Post # 1
As I am planning for baby I am thinking about my family seeing the LO. I have a mentally ill sister who has done some very disturbing things in the recent past and I am trying to plan and navigate the situation in regard to her seeing LO. In all honesty I do not know how she is going to be or how she is going to react to even the news of LO. She is very different from moment to moment. Unfortunately, I just do not trust her.
Does anyone have experience in this area? If you have a mentally ill family member that can be dangerous- how do you navigate the situation when they come to visit?
This is very difficult for me, so thank you for being sensitive!
Post # 3
I have no experience with this at all, but I’ll bump and just add: make sure she’s never alone with the baby, of course, but make sure YOU are always in the same room and probably within arm’s reach of the baby while she’s around. Good luck!
Post # 4
As a mother and someone with mentally ill in-laws, I make it a practice to not take my children around mentally unstable people. I have had to learn from my own mistakes here, but looking back it makes perfect sense thaI you don’t take children around unstable people, family or non family.
Post # 5
Well, I’m not pregnant but I have some mentally ill in-laws (if they even deserve to be called that… personality disordered, psychopathic) and I already know that I wouldn’t have my kids around them.
My Future Sister-In-Law had her kids around them somewhat frequently and although she tried to enforce boundaries, they slowly, but surely, weaseled their way into controlling the children until she finally had to cut off contact. She wishes she had done it sooner.
I would never have my kids around them.. even if I was around. I don’t know how severe your sister is or what her condition is, but if its one that makes her very manipulative – watch out… Even if she doesn’t do anything to the kids I really believe that its harmful for them to see behavior like that unless you explicitly tell them that their aunt is sick..
Post # 6
I am not pregnant or even TTC at the moment, but my husband and I would like to have kids at some point. My little sister is schizophrenic. She is currently stable…ish. She is not as well as she could be, because she is still erratic with her medication, but she is MUCH BETTER than she was when she was at her lowest point, when she was completely delusional, having audio and visual hallucinations, terribly paranoid…we had to committ her to a hospital for almost a year (“luckily” she had a psychotic episode in court when my mom went to try to get guardianship over her, so the judge saw it first hand and gave guardianship to my mother, who promptly got my sister to a psych hospital).
I also have 6 neices and nephews…… and even through all my sister’s ups and downs, my little sis has never been kept away from the kids (except at her lowest point when she was in the hospital–although once she stablized, they visited her several times in the hospital). Now, she hangs out at my older sister’s house at least twice a week, and my neice and nephew are there as well.
I think it’s good for kids to undnerstand mental illnesses exist, and there are things we can do to help, but there are still good weeks and bad weeks. Of course, their mom (my sister) is a marriage and family therapist, so she may be more equipped than most parents to help her kids deal with my sister’s ups and downs.
So I would say….don’t make a blanket rule–just see how your sister is doing that day, and then decide if she can handle being around the kids. If she’s having a good day, then I think you should definitely include her in your future children’s lives. =)
Good luck! I know it’s hard…I deal with it, too.
Post # 7
@BookGirrl: I agree with that. Again, it depends with what mental illness we’re talking about here… but you’ll have to make your own decisoin. Schizophrenia? Could be okay depending on the day and could be helpful for the kids to understand mental illness, but I’m just saying I’m strongly against having kids around people with some kind of personality disorder. Its dangerous for them, mentally speaking.
Post # 8
Thank you so much for all the responses. This is something that is very very difficult for me. What adds to the difficulty is that my family is somewhat in denial/ split on the issue. I think it makes it difficult because we never talk about her, and that does not help in helping me figure out how to approach her or how to understand her or how to deal with her! She has a personality disorder and a “mixed state” bipolar disorder which means instead of highs and lows, she gets hyper energy with anger/ with the lows. The whole thing is difficult and painful. She has been in and out of several hospitals many times. In the past she has admitted herself when she was going to actually hurt someone physically. Still, I don’t at all feel comfortable because the possibility exists, but also- I do not feel comfortable around her myself. She is extremely manipulative and one of the worst parts is that she seems to enjoy making other people upset. She will say the meanest things and treat you in a way to make you upset and she seems to enjoy it. She makes my mum cry every time she talks to her… unfortunately me too. It is diffiuclt because although she is sick, no one seems to hold her responsible or accountable for the way she acts. THAT makes me very uncomfortable. Darling Husband says that everyone is afraid of her. It is difficult because my family is in denial about it, and that makes it a more difficult situation to navigate. It makes it hard because I don’t think my family will be supportive if I want to avoid this sister.
@redheadem: Darling Husband and I decided if she is around the baby we will try to be wearing the baby. I agree, she should NOT be alone with baby! My mum had a baby years before sister was even diagnosed and she never let sister be alone with little sister.
@MrsFuzzyFace: Sounds like good, strong, motherly-instinct advice! Thanks for sharing.
@YogaFaerie: I agree and one of my main concerns is the way my sister treats me. She likes to make me (and not just me) upset on purpose. I do not want my kids to see me being treated like that, from someone that no one holds accountable. Thanks for the perspective. I think it is a good idea to let the kids know about her illness.
@BookGirrl: Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear your sister is doing better. It is difficult because I never know how my sister is going to be. Everyone sort of walks on eggshells around her and lets her be a (hate to say it) bitch. It is just a very negative influence. Other times she is sweet and bubbly. It is entirely unpredictable. Thanks for sharing your perspective, we may keep distance and also see how it goes.
@YogaFaerie: Yeah. She does have a personality disorder. I really do think it would be unhealthy for kids to be around. Maybe I can help raise the kids to understand her illness? But at the same time I don’t even trust her around myself.
Thank you so much for responding! Darling Husband and I will have to figure out how to navigate, and it helps to hear some different perspectives. This is so hard! Thanks again.
Post # 9
I’m not pregnant, but I just wanted to comment as I also have a sister with bipolar disorder. For those who don’t have a sibling with severe mental illness, it is hard to understand just how difficult the situation actually is.
Have you ever read the book The Normal One? I read it several years back, after my oldest sister recommended it to me. It was validating to know that others who have siblings with severe mental illnesses experience similar struggles. Thought it might be something you’d want to check out.