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Problematic niece- any ideas?
August 4, 2005
4:43 pm
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sdesigns
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My 10 year old niece is having behavioral problems. My parents (77 years old) are raising her and they are having a difficult time. My sister, her mother, is homeless and very irresponsible towards herself and her daughter as well. My sister drank and did drugs during her pregnancy which I am sure contributes to part of the problems.

My niece doesn't have any friends- none of the kids like her. She is becoming more and more difficult to discipline, and I am sure she is acting out to her living situation- living w/ her grandparents and not having a normal family situation. We don't know who the father is, only my sister knows. She never told the guy as she was afraid he would take her baby away from her.

My sister is very inconsistent w/ coming thru on promises of when she will visit, go to her softball games, swimming lessons, etc. My parents are trying to keep my niece involved in activites- drama camp, bible school, swimming lessons, softball, etc in hopes that exposure to more kids will help but so far no luck. This is the third year of swimming lessons and she is still scared to death of the water.

My mother asked me what I thought she should do. I suggested a child psychologist and some therapy. I think something happened to her when she was a baby on the streets w/ my sister. Maybe got thrown into a pool when she was a baby or held under water. Who knows? So now my mother is punishing her for being afraid of the water and coming up w/ excuses for not wanting to go to swimming lessons, which I don't agree with.

Being a drug/ alcohol baby is having its consequences. My cousin thinks she should be tested for ADD. My parents are 77 years old and this is very hard on them.

Anyone have any ideas?

August 4, 2005
6:16 pm
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Rasputin
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Hi SD,

I was very PHOBIC child and still am, being HSP. When I was little girl and went to the beach the 1st time, I was scared of water and swimming. My other sisters were more daring and bold. My dad used to tell my older sister to drag me to the water & I would resist and get even more scared. I think the reason for this is or could be coz I was very insecure child. I was rarely hugged, affirmed or shown love. I lacked self-confidence. That's why I sympathize and empathize with your niece, in particular if your sister is not the warm and emotional type from what you've described her above(drank, did drugs, irresponsible and homeless).

Had love been given to me by my caretakers (parents esp MOM) in the 1st place, I would have been more courageous and outgoing kid with no FEARS. The good news is that despite all this choas, I became very independent, self-taught and self-sufficient teenager and adult.

I imagine we can say the same thing about your niece. Try to show her love, stroke and hug her. Tell her you are beautiful, smart, sweet. Show her unconditional love. Most people - kids and adults - respond to love positively and love brings the best out of them. Affirm her when she does something good, when she does not, let it be teachable momemt in loving way.

Ask your parents to do the same thing.

I believe in the POWER OF LOVE. I believe if all of us were given just a little dose of love, we would have avoided so much unnecessary pain in our life and have become more healthy and happy people.

Is your niece HSP? (Kids of this type need special attention).

I hope my analysis will help draw smile on your face, your niece's, your parents' and your sister's.

Keep us posted honey! Helping you is my pleasure!!!

~Love, RAS~

August 4, 2005
6:48 pm
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sdesigns
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Hi Ras: What's HSP?

So much of what you say is true. My parents were not loving or nurturing to me- my mother especially was always critical and I see the same thing happening to my niece. I try to explain to my mother its not her fault becuase of her circumstances but my mother just glides right over that and starts to tell me how she is punishing her.

So now my mother has stopped the swimming lessons but is now telling my niece she can't go to Seaside Lagoon, an outing she was promised. Also they are not going to take her to Catalina as promised and she has been told if there are any paries involving a pool that she can't go. This is just like my mother used to do to me. I know that my parents have taken on a huge burden but I can't help but see history repeat itself.

I feel so sorry for my niece but I can only get involved from a distance and only when asked. Its a very touchy situation for me.

Thanks for the response. If you could let me know what HSP is, maybe I can explore that. Thanks, SD

August 4, 2005
7:09 pm
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Rasputin
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HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person.

For further information logon:

http://www.hsperson.com/

Yes, I am great believer that history does repeat itself. That's why we need to forgive our parents, otherwise we as abused kids will grow up and repeat the same pattern with those most dear to us like offsprings and spouses.

Yesterday, I posted thead entitled: Books about Emotional Healing. I advise you to have look at that thread. The 1st book by Stormie is Excellent for those among us who had difficult mom. T.D. Jake's book is another excellent one that confirms that ABUSED GIRLS turn into ABUSED ADULTS MOTHERS AND SPOUSES.

My mom is similar to yours. Unemotional, critical, and unforgiving.

Had I had a more healthy mom, I and the rest of my siblings and dad would have had more healthy, blossoming and happy family.

Now, thanks to Stormie's book, I forgave my Mom even though I did not and will not confront her. I just did it out of love to God!

~Love, RAS~

August 4, 2005
7:26 pm
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sdesigns
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Hi Ras: I'll check out those references.

I didn't speak to my mother for about 8 years. I once told her off and told her the reason I didn't want children was that I was afraid I would treat them the way she treated me. Of course, she didn't or wouldn't understand anything of what I was saying. And so here we are. So I still keep my distance and don't want to get involved in all of her crazymaking.

Thanks so much for your post, Ras. I really appreciate it. Love, SD

August 4, 2005
11:15 pm
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cpt1212
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My nephew was born addicted to drugs and for several years he was afraid of water. Not just swimming, but showers, washing his face, anything like that. My sister tried to force him into the pool a few times but he would just become hysterical. I convinced her to leave him alone about it. We swam a lot in the summers after dinner and every night he was just as excited as everyone else to go to the pool. He would put on his swim trunks, a life vest, googles and put a towel around his neck and he would follow us to the pool and while we swam he would ride his bike in circles around the pool on the outside of fence in all of his "swimming gear". (other people thought it was kinda silly, but it always made me smile--he did it with such enthusiasm and would wave each time he passed us) Slowly, over the course of 2 summers he finally entered the gate, made it to the steps of the pool and now he swims like a fish!

A lot of what you described sounds like my nephew. He didn't have friends until he was at least 9 or 10. Now he is entering JR. High and is very comfortable around people. The difference for him was 1. counseling and 2. he finally made 1 good friend (his friend had a little brother similar to my nephew so he was not put off by his behavior and was very patient with him). Once he felt comfortable with this friend, they joined the same soccer team and then the same football team and his friend who was very social eased him into new situations. It took a lot of time and patience, but he is a whole different kid today.

August 4, 2005
11:24 pm
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Thanks cpt1212 for your story. I thought my niece was getting better about swimming as when she first came over here (I have a pool in my complex) she was really afraid. Both my parents were angry w/ her for being afraid and were really pushing her. Last summer she was better but sometimes she would still hang onto the side. She is afraid to float- has to be able to touch the bottom.

I'm going to keep pushing for the counseling. I think there is so much we don't know about her that this may help. She has a big scar on her face when she was bitten by a dog sometime when she was a baby. Who knows what else happened to her when my sister was doing her thing. My mom just doesn't seem to think this matters but as we all know, it does. Thanks again. SD

August 4, 2005
11:32 pm
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cpt1212
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Anytime, SD. I have 2 nephews and a sister who, as my mom puts it, likes to bang her head against brick wall. I know first hand how frustrating and heartbreaking it can be to be allowed to care for a provide them up to a point or when it is convenient, but b/c I am not the adult with legal custody the final say in what is best for them is not mine. It is just as for me to accept as it is for them to know that sometimes I can make it all better and sometimes I can just stand by and be there to pick up the pieces. I am here if you want to vent or maybe I may need to vent right back at you!

August 4, 2005
11:49 pm
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Thanks, cpt1212. Anytime you want to unload, have at it. Maybe we can help each other.

My parents also complain about my sister not signing necessary papers- most recently to regarding my niece's health insurance. So of course the timing goes that she hurts her foot, has to go to emergency and my parents end up w/ a whopper of a bill. I told them that its time for them to get something done legally for custody so that they have full control of the situation, as now my sister's negelect is costing them some big bucks. At least they now are paying for health insurance for her. My sister is just not going to come thru on anything that requires responsibility on her part, so I told them she just needs to be out of the picture for those types of things, so that they can do whats needed when its needed.

But- this would eliminate some of the things my mother likes to complain about. Its a vicious cycle.
Argh.

August 5, 2005
1:20 am
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I know how you feel. Although my mom doesn't want to be involved she just wants me to take care of everything. I noticed you titled the thread "Problematic niece", but in my case I found that it is really the adults in the situation to be most problematic. Hang in there. Your niece will thank you one day, even if you are not able to intervene and create an ideal situation, just knowing that someone took the time to care when they didn't have to makes all the difference. My best friend thinks that I spend too much time on my nephews and not enough on my self, which I am sure is true, but when I was younger I had a coach who was always there for me. He wasn't able to intercede and change my situation, but he was there and he listened and let me know that he cared. It has been 10 yrs since I have seen him but we email regularly (we live in different regions of the country). If it hadn't been for him, just knowing I was worth someone caring about when they weren't "required" to gave me a sense of worth I had never had and I believe to this day saved my life. I feel that it is my job to return the favor and that is why I have commited so much of my time and resources to my nephews. There have been so many things I could not save them from, but my love and support have been the one constant in their lives and now that they are getting older they let me know what an impact I have had in their lives. (honestly, sometimes the responsibilty is scary). I don't know if this helps at all, but after 15yrs in this position it is the best I can come up with.

August 6, 2005
1:22 pm
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Last night my mom called me to tell me that she took my advice and spoke to my niece to find out why she was afraid of swimming. My niece told her that last summer when she was visiting my cousins for a week they had gone to a public pool and she went into the deep end w/ a friend. She sank to the bottom and the friend grabbed her hand and brought her up. She nearly drowned. I think hearing this was a shock for my mother. She asked my niece why she hadn't told her about this. My niece said "Grandma, I was waiting for you to ask me". I hope this is a lesson to my mother to talk to the child more. Not just order around and discipline her. I also told my mom I didn't think she should be disciplined for being afraid. So now my mom wants to bring her over to my place (there's a pool here)and work w/ her to help her not be afraid. so this is progress in the right direction. My niece has been over here swimming before. That kid does need to learn to at least float. She sinks like a rock!

August 6, 2005
7:33 pm
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Rasputin
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Well-done SD. Thanks for the update.

Many Kids can be shy and introvert, especially codep kids. I am thrilled for the healthy communication between your mom and niece. Kids really need love and security. They are as important as food and drink.

As for learning swimming, I taught myself swimming, though I was bit older probably 14 and it was at sea which makes it easier to float as I was told. Just make sure she is supervised all the time. Here we have public swimming pool in my area. But there is smaller one for kids beside it. And we also have lifeguards, so it's quite secure.

All the best!

~Love, RAS~

August 6, 2005
7:54 pm
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sdesigns
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Thanks, Ras. I am actually surprised my mother was receptive to my suggestions. So maybe I can help my niece in a roundabout way. I'm sure she has self esteem problems and doesn't feel all that secure with her situation, and since I am a product of my mothers upbringing I know what can result. Maybe I can head some of that off at the pass. Thanks so much for your interest and concern. Love, SD

August 7, 2005
11:12 am
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readyforachange
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SD...as a special ed. teacher, I see kids like this all the time. I think your suggestions to your mother were right on target. I would add, however, that she talk to the school counselor regarding your niece's behavior at school. I'm sure the school sees much of the same, it would surprise me if they didn't. A private therapist working closely with the school counselor can do wonders.

She is lucky to have family who care.
God bless.

August 7, 2005
5:18 pm
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Hi Ready!! Thanks for the valuable input. My niece does see the school counselor and my Mom does try and talk to her. This doesn't seem too effective though- I think the private counseling is the way to go- now just to get my parents to buy into it. Thanks so much! Good to "see" you. SD

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