New, looking for a place to vent and new ideas from people like you.


New Member
So I'm just going to throw you all into it so hold on.

I married into my husbands family about five years ago and coming from a very strict background being around his family was a bit of a culture shock. Especially the trio of his mom, sister and niece (difficult child). Witnessing them interact was appalling. There was name calling, slamming doors, calls to my husband from my sister in law about the latest thing my mother in law did or the latest thing her daughter (difficult child) did. Stories of slamming doors and niece (difficult child) kicking walls and throw things at my sister in law or my mother in law down the stairs.

Now here we are a couple years down the road.

Niece is now 14. They have her on a string of medications, have her in an alternative school because she can't get along socially with the other kids (They pick on her). She's also see a therapist. Well her mom got approval from the state for 28 hours a month of caregiving. They asked me if I would be interested, it was a paying job and so I agreed. I could see the path this girl was going on and part of me wanted to help. Help her become more sociable or self assured.

So I found out from difficult child's father (dead beat dad) that difficult child had been on the computer and had gotten scammed in a way. She was in a program called imvu which is all about chat rooms and mostly for tweens and teens. Some guy told her he all these bonuses for her and she just needed to get her parents credit card. But he promised her he wasn't going to charge the card. >.< So she sneaks her mom's card and gives it to the guy but there is a security block. He needs her address, she doesn't know their address. (She's 14 and she doesn't know her own address??) So she asks her mom. Mom is like "What do you need that for?" and mom starts getting suspicious. difficult child starts to get secretive and upset that mom isn't telling her the address. Finally difficult child becomes angry and storms off to go call grandmom (mother in law). (Whenever she's pissed off at her mom she goes to grand mom to complain) She gets grand mom pay pall info and gives it to the guy. And is told by the guy there is security info he needs from her. difficult child starts to finally get suspicious and logs off. Not sure how mom finds out but I guess her mom (sister in law) starts to ask her a bunch of questions and she fesses up to what happens. Grandmother and mom flip out and start changing canceling their accounts and changing password. Her mother takes the computer away for 2 days but gives it back cause difficult child looks sorry about it.

What angers me when I learn all this is that they don't even know what web site she was on. They tell us. "Oh it was just a video game." So my husband and I look it up. No. It's one of the social chat rooms. They didn't even know she was sitting around in chat rooms talking to strangers.

So in my next session I sit down with difficult child and talk to her about internet safty, scammers, gold sellers etc. I'm pretty active in online media and games, I've been on the computer for years now I know what to watch out for. I ask her about this 'game' she was playing and..presto! She's actually very eager to show me, drinking up the attention I was giving her. And that's how I learn it's a large social chat scene.

~~~ fast forward to yesterday ~~~

I get a text from sister in law asking if this week I could write difficult child a list of "warning signs" She can hang by her computer because I know the internet better then they do. Cue head exploding. This is infuriating to me because to me her mother should be the one sitting down with her daughter and talking to her about these things. This is just a piece of paper so the mother can feel better about letting her daughter be on the computer unsupervised. "Well, she has a list of warning signs. That's going to help her be safe." And I also got a report that everything was quite that week cause difficult child got a new video game and she's been playing that all week and not in the chat rooms. Oh hooray! Another opportunity to NOT be a parent. Lets give her another video game to distract her!

So I'm trying to bite my tongue here and just do what difficult child's mother asks. I'm not sure if it's my place to tell her that this piece of paper isn't going to replace a watchful parent. That being safe on the internet is not just a few 'key words' to look out for. But I also don't want to just be some glorified babysitter with a nice title. I want to really help the kid when she's here. I want her to be safe and not be lured away by some weirdo on the computer.


Well-Known Member
When a child is floundering due to either inherent issues or poor quality parenting, often the best we can do is offer a life line. If your niece is, and has been, unsupervised at 14 there's very little chance you will be able to "teach" her mother anything.

All you can do is be the positive influence in her life and hope that your time with her makes a difference. Very often it's those outside the family that can have the greatest influence on a young person. Be there for your niece and continue to hold your tongue -- you don't want to take a chance that you will be "fired" because that would be a real tragedy in her life.


Well-Known Member
Hi and Welcome!

First off, you are an in-law. That is the worst position to offer any kind of advice or suggestion especially about childrearing. Doesn't matter how right you are, it just doesn't go over well. Or at least that is my experience. Something could get over better from your husband (though they would likely guess that it comes from you.) But maybe more neutral suggestion would be that they seek out parenting therapy or something like that (me and my husband found that very useful with our difficult to raise son.)

And to be honest there is little you can do in area of limit setting for your niece. Of course you have your rules in your house when she is there, but that is it. What you can do, is to be positive adult role model and show lots of interest for your niece. That can be invaluable. Sometimes all it takes is that one person, who is there and is honestly interested. With arrangement like yours, I would try to keep out from the role of disciplinarian and be more an adult trustee and friend. Try to guide her with very positive methods and encouragement and try to build a trust between you so that she would feel comfortable turning to you, if something troubling is going on in her life.

That may take lot of tongue biting from your part, but I fear that other approaches are likely to backfire.

We do some respite parenting too. Our respite kids are much younger and their mother is not related to us but it is arranged through our church and social service. The mother is not inept, but very, very exhausted (she is a single mother of several kids, one with severe special needs, other with moderate ones and with her extended family living hundreds miles away) and we are outsiders. Still it is a delicate balance. I'm sure that your situation with in-law angle is likely much more delicate.


Well-Known Member
I agree that it is a no win situation to try to fix parenting of anyone else. One thing I can think of you might want to do is to suggest a good parental control software for the computer at her mom's house. That would help keep her safe in spite of everything.


Well-Known Member
Welcome, PirateMom.
I hear you!
I agree with the others. You are in an awkward position. In the meantime, you can be a guiding light for this 14-yr-old. If you can somehow "ignore" the damage that is being done by her mom, you can just straighten your shoulders and soldier on, knowing that at least one of you is doing the right thing.
Good for you!


New Member
First I want to point out I love the fact that these forums to auto save. I can start on one computer, pause and go do real life and then finish when I have the time on another computer. Love it.

Parent classes have been suggested to both grandmother and Mother who then get upset with teacher or councilor for ever suggesting such a thing! You're right any advice they get from outside source gets met with hostility. When sister in law in law was late for another session at my house I did turn to my husband and asked him to call grandmother since she rules the roost there. I think that was the best thing I could do was have him as a go between. He did suggest to them parental monitoring software on the computer. Of course that idea was met with hesitation and excuses. I feel this cheat sheet I'm typing up is going to be their "monitoring software."

I know I can't say anything, and for me biting my tongue is so hard! So I guess that's why I'm here. Needing an outlet to vent so that when they are around I can hold my tongue. Because things aren't going to change with her mother and grandmother. What's that saying....I can't change them but I can only change myself?

Thanks for the responses. It's nice to just feel someone is listening and can understand what I'm going through. And sometimes you need someone else to tell you things you already know.