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Thread: 7 yr old niece- need advise

  1. #1
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    7 yr old niece- need advise

    *History (this is going to be long, sorry)- My younger sister died three years ago- BEFORE she passed away she had given me custody of her 3 (almost 4) year old daughter. My niece had some behavioral issues due to lack of care. My sister had a lot of psychological problems (schizophrenia, bi-polar, manic depression and drug addition) and couldn't take care her any longer. She knew I would do the best job possible as I'm a mom with 6 children- most are now grown and out on their own.

    My mom was devastated when my sister died. She and my step-dad moved near us - to be close to me and my family. My step-dad did not like how we were raising my niece (mind you, they think my older kids have all turned out great and thankfully they have!). We gave my niece lots of love but also had rules, boundaries and structure (same as our other children had/ have). They did NOT want my niece to have any time-outs or discipline and it was interfering in how we raised our youngest son. During this time my niece was almost 5 and my son was 2 yrs old. My niece had to be watched carefully as she continually hurt and put my son in dangerous situations (waking him up in the middle of the night, bringing him downstairs and then she would go back up to her room- he being left alone), she would bite and hit him a lot. We were consistent in our parenting but noticed her behavior would worsen after my mom and step-dad would visit. My step-dad would take walks with my niece that lasted a couple hours, he would go play up in her room for hours and hours. He would tell my niece she didn't have to listen to us (she told us that), because we weren't her parents and it perpetuated the situation. We figured out he had been "interrogating" her during the visits (he was a retired cop). One night my step-dad attacked my husband saying we were abusing my niece (he didn't like the fact we put her in time-out in her room- he didn't want her to be alone).

    I sat down with my mom and let her know that they either raise my niece OR we were going to have to cut ties with them. My mom and I are best friends and I didn't want to cut ties, especially after losing my sister. So they began raising my niece. Over the course of the next two years they took care of her. I didn't agree with how they parented, but stayed out of it. They gave her whatever she wanted- feeling guilty over the rough life she had.

    Fast forward to present day (three years after my sisters death and 2 years after my parents started caring for my niece)- my mom passed away (Sept 8th 2014). Before she died (the cancer took her quickly- in two months) she confided in me that her marriage was hell to my step-dad. She said that he is obsessed with my niece (who is now 7 years old) and he would spend ALL DAY/ 24/7 with my niece. My mom told him to stop but he wouldn't listen. Mom said all his attention was showered on my niece - my mom was completely neglected. I noticed something was "off", but didn't understand what exactly it was until my mom confided in me.

    I now have my niece- my step-dad is 72 and can't care for her (he has asked to take her on weekends and I refuse- read the following for why). For the first couple weeks after my mom died he would come visit or we would visit him- he has no family nearby. This is what I saw initially - my niece and step-dad playing up in her room for hours (door locked to keep my 4 year old son out- he's not allowed over anymore), him sitting on the floor for upwards of 5 hours playing, usually in a corner where she is up against the wall and his back is facing outward - all attention strictly on her and not on other grandchildren (if my 4 yr old tried to play my step-dad would intentionally block him out- we put a stop to that). My step-dad follows her around wherever she goes (it's like she has an invisible string attached to him). He spoils her with not only material items (he always brings her toys, money, food ect, but not my 4 yr old). His behavior towards my niece is almost stalkerish. He follows her to the bathroom (and stands outside the door talking to her while she goes), carries her around (she weighs almost 80 pounds), he will pick her up and place her on his lap- usually his legs are spread and she sits between his legs. Sometimes she will put her head in his lap... he constantly has to be touching her (arms wrapped around her waist on the couch or reaching around her tummy, caressing her legs, tickling her on the back of neck, their fingers are intertwined and caressing when they hold hands ect). If she is sitting next to me (she always has to cuddle with someone) he seems to get upset and jealous. My niece is almost as obsessed with him as he is with her...and why wouldn't she be! She gets EVERYTHING she wants- unlimited attention, affection and admiration. We now limit contact- HE IS NEVER ALONE WITH HER. We only go over to his house, as it's much smaller and it's easier to keep her within our site. It's awkward during visits because she tries to sneak grandpa away...and he tries to sneak off too. I have told her not to sit on grandpa's lap (I told her that she's getting too big for that). If she goes to the bathroom - I quickly follow her...so he can't. I, myself would rather be there outside the door than him (I do not do that when we are at home- it's ridiculous behavior).

    We have my niece in counseling (and are doing family counseling as well- to make sure we are doing the best job we can possibly do in raising her). I wanted to check on here, and get advise from folks who have been through this....Is there anything else I should be doing as her guardian?

  2. #2
    Tasha1701D's Avatar
    Tasha1701D is offline Fort Security Chief & Stargazer
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    While I was reading this, I feel really bad for this 7 year old girl who is caught in the middle between two adults whom she seems to care about. I found it really upsetting that this girl is in such a situation, where the adults have disagreements with each other but are pulling her into their issues with each other. I know if I'd had as many living situations and as much disruption as this girl has had, even as an adult, I'd be having a hard time, and trying to find anything to cling to that was steady for me.

    When I was a kid, I had adults trying to get me to say things about other adults, or not spend time with another adult, and they kept telling me bad things about the person--for instance, about my Grandma. It really harmed my relationship with her, and the person who was trying to get me to cut ties with her was persistent in the little underhanded digs as well as the open suspicions. This didn't help me, as a child, in the slightest. I felt like I had to choose sides, and I was pulled in every different direction. I wish they had handled their disagreements and suspicions and disputes between themselves, without involving me in them, without trying to make me make the decisions or say bad things about them to each other, etc. I was a kid, I really enjoyed my relationship with my Grandma, didn't need to have adults interject their suspicions into my relationship with her--especially since she was one of the few positive adults I had around me at the time.

    I feel I would have been helped more if either the adults had just eliminated contact completely or somehow worked it out between themselves without involving me, without continually informing me by their words, actions, and attitudes that they thought the other adult was a bad person. I really hated being in the middle of all that, and as a kid, I had no way to do anything about it. I was trapped. And this was a decision that the adults responsible for my care needed to make anyway, if they thought I was being harmed. I wish someone had taken action instead of injecting their suspicions into the mix and just waiting for something to happen, what they were waiting for I don't know. I do know that the aftermath of what I went through has had me in therapy for years, after I managed to get out of the situation.

    Truly hope that this situation resolves and that the child, your niece, is able to have a stable and happy childhood. Sounds like she's had a rough seven years so far.
    ~Tasha

    May you have peace, live long, and prosper.

    "On the starship Enterprise, no one is alone." ~Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in The Bonding, ST:TNG Season 3
    "Seize the time, Meribor-live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." ~Capt. Jean-Luc Picard as Kamin in The Inner Light, ST:TNG Season 5

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    Jane (10-03-2014)

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    I am so sorry you are dealing with this complex situation...I know it is emotional and hard to see your way through things like this. imho the priority is to ensure the emotional, physical safety and well-being of your small niece - to ensure that she is not witness to adult arguments and discussions. She is far too young to cope with these and they must make her feel very confused and frightened.

    Imho your step-dad's focus and attention on your niece is excessive and not in her best interests...has the potential to stunt her emotional and social development.

    As her guardian you have the right to do what you feel is right including putting some boundaries in place to counter his behaviour...to put your foot down and say you will not accept him taking her off on her own and locking doors to keep others out...to insist that he treats all his grand children equally - not single your niece out and bathe her in attention.
    I am glad that you have T's in your corner...I wonder have you discussed your concerns with them?
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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    eagle22 (10-04-2014)

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    All I want to say is protect your niece at all costs. Your step dad's focus on your niece isn't healthy... it's down right dangerous.. I'm not sure I would even visit his house. But that's my opinion.
    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind......Dr. Suess

  7. The following user says thank you to arya for this useful post:

    Sangria (10-10-2014)

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