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Thread: Help for a Troubled Niece

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    tWebber MaxVel's Avatar
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    Post Help for a Troubled Niece

    OK, serious question time:

    I have a niece (by marriage) who is a 13-year old girl. She's the oldest in her family (one sister and a recently adopted baby brother). She's currently 'going off the rails': neglecting her schoolwork, her personal tidiness, getting into trouble at school (breaking school rules like uniform, hairstyle, etc), doing little if anything to help around the house. She's also a 'tom' - she wants to have a girlfriend (NOT a boyfriend). That sort of thing is reasonably acceptable in this culture (SE Asian) but not for someone her age.

    The background to this is that her parents have separated and her father is living in another city. The parents have had problems with the marriage for a while (he had an affair and a baby by another woman) and it looks like they've finally broken up. My niece was always quite close to her Dad, but now seems to dislike him, and doesn't seem to respect her mother much either.


    What I'd like is your thoughts and insights on what she's likely feeling and going through emotionally; and what (apart from praying) my wife and I can do to help. I've known her since she was a baby, and we're reasonably close. We had a good conversation about some of her feelings and issues and I feel she listens to me to a degree.

    My thoughts are that she's feeling really mixed up emotionally - she both loves and is angry with /hurt by/feels rejected by her father; and loves but also feels disappointed in her mother.
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  2. #2
    Emeritus Professor JardinPrayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxVel View Post
    OK, serious question time:

    I have a niece (by marriage) who is a 13-year old girl. She's the oldest in her family (one sister and a recently adopted baby brother). She's currently 'going off the rails': neglecting her schoolwork, her personal tidiness, getting into trouble at school (breaking school rules like uniform, hairstyle, etc), doing little if anything to help around the house. She's also a 'tom' - she wants to have a girlfriend (NOT a boyfriend). That sort of thing is reasonably acceptable in this culture (SE Asian) but not for someone her age.

    The background to this is that her parents have separated and her father is living in another city. The parents have had problems with the marriage for a while (he had an affair and a baby by another woman) and it looks like they've finally broken up. My niece was always quite close to her Dad, but now seems to dislike him, and doesn't seem to respect her mother much either.


    What I'd like is your thoughts and insights on what she's likely feeling and going through emotionally; and what (apart from praying) my wife and I can do to help. I've known her since she was a baby, and we're reasonably close. We had a good conversation about some of her feelings and issues and I feel she listens to me to a degree.

    My thoughts are that she's feeling really mixed up emotionally - she both loves and is angry with /hurt by/feels rejected by her father; and loves but also feels disappointed in her mother.

    Hi MaxVel:

    What you're describing is a fairly complex family situation that I'm not sure I can help with in a "minute clinic" setting where I haven't met the people you're discussing. I would say your niece is probably the best person to tell you what she is thinking or feeling and I would encourage you to continue to provide a safe environment for her to do that. Praying and offering support are both great things to do, and it sounds like you're already doing those things. If she's interested in seeking counseling, perhaps you could offer to find a counselor for her or help fund the counseling if that's something she'd need help with. If you have a church home, you might start with asking if your pastor will see your niece along with you or your wife. Of course, since she is a minor and living with her parent, you will need to seek permissions for these things. So, I realize this may be complicated.

    I know it is frustrating and heartbreaking to watch a young loved one make poor choices or struggle emotionally. It can make you feel helpless and ineffective. But, I do want to encourage you in your prayers on her behalf. So often we say things like, "Well, all I can do is pray," as though it were a last resort or an empty hope. But, prayer is crucial and God hears your prayers. It is no small thing you're doing to stand in the gap for her. Keep it up!

    ~Lynn

    "...so encourage each other and build one another up." ~1 Thessalonians 5:11

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    tWebber MaxVel's Avatar
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    Lynn -

    thanks for your advice and encouragement, especially about the power of prayer.

    I'll keep you posted how things go, but it's no doubt going to be a long process.
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