Be realistic about mother-in-law’s limitations

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January 16, 2020 - 10:35 AM

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have a baby, and a toddler niece and nephew. My mother-in-law, “Rachel,” is a tough person to handle at times. I am not a doctor and not diagnosing her, but I am a teacher and I believe if Rachel were born today, she would be diagnosed with Asperger’s/ASD. I haven’t shared this opinion, but it helps me give context to her rigidity and overlooking of social cues. Rachel says she loves her grandkids, but does not really make the effort to connect with them, sometimes (for example) ignoring them to do a crossword puzzle. It really hurts for my husband and siblings-in-law. My sister-in-law asked Rachel to pick a weekend to visit, and Rachel responded, “Well, I have a lot of [plans],” and SIL’s face just collapsed and she seemed about to cry.

My father-in-law is a sweet guy but extremely passive. I’d like to say gently that it would mean a lot to everyone if they more actively sought out grandkid time. Any suggestions? — In-Law

In-Law: Sounds like you’d be talking to the wrong people. Rachel will be Rachel.

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