Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
I am sorry to know about your niece's situation.
Do you know for how long has she been having behavioral problems at school and this poor relationship with her mother?
hi, it's been for a couple of years with her mom. In school, we just found out since she got beat up last week in the school bathroom. Her mom took her phone away and read text messages from her friends about sex, smoking, ect.
Your last statement also seems to show that her father does not either have a good close communication with her.
Her dad takes care of the 4 kids when mom busy at work. He is afraid that she will run away. I guessed he is still in denial
I see, that's very concerning, both the constant arguments for the past two years and recent episode at school. You mean she may have been having problems for much longer at school but only recently her parents found out because of this incident?
i believe so.
Then it's very serious, once it shows a very dysfunctional relationship with her mother and a poor communication with her father. She has problems at school, probably related to age, adjusting and coping with challenges there, but since not having a healthy attachment nor relationship with her parents, things become truly tough for her. A dysfunctional family does not allow a child to develop and grow in healthy ways, from sense of self-worthiness, to confidence and coping, everything gets undermined.
her mom asked all of us to come and talk to them with her present in the room tonight. is that a good idea?
I think she needs individual counseling to work on herself, but unless both parents choose to take real responsibility for her own actions, parenting and its deficiencies, working on her personal, perhaps marital issues and making necessary improvements in their communication, affection and discipline provided and get marriage and family counseling , I do not see how this situation could improve.
transferring her to a different school, have her spent more time at her mom work place helps or not?
As long as there is real respect, empathy, accountability, healthy affection and a proactive approach to address these multiple issues, it could be helpful, but I believe both parents must discuss about it first, get professional support for themselves, and then based on that work with their daughter on making things work for her and the family.
Changing schools could help when the child has created a very dysfunctional experience there, with other students engaged in unhealthy, abusive or risky behaviors, but it would not resolve the core issues, which if perpetuated, would lead to same problems at new school in the near future.
her dad doesn't know about the sexting yet, only mom knows. should it stay in the family or should it involves aunts and uncles to talk to her?
It's obvious to me that both parents do need to spend quality time with her, to develop, to literally build healthy attachment, intimacy and trust in reciprocal ways. they are the adults responsible for raising her, not the other way around, so they need to face reality and hold accountability for what has been missing, destructive and what needs to be done, and I think professional support is essential considering how serious things have got.
she might belongs in a gang/group, the way she dress suggested. should we take her threat for running away seriously?
As long as these issues get addressed with respect, sensitivity and caring, close mature and assertive family member could play a positive role, but again, it is her parents role to work on necessary changes and improvements, an din my opinion with professional support, once they have neglected her for too long and too much. Arguing and yelling the way they do as if both happened to be teenagers is unacceptable and shows how much improvement her mother needs and how much both parents need to work as spouses and parents to improve themselves and what they offer to her.
If she is already engaging in such groups, for sure you should take that seriously.
There is no further time to waste denying reality and neglecting - worsening her situation and the family situation. Both parents should get professional support from marriage and family therapist, and work on themselves, their marital issues and the parenting, including how to support their child. She would need her own psychotherapist (female) to work on herself and the family issues.
her parents tried to keep her at home until coming up with a solution but she sneaked out and went to school. Her parents called the school to find that out.
Now she has no access to internet, phone. Is keeping her at home until coming up with a solution is a solution?
Knowing that she is already part of one of those groups, if it has members in her school, then a transfer to a better one would be a reasonable and necessary.
so, she needs a psychotherapist for herself. Her parents need marital/family counseling with and without her. Right?
What I see is that it is not realistic to keep her at home all the time, but it is also naive to believe she would be fine when with gang members and presenting unhealthy-destructive behaviors. Parents need to take action right away, getting professional support for her and for allow them as just explained. she is a minor, then I believe they need to support and monitor her closely, since she would continue doing anything in her power to perpetuate what she has been doing, and she needs to learn that such behaviors are unacceptable and must end, so clear limits and boundaries, rules and agreements must be set by both parents, and systematically implemented. it is a lot of tough work, but I do not see another way this situation could improve.
Yes, she needs a female psychotherapist to support her with individual counseling / psychotherapy, and her parents a professional, like a marriage and family therapist, to support them working on themselves, their relationship at the marital and parenting levels through couples and family sessions.
Does it make sense?
yes. should her cousins know about this? she has like 20 cousins that will be at the gathering tonight. Is it a good idea to have kids there in the same house, not in the same discussion room.
I do not recommend other kids to be involved that way. You need to be very careful to show her respect and sensitivity, even more when the lack of them has been directly pointed by her in her relationship with her mother.
i think so too. Another aunt set up this gathering and i think it might embarrass her. Thank you for your input. If you have more thoughts please let me know.
Every person able, mature enough and willing to offer support should be taken into account, but always approaching it with the respect and sensitivity, responsibility and maturity you want her to develop and offer back to you. Since she has engaged in risky behaviors, it would be important to consider involvement of every family member that could truly help her in some way. remember to make it clear how she needs to respect core limits and boundaries, rules and agreements set by her parents, but for this to work they would have to take the initiative, make real improvements to show her they are there for her and doing truly their best.
The last thing you want to do is to push her away by any form of unhealthy approach, then please consider first addressing it all of you as adults, then once you get clear and into an agreement, you could work with her on a plan, and for that professional support is necessary right away, so you would not waste time, nor push each other with different opinions.
good idea. thank you sooooo much for your help. anything else or we call it done?
I think that's the best way to approach it. Please feel free to contact me back for further support.
Thank you for your trust.
thank you. bye.
You're welcome. Bye.