How to help a troubled teen!? Please help!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-10-2011
How to help a troubled teen!? Please help!
4
Thu, 02-10-2011 - 3:47pm

I am not a parent, but am concerned with my husband's cousin, so my cousin-in-law. I was really hoping to get some solid answers, and yahoo answers hasn't proved useful. She is 14 years old I think, and a freshman in high school. I have only seen her a few times and so I don't know her that well. My husband found her facebook and is now her friend, I don't have a facebook and from time-to-time I talk to our mutual friends through his messaging and look at friend's pictures and stuff. So, since he has become her friend I have noticed she seems to be going through a lot for her age. It seems she had a boyfriend that broke up with her and is now with another girl and she still loves him, she says. Multiple times an hour, every day she posts stuff about how her heart is broken and she could never love anyone else and sometimes even says she hates herself and has hinted at cutting, she seems very depressed. She has been suspended from school and seems to "brag" about it and also swears A LOT, I know a lot of kids do these days, but sometimes I just can't believe it. She is only 14!

My husband says her parents had a lot of issues and had divorced and I think her dad is drunk a lot. She also seemed to hint that she had been molested by a family member on one of her posts. My dad was never home when I was little and was always at the bar, and I also was molested by a family member, so I really hope she can see that I very much can relate. I am only 22 and so I remember very much what it was like to be that age. My husband and I dated all through HS and stayed out of the "bad crowds" and didn't go to crazy parties like most people we knew did, and at the time it may have seemed a little bit like we were missing out, but now it's so easy to see how ridiculous so many of the things are that happen and/or are "important" in HS.

I had a death in my immediate family when I was 14 and went through a very tough time. I really want to help her but I don't really know where to begin. I think, or at least I hope, she could see that I have been through a lot of the same things and could relate to me. I know I can't just ask her to hang out sometime and then tell her thing after thing that she is doing wrong and that isn't healthy, I know that won't help. But there is so much she seems to need help with and I want to her to know that I really do care and understand, but where do I start? How would I invite her to do something for the first time with me without her thinking it seems really strange that suddenly I want to hang out? I just don't want her to be like, "You don't know me! Who are you to pretend you care!?" Has someone ever been in this kind of a situation? Thanks for any advice!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 02-11-2011 - 10:55am

How close is your DH to this girl's parents (or to the one who is related to him?)

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 02-11-2011 - 9:01am
Great non-celebratory idea along the lines I was thinking! I did hang out with a female cousin who is actually 23 years older than me - it was great.

Sue
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 02-11-2011 - 8:24am

I would suggest doing something girly, perhaps going for a pedicure together. You could say you need the company and thought she might enjoy it..

I will warn you that as a parent I would be suspicious of a relationship between a 14 yr old and a 22 year old. I had a friend who allowed her boys, then 14 and 15, to hang with a older female cousin. She thought it very touching as she had not had much of a family life herself growing up. I was there when they came home from the skating rink, looking quite stoned. My friend was clueless and I chose to stay silent(something I still regret) Eventually(as in many months later) she found out but both those boys struggled with drug use well into adulthood.

Good luck!

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 02-10-2011 - 5:00pm
My SIL started something when the kids were younger - for their birthday they go on 'an adventure' that they pick, like to a movie, out to eat, putt putt, etc. Maybe you could say now that she's 14 that's what you want to institute for her birthday, and hoped she'd be up for it (obviously I have no clue when that is but it's a great way to open up like that) - say it's something you heard about and thought she might enjoy, and propose it be with or without your dh (if you think she'd talk in front of him). Then if you get time to talk, just say you remember what it was like being her age but you had some difficult circumstances, and divulge what you're willing (not hinting at all about what you know about her situation), and then just see if she opens up - that's how I'd start. Good luck. It might take more than once but under the guise of an adventure, it might help her talk a little. Good of you to care!

Sue