I NEED ADVICE!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2001
I NEED ADVICE!
9
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 11:14am

I'm posting here regarding my 17 year old niece. Niece is 5'11" 280-ish. She's a big girl and has the life-long self-esteem/self-worth issues that go along with it.  Not to mention the sibling rivalry from having a younger sister who is super-model beautiful that boys always fawned over. She's always felt big, ugly, unworthy. She's had family issues (I think many of you know the saga) and is currently being treated for depression.

Two weeks ago she met a boy.  Well...  a man.  He's 22.  From what niece tells me (and she talks about him non-stop), he thinks the world of her, tells her she's beautiful, can't believe such a beautiful girl is going out with him, she thinks he's so nice...  Niece has been on cloud nine. 

I've got red warnings lighting up all over. She's become so infatuated so quickly, I'm scared she's going to jump into having sex with him without really getting to know him...  And I think this because she's done it before.  2 years ago, a similar situation.  A boy gave her some attention - she fell "in love" and slept with him within days/weeks of knowing him.  He immediately dumped her.  This was a month before she moved back in with her mother, attempted suicide - all the stuff that led up to her moving in with my husband & me.

Niece still regularly chats with her Mom. Her mother called me last night to tell me I had to do something about her daughter.  Mom says she asked point blank if they were having sex.  Niece [big pause before answering] says no.  Mom detects the lie & gets her to admit that yes, they *tried* but claims the guy "felt bad" and couldn't go through with it.  (HE felt bad, SHE didn't?)

So in spite of our many girl-talks and her saying she learned from her first experience and is NOT ready for sex...  she's very likely completely lying to my face.  Apparently she's so freaking insecure, she's ready to immediately screw the first guy who calls her pretty.

She's off with relatives for Thanksgiving & this is just roiling around in my head.  He may be the nicest guy in the world but...  dude, it's only been 2 weeks! You barely know him, you don't know if this is the real him or just a bunch of BS he's saying to get into your pants! I'm so angry & upset right now, I feel like if she were here right now, I'd be yelling & screaming (and since she's not, I'm here freaing out & venting).  I do have time to calm down before she returns and plan on having a calm, rational conversation with her.  Just wondering what you think might be the best approach.

EDIT: Niece is 17, turns 18 next week.  "BOY" is 22, turns 23 soon after she turns 18. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2001
In reply to: ketue
Sun, 11-25-2012 - 10:13am

Ahhh...   OK.  Thank you for the insights, ladies... 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: elc11
Sat, 11-24-2012 - 1:20am

My dd started therapy at 19yo so she had to give permission for me to be present, but the Pdoc and therapist told her that there should be some family sessions--that the parents are part of the dynamic, they have a different perspective that needs to be considered, etc. And part of our condition for dd moving back into our home and receiving financial support was for her to attend therapy and to allow us a degree of involvement in it. She was seeing a female therapist once a week and I joined them once a month for most or all of the session; I attended all of the Pdoc sessions but they were less frequent. Also I was free to call either practitioner at any time to discuss my concerns although they didn't tell me what dd had said during private sessions...but if she had told them something in private that they felt I needed to know they got her to discuss it during the family session. Eventually she was down to once a month with the therapist and I joined them every 6 months or so. (she stopped seeing the Pdoc after she went off the meds, which was okay with us) So there's no "right way" to do it and it will likely change over time anyway. Since you have some concerns right now about dn heading into this new relationship maybe you should try to join her next session, or at least tell the therapist about your concerns so s/he can address those issues in the coming sessions.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 7:25pm

We started counseling when our girls were 13 & 15, so we had the hang of it by the time they turned 18.  At first we sat in on all the sessions, but eventually, we sat together for only part of the session.  During the one on one time, any issue the girls wanted to bring up in private, could be discussed, and then the Pdoc would help them decide whether or not they should include parents in future talks about that issue.  During our sessions together, doc would say, (for instance) "So, did you handle XYZ issue the way we discussed?" or "Is there anything you continue to disagree about?" or "Mom, it's Lolo's turn to give her opinion now." or "(Kid) did you hear what you just did? You disagreed with EVERY statement your Mom, made--including what the weather is like!"

Therapists are generally OK with parents sitting in on sessions, as long as the child agrees, because they know kids LIE-- A LOT.  They tell the therapist what they think the therapist wants to hear, or what casts them in a more favorable light.  After they turned 18, both our kids went thru periods of abandoniong counseling, and quitting meds, but our advantage was that grades as began to fall AGAIN, or they got in financial trouble AGAIN, they knew a condition of our not killing them, was to be included in restarted therapy.

The best you can do is tell your neice that your condition for continuing to let her live with you AND continuing to pay for her counseling, is that you get to sit in with her and her counselor half of the sessions, or every other session.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2001
In reply to: ketue
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 5:13pm
Thanks, Sabr. When she first started therapy I went to all her appointments with her & after a few months the therapist asked me to stop because she felt Niece wasn't being completely open/honest when I was in the room. Maybe I should have followed up more about it but I figured that at her age, this was how therapy was supposed to work. I've never really been through any kind of therapy - as a patient or parent of one. Call me stupid if you want, I honestly didn't know what my role was supposed to be. (I wonder if I can change that or if I'm too late as she's 18 next week!) As far as talking to her - I know exactly what you mean. I have figured out we can't TELL her anything. My husband, he's the talker & the champion of what's known in our house as "the big lecture." He talks and explains and over-explains... all while niece smiles & nods & rolls her eyes. To her "the big lecture" is a joke, and she knows it'll shut him up faster if she just agrees with what he's saying. I do like how your kid put it. "Help me convince myself!" I never would have thought to put it that way, but that does perfectly describe how I tend to speak with my niece in order for her to come to conclusions & figure stuff out for herself! LOL! You've given me some pretty good questions to start with, too. THANK YOU!
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2001
In reply to: ketue
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 4:24pm
Hi Pam The age difference wasn't what raised my red flag. Heck, I was just shy of 18 when I first met my nearly 22 year old boyfriend (who is now my husband). It's also the same age difference between her mom & dad, Believe me, she never fails to point that out whenever the age difference is mentioned. LOL! I'm not all that concerned about the age difference, per se. Niece has always been more... comfortable? compatible? has more in common with? a slightly older crowd. She just doesn't "get" people her own age, due to the fact that she grew up being bullied in school by those the same age as her. She's mature in many aspects, and I'm proud of that. But she so desperately wants to be loved and in a relationship, I'm afraid she's willing to give herself away in order to have one. I mean, they've barely known each other two weeks... He lives/works near her college. The couple times they've gone out, it's been after her classes were done for the day & each time he brought her home right around 9pm. Neither time did he come inside the house. After hearing this girl tirelessly babble on about how wonderful this guy is - I wanted to meet him & see for myself what kind of guy is chasing after my 17yo! After the 2nd time, I mentioned that it comes off a bit disrespectful to not even invite him inside & introduce him to us. "Oh... you think so? I'm sorry... I didn't even think of that." Yes you did, I mentioned it the first time he dropped you off & just drove away... The next day she brought him over to where I work (niece & I are carpool buddies, I work right across the street from her college) so that I could finally meet him. It was brief, introductions & a little chit-chat. Can't completely judge a guy over a 5-10 minute meeting but he seems like a nice-enough guy, doesn't appear to be a serial killer or anything. But still. Only 2 weeks... I don't want it to her to be that girl that will do ANYTHING to get a guy to love her.
Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 1:58pm

GRRR  I had to sign in THREE times befor I was "authorized" to post.  I posted to you on POT.  That worked--for 5 minutes--so i foolishly thought this forum would work also....

Anyway I'm adding that I have 2 ADDult daughters.  We went thru MANY years of counseling, and i need to tell you that it will not work if your niece is going by herself.  YOU need to go also--to help understand how to parent her, to learn what the counselor is telling her, and what your niece is supposed to be doing as part of her therapy.  If YOU don't understand what she is working on, and can give her appropriate feedback and guidance, she won't get far.  You need to be able to reference her therapist's instructions and ideas in your "talks'.

As for the talks, I can also tell you that "talking" doesn't work.  As one of my kids said--"You know what Dr L said Mom.  Don't TELL me things.  Help me convince me."  So instead of telling her that this guy probably doesn't have her best interests at heart, and because she hasn't had a lot of exposure to successful adult relationships, ask her questions like..

So, what does he do for a living?  How successful is he?  Where does he live?  What does he do for YOU?  Does he show you off to his friends?  His family?  Does he want to meet us?  What does he do to impress you with his worth?  Is education important to him?  Does he help you with your homework?  Does he take you out?  Where does he take you?  Could he support you if you got pregnant?  Could he support you AND a child?  Would you have a home of your OWN to live in?

Let HER think about these questions, and reach her own conclusions.  If he has no education, no job, no prospects, lives at home and only sees her in the back seat of someone else's car, perhaps she will think about these things.   

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
In reply to: ketue
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 12:56pm

No real advice other than what elc mentioned. I'd definitely encourage her to bring him around so you can meet him. My younger ds dated a girl for a year and a half that was over 4 years younger than him. They started dating when he was just turning 20 and she was 16 (which we were NOT thrilled about but her parents were OK with it). The older she got the more comfortable I was. They just broke up about a month ago; he's now 22 and she's 18. I can see why the big age difference at their ages would raise a red flag but sometimes it can work out. But I'd for sure want to meet him. If he's reluctant to come around THAT would be a red flag, too.

Pam
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2001
In reply to: ketue
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 12:34pm

Oh hey, this did post!  Good!  I thought it was lost in internet purgatory forever....

Her suicide attempt landed her in the psych ward for a week.  She wasn't cleared to return to school w/o a week of follow-up outpatient care which her mother did not do.  THUS, she couldn't return to school which led to the truancy charges which led to mother freaking out about the potential $500 fine (never mind her daughter's treatment) which led to her moving in with dh & me.

ANYWAY - yes, one of the conditions of her moving in was to seek & continue care for her emotional/psychological issues.  She's been in therapy the whole time she's been with us.  That combined with her prescribed medication is doing job and she's doing MUCH better than when she first moved in. 

It's hard enough parenting a teenager/young adult - especially one that's been brought up so differently & only been part of my immediate family for a year!  I didn't experience these types of issues w/ my older dd so this is all new territory.  

Thank you very much for your suggestions, those are all very good points & I'll be incorporating them into our chat. 

 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: ketue
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 11:55am

Is your niece getting any kind of counseling related to her suicide attempt and other issues including  the self-esteem? It seems like she may need professional help to understand how those issues could drive her to make poor choices, and to learn how to exercise control when faced with such choices. Without knowing what you and she regularly cover in your "girl talks" its hard to suggest what to say in the upcoming conversation...but probably something about how one knows when they are ready to take a relationship to the level of having sex, what it means emotionally, and how she would feel if the new bf broke up with her shortly after having sex, why its a good idea to make sure the relationship might last for a while...maybe suggest that she see if the relationship is strong enough to endure *without* sex as a way to tell if he likes her or is using her. 

Is she on birth control, and informed about safe sex? If there are any doubts about that I would suggest getting her the gyno asap to make sure she is protected. While she is still a minor you can talk to the doc about your concerns, so that the doc might frame the advice to include waiting until she knows her partner well. The only thing worse than a naive sexually active 17/18yo with low self esteem is her being pregnant and/or with a STD.

I would also encourage her to bring him around so you can meet him....invite him to dinner etc. You can get a sense of him and he sees that she has a family that is concerned about her, which can help him to see her as a three dimensional person. If she's telling the truth about him declining sex because he felt bad, then that's a good thing---he may have a conscience and some maturity and could be a good influence in helping her to learn to value herself.