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When Family Can’t or Won’t Help

Carolyn Voisey by Carolyn Voisey Additional Needs

Carolyn Voisey

Carolyn Voisey

Mum to one incredible little dude, I work full time in higher education and have my own small business as a jewellery designer/creator. I love noth...

Fortunately I have a fantastic GP who knew us as a family well and who made absolutely sure that we had support and that I was taken good care of medically; but it was my parents who were the real angels of that time.

They drove the 70 miles to us daily for as long as we needed them, Mum helping with Sam, housework, anything.

But then my Dad started to show worrying signs of memory loss, and was diagnosed with Alzhemier’s and vascular dementia.

Now Dad’s condition is such that he can’t be alone so Mum and he come up as often as possible still, but it is far less often than before and than they’d like.

Not everyone can cope with the needs of a medically complex child, we are immensely fortunate that they can and that Mum has always been very hands-on with medications, learning how to deal with feeding tubes, etc.

Whether it’s a Mum thing or not, I don’t know... but from chatting with other SEN parents it does seem that it is predominately the Mum’s parents who step up to the mark when it comes to supporting the family.

The Dad’s parents do seem to be rather more peripheral, although as always there are exceptions (so groveling apologies if it’s this way round for you!).

In our family, this dynamic is definitely the one we live with.

Our little man’s paternal grandparents being far less willing/able to deal with his daily medical needs, although they still have a full role to play in his lie.

It does, however, make things much more difficult.

My parents live 70 miles away, they live 10 minutes down the road, however are nowhere near as happy to do tube feeds, meds, etc.

While my Mum will spend the entire day on the floor with our boy playing, doing therapy, etc, his other grandparents tend to be more stand-off-ish and wary.

This, inevitably, causes issues... we would love for ALL Sam’s grandparents to be comfortable with his issues and to be able to step in and help out from time to time, it also have implications for Sam going for days out etc - after all, if you can’t feed him and keep him safe it’s a bit of an issue!

We’re fortunate that Sam has four grandparents who love him dearly, not everyone is so fortunate.

Even so, having half of his grandparents reluctant to help out does make things more difficult; resentment can start to build as one side of the family do more to help, while the other side see it as being the other grandparents spending more time with their grandchild.

You just can’t win. We are however incredibly lucky to have grandparents who *want* to be involved, many don’t have that.

Despite the usual tug of love issues, Sam knows that he is adored by all his family and really, that’s all that matters x


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