Is it wrong for my sister-in-law to date a retarded man? August 11, 6: This strikes me as very, very wrong. Am I a bigot, or is this a well-founded concern? She's nearly 30, and has been coddled by her parents to a degree that has stunted her growth, emotionally and developmentally.
She still lives with her parents, doesn't drive, leaves the house only for her job full-time, caring for the elderly with Alzheimer's in a retirement facility , and I suspect she's chronically depressed. My wife and I are working on her teaching her to develop life goals, encourage her to make friends, encouraging her to seek therapy, and so in , but FWIW, she's got a college degree, she's actually pretty outgoing, and is a regular churchgoer. Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong with her that couldn't be cured with a year of living on her own and a couple of years of therapy.
This guy lives in a group home. He works at a minimum wage job at the age of I'd be surprised if he had a high school degree. He's not capable of driving. You might not know he was retarded in a conversation of a minute or two, but much longer than that and it becomes clear that something is wrong with him. His two best friends have Down's syndrome; their first date involved hanging out with them after which he immediately started referring to her as "my girlfriend".
He's perfectly nice, apparently harmless, and she thinks he's sweet. I find this horrifying for multiple reasons, but to get to the crux of my question, this seems exploitative and utterly inappropriate. If she were dating somebody with paralysis, blindness, or deafness, I can't see why I'd have any problem with it. But to date with marriage her single-minded goal a retarded man is in a totally different realm, for ethical and societal reasons that I can't quite put my finger on.
Should I just get over it, or is this fundamentally wrong for her to do? He is sweet to her and isn't always telling her what's wrong with her life. Maybe he makes her feel like she's got her crap together and is doing alright. If yes, leave it alone. I understand your distress, but it's not your decision to make. Until then, keep it to yourself. As is he, even if you don't understand or approve.
Not saying that your sister couldn't or won't "grow out of this," but what if she doesn't? What if "Corky" becomes your brother-in-law? What are you going to do then? Let your sister live her life. It sounds like she's already had enough people meddling in it already your parents - let her make her own mistakes. So is it your opinion then that any kind of retardation means the person is condemned to a lonely existence without the any romance or love, ever?
That's one cold outlook. Maybe you ought to think on that a bit. The world has all sorts of people and letting others even in-laws live their own variation of Life is what keeps each other from becoming boring and nosy. I think this is exactly the ethical problem you're trying to put your finger on, OP -- that if there isn't a compatible level of intellectual curiosity, and they aren't able to converse on levels your sister-in-law is interested in and accustomed to conversing on, you're wondering if she is just using him to feel better about herself.
I wonder if there's an association that advocates for the mentally retarded that might have some advice on dating and relationships? Your wife could bring her sister those concerns, along with some background, and still be treating her like an adult. It's her call what to do about it all, but there's nothing illegitimate about a family member expressing concerns.
You might even be right to be concerned that your sister-in-law has some issues to work through. However, this relationship is not necessarily exploitation, is not necessarily counter to her working through her issues, and is not necessarily your responsibility. Mentally retarded adults often have romantic relationships. Sometimes they are the same sort of boyfriend-girlfriend relationships that third-graders have; sometimes they are more than that.
Mentally retarded adults have jobs, lives, and all sorts of relationships outside those they have with their families and caretakers, and--shockingly--they have them with people who are not mentally retarded. It is usually someone's responsibility--much like a parent's responsibility--to make sure that mentally retarded adult stays safe and makes good decisions; it is not yours in this case.
If you are concerned, talk to this man's family. If your sister-in-law and this man are connecting on a real level, let them connect. Everyone needs human contact and everyone deserves human contact with people who treat them like someone valuable.
If your sister-in-law is not treating him like someone who is valuable or is treating him like an inferior, or a puppy or a kindergartner who brings her flowers from the playground, then you should talk to her about how she's treating this person. This is her sibling, not yours. On the other hand, you do have a cause for concern because if this relationship develops to the point where procreation becomes a possibility, then, depending on the health of your wife's parents, there is the remote likelihood that a child will exacerbate any possible mental health issues your sister-in-law has, and the state may find the father lacking in necessary parental skills.
Meaning, there is the very offhand chance that you and your spouse may find yourself either legally unlikely or morally a bit more likely, but still not very likely responsible for any child resulting from this relationship. Though that's a long way down the road, and although I'm inferring a lot for instance, your sister-in-law may have absolutely no mental health issues , the fact is something similar to this did happen to someone in my family, many years ago.
The father ran away, the mother had a nervous breakdown, and grandma and grandpa raised the daughter for the first few years of her life until it was obvious that she had severe mental and emotional disabilities, at which point she was taken away to state facility.
Bad story, awful, no good comes of it to even think about it. But stuff like that happens. Anyway, your sister-in-law probably just enjoys the attention she is getting from this guy. That will wear off after awhile. I don't think you should be worried, but I do want to say that I understand why you are concerned, and I don't think you're an evil person for having such thoughts.
You want the best for her, and you want her to grow up, but the fact is, she has to live her own life and make her own decisions and learn from them. She feels comfortable with him and thinks he's sweet and nice to her--which is much better than dating a controlling abuser, in my opinion.
If you get involved, it seems like you'd be no better than her controlling, coddling parents, which is what put her in a situation where she lives at home at 30 and doesn't drive. You disapprove of how they treated her, so why are you trying to mimic it? Retarded is like short. We're all a little retarded, it's just a question of degree.
I can understand being driven slightly nuts by her life, it's understandable to want to 'fix' her, but she's thirty years old and unless she has suffered some trauma that needs to be recovered from, she really needs to make her own choices.
I'd be freaked out too, but I think you need to work on letting go of feeling responsible for her life. My sister has developmental disabilities, but for the last 6 months has become engaged to a guy who I do not approve of - he takes advantage of her and basically uses her as a babysitter for his 3 children.
He has friends who have been in and out of jail, and he may have been too, but my sister won't tell anyone the truth. So I basically have your concerns, in reverse. I think she should be dating someone in a similar situation to herself, not this guy who has immense problems and complications that my sister really does not need. But she's obsessed with marriage and believes she'll never find anyone better. But ultimately, and it is so hard for me to admit and to say, she has to choose what she wants.
And so does your sister. Unless she wants my advice, I can't give it. We have grown apart over the years and it has been difficult for me, but this is the path she has chosen for herself. Unless she's in some kind of danger, support her until she asks your advice.
Relationships are nominally between 'equals' and you don't see them as such which makes you uneasy. That's fine, but not your call to make. If they're happy and not showing any unhealthy signs, I'd just wish them the best. They might work out as a couple. They've got the right to find that out for themselves without you sticking your oar in. Do you think she's exploiting this man simply because he's got a lower IQ? Because if he's happily calling her his girlfriend and introducing her to his friends he doesn't sound like he feels exploited.
There are some nasty cases where people with learning disabilities have been exploited by partners without LD - milk them financially for everything they've got, then leave.
Your sister doesn't sound like she'd even consider doing anything like that. What's coming through loud and clear in your question is frustration with your sister-in-law. Which, as pointed out previously - it's her life. Unless she's asked for your help changing it, take a deep breath and a step back.
Is it a genuine relationship? Can you trust yourself to determine whether or not it's a genuine relationship, understanding that "genuine"! If your sister-in-law is dealing with this man honestly and on a level appropriate to his understanding, then I don't see an ethical problem. If she's not manipulating him, being cruel to him, or being completely unrealistic about his capabilities in this relationship, then this is your issue to get over, not hers.
I can understand your concern - the power differential between the two could potentially be very unbalanced - but you're not making a concrete case for that happening here. Based on what you've said about your sister-in-law's work and personal life, it sounds like this relationship could be just fine for both parties. And ultimately this is their decision. That "we're working on her" expression in your question brought me to a halt as I read. It's nice that you care about this woman and are trying to help her, but maybe your attitude towards her could do with some adjusting.
I have a friend who has an at least average IQ, probably higher, and who married a guy who probably has an IQ on the borderline of being handicapped. They've been married for something like 12 years now, and were together maybe three years before that.