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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

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What does she do when she is "triggered" by shopping?
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Thanks for getting back to me! It is her birthday in a few weeks and we are planning a shopping trip to the city so she can spend her birthday money. It will be a good opportunity to improve things...

When we go shopping anywhere for anything she finds it almost painful to leave a shop without buying at least 1 thing, even if it is a shop that is wholly inappropriate (a DIY store for example). She will lie about needing something for a school project, she needs it for home, her dad asked her to buy one. In the past my mother (who used to look after her) who just give in because she felt sorry for her, it was only cheap, or genuinely believed what she was saying.

I am a lot stricter in saying 'no' so although she loves me and wants to be part of her family shopping creates a lot of conflict and what are normally relaxing family days out becomes a battle of wills.

She turned up unexpectedly the night before a family trip. The trip involved art gallery for my daughter, history museum for me and a bit of shopping to finish the day off. I said she was welcome to come with us but we will be going to galleries and a museum (she finds these boring). She agreed and was enthusiastic. Bless her she turned up in the morning looking pristine, really excited as she had never been to this particular city. Good as gold traveling - lots of fun.

When we got there the first drama was over lunch. We don't eat in fast food restaurants and we had already told her where we were eating and that she will have to find something to eat there. She agreed. However, once we were there she refused to choose anything, she wouldn't even look at the menu. We took her to a grocery store and told her she could anything there. She just wandered around shrugging her shoulders and pouting. We were there probably about an hour trying to find something she would eat (in the whole store!).

We eventually left and she sulked quite badly complaining that she was hungry because she hadn't eaten breakfast, my daughter was losing patience with her. My husband gave in and found a burger king because he couldn't bare the thought of her being hungry and was worried about it ruining my daughters day out. A big chunk of the day was taken just by feeding her.

We then went to the art gallery and museum. She found a chair and pouted and sulked, she refused to talk to us - she wouldn't even walk round with us. Complaining (rather loudly) that this was boring! (She knew we would be doing this beforehand). Because she was bored her attention seeking behaviour kicked in. A lady accidentally caught her on her ankle with a pushchair. She apologised but my niece became aggressive and angry with the lady and I had to remove her from the building.

We then did the shopping. The first thing my niece wanted to do was find a makeup shop, she spent ALL her money in one go here. I did warn her not to spend it all but she was adamant that she needed everything she bought. She then asked if she could go into Victoria;s Secret. She wanted to show me a sweater that she liked. Then the manipulation tactics started; ALL her friends have this jumper, they bully her because she doesn't have anything from VS, her mum never buys her new clothes, her dad won't go shopping with her, her dad will pay me back, she will do chores to pay me back - so on and so forth. Every time I said 'no' she would pout, circle around the shop and then go back to the sweater. In the end she flounced out of the shop in temper.

My daughter had taken her own birthday money to spend and was looking at clothes. This was triggering jealousy in my niece because she didn't have any money left. I explained that it was birthday money that had been given by her family. My niece then started with 'I don't have family that will give me money - it's not fair!'. So my daughter wouldn't spend her own money because she didn't want to trigger jealousy in her cousin. But later my daughter was annoyed that she didn't get to spend her money like we planned (she loves her but sometimes resents her behaviour).

I bought myself a pot of face cream, so then my niece was accusing me of spending all my money on myself "just like my mum". When we got to the train station I said they could chose a snack for the journey home - she chose the biggest most expensive box of sweets in the store (like something you would buy as a gift). I think was her way of compensating herself for not getting the sweater. At this point I was so weary I agreed as long as she shared (to be fair she did share it in the end).

I know there are many things we could of done better but she grinds us down to the point of the whole day being ruined for everyone.

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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 05:46 AM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

Alert the Vatican, we've got a candidate for sainthood!!


Wow, peacem, you are going above and beyond. Watch out, that this doesn't start to eradicate your own family love and bonds.


It's terrible what this girl has been through. She IS to be pitied, and helped. But not at the expense of your family unit. I bet your daughter doesn't really like her; but is following the party line and saying that she "loves her". Who could love this girl? She doesn't sound the slightest bit lovable.

Any of the behavior you describe her doing; my mother would have dismantled me on the spot. I marvel at how sweet and patient and generous you are being.

And I know that the movie ending, is that your niece responds to all the love and care that you guys are sharing with her, and you all live happily ever after.

In real life, I think she needs professional care. She is still a dependent minor; how can she refuse treatment?

It sounds like she needs medication; at least temporarily, to control her mood swings and lack of impulse control.

As'ladain mentioned that his niece was sexually active. Is this girl? Does she need to be put on b.c. to avoid an unwanted pregnancy? Can you imagine her as a mother?

Rotten teeth, at 15? Could she be using meth? That is one of the hallmark indicators.

Being practical, she may have abscessed dental caries. She needs a dental exam. Will SS pay for this? It could be quite costly if she needs multiple fillings.


How is this affecting you financially?

How is this affecting the relationship with your husband?


It's great to help; but I think you need to get the professionals to do the heavy lifting on this one.

Sorry you've been put in this difficult situation.
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 06:53 AM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

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Thanks for getting back to me! It is her birthday in a few weeks and we are planning a shopping trip to the city so she can spend her birthday money. It will be a good opportunity to improve things...

When we go shopping anywhere for anything she finds it almost painful to leave a shop without buying at least 1 thing, even if it is a shop that is wholly inappropriate (a DIY store for example). She will lie about needing something for a school project, she needs it for home, her dad asked her to buy one. In the past my mother (who used to look after her) who just give in because she felt sorry for her, it was only cheap, or genuinely believed what she was saying.

I am a lot stricter in saying 'no' so although she loves me and wants to be part of her family shopping creates a lot of conflict and what are normally relaxing family days out becomes a battle of wills.

She turned up unexpectedly the night before a family trip. The trip involved art gallery for my daughter, history museum for me and a bit of shopping to finish the day off. I said she was welcome to come with us but we will be going to galleries and a museum (she finds these boring). She agreed and was enthusiastic. Bless her she turned up in the morning looking pristine, really excited as she had never been to this particular city. Good as gold traveling - lots of fun.

When we got there the first drama was over lunch. We don't eat in fast food restaurants and we had already told her where we were eating and that she will have to find something to eat there. She agreed. However, once we were there she refused to choose anything, she wouldn't even look at the menu. We took her to a grocery store and told her she could anything there. She just wandered around shrugging her shoulders and pouting. We were there probably about an hour trying to find something she would eat (in the whole store!).

We eventually left and she sulked quite badly complaining that she was hungry because she hadn't eaten breakfast, my daughter was losing patience with her. My husband gave in and found a burger king because he couldn't bare the thought of her being hungry and was worried about it ruining my daughters day out. A big chunk of the day was taken just by feeding her.

We then went to the art gallery and museum. She found a chair and pouted and sulked, she refused to talk to us - she wouldn't even walk round with us. Complaining (rather loudly) that this was boring! (She knew we would be doing this beforehand). Because she was bored her attention seeking behaviour kicked in. A lady accidentally caught her on her ankle with a pushchair. She apologised but my niece became aggressive and angry with the lady and I had to remove her from the building.

We then did the shopping. The first thing my niece wanted to do was find a makeup shop, she spent ALL her money in one go here. I did warn her not to spend it all but she was adamant that she needed everything she bought. She then asked if she could go into Victoria;s Secret. She wanted to show me a sweater that she liked. Then the manipulation tactics started; ALL her friends have this jumper, they bully her because she doesn't have anything from VS, her mum never buys her new clothes, her dad won't go shopping with her, her dad will pay me back, she will do chores to pay me back - so on and so forth. Every time I said 'no' she would pout, circle around the shop and then go back to the sweater. In the end she flounced out of the shop in temper.

My daughter had taken her own birthday money to spend and was looking at clothes. This was triggering jealousy in my niece because she didn't have any money left. I explained that it was birthday money that had been given by her family. My niece then started with 'I don't have family that will give me money - it's not fair!'. So my daughter wouldn't spend her own money because she didn't want to trigger jealousy in her cousin. But later my daughter was annoyed that she didn't get to spend her money like we planned (she loves her but sometimes resents her behaviour).

I bought myself a pot of face cream, so then my niece was accusing me of spending all my money on myself "just like my mum". When we got to the train station I said they could chose a snack for the journey home - she chose the biggest most expensive box of sweets in the store (like something you would buy as a gift). I think was her way of compensating herself for not getting the sweater. At this point I was so weary I agreed as long as she shared (to be fair she did share it in the end).

I know there are many things we could of done better but she grinds us down to the point of the whole day being ruined for everyone.
Good job staying firm on saying No to her. Keep it up. Consistency is a great disciplinarian, all on its own.

Could you take your daughter shopping privately? If not, the next time you go and she wants to spend her money, ignore your niece's sulking. Life does not go exactly the way any of us wants. We all adjust. Could be a way for her to become less materialistic, too. I bet she will thank you later for that.

Also, you and your husband need to be a united front on the restaurants. If you do not eat fast food in your family, no amount of sulking on the niece's part should earn her fast food. If she does not eat at a meal, she waits until the next one. She will learn soon enough.

Last thing: It is good she shared the box of sweets. But it would have been better to tell her a small size or nothing. Don't let your weariness be used against you. If she is told a small size or nothing, and you hold firm, she will learn soon enough.

Again, consistency in saying No and simply sticking to it is really all you need, as you are already quite reasonable in your structure.

And I am sure your own daughter is quite lovely. She certainly has a fine example in you.
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One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present, and unreactive in the midst of his woman's emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax. -- David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man
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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 07:46 AM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

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Good job staying firm on saying No to her. Keep it up. Consistency is a great disciplinarian, all on its own.

Could you take your daughter shopping privately? If not, the next time you go and she wants to spend her money, ignore your niece's sulking. Life does not go exactly the way any of us wants. We all adjust. Could be a way for her to become less materialistic, too. I bet she will thank you later for that.

Also, you and your husband need to be a united front on the restaurants. If you do not eat fast food in your family, no amount of sulking on the niece's part should earn her fast food. If she does not eat at a meal, she waits until the next one. She will learn soon enough.

Last thing: It is good she shared the box of sweets. But it would have been better to tell her a small size or nothing. Don't let your weariness be used against you. If she is told a small size or nothing, and you hold firm, she will learn soon enough.

Again, consistency in saying No and simply sticking to it is really all you need, as you are already quite reasonable in your structure.

And I am sure your own daughter is quite lovely. She certainly has a fine example in you.
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This, pretty much.

If she wants to go hungry, it's her choice. Whenever you tell her she can get something, put a limit on it. For instance, my niece doesn't have much in the way of clothes. So, we regularly go out and get her more clothes when we get paid. But, there is always a monetary limit on it. She can only spend so much, so she has to decide what she actually wants.

She sulked, threw a fit, etc, the first couple times. Then she just accepted it. Lately, she has started expressing guilt about the money we spend on her. She has never felt guilty about people buying her stuff before. Before she came to us, she knew that anything she got anyway would just be taken away from her later on.

So far as food, again, jld is spot on. She doesn't have to like the food, but if she KNOWS she will go hungry if she refuses to eat, she wI'll likely start eating what is offered to her.

Let her sulk if she wants. If it really doesn't bother you, or you can at least carry on like it doesn't bother you, then she will see that. She will see that sulking won't get her more attention.

And again, make sure you and your husband are on the same page. If you arent, she will play one of you against the other.
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 01:00 PM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

She sounds exactly like a girl I worked with for a few years. Borderline personality disorder, low functioning. There really isn't much you can do except minimize the damage, there is NO undoing it.

Hygiene: this is a common problem with kids who have been sexually abused while living in very unsafe conditions. The personal filth is their way of keeping the predators from going at her.

Food: Hording food and having restrictive requirements are also very common among kids who have been raised in substance abuse/abusive homes. Fast food means not only food but love because someone had to buy that food for her or give her money to get that food.

Stealing, dishonesty, lack of boundaries, creating unsafe situations for your kids... These are all part and parcel of trying to parent a teen with borderline personality disorder. Personally, I wouldn't bring a child like that into my home unless my kids were older than the child.

It sounds like your not in the US so I can't say what DSS should do according to your countries rules and regs of child advocacy but labeling her as disturbed serve zero purpose. If she is diturbed what is being done to settle her? More of the same? How can the Constance of inconsistency settle her? What skills will she need to have to become a functioning adult? Who can teach her these skills?

That girl I worked with who was exactly like your niece, left foster care, lived on the streets for a year conning churches and charities to give her money for hotel rooms saying she was pregnant, when she wasn't. Conned the parents of a boy that he was the father, when she wasn't even pregnant...I could go on and on...that was 10 years ago when she left care and since then she's had 3 kids all of whom have been removed from her care.

You and your mother are enabling your brothers appalling neglect of his responsibilities to his daughter.

Next time she wants to come stay with you she must agree to ground rules and you must be prepared to take her back to your bother...and you will have to do this.

1. No fast food. Period. If she doesn't want to eat the food prepared for the family she goes hungry or gets herself her own food, and then you will have to ensure anyone with cash has their cash in a safe place.

2. Clean clothing every day. Clean PJ's every night. Clean Panties every night. (The panties are the more troubling issue) she changes into PJ's and you take her dirty clothing away to be washed. This is not a choice. If she wants to stay with you she will have to accept cleanliness is required.

3. You must watch her get into the shower and tell her you will smell her head when she gets out and if she's not clean she's going back into the shower. Sounds like a horrible intrusion but this forced cleanliness is the ONLY way to get them clean.

4. List the skills she will need to have when she turns 18. Does she know how to cook? How to shop for inexpensive food? How to keep a budget? How to access public transportation? How to open a bank account? How to apply for a job? How to structure her day around work schedule? There are many more but these are the skills you can teach her. You can't undo the damage and make her "undisturbed"

These poor kids are a great big black hole of need, never ending need. There is no meeting her needs because she has never had her needs met. Instead of feeling safe, she got fed. Instead of feeling safe, she learned to stay dirty to keep herself safe. Instead of learning to trust, she learned to lie.

I'm so sorry for this girl, but your brother needs a big kick in the ass...a few times.

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post #21 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 01:43 PM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

Wow. My approach with my niece was very different.

And the results have been very different too. She is starting to ask those introspective questions that are required for growth.

Over the summer, we let her visit her mother in florida for a little while. Her mother then decided to tell us that there is no way her daughter is staying down there. She will do anything to make sure she goes back up with us. In her eyes, her daughter is a completely different person than she was just a year ago.

I cannot buy into the idea that anyone is just permanently messed up.

If you emplacement all those conditions as requirements to not be excluded from the family, it's setting them up to be abandoned again. What happens when she rebels and becomes defiant? Because she most likely will at some point, as it is her habit to do so. If you aren't willing to stick to your guns, then you have just told them through your actions that your word is not solid. If you DO stick to your guns, then you have abandoned them again.

If you want them to shower and change into clean clothes, then require that behavior as a prerequisite for providing the extra privilege.

It's like this: my niece likes to browse the internet when she gets home from school. If she doesn't keep the electronic devices out in the living room where we can see her activity and talk to her about it at any time, then we will not provide her with access to the internet.

She used to steal stuff from around the house. So, we told her that we will do random room inspections and would remove the door to her room for a few days every time we found something that didn't belong to her.

The negative behaviors dropped off pretty quick when she realized that she couldn't get us to kick her out/abandon her, but she COULD get us to apply an unpleasant consequence to her negative behaviors.
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post #22 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

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I'm so sorry for this girl, but your brother needs a big kick in the ass...a few times
@ Anonpink

This is the major problem that I cannot find a solution to. Here's the thing.

My mother is in complete denial about his alcohol problem (he is likely to be an alcoholic but a high functioning one). She actually says he is the best dad in the world but a victim of his ex (we are all staggered by this). He works hard, drinks hard. He never has any money and my mother funds this by giving him money (but she justifies this as helping him). She gave him money for a holiday - he booked the holiday but excluded his daughter. My father is far, far more savvy and on the ball with what is going on with him but my mum gives him money in secret and covers up for him. We have had meeting upon meeting - even with SS.

He drink drives. He never does anything with his daughter other than 'lets' her sit in the pub with him. At home he drinks. She has told me that she hates being with him because he and his wife argue all the time over money.

IMO - She shouldn't be with him at all, particularly because of the drink driving. This is why when she visits we keep her with us as much as possible. We have had huge rows with my brother, involved social services, diplomatic chats, got other family members involved but he has completely given up on her (he used those exact words to my husband). We even have a barrister in the family who specialises in family law to help him pick up the pieces but he refused FREE legal help. Barrister relative called me to ask 'what is wrong with your brother?'. Even he couldn't get through to him.

So when she visits I do as much with her as possible to keep her safe and away from alcohol and arguing. We stock pile sanitary products and toiletries (because nobody will buy them for her but us). We make sure she visits the dentist (she never goes with her parents and her teeth are breaking). We are even taking her to visit some colleges near by to discuss her options when she leaves school next year. (Nobody will do that).

I have sleepless nights worrying about her, particularly when she goes 'home'. When she is with us she becomes anxious for her step sister who is left with her mother. We have offered to have her sister come stay but SS have said no to this because we are not family and she is 'at risk'.

Last edited by peacem; 08-31-2016 at 02:03 PM.
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post #23 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 02:04 PM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

As'laDain, I think our versions of providing structure are very similar. We differ on 1 consequence and while I believe you are absolutely right, in this instance peacem's other kids must be safe. If the neice is creating unsafe situations, and at her age she can really create some very unsafe situations, peacem's first duty is to protect her kids.

Peacem, you have to focus on what you can have influence and impact on.

What skills does she need to have to be safe? Teach her those skills. Teach her how to de-escalate confrontations, how to resolve conflict, how to remove herself from drama.

Excellent job (or as you Aussies say Good on Ya) on getting her ready for college. If college is a real potential for her, what skills will she need to succeed there? Research college drop out causes in your country. Affiliation, or lack of, is a big factor in freshman drop out. What does she need to learn to make new friends, to fit in or be cool with who she is now?

You can't change where she comes from. She has been dealing with this her whole life and she has some street skills as a result. The goal is to help her cope with what she cannot change, and to recognize the difference between normal fvcked up home life and dangerous home life.

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post #24 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 02:42 PM
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

I haven't really heard anything that might put peacem's kids at risk of harm...

As for my niece, she has stabbed someone in the chest before. But, he was beating the crap out of her and her mother. When a twelve year old girl is willing to drive a steak knife down to the handle in a grown man's chest, you know things are bad...

She used to get in fights a lot, but that was mostly because of the environment she was in. At first, when she came to us, she would get angry, usually when she thought people were judging her or trying to control her. But, she quickly calmed down when she saw that we really don't judge her. We love her, even if she is acting like a terrible person. Because we know that at any point, she can act like an amazing person. We would just provide some form of consequence and afterwards, tell her that her slate is clean if she wants to try and change the way she handles it next time.

Peacem, AP is right about this: you have to focus on things you can actually have influence and impact on.

That also means you should not try to change the way she thinks, since you cannot control that. All you can do is introduce her to new ways of thinking. And, likewise, never utter a single consequence that you cannot or will not implement.
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post #25 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-31-2016, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Parenting a disturbed child who is not my own

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I haven't really heard anything that might put peacem's kids at risk of harm...

As for my niece, she has stabbed someone in the chest before. But, he was beating the crap out of her and her mother. When a twelve year old girl is willing to drive a steak knife down to the handle in a grown man's chest, you know things are bad...

She used to get in fights a lot, but that was mostly because of the environment she was in. At first, when she came to us, she would get angry, usually when she thought people were judging her or trying to control her. But, she quickly calmed down when she saw that we really don't judge her. We love her, even if she is acting like a terrible person. Because we know that at any point, she can act like an amazing person. We would just provide some form of consequence and afterwards, tell her that her slate is clean if she wants to try and change the way she handles it next time.

Peacem, AP is right about this: you have to focus on things you can actually have influence and impact on.

That also means you should not try to change the way she thinks, since you cannot control that. All you can do is introduce her to new ways of thinking. And, likewise, never utter a single consequence that you cannot or will not implement.
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No she is never aggressive with us at all. Just sulky, pouty and the odd tantrum. She is good around my son and is considerate to his needs (I actually think he is good for her as it brings out the nicer side to her personality and caring nature - I actually wondered if she would make a good nurse?).

My daughter is a few years older than her and very academic - she looks up to her like a big sister. I think my daughter is a good influence. She does 'normal' childhood things with her like making dens, taking her for long bike rides. She has taught her some good art skills and they sit for hours painting. She also coaches her in maths and english to get her up to speed. I don't worry about my children's safety at all. Now her friends...that's another matter

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