my sister's 17 year old daughter - runaway

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by virginiabreeze, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    I am a newbie and just found this site.

    I am at a loss as to how to be supportive/helpful to my sister. My sister's 17 year old daughter has been a runaway for the last 7 months. My sister has found out that her daughter no longer attends school and is living with a boyfriend.

    It kills me to hear the pain that my sister is in. But, it seems like there is nothing I can say that is helpful to her.

    From what I can tell, our mother, brothers & sisters are all pretty sick of the 'drama'. I don't want to turn my back on my sister, but it is frustrating to try and give her what I think is loving & helpful advise - and have her 'turn' on me with a lot of anger & resentment.

    What can I do? I live in another state, and don't get to see her.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    "Loving and helpful advise" from well-meaning but un-informed family members is rather a hot-button issue for parents of difficult children....which may be why you are getting such hostility in return.

    Rather than offering advice - I wonder if you could offer your sister a non-judgmental ear...or just love and support...?

    She may be suffering far more than you truly understand.
  3. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    Hi DaisyFace - you are so right. My poor sister asks "What would I do" and I try to explain to her that I haven't a clue. I have a 'perfect child' - he's really isn't, but compared to my niece, I realize I'm sooo blessed.

    My sister has tried everything. She has been in family counseling, she has been a very hands on mother, she has done everything for her daughter. My sister has reached out to our large extended family for support and intervention - and that has not worked out very well for her. I guess that unless you are experiencing and living 'it', words are just empty and painful. I am shocked at the anger this 'drama' has stirred up within our family of origin (3 sisters, 4 brothers, and elderly mother).

    I live the farthest away. So, I have not been involved from the beginning, like my other brothers & sisters have. My sense is that my sister has 'burnt' some bridges and is now reaching out to me for the support that she so desperately needs. The whole situation is just heartbreaking. My niece is a beautiful girl who just fell into the wrong crowd. My sister just wants her to come back home.

    The daughter has run away. My sister has no idea where she is and no way to contact her. My sister has learned from the high school that her daughter has dropped out and is living with a boyfriend. My niece is 17, will turn 18 in April - which has my sister freaking out.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    It sounds like a very tough situation...

    If you haven't already - please tell her about this board. It has been a life-saver for many a desperate parent at the end of their rope. It is HUGE to realize that you are not alone - and there are other parents out there who know EXACTLY what it is like to raise a difficult child. Meeting the folks on this board made a big difference for me...

    It may for her, too.
  5. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    I agree Daisy. My only advice to her that I keep repeating, even though it seems to fall on deaf ears, is to get in a support group with other parents. She is not interested in Al-Anon, yet. She is on the computer, so I sent her the link to this site. I have been lurking here for a while, and realize that she is not alone in her suffering. I hope she will connect.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Ten years ago or so my neice provided this website to me in hopes it would provide some help. It hasn't provided "some" has saved my sanity. It is the ultimate gift. by the way, she never monitored my postings over the years either so I have been free to say whatever I felt with-o worry. Hugs. DDD
  7. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    DDD - I hope my sister will at least read some of the threads posted on this site - if only to feel a sense of connection and to know that she is not alone.

    Our family of origin can best be described as 'fixers'. Everyone has very strong opinions about what they would do, etc. One of my sisters even sent an nasty email to our niece - basically just telling her off, and since then the email address has been closed. That was my sisters only 'life line' to her daughter.

    I am very worried about my sister. She doesn't sleep, or eat any more. She doesn't work. Her marriage is hanging by a thread. All life has stopped for her - her only thought is for her daughter.

    I feel so helpless when I try and tell her to "Do something for yourself today. Go for a walk, hug your dog, take a hot bath." It just seems like such worthless words. I can't hug her - she lives in TX. All I can do is listen, and it is so hard. In all honesty, I don't think problems like this can be 'fixed'. I think you just learn to deal with them, and learn from experience. I keep telling my sister not to give up hope. Her daughter is beautiful and was raised to be better than this.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It is common for new people to "lurk" and read for some time before they decide to post. Some never do post but still gain awareness that they are not alone and they are not at fault. Without exaggeration it probably would be possible to read 24/7 for a month and still have other posts to read. Initially my favorite time was at night (or more accurately) during the night and wee hours when I couldn't sleep from the anxiety and fears caused by difficult child.

    If she trust you not to visit the site she will have an awesome sense of freedom. You're a great sister.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Sound like your sister is very lucky to have you. It is super hard to not want to fix things. I think that is really true for moms especially. I thought the same as the others, I have been there and I honestly dont call my family sometimes because I dont need suggestions or questions. I just need a hug and an ear. I love it when they say things like that sounds really hard, or you are doing such a great job, etc. Not made up stuff, I am not suggesting you be insincere. Just that you offer her an ear and a distraction if at all said you live far but my sisters and I sometimes watch a favorite show together while on the computer or texting with eachother. We all get mad at judges on IDOL etc. Just a thought.
  10. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    Thank you Buddy for the good suggestions. I actually 'watch' a DWTS with/for my Mom - just to have something light to talk with her about. My sister is so alone right now. Her husband travels a lot for work. To pile on top of the stress of her daughter running away, my sister & her husband accepted a relocation and recently moved. My sister is so depressed - she says things that really worry me - suicidal sounding. One of my other sisters was so concerned that she called the police and asked them to check on her. That didn't work out too well - and now they aren't speaking to one another. It's just a mess - the entire family needs help - it's like they have fallen into a rabbit hole and no one can get out. The school can't help her - because they moved and are no longer in the school district - they asst. principal called the daughter in and told her she was no longer enrolled in the school district and that she is not allowed in school anymore. The police aren't much help - they told my sister to file a 'missing persons report'. My sister found out that her daughter moved in with a 'friends' family - but this family won't allow my sister to have any contact. And now, my sister thinks her daughter has moved in with-a boyfriend. I feel like every 'safety net' that you would assume would help or interviene somehow has let this family down - the school, law enforcement, and the other parents' who allowed my niece to stay with their family.
  11. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    I just called her to say good night - and it sounds like she may have taken pills. She told me not to worry - but she sounded sooo bad.
  12. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    God - I wish I could just tell her daughter to call home. That's all my sister wants at this point - just to hear her daughters voice
  13. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I'm thinking of you. Hoping she is alright.
  14. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    She contacted me early this morning to tell me she is ok - she just desperately needed sleep and took a sleeping pill.

    She wants me to anonymously report the family that she thinks her daughter might be staying with to Child Protective Services. She wants me to call the property management company of the apartment complex the family resides in and tell them that the family is harboring a minor child without her consent. She wants me to call the police and ask them to raid the apartment complex because the children are smoking pot there. Are these good ideas? Is this what I should be doing to ‘help’ her?

    Below is my response to my sister’s email to me –

    XXXX - the family XXXXX is involved with is awful. What they are doing is wrong. But, think about what the nun has told you - her words come from a place of quite prayer and contemplation. She is asking you to find a way to draw XXXXX back to you.

    When I was XXXXX’s age, I believed that Mother disapproved of everything I did - my interaction with her was so negative. Every interaction I had, I made sure to magnify the slightest things and turn her into a monster. I had my roommates convinced that she was awful - we all called her "'Mommy Dearest". Your daughter reminds me so much of myself. It took years, well into my adulthood, for me to realize that so much of my problem with Mother I manufactured in my own head. Something eventually clicked in my head, and I was able to see Mother as a flawed human - just like everyone else is. I do believe it was a ‘miracle’; a Godly intervention took place - because the change came from within me, not Mom. I know this isn't much help to you for today. But you are a beautiful person, and a wonderful Mother, and your daughter is so blessed to have you. I pray everyday that God intervenes in XXXXX's life and I believe my prayers will be answered.

    Love you,

    Am I letting my sister down by not calling the police, CPS, the apartment complex? Would it help to get my niece back by harassing her friends, or would it make things worse. I have never been asked to do something like this -
  15. keista

    keista New Member

    ((((HUGS)))) Your letter to your sister was wonderful and supportive. Sadly, what your sister is asking you to do, in my opinion, is absolutely unreasonable. First, aren't you several states away? You have no first hand knowledge of niece's activity. If you did make reports or complaints, they probably would not be taken seriously. As the mother, your sister is in a much better position to make such reports. Sadly again, since niece is 17 (almost legally an adult) there is very little that can or will be done.

    If this letter is representative of the type of support you offer your sister, then you are doing all you can do, in a positive, healthy and helpful way.
  16. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Boy, it's not often that I am stumped but this is a hairy situation. Your sister is desperate and exploring every option available. Now she has reached out to have you support her plan for reunification and although it is good that she trusts you I don't know how I'd suggest that you react. Based on the facts that you have shared with us I believe she has already reached out to the police unsuccessfully. My impression is that since she is so close to majority that they don't see any positive action as feasible. Harbouring a cooperative 17 year old likely is not against the law. Your niece has been gone for a long time. She had the legal power to quit high school with-o parental consent. From those factors it appears she is being considered an adult or unofficial emancipated minor. It is rare for the police to raid a home for possible pot possession unless there is a lengthly criminal history or a resident who is on probation. If they did raid the house her daughter is likely to be arrested and charged as well as the occupants who are related. It sounds like a lose/lose concept. what can you say? Group support has been suggested. Therapy has been suggested. Now I guess that the CD Board has been suggested. Have you invited her to come visit with you so she can have different surroundings for awhile? Or are you in a position to make a trip to where she lives so she has a trusted sister at her side for a few days? it even remotely possible that if you visited her you could make a friendly unannounced visit to her current home so you could see for yourself if she is in good condition? perhaps or perhaps not have a brief lunch with her and after listening and chit chatting ask her if she would call her Mom using your cell?

    I'm just brainstorming here and not convinced that my ideas are valid. They are the best I can come up with, however. Sending hugs. DDD
  17. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    I told my sister that I will continue to leave 'loving' messages on the cell phone number that I have for my niece. But, my son, who is 18, thinks she doesn't even check her messages and that she isn't even using that phone anymore. Other than that, I can't think of anything else I can do.

    My sister has told me that she has been to the other family's apartment a few times with the police - but nothing good has ever come from it. According to my sister, the family is a bunch of low lifes without even a shred of common decency. It blows my mind the other family’s parents would allow this – they know my niece is a run away and that my sister just wants to get her daughter back. I would never get involved in another family’s problems like this. If I though one of my son’s friends was ‘endangered’ in their home environment – I would call CPS. I wouldn’t just ‘take’ the child from his parents, especially without their consent. It just seems so wrong.

    Is it even possible to try and reason with people like this - or am I just being naive. Should my sister try and talk with the other mother, you know 'Mom to Mom'? My sister is nothing but a ball of emotions right now. I know it would be hard for her to contain her anger - which I have seen, and I know is not a 'good' thing. It just seems like - if everybody could get together and talk this out.

    My poor sister, and my poor niece - no body is a winner, it's just so sad.
  18. virginiabreeze

    virginiabreeze New Member

    I'm stumped - but that is not unusual for me, lol.

    I'm a Mom to an 18 year old son. And I have known for a long time, that I have no physical power over him - he's been bigger than me for years! Luckily for me, we have been able to 'reason' through our rough patches - and he has never been a rebellious child. That's why I really feel like I have nothing to offer my sister, in terms of parental advice, our experiences raising children are so different.

    One thing I am trying to tap into is what it feels like to be a 17 year old girl who hates her Mother - that I can relate too, because I was once that girl. I wasted years of my life being hateful and resentful towards my own Mother - for no good reason. And from that little girl wounded point of view, there was absolutely NOTHING my Mother could have done to change it. It was something I finally (thank God) grew out of somehow. It really wasn't until I got busy dealing with the problems in my own life - relationships, career, kids, bills, etc, that I realized I just didn't have the 'luxury' of dwelling on my 'Mother' issues any more. But, none of this is a help to my sister now.
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I was hoping that your sister might feel better if a family member could "see" that her daughter is ok. on the other hand, maybe she isn't. Bad situation. DDD
  20. cubsgirl

    cubsgirl Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to say I'm sorry for your bad situation. You've gotten good advice from wise people. I hope your sister can visit here or join a support group. If its any consolation I was a major difficult child and 17 y/o runaway and I turned out ok in the end - but I had lots of help and support.