17 y old neice VERY disrespectful towards me!! HELP!!!! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok guys, I REALLY need some advice here as I am at a total loss as to how to handle this! My 17 year old neice, due to the fact that she doesnt get along with her stepdad, has recently come to live with us. She has had somewhat of a hard life, her mother thinks its ok to voice her thoughts on how she wishes she never had kids and calls her a little b**ch right in front of her all the time irked.gif Now I am happy to have her and help her out, BUT!!!!!!! She has been so disrespectful towards me since she has gotten here. She says extremely hurtful things to me in such a way that it is almost off handed and makes it sound like shes joking, which makes it hard for me to confront her about it. She is also very sensitive and dramatic so I have to tread lightly. Yesterday she had me in near tears!! Some of the things she has said? You go to parenting classes because you have no idea how to parent! Too bad uncle Shaune is gonna divorce you, oh just kidding angry.gif Yesterday I slept practically all day, kids were in school, except my daughter 5 years old was home in the morning, because i had a very rough night. So she first goes and tells my husband, aunty slept ALL day and then proceeds to say whats wrong with you?!!!! Everytime the kids get out of bed for a drink of water, to pee, whatever, she is right there telling me how i should handle it as a parent...... just close their door, no wonder why they dont listen (my son has aspergers and major separation anxiety irked.gif She just makes these judgmental statements all day long, thinks its funny to compare my 7 y old ds to Sheldon from the big bang theory, who apparently also has aspergers syndrome. My son has NO idea at this point that he has AS and he looks at her all confused when she laughs at something he does or says and says Sheldon! She will say things to the kids like I dont like you followed with of course just kidding angry.gif My daughter asked me the other day, does my cousin even like me? so she is affecting my kids here too! I am on the verge of exploding and saying things i know i will regret, which i obviously dont want to do. How would you handle this? I need some advice badly!

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#2 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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Teens are critics by nature. At 17, she'll be gone soon. right? I'd have a talk with your partner about this and try to let some things go. And keep things in perspective.. she's with you because of her bad parent.


Sleeping all day and leaving a five year to fend for herself for hours would not be okay. Was your daughter asleep beside you? You do need to insure that your children are adequately supervised at all times.
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#3 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i didnt exactly leave her to fend for herself. And as i said she was home only for the morning, i took her to school in the afternoon. She slept till 10am and of course i was up with her to give her breakfast, but i was up all night as i was sick so ill be honest, i set her up in front of cartoons gave her some coloring books and paper and  i slept on the couch for an hour before i had to bring her to school. She wont necessarily be leaving when she turns 18, she may stay a while and go to school. I came here fopr advice, not to be further judged. thanks for your advice! eyesroll.gif

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#4 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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It sounds like you have too much on your plate to be helping others right now. She sounds like a troubled teenager that isnt going to change her behavior if you say anything, but I would probably sit her down and say something like
"We are happy to let you stay here, but this is our house and we deserve to be treated with respect in our own home. If you'd like to continue to be welcome here it would be wise for you to keep your opinions about my parenting and my relationship to your cousin to yourself. If you have a problem with something one of the children is doing, please discuss it with me in private."

And, I agree with philomom, your 5 year old needs to be supervised. Sometimes if I need a nap, I will baby gate my daughter into her room and I will sleep in there with her playing, in a room that is childproofed and completely safe. I wouldnt let a 5 year old have the run of the house while I was sleeping.

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#5 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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The OP said she was right on the couch with the girl.  I don't think that's a big deal.  She was sick.  

 

I think what AM said about what you could say to the girl is good.

 

I really think you need to confront this.  I'm not saying you need to get her to change, just let her know she can keep her mouth shut and that you are doing her a favor.

 

And you do have to ask yourself if she is pointing out things that you already feel sensitive about.  Maybe that's why some of it hurts.  I don't think she's handling it right but she seems like a shit-stirrer.

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#6 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 08:57 AM
 
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Oops, sorry I didnt see the post that the OP made right before mine. Yeah, that's not a big deal.

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#7 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you. Yes, some of the things she is saying are things i am already sensitive to for sure! like when she makes fun of my son with aspergers, of course im sensitive to that! that is just mean spirited! But other things, like my husband is gonna divorce me or that im not handling my kids properly has nothing to do with sensitivity but just pisses me off, kwim? I am definitely going to sit down and have a talk with her about all this but i want to word it in a way that she knows im serious and will not stand for this kind of talk but also in a way that she feels she is not being attacked.

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#8 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 10:01 AM
 
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Sorry Op. I didn't catch that you were merely dozing in the same room as your child.
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#9 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#10 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 12:17 PM
 
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One of the few wisdoms I have learned as a sitter, nanny, a mom and a teacher is this... the kids that are the most difficult to love often need our love the most.
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#11 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 05:22 PM
 
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I'd sit her down and tell her to knock it off, honestly. You will not make backhanded jokes, you will not call my son Sheldon, you will not cuss around my kids (if that's your rule). Give her a little list. Tell her you love her, you WANT her to be with you, but she needs to start being respectful instead of nasty.

 

And please tell your son he has aspergers. He KNOWS he's different from the other kids. Keeping it from him is only making it more probable that he'll have self esteem issues because of it. I didn't find out till I was an adult that I have a neurological issue because my parents didn't think it was important enough to tell me. That's messed up. And I wasn't dx'd aspie, myself, until adulthood. (Aside from neuro issue that was dx'd when I was a teen.)


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#12 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 05:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post

One of the few wisdoms I have learned as a sitter, nanny, a mom and a teacher is this... the kids that are the most difficult to love often need our love the most.

No doubt this is true but OP you have yor own kids to worry about. You are obviously a very kind and compassionate person to care for this girl, but if her behavior doesn't change, I would have her leave. Your primary responsibility and loyalty needs to be with your own kids and if having her in your home infringes on their well being, you are well within your rights to have her leave, and really your kids deserve to have you ask her to leave if she can't treat them with respect. I'd be willing to deal with all sorts of issues if it didn't impact my kids, but that is where I'd draw the line. If you are stressed and having difficulty managing as an adult, imagine their difficulties as children. Please don't feel guilty if her behavior doesn't change and you choose to do what is in your kids' best interest.
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#13 of 28 Old 03-13-2012, 06:30 PM
 
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I think that some of the stuff you need to grow thicker skin about. Letting her push your buttons is pretty silly - why do you value her opinion? The things she is saying reflect on what is going on inside her, which is just sad. She's a broken kid. There's no reason for you to let it impact you emotionally.

 

One of the differences between raising Children and raising Teens is learning when to let their emotional nonsense just roll off of you like water off a ducks back. I suspect every parent who happily lives through their child's adolescence develops this skill to at least some degree. By taking in an older teen with problems, you've jumped into the deep end. None the less, this skill of not taking on another person's nonsense will serve you will in a few years with your own kids.
 

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 thinks its funny to compare my 7 y old ds to Sheldon from the big bang theory, who apparently also has aspergers syndrome. My son has NO idea at this point that he has AS and he looks at her all confused when she laughs at something he does or says and says Sheldon! She will say things to the kids like I dont like you followed with of course just kidding angry.gif

 

This is completely unacceptable. I would make her a short list of rules, in writing. She may not know what it means to "use kind words" so I would be explicit in the things she is not allowed to say. I would explain that these are the rules of the house, and she will abide by them. You and your husband sitting down with her together VERY CALMLY and laying down the law would be my next step. Don't engage with her, don't let her push your buttons. If you feel yourself starting to get angry/upset/etc, take deep breaths. If that doesn't work, walk away. But stop engaging with her. It's pointless.

 

Also, I have a child with Asperger's and I totally agree with Harper Rose. You aren't doing your son any favors by keeping this a secret. It will most likely be MORE difficult to discuss this with him as he gets older, gets into puberty and his hormones go nuts, etc.


Your niece is completely out of line and acting like a bully, and that should stop. But not because your son can't find out he has Asperger's.

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#14 of 28 Old 03-14-2012, 02:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jnpsmommy View Post
 She has had somewhat of a hard life, her mother thinks its ok to voice her thoughts on how she wishes she never had kids and calls her a little b**ch right in front of her all the time irked.gif Now I am happy to have her and help her out, BUT!!!!!!! She has been so disrespectful towards me since she has gotten here. She says extremely hurtful things to me in such a way that it is almost off handed and makes it sound like shes joking, which makes it hard for me to confront her about it


I had another thought. She may be treating you the way that her mother has been treating her for her whole life. You have a chance to model for her how to handle that.

 

This is how she's been treated her whole life, by the one person her life she should have been able to count on, the person who was to love her unconditionally.

 

No, her behavior is not OK, but that being spoken to this way by a trouble teen is getting under your skin so much, then how do you think it's been for her to get this from her mother from the time she was a small child?

 

How to do you say "she has had some what of a hard life"?  Is this somewhat hard for you? How much worse for a child who hasn't yet had anyone show them they are lovable.

 

May be realizing how this feels for you can give you more compassion into what is going on in her head.

 

I agree that her behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop, but loving her ANYWAY. She is a suffering child who wanted her mommy, but her mommy doesn't want her. See who she is inside -- beyond her pain and her acting out.  See who she really is. Reflect it back to her.

 

Peace
 

 

 

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#16 of 28 Old 03-15-2012, 02:56 PM
 
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I agree with LOTM and Harper.

I disagree with people who dont think a 5 year old can play unsupervised for a while if a parent is napping. Obviously, it's neglect if it's going on ALL THE TIME but I think most 5 year olds would be fine and I'm sure the OP knows if hers isn't one of the kids who are ok with it.
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#17 of 28 Old 03-15-2012, 05:58 PM
 
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I disagree with people who dont think a 5 year old can play unsupervised for a while if a parent is napping.


There were times when my children were small that they played while I napped on the couch. It wasn't a regular thing, but sometimes I was sick, or had been up all night with one of them.

 

I suspect that this is true for *most* small children from time to time, unless grandma lives next door. I was surprised so many people focused on that part of the story.

 

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#18 of 28 Old 03-19-2012, 08:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by HarperRose View Post

I'd sit her down and tell her to knock it off, honestly. You will not make backhanded jokes, you will not call my son Sheldon, you will not cuss around my kids (if that's your rule). Give her a little list. Tell her you love her, you WANT her to be with you, but she needs to start being respectful instead of nasty.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


I had another thought. She may be treating you the way that her mother has been treating her for her whole life. You have a chance to model for her how to handle that.

 

This is how she's been treated her whole life, by the one person her life she should have been able to count on, the person who was to love her unconditionally.

 

No, her behavior is not OK, but that being spoken to this way by a trouble teen is getting under your skin so much, then how do you think it's been for her to get this from her mother from the time she was a small child?

 



I agree with these two posts.  From what you are describing, your niece probably has  no idea that she is being disrespectful towards you.  She has one image in her mind of how a family interacts and may even think she is showing you that she considers you her family.  A good talk about basic rules in your house at a time when you are not already feeling stressed could go a long way.  Different families have different ways of interacting and she may need some very explicit directions to understand what you consider acceptable.

 

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#19 of 28 Old 03-19-2012, 08:56 AM
 
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No doubt this is true but OP you have yor own kids to worry about. You are obviously a very kind and compassionate person to care for this girl, but if her behavior doesn't change, I would have her leave. Your primary responsibility and loyalty needs to be with your own kids and if having her in your home infringes on their well being, you are well within your rights to have her leave, and really your kids deserve to have you ask her to leave if she can't treat them with respect. I'd be willing to deal with all sorts of issues if it didn't impact my kids, but that is where I'd draw the line. If you are stressed and having difficulty managing as an adult, imagine their difficulties as children. Please don't feel guilty if her behavior doesn't change and you choose to do what is in your kids' best interest.

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#20 of 28 Old 03-19-2012, 10:49 PM
 
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She sounds pretty angry about something, and unable to talk about it for whatever reason.  If she didn't know that she was being disrespectful, she wouldn't throw in the little haha, joking comments after being rude.  So, she's either incapable of not being rude and trying to blow it off once she realizes what she's said, or she's fully capable of not being rude and choosing to be rude.  It sounds like it's most likely the latter, since I'd expect a more OMG, did I just say that?! reaction if it was the former.  So, if it's on purpose she's probably either testing you to see if you'll throw her away like the worthless thing she's been told she is; working out her anger at her mom/family on a 'safe' target; or resentful that she's having to live at your place, either because it wasn't her choice to be there, or she didn't have the choices she wanted.  From how she's railing on you, I suspect she's conflicted about her own mom, like many kids are when they get a step parent - they go through a phase of being mean to the step parent to make sure that no one thinks they're giving up on their 'real' parent; or maybe by pointing out how bad a parent she thinks you are, she's trying to justify her mom's actions somehow because everybody is a bad parent.  Who knows. 

 

No matter which of these, or which combination of these, not giving her firm & loving limits isn't helping her at all.  She will probably hate it if you sit her down and tell her how it's going to be, but it may also be the first sign she's had in a good long time that someone cares about her and what she's doing, and not just for their own convenience either.  Saying something like, " I care about you and I really want this to work out.  You seem really angry to me, and it worries me.  I'd like for our house to be a safe place for you, and I'd like to think of you as part of our family, but this isn't going to work if you are insulting my kids and being disrespectful to me and my husband all the time.  What can we do to make this work?"  might work; I doubt anyone has put the ball in her court for a while.  I'd probably ask some questions if she was anything other than hostile to that opening, like " From how you are acting, it seems like you don't want to be here.  Is that true?" . 

 

I'd also make a point of helping personalize a space for her if you haven't already, so it feels to her like you have some level of commitment to her being there and being happy there. 

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#21 of 28 Old 03-19-2012, 11:18 PM
 
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Quote:
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She sounds pretty angry about something, and unable to talk about it for whatever reason.  If she didn't know that she was being disrespectful, she wouldn't throw in the little haha, joking comments after being rude.  So, she's either incapable of not being rude and trying to blow it off once she realizes what she's said, or she's fully capable of not being rude and choosing to be rude.  It sounds like it's most likely the latter, since I'd expect a more OMG, did I just say that?! reaction if it was the former.  So, if it's on purpose she's probably either testing you to see if you'll throw her away like the worthless thing she's been told she is; working out her anger at her mom/family on a 'safe' target; or resentful that she's having to live at your place, either because it wasn't her choice to be there, or she didn't have the choices she wanted.  From how she's railing on you, I suspect she's conflicted about her own mom, like many kids are when they get a step parent - they go through a phase of being mean to the step parent to make sure that no one thinks they're giving up on their 'real' parent; or maybe by pointing out how bad a parent she thinks you are, she's trying to justify her mom's actions somehow because everybody is a bad parent.  Who knows. 

 

No matter which of these, or which combination of these, not giving her firm & loving limits isn't helping her at all.  She will probably hate it if you sit her down and tell her how it's going to be, but it may also be the first sign she's had in a good long time that someone cares about her and what she's doing, and not just for their own convenience either.  Saying something like, " I care about you and I really want this to work out.  You seem really angry to me, and it worries me.  I'd like for our house to be a safe place for you, and I'd like to think of you as part of our family, but this isn't going to work if you are insulting my kids and being disrespectful to me and my husband all the time.  What can we do to make this work?"  might work; I doubt anyone has put the ball in her court for a while.  I'd probably ask some questions if she was anything other than hostile to that opening, like " From how you are acting, it seems like you don't want to be here.  Is that true?" . 

 

I'd also make a point of helping personalize a space for her if you haven't already, so it feels to her like you have some level of commitment to her being there and being happy there. 


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I agree with what Jen Muise is saying.  I bolded that sentence about being incapable of not being rude because that's what came to mind for me. I remember being a teenager and saying some nasty stuff without meaning it, but not knowing how to take it back or when was an okay time to share things.  


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#22 of 28 Old 03-20-2012, 07:35 PM
 
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Lots of good advice so far, may i suggest the book Parenting Teens with Love & Logic it is great.

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#23 of 28 Old 03-21-2012, 10:35 AM
 
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The other thing I'd add is that she's had 17 years to learn these habits. It's not going to be an overnight fix. She needs to learn a lot of skills for how to interact with people in respectful ways. When she's rude, I'd call her on it, not as a "you're being awful" but as a way to teach her. I'd start with her like I did with my kids when they were young: "hey, that sounded rude. Did you mean....?" Once you've modeled for her for a month or so, you can then ask her to rephrase "Hey, try again, that sounded rude." Now, she's 17. She's NOT always going to comply with trying again. Don't make it into a power struggle. I'd let it ride. You've called her out on it, and she'll get it even if she doesn't show it.

 

Is there any way you or your husband (both, ideally) can spend some one-on-one time with her? She needs it just as much as the little kids do. She needs someone to demonstrate with their time that she is worth it. She's had 17 years of that not happening.

 

Is counseling an option? She's got a lot of skills to learn, a lot of negativity to unlearn. She sounds anxious, insecure and really angry. I don't blame her. Her mom has failed her, in her eyes.

 

Finally, don't take this personally. She's hurting and lashing out. She's trying to get a rise out of you. You need to be the calm center that lets her rage around you. Don't become part of that rage or you'll both go down. So, for some of the things she says, I'd either take it lightly or just inform her that she's out of line:

  • "You go to parenting classes because you have no idea how to parent!"  -- "Great idea, why don't you find us one and we'll both go!" Smile broadly.
  • "Too bad uncle Shaune is gonna divorce you, oh just kidding" -- "Hey, out of line. We don't say stuff like that here."
  • "aunty slept ALL day" "whats wrong with you?!!!!" - "I had a bad night. Is this any of your business?"
  • Every time the kids get out of bed for a drink of water, to pee, whatever, she is right there telling me how i should handle it as a parent -- "Whose job is it to parent around here? Mine. It's not your job, so you can relax about it." (It sounds like there weren't great parent-child boundaries in her house; she may genuinely need to learn this.)
  • "I don't like you, just kidding" --"not OK. If you need space, go take some space, but we don't joke like that in our house."
  • "Sheldon" -- "not OK."

 

I like the idea of sitting down with her and asking her input on turning things around. She's close to an adult age. Treat her like an adult as much as you can. Expect good behavior. And expect push-back at every turn. It's not about you, it's about her.

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#24 of 28 Old 03-22-2012, 02:56 PM
 
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I would probably point out that you are glad to be able to give her a respectful home because, from what you understand, She was not given the respect due to all human beings in her original home.  But... for you to be able to maintain a respectful haven for her she needs to contribute to that atmosphere of respect.  When her actions are disrespectful it undermines that atmosphere and makes it challenging for others to be respectful of her.   Recognizing how hard it is to change the patterns she has been witnessing and subject to may make it easier for you to be less sensitive to behavior that you correctly identify as disrespect but may just be a familiar pattern to her.

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#25 of 28 Old 04-15-2012, 11:05 AM
 
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I would tell her to shape up or ship out.  yeah it's sad that she had a rough life but you dont have to put up with a  hostile teen  your home.  can she go to Job corps?  she can live in a dorm, get her diploma and get vocational training while there.  i went there and i loved it


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#26 of 28 Old 04-15-2012, 11:21 AM
 
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I am sorry but this sort of  s-t would not fly in my house.

 

My son has major mentall illness, he is 16 and he is never allowed to talk like this . Or behave.

It just would not occur to him because he knows very well that all of his privileges would be take away on the spot.


Simply look. Simply sit down with your niece and tell her, looking staring in her eyes "Your behavior is not allowed in this House. I am sorry you had hard life but you can't use it as an excuse for the rest of your life to hurt other people. Here is list of rules to follow. IF you do not follow those rules, I am packing your bag and you are going back to your mom. The end of discussion"

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#27 of 28 Old 09-14-2012, 12:32 AM
 
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I remember when I was in high school and everyone was doing the whole saying something mean then follow up with "just kidding" thing. I think the draw of it is that they get to flex some freedom verbally that they haven't really had before. Test the boundaries sort of thing. BUT that was only with friends and never with family. It sounds like she testing boundaries at your house. She probably has no idea what sort of limits and expectations she has at your house, especially since it sounds like she had few rules at her parents.


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#28 of 28 Old 09-19-2012, 01:25 AM
 
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So whatever happened with this situation?

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