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Caring for the High Maintenance Child
By Kate Andersen.

Child who threatens/guilts.
May, 2018.
Dear Kate:
I am writing because of my relatives. They are two-faced. Or at least one of them is. My mother-in-law is .......
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The child who threatens or guilts parents

Kate's Answer

Dear Ready,

Oh, boy! I hope you get on top of this situation soon. I always believe in starting by giving people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps your mother-in-law quite sincerely thinks you are unnecessarily depriving her beloved grandson of the joys of her desserts. Can you get medical back-up about the necessity of avoiding dairy products? If so, try to present this information to her objectively with the idea that she can be your ally in figuring out the most tactful way to manage meals with your son. It may well be that your doctor and any mental health professional working with Jake would not want her to change the food she serves but have him learn to politely refuse the food and eat a special dessert that you bring. Take a team approach to this MEDICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL management issue.

If, however, your doctor is not clear about this and suggests you have over-interpreted his or her advice to "cut down" on dairy products, ask yourself if you are punishing your mother-in-law by not letting your son eat her treats. It sounds as if you and she are disappointed in each other and so this could be a possibility. Remember that losing a companion (and that is what you were to her once) is painful. Her sense of loss may be based on a genuine affection for you even if her resentment of your devotion to your son is somewhat self-centered.

Have you talked to your mother-in-law about the change in your relationship since Jake's birth? Perhaps you can admit that you miss the times you spent shopping together and see if she softens a bit, supporting your decision to spend time with her grandson. Or maybe there is even a way to revitalize your relationship.

Why would you want to re-invest in a relationship with a woman who seems to be acting manipulatively? Well, she is your husband's mother and your son's grandmother. Those connections are important. The arrival of a 'high maintenance' child often sends a family out-of-balance. Restoring the balance can help bring important support and affection back into your life. In the long run, you will all benefit.

However, I could be dead wrong here. Not everyone is good-hearted underneath their difficult behavior. If these suggestions don't help, or aren't even worth trying, you may want to consider learning how to deal with someone who has a 'toxic' personality.

Best wishes and good luck!



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