Post # 1
I’m getting married in August. It will be my first wedding but my fiance’s second. He has a four year old who is severly autistic. Now, I love his son and I my best to make our house a happy two parent home. Most of the time I am able to communicate with him better than my soon to be husband is because of my training (I was formerly a taekwondo instructor and coached special needs kids and I am currently in grad school studying education). I lay this out because I don’t want people to think it is a bridezilla or jealousy thing.
Background info: My stepson lives with his mother most of the time, so we only get him every other weekend (once we are married, we may go for full custody). Now the mother hates me because I make my fiance happy (she left him and wants him to be miserable). So she is not a help in anything and usually just argues about money and stuff. I wish she would talk with me because I feel it would be helpful for my stepson. He has never stayed with anyone except for her, my fiance, or me. He has attachment issues and typical autistic behaviors.
After a lot of discussion, my fiance and I believe that we should put aside what we want (to have him be part of our wedding) in order to do what is best for him. We will feel sad for him to not be at our wedding, but here is what we came up with: 1. he will not really understand anything that is going on (not that most 4 year olds really would). 2. he will be extremely stressed out by all of the people there he does not know. 3. he will be very stressed out because of sensory issues typical with autism (lights and loud music). 4. he will not be able to stay with us (fiance and I) all of the time, and he has never stayed with anyone else (his mother will not allow it at this point). Now we are totally okay with our decision and plan to include the son in pictures at another time and on a family vacation. I guess I should also mention that no other children would be at the wedding. The wedding is also 3 states away from where we normally live (it’s near my hometown), so we have to stay in a hotel.
My mother is totally in support of our decision, but his mother and family seems to think we are horrible people for it. We have tried to explain that we do love him and want him there, but it is not in his best interest. Although it is a difficult decision, it is the best one. Has anyone ever been in a situation like this? Does anyone have any advice for what we can do or say to people to help them understand? Please help!
Post # 3
I’ve never had to deal with an issue like this, nor do I know anyone that has. But, what I can offer, is that your FI and the mother of his child know what is best for their son. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, it’s ultimately up to them (and now you as part of his life) to determine the activities that are appropriate for him to be a part of. If your FI doesn’t think this is a safe situation for his son to be in, then he needs to deal with his family on it.
Post # 4
The rest of your husband’s family needs to stay out of it. This decision is up to the child’s parents and that’s it. It sounds like you have come up with a resolution that is in the best interest of you and your step-son, and that his mother is on board with this plan. Don’t listen to anyone else and do what works for your family!
Post # 5
I have never been in a situation like this, but great job to you and your FI for handling it so well! I think there will always be people who disapprove of us (regardless of what it is about!). This is a touchy subject for many, but the reasons you stated above are very clear and make complete sense as to why it may be best for him to stay with his mother. I think you tell people what you told us and from there, that is all you can do. You are looking out for his best interest and it would not be fair to him to go to your wedding only to be lost and confused with everyone else there and the noise involved. Plus, as the bride and groom you will be expected to talk to people and mingle and you will not be able to devote the day to watching him and making sure he is comfortable. I wish you the best in this! I can definitely understand your reasons for this decision and agree that it is probably the best for your future son.
Post # 6
I think I would say to people exactly what you just said to us. It makes perfect sense, and really sounds like you are keeping his best interest in mind.
(but as someone who currently has her mother angry at her over an invite to a bridal shower for someone i’ve never met/isn’t invited to the wedding, I definitely know that reason and logic can sometimes do nothing for you when weddings are involved 🙂 ).
Post # 7
My son is only Asperger’s, not autistic, and he is an adult. Nevertheless, he is having a really hard time dealing with the fact that his own wedding reception will be large (about 150 people). His usual technique for dealing with large crowds is to disappear every once in a while, and he’s not sure how to cope if he cannot do that. I just cannot imagine subjecting a 4-year-old with full autism to that!
Post # 8
Wow! I am so impressed and pleased people responded so quickly. I feel so much better seeing that other people do not think I am being selfish or wrong.
Unfortunately I did try to tell my FMIL the way I wrote it here, but she said it made her sad because everyone loves him. I tried to explain that yes we do love him, that’s why we want the best for him. If she was able to take care of him the whole time and make sure he wouldn’t get upset (behavior can include screaming, crying, and possibly self harm), it would be different. But even at family parties, he will go near others for a few minutes then run back to me or his dad.
I feel like in the end, I am screwed either way. If I have him come, he will miserable and I fear FH and I will be too (and other guests may be uncomfortable if he screams- normal behavior for an autistic child but I don’t think most people know that). If I don’t have him come I will have this stigma on me that I “didn’t want him”. It doesn’t help that my FH is a very non confrontational person and usually lets me do the talking.
Do you think it would help if I had him talk with his parents rather than talking to them myself? Or should we jsut put our foot down and deal with ramifications later?
Thanks so much for all the help so far! I still feel worried, but feel a LOT better.
Post # 9
Thank you for that, it really gave me perspective.
Post # 10
@Schatzie821: I think that having your FI with you when you talk to his parents will absolutely help. That way it will be coming from you two as a united front, not as you trying to get out of having him at the wedding (which you aren’t! But people like to have their own crazy opinions sometimes…). You tell the family as a team that this is your decision and these are the reasons why. This is a decision to be made by you guys as his (step)parents and not by whoever else in the family wants to get involved. Good luck!
Post # 11
as a teacher of preschool special needs students, most with some form of autism, you are ABSOLUTELY doing the right thing! The change in sleeping conditions alone would be enough to throw him out of the loop. The lights and music and noise from the people would be chaotic to him. I think your plans to include him at a later day are nice and perfect for him!
Post # 12
I agree with kelleyandbauder. I’ve taught kids with special needs (most with severe autism) for 7 years now, so I’m well aware of how much these kids strive to be on a routine and to have things stable in their lives. To up-end that routine, place him in a completely unfamiliar situation, and top it off with sensory overload is a recipe for disaster. I do think both you and FI should talk with his family, and maybe provide specific examples of times that you have changed routines with the son which didn’t end so well (i.e. tantruming). I think as long as you stress the point that you will be including him at a later date, it should be okay. Your decision will benefit you, FI, and your step-son.
Post # 13
Stop doing “all the talking”. You shouldnt be talking about this with your FMIL, your FI should. It’s the only way it’s going to be viewed as a decision in the best interest of your son. Otherwise you run the risk of looking like the evil step mom who is stealing the dad away: Next stop, an evil boarding school for you! muahaha
Seriously though, everyone here agrees with you and I truly think you are doing the right thing by your new son but all the public relations part of your decision has to be handled by your FI.
Post # 14
- Wedding: September 2010 - Heinz Chapel Ceremony, Museum Reception
You are absolutely making the right decision. You, your FI, and your stepson’s mom know what’s best for him. I work in education and have taught a number of autistic kids, and you are so right that the crowds, lights, and loud music would probably be very difficult for him to handle. I think it will make you all sad and stressed if you need to soothe him from a meltdown during the reception. Just do what you know is right for him–it’s really not your FMIL’s concern.
Post # 15
- Wedding: January 2011 - Vintage Villas
You are absolutely 100% making the right decision. I am in school for special education right now, and I work primarily with students with autism. He would absolutely be stressed and confused with the crowds, lights, and noises that he isn’t familiar with and he wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone but you or your fiance. Although I’m sure your FMIL wants him to be there because she loves him, she also probably does not understand how badly this could affect him, and how he would truly be upset by the situation. Stand your ground and do what’s right for your son – this is YOUR decision, not anyone else’s, and you are doing what’s best for him.
Post # 16
I think you are totally making the right decision. Is there any way that you could spend some quality time with your step-son and your future in-laws? Like spend a day or an afternoon together for some family bonding? Unfortunately your in-laws might not ever come around on this one – but just keep explaining how you are doing this with his best interets at heart.