not only his brother, but an infant also if we would need them to babysit...but we'll get there when the time comes. Thanks again all!
  • You can't count on his parents being available to babysit if need be. You know this is an issue. You know they shouldn't babysit. If you can't manage without their help (or anyone else's) you need to rethink your plans. No one is obligated to babysit for you and you shouldn't let anyone babysit who isn't equipped to. 

    There is no reason for you or your H to discuss this situation with his parents. Take care of yourselves, your pets, and someday your kids. They are taking care of theirs.

    What do you even want from his parents? To discipline their child who is severely disabled and would not understand? To lock him away to protect your pet? To jump every time their son moves? They've been dealing with this for 18 years. I could not even imagine having such a severely disabled child. Seriously, have some compassion for what they are going through. 

    I'm not trying to be mean, but really, think about what they're going through. Your having to be extra vigilant every now and then just doesn't compare.

    How bad would you feel if all you heard and likely secretly felt for the last 18 years is your son is a pain no one really wants around.

  • Crate training isn't a terrible idea but I also like the idea of a baby gate. Is there a way you can isolate the puppy for a little while in another room or part of the house where he will not be bothered? I agree with PPs that it's your/your DHs responsibility to look out for the dog. You will be in a whole different world of issues should the dog bite the BIL out of fear one day. Teach the puppy now while he's young that there are certain quiet times, and BILs visit is one of them.

    I do have to add something though and let me start by saying I do not mean come off as insensitive. I cannot I imagine having to raise a child with those issues and be able to keep your cool the whole time. It must be so hard. But that doesn't mean that they are not responsible for his actions. Suppose he stumbled and smashed something, or knocked over something fragile? Are you supposed to put all your possessions away every time he comes over? They do need to be a bit more attentive. My DHs ex boss had a son with Down syndrome and autism. They nearly lost him in public many times because they just got so lax with their supervision. Many times, other people would end up watching him for them because they just had a "he's special and you should know that" type attitude. DH was out to dinner with them one time and the boy flung his arms in the arm, hitting a waitress who had a tray full of drinks. The drinks went everywhere, soaking her head to toe. DHs boss simply laughed and said "yeah he does that." I'm sure after 18 years of supervising him they are beat, and again I give them credit. But with a disability like that it's not okay for them to lay off when it comes to others property or pets. Can they scold him? No. But they can at least apologize or monitor where he is wandering around.
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