Help - Selfish Inlaws

Updated on January 04, 2011
W.B. asks from Palmerton, PA
37 answers

Okay my daughter is almost 2 years old and she has quite a few allergies with Dogs being the most severe. My inlaws don't believe us (even though we never gave them a reason not to) that she is highly allergic. We even have a doctor's note and my inlaws seem to still not care. Okay so they were just here for Christmas and didn't bring my childrens gifts, they expect us to go up to their house to get them. They only live about 20 minutes or so away however they have 12 dogs. if we would go up there it would send my youngest into a breathing attack. Already she gets severly sick with being in teh same house with a small dog for about 15 minutes so I can only imagine what 12 will do. She has allergy meds but they won't work with that many dogs. My husband seems to think that we should "give in to them" and go up for about 30 minutes or so. What do I do? I have tried to get it through his head that our Child's health is more important but he feels the need to make them happy.

Edited to add:
My daughters allergies to dogs are severe ear and sinus infection which develop over the next 24-48 hours. Usually ends up not being able to breathe at night and up most of the night trying to breathe and definitely not sleeping well at all. The dog I was refering to was a time when we stopped at his grandparents to see and only stayed there about 15 minutes and they had a small dog which was only in the same house. I don't take her up and I perfer not too, I just can't believe how selfish people are. It is their grand daughters. My MIL apparently has allergies and asthma but I think she is a hyper contradicate with it because it almost always is fake and if she was so bad why would you have that many dogs inside a small house. Plus to add she is not the greathest of house keepers either. When a dog goes potty in the house she just lays a paper towel on it till it is dried completely

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

So we never went over. My DH wanted to take my oldest up for about 30 minutes and I said no because he would come home with it all over their clothes. We haven't heard from them since. They are missing out on two wonderful children and it is all their shoulders.

Featured Answers


answers from Minneapolis on

All I have to say is:

12 dogs? TWELVE?!

Allergic or not I would be hard-pressed to enter any house that had that many dogs roaming in and out. Sigh. What can I say about withholding love (aka presents) from children. That is emotionally manipulative at the very least.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I sympathize. I have a child severely allergic to dogs, some breeds are WAY worse than others. When my in-laws, who already had 2 dogs, got a lab, we could not spend a weekend at their place without giving her a lot of benedryl or she would rash like crazy. I HATED having to medicate her just to visit her grandparents, but a lot of family members either didn't believe she could be so allergic to dogs, or didn't believe it could be as severe as it actually was. Fortunately, the in-laws had to move and get rid of the lab. But I DO NOT agree that a CHILD should have to be medicated just to visit grandparents who won't bend to come and visit her/him.

More Answers



answers from Boston on

In my opinion, gifts are not worth risking your child's health. I would make the "party line" something like "Your presence was as much of a gift as our children need from you. If you would like them to have other things, please understand that they'll need to be brought here, because the dander from your dogs will make my daughter very ill." That's being very polite, not at all divisive, and protecting your daughter's health. If they insist on giving gifts, I would offer that your husband could go pick up the gifts (perhaps they're too heavy to carry?) but on no circumstances waiver about your daughter's inability to go to their house.

If your children inquire as to why grandma and grandpa didn't give them Christmas presents, I would explain that the most important gift is togetherness, and you helped make that happen in the only way that worked for everyone. As they get older, they'll figure it out.

Again, do not be guilted into risking your daughter's health. As I have a little one struggling with some cold-induced asthma symptoms as I type, I can assure you it's just not worth it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with YOU! You are 100% right. Why do that to your daughter. She is just a baby, and you are a good mom and she is lucky to have you stand up to them and your husband. You do what is best for her, not them.
good luck

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hmmm...I disagree with the former suggestion. Why should your child have to be doped up, or miserable? They can bring the presents. Period. Your daughter has no business being in that house. 12 dogs could cause her to have a dangerous reaction, even with meds. Your in-laws will have to be upset about this and just deal with it. You should not "give in" and put your daughter in harms way.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

1. sounds like the out-laws are playing a control issue. Don't play along and don't go to the house. They were just at your home but didn't bring the gifts? Proves they want control over the issue. Childish.

2. your husband sounds like many other husbands who have yet to figure out that your wife and children come before Mommy and Daddy. He needs to get a spine and stand up for you and your kids, period. You need to stand your ground. This would be worth arguing with my husband. The health of my child? Yes! No, do not go, period. If your husband doesn't like it then he can go alone to pick them up or the gifts just aren't worth having. And check the gifts before giving them to your allergic child. Any clothes will need to be washed and so on before use to keep the allergies down.

Don't mess around and try to please anyone when your child's health is an issue. Become the bad guy to them and the hero to your children!

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
events and chat within 2 hour radius

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

12 dogs could make even a mildly allergic person miserable. You guys are the parents and it is your job to protect your child. Allergies can be life threatening so I would not feel the need to prove it to your in-laws by letting her go over there and react. As a person who is allergic to animals, I have encountered many people who just do not get the allergy thing. So many people have told me their dog is "hypoallergenic". Then when I start sneezing and my eye swells up they just ignore my obvious suffering. I am not sure if it is embarrassment on their part or what but now as a 40 something year old woman I simply refuse to put my self in that situation and I would never put an allergic child in that situation. Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Sounds like they're trying to set up a situation in which you will "have to" give in so they can prove you're wrong. Just don't play that game. I agree that you can thank them graciously for their appearance on Christmas morning, and then gently decline taking your daughter to their house because of the dogs.

Don't even mention the gifts they didn't bring, or else they will be left with the sense that you really do want them, so they will be more inclined to use gifts as a bribe or ransom. If they try to tease your daughter with the promise of gifts if she'll come over, ask them not to mention them if they don't plan to give them unconditionally.

Once they are convinced you won't risk your daughter's health, they will make appropriate adjustments. Or they won't – that's their business. Yours is protecting your child's health and safety.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Who cares if they believe you, this isn't about what they think--this is about your child's health. I have asthma too and an allergy to dogs and am practically having an asthma attack just thinking about being around 12 dogs. There is no med in the world that is gonna curb that reaction! They are behaving like morons. Do not take your child over there. If she doesn't get gifts from them, then oh well. Honestly they will probably have dog hair all over them anyway! You know what is more important, don't let these people second guess you.

Edited to Add: Some people are suggesting that you take your daughter long enough so she can have a reaction and then your inlaws will believe you. I think this is bordering on child cruelty--to make a child go through an allergic reaction just to prove a point to another adult? That is really sick!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

There may be a day, some time in the future,
when such ignorance will no longer exist in our world.
I don't mean your husband; I mean his parents.

When I used to have severe asthma attacks,
I used to have fantasies that people who denied my reality,
would experience what I was experiencing, if only for a few minutes.

Have your husband go see his parents, by himself, to pick up the gifts.
Have him wear very old clothes, or some kind of coverall.
Make sure he takes ALL THE CLOTHES OFF,
before he comes back into your home.
Throw them away or leave them outside for 2-3 days.

DO NOT, under any circumstances,
EVER bring your daughter to their home.

Or, perhaps, consider whether you and your family even want
the gifts your inlaws have prepared for your family. Seriously.

As for getting your husband to understand the seriousness of the situation, have him come with you to DD's next MD appointment.
Have the MD or Nurse Practitioner explain to your husband,
in graphic, dramatic detail, exactly what your daughter's symptoms entail.

About the allergy meds, I'm sure you realize that it is MUCH MUCH better for daughter to be protected from being around ANY allergens
than to have to use the allergy meds, with their various side effects,
to ease her symptoms.

Wishing you and your family well, and continued GOOD HEALTH.

While I've been typing this, I've been listening to a radio presentation
of the Scrooge story by Charles Dickens.
So, I'm wishing your inlaws to be visited by the ghosts of pulmonary dysfunction, of chronic obstructive bronchitis, of, even, maybe, anaphylaxis.

bah! humbug!
OH. Have your husband read these answers.
Depending on if they know HOW to read,
you might even want to share them w/your so-called inlaws.
Pump her up on steroids?
I can't believe this.
And Albuterol has significant side effects.
PLEASE don't "pump her up on steroids".

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Huh??? Really??? Your in-laws sound either very ignorant, very selfish, very uncaring about your child, and/or all of the above! They don't 'believe' she's allergic to dogs...I still can't fathom why some families truly don't care about other family member well-being and health.

I would probably have a very direct conversation with them and ask them, for real..."do you not believe she has a valid medical allergy to your dogs or do you not care about her health? One of these questions applies, so which is it?". If they still say they don't feel it's that big of a deal, I might let them know I am sorry any medical information I have provided is being discarded and even more sorry that they are not as trustworthy when it comes to my childs well-being as I had hoped they were. And no, my kid would NOT be allowed near their home.

I might even express that it is hurtful they would place you, a mama, in the position of disappointing them or protecting your daughter. While you care about them, they should know your daughter WILL win everytime if it's a choice between her health and their emotional needs. It's a shame they would place you in this position and a greater shame your husband doesn't recognize the medical necessity. Allergy sufferers reading this undestand all too well.

In-laws just sound immature and selfish...sorry:) Good luck and keep consistent with your boundaries on this. No one has to like it but they must respect it. I would worry they would expose my child to doggies when I wasn't around to 'sneak' in a special treat because everyone loves dogs! As if it's a piece of candy with zero medical consequences!

Again, best of luck on this:)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Do NOT take you child. They're trying to set a forced custom their way at their house. I have awful power trippy in laws too. Husbands tend not to be effective. Anyone who has the type of husband that really gets it that wife and kids safety prevails over in laws is BLESSED AND LUCKY.

Do not reward this behavior with dragging your child there to get sick as they wish because they're holding gifts hostage. Call the in laws up with graciousness and thankfulness for the gifts, but say you can't bring your child due to allergies. Ask if they would think it was horrible of you to just pick up the gifts yourself and if so, you understand, and you just dont' need the gifts.

Their only option needs to be to come and bring the kids gift like normal humans. Do NOT let them get away with this.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Never compromise your childs' health for the satisfaction and pleasure of someone else. If they have 12 dogs, its not healthy for anyone to be in a house so infested with animal dander and hair. Tell your hubby that if they want to meet you somewhere to see the kids etc--then do that but under no circumstances should you ever subject your daughter to that mess! She will be suffering at the expense of them-to get their way. If they don't like it-too bad! Your child, and your time to be up with her all night helping her feel better etc. If you can prevent her getting sick-you should especially since you know what she is allergic to. How rude of them!!!! So sorry you have to deal with that...


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Hell no, I won't take my child there!

I wonder... if you know a certain environment is physically harmful, and you do it anyway (and the child gets ill), would it be interpreted as a count of child endangerment? Tell that to your husband and see if it wakes him up!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

No! Dont take her up there! Is it even legal to have 12 dogs? Gross! Im not allergic and still have no desire to go to a house with 12 dogs in it. Tell your husband to go up there and get the gifts if hes so "for it".

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Okay, a little much, but my first thought was: Is there some latent personality disorder coming into play here?

Why on earth would someone NOT believe information like this? Are they really that ignorant?

Let your actions speak louder than your words. Your husband should go alone, as Shira suggested. To take your daughter, knowing she has the potential for a deadly allergic reaction, is bordering on neglect. The reason we get this information from our doctors is so that we can do better by our children, not so we can play at negotiating with your in-laws!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Sorry but I did not read the other responses so this may be not go to your inlaws...period. They came over and did not bring the gifts???? What??? Do not risk that little bitty cutie (your daughter) just because they want to have a power struggle...stick to your guns!!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

What don't they, the doctor, her past attacks? or do they just think it doesn't apply to their beloved animals?

If she was allergic and on allergy medicine, she should be able to be in the home briefly without a problem (I know people who just make sure they have their medicines a bit before they are going to be exposed to the allergen). Since you know that she has such a severe reaction, I don't recommend that unless you know her medicine works. I myself am allergic but don't a have problem as long as I distance myself and don't stay long (have a minor issue but not immediate or severe).

You should again explain that your child is allergic and can not be around the dogs. Even if they put the dogs up, their pet dander is all over the house already and she would still have a problem. Explain that you have to put her health first.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My in-laws tend to hold gifts hostage too. It's like their gifts don't coiunt unless they are opened in THEIR living room. Totally twisted. But it does not endanger my child to go there, so we go.
If I was in your shoes, I'd have them bring the gifts next time they come to visit or let them grow dust in THEIR house. Your daughter is (right now) too little know the difference.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

There is no way you should subject your child to that. Your husband needs to stand up to his mother and protect his child.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

The way i see it, you have 4 options: your family goes to her house, they come to your house, or you all meet at a neutral place. Or you can decide that you don't want the presents after all and do nothing.

Option 1: going to their house regardless.

Totally depends on how serious your daughter's reaction is going to be. If it's strong, and you have to go to the hospital, have your In Laws take you so they can see EXACTLY what happens. This is probably the only way they will understand. However, its hard to predict how strongly someone will react to an allergen. She may have a much worse reaction this time and it become life threatening situation. Alternately, you could bring the rest of the family except for your daughter, leave her with a babysitter or friend and bring home her gifts (keep in mind that they will be covered in dog dander and must be cleaned before she can have them.) or you can stay at home to take care of her while dad and siblings go. Or just dad if there are no other children. That may drive home the point somewhat, also think about causally mentioning that the toys will have to be cleaned before she can see them.This is my least favorite solution.

Option 2: Have them come to your house.

Its sounds like they may be reluctant to come over again. Think about why that may be: possible some one said something to offend them last time, maybe your house keeping is not "up to their standards" or maybe they feel as if there is not enough room for them in your home (depending on it's size). If you have previously had a good relationship with them, you might open a dialogue and discuss this, so they can feel more welcome in your home. Also, maybe you can invite them over for dinner and suggest they bring the presents.

option 3: Meeting at a neutral place.

Possibly a restaurant, or a play place, or meet for an event or outing that can be done together (like ice skating etc) and open them there or bring the presents home to be opened later.( this will work easiest if they are not terribly concerned with watching the kids open the gifts, or it there aren't too many of them.) When you invite them, stress how much it is that you want to go do activity with them, not that this is just a way to exchange presents.

Option 4: Do nothing.

This is my second least favorite solution. If you chose to not go over there, and simply decide that the chance of your daughter coming to harm is too much to risk meeting with them at all, find solace in the fact that you are doing what is best for your daughter. Be warned that this may cause lots of tension between your families and your husband will be in the middle of it. With him thinking you should "give in" it sounds like he is not practiced in being strong or putting his foot down when it comes to his parents. You may have to tell him exactly what you expect him to say/do, and give him support in standing up to them.

God Luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with you.

Do you have a decent relationship with your MIL? If so, why not pick up the phone and just be honest. Tell her you know she doesn't buy into the allergies thing, but you have to go with your doctor and not take that kind of chance with your baby. Ask her to come for dinner or something. Tell her you don't want them to do a thing but come and enjoy their grandaughter.......and to please not wear any clothes heavily laden with dog hair. Then tell her how much you appreciate their understanding (whether you believe they are understanding or not)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Be ready... and go. Let them see first hand what happens to your daughter. She's obviously not so allergic to go into breathlessness, but her sneezing, red eyes and such will be enough to shut your in laws up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

He should go up alone and get the gifts. Also, I would be sure to have a lint roller or something for when they come to your house to remove as much hair as possible before they come through the door.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Yup, they are missing out. It's called blame shifting. If something is wrong, they shift the blame making it out to be your problem.
They need to learn. It floors me, how the majority of people cannot take responsibility. They can't put two and two together, that they have 12 animals and your daughter is reacting?! They still have not learned.
Why on earth do people get so defensive, instead of looking at the situation and realizing there is a problem? I'm astounded how people hold their ground, no matter if they are wrong.
I would be upset too. You did the right thing. I am with ya!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Pump her up on her steroids or allergy meds and take her over there.
I don't say this lightly, as my kids have allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis, and I've spent my share of time in the e.r. However, when we do get invited somewhere (like my sister's house w/her cats) I dose them up with hydroxizine (or benedryl) and give them albuterol before going.

I stand by my answer. If you have never taken her there, then you do not know how she will respond. If the home has been vacuumed well and the house aired out some, she may be just fine. Also, just because you use meds as a preventative is not "drugging her up" or evil or cruel. It's just building her histimines. Our youngest was allergic to dogs--it was his highest skin reaction. We now have 3, and he does just fine. Why? When we got a dog, we used the meds for a few months, and then drew back on the dose. He scored a negative on his test this year for dog.

So actually, if you spend short amounts of time at your in-laws, using precautions, your daughter may even outgrow her allergy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

As a mom, you know what is best for your kids. You are doing the right thing. Stick to your guns. They are being very selfish. Your husband needs to tell them that it is just not going to happen. They can come visit you, but you will not take your child to a place that will make her sick.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

They don't believe you. If she is around them when they are at your house and she is climbing in them and such with no issues they have nothing to substantiate your claims. I am allergic to cats and just being in the same room with the person causes me to get runny eyes and stuffy nose. If I actually get cat dander or fur on me I can almost guarantee I will be on steroids and breathing treatments along with doses of Benadryl.

The only way to convince them is to show them. If she will be just uncomfortable with itching and sinus stuff then go, take emergency meds with you in case. If she has an attack while there they will never again question you. If her life would be in danger then do not take her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Good for you for not giving in! I deal with a similar issue with my own parents. My oldest son is highly allergic & the days that follow a visit are usually horrible. Not enough meds in the world to deal with it & besides who wants a dopey kid! I hope things work out!



answers from New York on

As a grandmother myself, I would never expect my son and his wife to
come with the children if one was allergic to dogs. I personally would not
care where I see them. Yes, grandparents do like to have them over,
but not at the expense of the childs health. I could never be that selfish.
Stick to your guns.



answers from Glens Falls on

Sounds like an episode of "Hoarders"! A paper towel over the pee - yuck. I have animals (3, not 12) and I'm an animal person but that's a bit much to expect. One of our SIL's has allergies and we always vacuum, vacuum, vacuum before he comes - and he's an adult! Don't stay too long in that environment.



answers from Los Angeles on

I applaud you for sticking to your guns and putting your daughters health first. She is your priority and she is relying on you and your husband to protect her and limit her exposure to any unhealthy situations.

Parents can be overbearing at times and run a good guilt trip when they want something really bad. Encourage your husband to discuss the situation again with his parents and ask if they fully understand the magnitude of your daughters allergies. Is risking her health for a visit to their house worth it? It would be a shame for them to miss out on the precious gift of grandchildren because they're too selfish to put their grandaughters health before their own desires.



answers from Allentown on

Well I did read some of the responses and as a mother of a child with severe allergies, i just had to respond anyway. My daughter is severely allergic to peanuts, this is life threatening. She can't even be in a room with peanut products, if she actually got any in her eyes, nose or mouth, she would likely die even with treatment. It is scary stuff. But I can't keep her in a bubble either. she has had reactions from being in social situations but I always got her out and medicated her and she was fine. She has never actually eaten anything with peanuts in it(thank heavens), I found out when she 7 months old and I kissed her after eating a peanut butter cup and she broke out in hives all over her face. Her allergy has since gotten much worse to peanuts and she breaks out just walking into a room, where peanuts have been. She is also allergic to dogs and cats. Much more to dogs, and yes I have taken her to houses with dogs, and gave her meds. Giving meds ahead helps. Initially she was equally allergic to cats and dogs, but exposure to cats at my Mom's brought it down and now we have a cat. However she has not had a lot of exposure to dogs, so she is still very allergic and she does have asthma. Anyway, I don't avoid situations with dogs because her dog allergy is not life threatening. I do have to give her meds sometimes. If your daughter allergies are severe to dogs, you could take her once and show them the reaction as others have said. Allergic reactions occur within a few minutes after exposure so you wouldn't have to stay long, just long enough to say, see I told you, now we have to go and you will understand why we won't come back. But don't give her meds ahead so they see but take them with and give in the car as you leave, and leave as soon as the reaction starts, even if that is 2 mins into the visit. That way her reaction should not be as bad. But honestly if they seriously have 12 dogs, I am not sure i would want to go ever, but I might do it once to just show them. I understand the not believing. I think there are people who still don't get my daughter's peanut allergy. I live in fear every time we leave the house. And I understand your not wanting a sick kid. But if it isn't life threatening it can actually help to have some exposure to the allergen. That is what allergy shorts do. They inject you with small amounts of the cat or dog protein or whatever you are allergic to so you can eventually tolerate it. But again I have to say 12 DOGS? I am not sure i would go there myself. so you are in quite a dilemma. I guess I would think about what you really want to do and then do it whatever that is. If you really don't want to go then just don't. Tell hubby he can go if he wants, but you are not going period. If you want to show them then prepare everyone ahead saying we will leave within minutes, and go and do it. But I would definitely not go and stay and let her suffer. If you go, just go so they can see the immediate reaction. Good luck!


answers from Allentown on

Hi, W.:

What kind of reaction does your child get?
Who's dog is in the house for 15 minutes?
What kind of conversations are you all having about
the children's allergies with your in laws?
Just want to know.



answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't go. I would set the boundaries and tell them that they can come to you, you can meet somewhere, etc. YOU are the parents and you have a responsibility to take care of your kids allergies. If they get upset, that is THEIR problem. Your husband should be concerned too. I would put him in charge of telling them the plan.



answers from Los Angeles on

Do what's TRULY in the best interest of your children's health. Nothing else should matter, and your husband has to stand with you on these types of decisions. His parents are selfish and passive aggressive. Why would they come to visit empty-handed??? Makes no sense, it was counterproductive. What difference does it make where they open the gifts? Silly.


answers from Philadelphia on

my inlaws were the same exact way, my daughter would break out in hives when visiting, we weren't sure why and then we couldn't see them for a week one time and then she stopped breaking out, they had a cat so we assumed it was that, yet instead of trying to figure out the problem or driving 3 minutes to our house they got mad at us for not bringing her in the house again, and said they were depressed because of it so they couldn't visit us, and asked why we couldn't bring her outside their house (in the snow) to visit instead of them coming to oura... it turned out it was the chemicals they were using on their rugs, but anyway they never changed, they onlt care about themselves....always have...i J. deal with it

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions