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My 10-Year-Old Niece Seems On Edge

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My sister is a single mother in her thirties. She is very immature, selfish and crippled by insecurities. She drinks herself asleep most nights. Daily she consumes at least 2 pints of beer. This is not my concern. What bothers me is she puts my niece in positions I feel a good mother wouldn’t.

As I mentioned my sister drinks so most of the time before she passes out, she is obnoxious, loudly singing or provoking verbal arguments where she, a suburban white female, suddenly starts speaking and posturing as a street thug complete with accent, hand gestures and slang. She regularly takes her ten year old daughter on dates with her so she won’t “have to be alone” with men she herself barely knows.

My niece has taken to RIPPING OUT her eye lashes to the point there are no lashes on the outside corners of her eyes but my sister thinks its just a phase because she doesn’t want to be bothered with actually being a mother. She has also taken to binge eating and has put on 15 lbs in 7 months causing other kids to poke fun at her. My niece has a hard time sleeping if she can’t sleep in the bed with someone else. If my niece questions why my sister’s constant drinking, my sister blows up at her telling her that it is her right as an adult again complete with the gangster act.

It is the three of us living together but I really just want to leave, I just can’t bring myself to leave my niece with her idiot mother. What can I do to help my niece since my sister clearly won’t step up?

My 10-Year-Old Niece Seems On Edge

Answered by on -

A.

It’s long past time for a major confrontation with your sister. She has had a child but that doesn’t make her a mother. Mothers don’t make a 10-year-old into a bodyguard. Mothers don’t act less adult than their kids. Of course the child is stressed out. Of course she is showing it physically. She’s trapped. She loves her mother but she’s scared.

Your niece can’t take her mother on but you can. Tell your sister that if she doesn’t clean up her act and take care of this child as she should, you’ll call protective services — then do it. It’s not doing your sister any favors to allow her to throw her life away. It’s not being a responsible aunt to watch your niece be victimized by her mother’s behavior.

If your sister can’t step up and deal with her alcoholism and irresponsible behavior, I hope you have it in you to tell her to leave and to take on raising this little girl by being a designated foster parent. I hope there are other family members who can help. Please don’t be frightened of protective services. They really can provide services and guidance when a family works with them.

I understand that going forward this way is very, very hard. It’s not fair that you are in this position. It’s not fair to your niece to let it continue. But taking charge may save your sister’s life and will certainly reduce the child’s stress and perhaps give her a brighter future.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My 10-Year-Old Niece Seems On Edge

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My 10-Year-Old Niece Seems On Edge. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/03/09/my-10-year-old-niece-seems-on-edge/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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