My great niece lives with us and my mother in law (her great grandmother) who leaves every weekend to work a few hours away. We are in the process if having her stay with us permanently but presently my MIL has custody. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old as well. The issue I have been repeatedly dealing with is her taking things from our main house and putting it in my MIL apartment and telling her to put it up and hide it from the other kids. I have repeatedly told both my GN and my MIL that is is not ok.
It is mainly horses, and I keep getting new ones for my kids so they have some to play with and they disappear, only to appear again at my MIL's house, when I go and search for them. I feel as if my MIL is undermining my authority regarding the issue and is endorsing hiding, lying to me, and keeping secrets. We are letting her stay rent free in our home and I take care of my DGN 10-12 hours a day, and she just doesn't get it. At this point I am not sure what to do.
I don't think the 4 year old is at the age to understand the concept of stealing. I think you could bring it up with her in terms of borrowing/sharing. Why don't you create a toy lending library? Make a little card for her and let her "check out" a few toys each time she visits. Once those are returned, she can borrow some more?? I'd also tell her that you guys are happy to share toys, but you need to know where they are... so that you don't spend hours looking for them, etc. Your kids should be able to mark some favorites that are not for sharing (if they so desire).
As for the MIL...I would just inform her of your plan, ask for her help...and leave it at that. Perhaps she'd be willing to help return some of the toys to the lending library?
Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1). "Kids do as well as they can."
when you buy something for your sons buy something for her too.
she has had enough upheavel in her life. i am sure she is kinda looking for safety and a place of her own which i'd imagine she doesnt have yet. meaning feel she doesnt have.
how old is your DGN. i think if we knew the age we'd be able to define better strategies.
i would not blame ur MIL. i think she is trying to figure out how to help dgn cope.
while yeah this is stealing - i think the issues are far more than just stealing and stealing is just a symptom.
if you are thinking of having her permanently then she IS your 3rd child. i am sure she is longing to be treated that way. which means when you buy something for ur kids u'd get something for her too.
i think your MIL is very wise.
Your grandniece doesn't understand that she's supposed to be grateful to you for taking her in when her parents couldn't do the job. All she knows is that she's not living with her parents ,but her grandmother (great-grandma?), may not be there longer, and that your kids have cool toys that she doesn't get.
What does the little girl have of her own that is special? Personally, I would give all 3 kids (yes, the 1 year old is too little to care) a couple of 'special' toys that they don't have to share. If they want to let others play with it ,fine, but if not, that's OK too. But everything else is for sharing and leaving at your house. I like the idea of a toy lending library for her.
OP, you posted a month ago in Adoptive Families about this same problem. http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1323028/help-with-my-niece-mother-in-law-and-uncertainty. Did you not like the advice you were given last month? Have you done any of the thinking and research, or taken any of the actions and boundaries that a couple of very wise posters suggested to you?
Posting about this one problem of taking toys, here in Gentle Discipline, is not really fair to the posters here, who don't have the full picture. This situation is incredibly serious and sad, the hidden toy horses should be the LEAST of your concerns. This little girl needs serious help and therapy, right now.
Obviously, I was looking for a different reply, one that would give me another insight. Just because someone doesn't know the whole story, as those in the foster parent forum would not know the degree of abuse my GN came to us with because I didn't really feel like telling complete strangers the content of my entire life.
I was looking for solutions, not empathy.
At the time, no one else in my entire family thought there was anything wrong with the situation. So I was fighting a battle with everyone, while my children are being subjected to the chaos of this child. It's hard. Dealing with an abused child is complicated, and loving one and one choosing to love you, as my great niece now does, is a bumpy road. I came back to mothering.com because I wanted to remember what it was like 6 months ago and remind myself how far I have come for listening to my instincts regarding things.
She has had a strange day. She wanted to take pictures of herself, because she is pretty, she says.
That's complicated for me, so I am curious. I ask why? How do you explain beauty, and the perception of such, to a four year old? To someone who's mother is a stripper, prostitute, heroin addict and presently in jail? Who she saw horrendous things occur?
I treat her as my daughter, or my son if he came to me state his handsomeness. I asked her if she thought I was pretty. She said yes.
Well, someday, I will be a grandma. And so will you, And all that pretty will go away. So focusing on it, not so important. But we can have babies and be mamas and dads and then grandmas. And they liked that.
Now this just came tumbling out of my mouth. I did not think about it too much, I wish I had, but this was at the end of a very long day. I am uncertain at the outcome. But this is the complicated intersection of my values, her spirit, her trauma, and our love. Every day there are a million little conversations, discussions, where they are absorbing knowledge. How that will all play out is difficult to predict. But we love, and have dance parties. Make things, break things. We are human.
have you read the Louise Aimes Bates series on your 4 year old (it goes from age 1 to age 12). its a great series that does a pretty good job of explaining what is age appropriate behaviour and if i am right, about how they think. but be aware that the discipline advice they give you is outdated. i dont follow them usually.
i think you are making a mountain out of a molehill - because you are not aware of how 4 year olds think. just coz they think they are beautiful, it doesnt mean it comes with all the head trips that we as adults associate with it. heck 4 year olds are still v. v. egotistical and will reflect what they hear about them.
but i want to caution you - you keep saying she is like your child - but i disagree. you keep harping on her background and i think that is affecting your parenting towards her.
what has her mother have ANYTHING to do with wanting to take pictures at 4. why are you looking at her through those eyes?
she is an individual who just because she is her mothers dd doesnt mean she will follow in her footsteps.
i am sorry that she is so hard. i KNOW how it can be. my dd's good friend share the same history. anyone could turn out to be like her mom. including my child.
i am sorry if you wont feel supported by my post. but i cant help but be triggered by how you see that little girl than how she should be seen. mind you i can relate. when i became a single mom i thought everything about my dd was because her daddy didnt live with us anymore. until a friend sat me down and asked me to stop blaming myself for all of what dd was going thru. she pointed out how dd was just being her age. perhaps the separation was making things more intense, but it wasnt causing it.
you have to start 'seeing' your niece for who she is. and unless you do - i think this road will continue to be super hard for you.
taking pictures of herself is so spot on age appropriate for a 4 - 5 year old.
My other son is terrified of having his picture taken most of the time, but does ask occasionally. My dgn asks very time the camera comes out. I have never asked her why before, because it seemed as if she was just exploring cameras and how they worked. My ds asks to be sometimes, but it is usually something he made. I deem that normal. She had been wanting me to take pictures of her leaping off of our indoor silde. I had been. When she stopped, made a pose, and asked me to take a picture of her, I asked why. Relavent information, I think, but I was writing when it was late and tired.
I think you don't have enough experience with abused children, nor enough information to make a judgement on what is occuring.
This is a huge problem with mdc people such as yourself who are on CONSTANTLY and think they know everything. I am living a life, not with my screen but with my children. Right now I am nak with two babies sleeping on me. Now, go on and find another person to judge. Thanks.
OP, I wish you peace. I hope that you can come to love this neglected and abused child. I have never read anything positive about this child from you few posts. I've not seen where you've actually considered other people's perspectives after you've posted. I can only conclude that you want to vent here and so I won't give advice.
However, I will remind you that the Gentle Discipline forum is a forum for parents who want to learn about and practice Gentle Discipline. You're not going to find people here who will advocate punishing over teaching, and definitely not a 4 year old who's been abused and traumatized. You're not going to find anyone here who will agree that telling a child that she's going to be ugly one day when she says she's pretty is a good idea. You will find people who encourage teaching, understanding where a child is in development and trying to find positive solutions. Please don't take umbrage at well meaning advice. Having only one child does not make a parent any less wise. There are parents in the adoptive and foster parenting forum who have walked in your shoes.
Perhaps the approach you find on MDC is not the right one for you.
Kai Madre - Your posting behavior in the last two posts is not appropriate. Personal attacks in posts are not okay per our User Agreement. When you post on a public message board, you will get a variety of answers, some you may not like, that does not however, give you license to personally attack other member.
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
OP I'm sorry you are having a difficult time.
So credentials for you, I was a foster parent. I have a degree in Psychology specializing in child behavior and development. I have worked previously as a counselor to children, but primarily with autism.
My advice, take it or leave it, Rome wasn't built in a day. Clear boundaries are needed, but kindness and loving are more important at this moment. Don't try to force change, yet. Wait until she is safe and feels consistency and safety. Stealing maybe acting out of fear of not having nice things or entitlement or innocence. I'm pretty is not something you can change yet. As you raise her and love her she will grow and be changed by you, but not today or maybe not tomorrow. Its important she feels loved by you and accepted, not judged.
Also, please don't compare her to your children. They are different people. its easy to blame bad things from before, but also she may just be a different personality and she needs to know that's OK.
I'm sorry there is no quick fix. But there wouldn't be for you either if you had dealt with whatever it is she has. Just love her accept her, kindly tell her its not OK, but you love her anyway.
As for MIL...no advice I color most MIL as my own and I say to get rid of her, not really helpful at all.
DS 10/09 DS 2/17/11 Blessing #3 sometime 2/13
Ok. I do not see how I was personally attacking, and obviously you all cannot see that I do not have the time to sit on my computer and figure out how to convey to you that I absolutely love this child. She calls me mother. I think she is beautiful. I tell her she is, for what she does, not for what she looks like!!! I also don't agree with Disneys conception of beauty but maybe you have a problem with that as well?
Lying is normal for a four year old but can be a concern. Stealing can be normal, but can be a concern. Consistently wetting your pants can be an issue, or can be normal. I was looking for compassion, maybe some advice on things that are normal, but instead I got someone trying to call me out for not going all flowery about my description of my dgn.
I really don't get where all of you are coming from, and I am sorry you can not seem to understand what I am trying to convey.
i dont about your neice. but i know about my own behaviour.
however that is not my point. i am sure you love your dn. i am sure there is a lot going on. also btw dd has a few kids who are survivors of horrific abuse victims from infancy. i know because when they come over i have some protocol i had to follow through 2nd grade after which they improved.
what you are not getting is not i question your feelings. what i am trying to tell you if you always see her as her mother's dd, that she is a result of who her mother is - i am not sure if you will be able to help her.
she is a 4 year old who has gone through very horrific situations.
how has her wanting to take pictures of herself has anything to do with " To someone who's mother is a stripper, prostitute, heroin addict and presently in jail? Who she saw horrendous things occur?"
if she was a 9 year old adn doing this yes her past might have something to do with it. or even now her past 'might' have something to do with it. but it is such a normal age appropriate behaviour that you cannot bring past history into it.
just because she wants to take pictures of herself or find herself pretty, it does not mean she is going to become her mom.
look at her as a child who has gone through some horrific experiences. not as your sister's dd who is waiting to turn out just like her mom. to me it sounds that is what your fear is.
i do realise how hard this is. as pp pointed out you cant compare two children. plus your child is a boy. gender shows up differently in play.