Troubled 13yo from tough background is extremely defiant

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by orcaauntie, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    Hello everyone. This is my first post here. I am sorry this is going to be long. I am desperate. Sick to my stomach with worry. I will start off with this. I am the aunt of 3 kids. The mother was neglectful, the kids now live with my mother (their grandmother, of course), and my stepfather (who has been around my entire life). The oldest, saw the most growing up and remembers the most. Without getting into details, there was drugs, a mother that paid little attention, possible abuse from a boyfriend, and a father in and out of jail.

    A little more background- My mom now has legal custody of all three. All three improved in school and behavior wise (except for my niece- behaviorally). My nephew has a lot of behavioral problems, used to kick, scream, etc.. but he seems much, much better now that he is in a stable environment. He has episodes but nothing like he used to. He is on medication for ADHD. He is 10. My other niece is 8, and is as sweet as can be. She does misbehave, but quickly learns her lesson when told NO. My oldest niece is jealous of her because she thinks she is treated better.. but she just isn't reprimanded as much because she behaves better. This was the same situation for me growing up- my sister was jealous of me because she said I was "spoiled", but it just seemed so because I didn't cause so much trouble so I wasn't always in trouble...
    My mom is home with them full time. She has chronic headaches and is having medical procedures to try and fix it.. with time she may get better. She has depression also, but she sticks it out and is caring for three kids after she has already raised her own.

    My niece is 12, and will be 13 in a little over a week. She is exhibiting the same attitude and behavior as her mother, who was a very troubled teen and had my niece just before she turned 16 years old. The more my Mom tries to reprimand her, the worse she becomes. She listens to Grampy sometimes, she loves him, but hates my Mom.

    There is a no contact order from the courts against their biological Mom, the only time they can see eachother is at a visitation center. She is a horrible influence. However, a of last night they are "Facebook friends". And to top it off, my brother's girlfriend (who has also caused my family and my Mom a lot of problems) is reinforcing my niece's negative status posts, calling my Mom (Grandma) horrible names, saying she will go to hell for all she's done in her life, etc. Seriously. Because both my sister and my brother's girlfriend do not like my mom, they are cheering on my niece's name calling and threatening towards my Mom.

    Now, obviously this means my niece has Facebook- I know- too young. I didn't sign her up. But she is closely monitored and my Mom has her password (until niece changes it, then Grandma gets it from her as soon as she can get it from her). Facebook allows 13 year olds to have accounts, and niece reminds us of this constantly. Grandma deleted niece's Facebook last night, but neither of us realized it sent an email to the email address one logs in with until it was too late. The email told niece how to reactivate it which she did promptly. Now she has Facebook again.
    I've explained to my Mom (Grandma) how to block websites entirely, and install a keylogger to get her passwords if niece won't give it to her. Problem is she needs the password for both niece's email and Facebook in order to effectively deactivate it.

    Niece's best friend is a bad seed. She's already had sex and gotten drunk. She is 12 years old. My niece has had three boyfriends in the past four months. We worry she will be trying to do the same thing as her friend has.
    I live 1600 miles away. My niece was just here for the summer. She got home a little over a week ago and she's already causing trouble. I am ready to have her come back here and strip her of any privileges, find new friends and get away from her mother and other "adult" that is cheering on her poor behavior.

    Everyone says to take away her cell phone, internet access, etc. But myself and my Mom worry that will cause her to rebel even more. Long ago my Mom did the same thing with my sister.. my sister even went to a juvenile detention center. She moved in with my dad 1500 miles away and had to move back because he caused her more problems.. when she got back she behaved worse and 2 years later, got pregnant at 15.

    My niece is ADHD, is on Vyvanse and Intuniv... as well as birth control to regulate her periods. She has counselors. She lashes out. Calls my Mom names (Like the B****, C***), says the same things my sister says (like, suck my imaginary d***)......

    What can we do? Please help. We're desperate here. Thank you!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome to the board!

    WOW Is you mom in counseling? Has she sought help in parenting a difficult child (difficult child)? Either now or with your sister? I am in no way saying that what your mom is doing wrong, after all, you seem to have turned out great, but she might have to explore different parenting techniques. Traditional parenting just does not work with all kids. Since your niece seems to be a carbon copy of her mother, it would certainly be worth a concerted effort on your mother's part to try and shake things up and try to do things differently.

    I would read that no contact order VERY carefully because FB is contact. You might not be able to do anything about your brother's girlfriend, but as far as 'mom' is concerned, no contact means no contact. If the order allows supervised contact, then FB is still UN-supervised, so should not be allowed. Yeah, so, FB allows 13 y/o to have accounts. FB does not run your mom's house. Her rules trump all outside rules. See parenting comments above. Internet access is still a privilege and not required to be provided to children.

    I'm so glad she's on birth control. If her friend is having sex already, she's probably not far behind.

    You didn't say why your own father was absent. If it's because he had "issues" as well, then your niece is the second generation in the "negative gene pool" and chances are very good that she will pass on similar traits to her children, and so the legacy goes on.

    A good book recommendation for your mom would be The Explosive Child by Ross Green. It might give her many insights and parenting tips for a difficult child.

    Welcome again. You've found a great place for support, insights, and guidance. (you might want to let your mom know about us)
  3. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    Thank you so much for the reply. My mom I think speaks to a counselor. I will check with her to be sure. I know she said she has gone to a counselor WITH my niece before. As for my Sister/Mom- we had counselors, one that came to our house and took us places as well as one we visited in her office, together.
    As for "shaking things up"- can you suggest anything? My worry is that my Mom is facilitating the same tactics she used with my sister which did not work. Not that they are wrong, they just didn't work for her. Any suggestions are welcome.
    The biggest issue is consistency, and threatening and not following through. There will be threats to delete FB, take away the phone, etc. Either it doesn't happen, or does for a week, then she gets it back because of good behavior. Then she returns to the same bad behavior shortly after.
    Do you recommend we strip her of all privileges? I've suggested to my mom that once she gets access to her profile she should either disable it (as long as she can get to her email account too because it won't work otherwise), or change the login email and password so that only my Mom has access to it, and can let her log in under her watch, and for a limited period of time. Same goes for computers- make it so they have password only access and only my Mom has the password. Or, I told her to block altogether. I have no idea what is best. I also suggested she block the internet on my niece's cell phone (rather than take it away altogether, as to not shock her). I worry if we try too much at one time it will shock her and she will just be worse.

    My father- not sure of the details, I just know that he was just bad... very bad. I think he has bi-polar, which my sister also was diagnosed with long ago. We had contact off and on, I remember my letters being "returned- undeliverable" because he'd always move. I'd get a random birthday card every few years. I've heard him say mean things about my (now deceased :[ ) grandmother. He called my house once and I let the answering machine pick up. I heard him say the mean things and I picked up the phone and said "Excused me?" and he said "Oh, hi honey", I said "Don't honey me!".. My sister never had the guts to do that. I think she always suffered some issues because of my biological father. I was younger so maybe it was easier for me to not care.. My mother and father divorced before I was 1. My stepfather has been there since I was between 1 and 2 years old. He is my father. With everything we went through with him, and my sister- it is amazing that I turned out what I'll call "normal", and everyone tells me that.

    And good point about FB and the no contact order. I bet my Mom can file a motion or something. She has proof that they became "FB friends", because it's on my niece's wall. My sister has both myself and my Mom blocked- so we can't see, but others can, so we saw it and I have it saved to a file.

    Thank you for the book suggestion. I've looked into the book because I saw it posted on these forums. I think I will order a copy for myself and my Mom. Thanks again- I sincerely appreciate it!!!!
  4. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    Update: My mom called the cell phone company and turned off her internet access, and changed the passwords to access the computers. Still no access to niece's FB or email. Worried now that Mom went and did the other stuff that niece will not give Mom her passwords. May need keylogger. I think the sequence was all off, but it was under my Mom's control. Ut-oh.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I wish I could give you the answer. Sadly, it sounds like her personality is mirroring that of her biomom and possibly her grandfather as well. I have raised eight kids including two grandsons but fortunately I have never dealt with such aggressive and destrutive behavior. One thing I have learned, however, is that an absentee parent has influence even when there is very limited contact.

    Is there any positive behavior or interest that she has? I would see that as something to aggresively pursue as I really don't think "puting out fires" is a means of normalizing her life. The FB issue is a common one. Even if the computer is disabled she will have access at her friends house or even the public library. It's a heck of a problem.

    Bringing her to live with you would certainly save your Mom alot of stress and likely really help the other two siblings live a more normal life. on the other hand it not only "may" ruin the life you enjoy it likely "will" do so. The one thing that I see as necessary (and evidently your Mom can provide) is consistency. Without that component teens spiral more rapidly. Although I don't have an answer for your situation I am sending caring thoughts your way. DDD
  6. keista

    keista New Member

    It's highly likely that your niece is also bipolar. What appears to be ADHD may in fact be manifestations of bipolar, or it could be both. Since BiPolar (BP) has a very strong genetic component, your mom should explore this possibility and medicate appropriately.

    Your mom does need to practice and enforce her follow through. If she's not going to follow through, then don't make the threat. A easy child will think "WOW! I don't want her to get that mad at me again and ground me, so I'll behave" A difficult child thinks more like, "Whew! The coast is clear now so I can go back to my x,y,z behavior."

    With younger kids it's much easier to let many things slide to avoid negative behavior (not to be confused with indulging negative behavior). This isn't done to spoil a child, but to keep reinforcing all the positives, and then hopefully as the child gets older, the desire for positives will be strong enough to, at least most times, self motivate to positive behavior. Starting at teen years, it's more difficult to let things slide, because suddenly there is so much more at stake.

    By "letting things slide" I mean the actual confrontation. ex: I tell the girls to clean their room, and they refuse, and go into meltdowns and tantrums the more I push. One request ended up in two negative reactions - the refusal and the meltdowns. If I back off on demanding a clean room, they get "their way" - not having to clean - but I have also avoided the meltdown. Eventually, the room does have to get cleaned up, so If I participate in the cleaning process, they see that I'm willing to put in the time to share in their struggle. As they are getting older, they are more often able to independently clean up their room. We've also found that we can trade jobs. I'll clean their room if they hang ALL the laundry.

    It's very much a "pick your battles" kind of thing. And although this seems like a very general example, it is actually very specific. There's something about cleaning up their room that is inherently difficult for them. The other day they cleaned the bathroom (except the giant mess on the counter top) with no problem - including scrubbing the floor grout with a toothbrush. So, they can clean, they aren't lazy, but have a real problem with big messes - even if they made them.

    Your mom needs to try and identify REAL weaknesses and gently work on them, while identifying strengths and exploiting those. Not an easy undertaking.
  7. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    My mom spoke with doctor/counselor and said they are not able to diagnose bipolar in patients under 18. This stinks because she most likely has it. I do not recall my sister being diagnosed with bipolar until she was older. So she was not medicated at 12 when she was causing so much trouble and spiraled from there and neither will my niece, obviously. As of today, my mom has someone looking for the best behavioral counselor for my niece's specific problems. Hopefully she finds one soon. I also suggested to my Mom that she see one that can teach her the best skills to deal with my niece's individual problems. She said she will- and she saw someone yesterday but not sure she saw a specific behavioral psychologist.

    My mom has made an appointment with my niece's counselor, and another lady to discuss any programs that may be available to her, to help her. I had suggested a big sister program or something like that. I guess her counselor said that my niece moving here may be best and this is why I suggested she needs to find a counselor/psychologist who is trained and specialized in these behavioral problems. I think her counselor saying that moving here is best is indication that she's not working on my niece's problems. I think that is just the easy way out- however, would get her away from negative friends and "Mom". Quite frankly, in talking with my husband, we are not ready to be parents, and take this on ourselves. We have no experience, and do not think we'll do any better. Behavior modification needs to be attempted and needs to be consistent, and not given up on if it doesn't yield results in a month. I just told my mom this- we need to work on the behavioral issues first, then discuss her moving later if it becomes necessary.

    My niece has a major entitlement issue and it needs to be adjusted. She thinks she's entitled to FB, phone, etc. She's not. Do you all think that deleting her FB is best? Or, just limiting its usage? I also suggested to my Mom to cancel my niece's cell phone and get a prepaid one, and then my niece has to earn the minutes. I think it's a good idea, but maybe I am wrong.

    I've just seen this stuff in the past not work with my sister. So I of course jump to the conclusion that it will not work with my niece. However back then all my sister had was a beeper. Cell phones weren't "in", and computers and internet weren't in everyone's household. So the only thing to "take away" were her friends. That made her sneak out and go party with them.. at 12, 13, 14.. So maybe since the phone and internet is so important to my niece, the results could be different when they are taken away and/or limited..... and earned. I sure hope so. As pathetic as it may sound- I am so scared that our efforts will make her spiral downward further and further.

    The issue is, my niece has no respect for my Mom- just like my sister never had, my sister hates my Mom. Literally. And any conversations she has had with her Mom in any recent months or year have I bet, been about my Mom, and my sister has brainwashed my niece into the same thinking because the things she says are EXACTLY what my sister says about my Mom. It's obvious we need to get her Mom out of her life no matter what. Even with no custody and a no contact order she finds a way, and I know my niece has at least made plans to sneak around to see her Mom. Whether it actually happened, I do not know.

    My mom is submitting an application for casting on the Super Nanny show. She must have submitted something online, and they called her to complete an application. That is how desperate she is. She knows the show may make her look like complete **** for ratings but she doesn't care.

    Gosh....... sorry I write so much! :sorrysmiley:
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  8. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Is the state involved? Since you mentioned the no contact order and supervised visitation, I thought maybe SRS was involved. If so, they should be offering services like counseling. If you mom can get the facebook account opened - then she could go in and "hide" certain peoples posts. You don't have to delete them - they don't know they have been hidden. You can also block "friends" too. I have hidden a few of my daughters friends because their posts show up when I check her page and some kids post inappropriate things. I don't think she has ever noticed their posts not showing up. With over "200" friends I don't think she would even notice!

    I think your mom needs back up - and if you are able to keep your neice - maybe it would help. Many states won't let you take a child out of state once they are involved in SRS cases. We have similar issues with our 13yo. But at least she doesn't use the terrible language and has good days. It is just when the good days gets to be in the minority it is no fun. KSM
  9. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    Not sure what SRS is. But I assume you could be right. The kids are all in counseling. :) And my Mom is in the process of employing the services of a behavioral specialist counselor/therapist/psychologist. I am not confident that niece's current therapist is effective enough. Perhaps she needs both. One to discuss her problems and vent. The other to modify the bad behavior episodes.

    She is trying to get it opened again. She needs to block two certain people- these people are adults, not kids. That is the tragic part. Her friends don't even post inappropriate things, on my niece's profile at least. My niece is the one posting inappropriate things about my Mom. And then the adults are posting in response, encouraging the behavior because they also do not like my Mom.

    Very good point, and is one my husband also brought up. My Mom is their legal guardian and can make all decisions. She can send her here for a vacation, as she just did this summer, however I am not sure she could send her here to live. Even so, I just don't know it is good for her. She's already been removed from her Mother's house two years ago, after enduring much neglect and seeing and experiencing things a kid her age should never see or experience.

    My niece has been gone all day. She went to the school today to get her schedule. They start tomorrow. And then she went shopping with the "bad seed" friend and the friend's mom. The friend's Mom knew my niece was grounded and not allowed to go. For some reason she still took her. My niece got home while I was on the phone with my Mom, and my Mom did not want to see or talk to her this evening. It was 9pm. She said she will deal with it tomorrow. Her grandfather talked to her when she got home. No idea what was said unfortunately. I will call my Mom again tomorrow to check in. The kids start school tomorrow so maybe that will be a blessing in itself.. except that she is in the same class as the "bad seed". My mom is inclined to go and get her class changed. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
    Oh, and my niece also has good days.. it's just when the bad days last for a few days or more, it is exhausting and worrisome. And I do think my Mom overreacts sometimes.. truly.
  10. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

  11. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I haven't read all the posts, but have a few thoughts. First, is to also read "Parenting your teen with love and logic". Teens are strange. I would also have your mom speak to difficult child's doctor about the depo shot for birth control - probably NOT with difficult child in the room. The pill is not greatly effective in teens simply because it has to be taken at about the same time every day - a variance of a few hours can make the difference in baby or no baby. The depo shot works for three months.

    Be aware that difficult child is probably getting onto the internet at school. School will give a big song and dance about how the teachers cannot teach her if she has no internet access. IT is a big load of bull. WE got through school and got educated with-o the internet. Books still exist. So the teachers have to give different assignments to difficult child. Tough nookies. I am the child of teachers and watched my father do varied lessons for kids from five or more grades behind to college level all while having maybe one computer or two in his room - ones HE bought. Most of the kids he did varied lessons for had NO ieps and he still managed - for decades - and he did those grades for kids in jr high. NOT high school. Jr high. So your mom needs to tell the school that she is revoking permission for niece to have internet access until she is 18, emancipated legally or earns the privilege with good grades and behavior.

    School will tell you they have filters. Took my son less than two weeks of class time to get through the filter - in a basic keyboarding class. Idiot teacher told the kids that if anyone could get through the filter they were so good that she would give them an A in the class for the semester. Being VERY literal, my difficult child took her at her word. And then having gotten through the filter, did what the guys around him wanted and pulled up porn. Yup. trouble. But the teacher had just as much because she told us and even had her little "joke" about the filters (she said she was "joking" when seh offered the A) put into a paper she handed out at open house - that I kept because I KNEW this woudl happen.

    Is it possible for your mother to simply lock up the computer at home and keep difficult child supervised most of the time? WIth bad behavior/attitude/grades, surely she doesn't need to be going anywhere?

    Also, has she been thoroughly evaluated by a neuropsychologist for LDs and mental illness/personality disorders/whatever? That can be a huge help.

    Your mom also needs to come and read here, even if she isn't comfortable with posting. The support here is a real lifeline when you are drowning in a crisis with a difficult child!

    Welcome to you and your mom - those kids are lucky to have you both!

    Oh, by the way, it IS possible and sometimes needed to send a child to residential therapy or therapeutic foster care. I know you don't want to split the kids up, but if the older one is a bad influence or is abusing the other kids, it may be needed. Sometimes it also lets the difficult child get the intense attention they need.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I just saw the part about bipolar. I think the psychiatrists are nuts about not diagnosis'ing bipolar before 19 - Early Onset Bi-Polar (EOBP) is early onset bipolar and thousands of kids around the US are being treated for it. The problem with treating bipolar is that many psychiatrists want to give the patient ssri antidepressants and someone with bipolar should NOT be on antidepressants because they stimulate mood cycling. They need to be on mood stabilizers and antipsychotics first until they are stabilized, THEN they can MAYBE try a very TINY amt of an antidepressant if any depression is still a problem. from ADULTS who have been on this forum - this is what works. Over the years I have seen parents who swore their own bipolar was under control with an antidepressant (usually ssri/snri type) who then ended up coming off of them and going onto mood stabilizers - it is what works. I have had many psychiatrists try to diagnosis my son as bipolar - and he clearly is NOT - and NONE of them wanted to go with mood stabilizers. I don't know why and none ever gave me a real answer.

    As you think bipolar is a possible problem (and it does tend to run in families) PLEASE get a copy of The Bipolar Child by Papalous and read it. Esp read the section on medications - even if you have to jump ahead to that.

    You mom may also find resources that are helpful from
  14. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    You mention the possibility of your niece moving over with you. I believe she needs to move away from her present environment and influences and get someone to help her see the potential in building a new life, aquiring life skills and dealing with her issues. Maybe a residential or therapeautic treatment center which focuses on lagging skills and empowering the kid rather than control using behavior modification is an idea. She needs to build new relationships with mentors and positive people. Your mom cannot do it. I think your niece has to see the options - moving out with you or some other arrangement and if that does not work , handing her back to the state , I think it is called PINS. Your family does not have to go down under because of one kid. Check , the explosive child web site - go through the alsup list - list of lagging skills and unsolved problems etc to get a picture of her lagging skills. Collaborative problem solving is great at building skills , relationships etc but is very difficult when there are problems in the relationship. Without a good relationship , we can't do very much.

  15. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    You (and others) may be right. But I am just not sure. Stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. For one, I am not sure she CAN move here given the court's involvement. Two, if she did, her BioMom would use that against my Mom in court. My sister tries to use any and everything she can against my Mom. She has filed many motions- which have been denied. But quite possibly, Niece moving here could be something she could use against my Mom in a negative way.

    Financially, a residential or therapeutic treatment center is probably out of reach. And again, could be used against my Mom, due to court involvement.
    And I am sad that so many people recommend giving her up to the state or foster care. That is simply not an option. She not THAT bad of a kid. She has episodes, and the episodes are because of the issues she has with my Mom. My Mom is the only one she is so explosive towards. I do not see that as a reason to give a child up. It's just not an option. Hasn't she been through enough, having been taken out of her home and moved to grandparents?
  16. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Thanks for your input. You know the family. I would look for a family therapist who would incorporate collaborative problem solving in the process. Look for a mentor , peer mentors , positive people to be around her.

  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The fact that the episodes are currently primarily toward her primary caregiver...
    - probably slants things strongly toward attachment issues.
    - adds more complexity... losing her primary caregiver would likely generate MORE attachment issues...
    - doesn't mean things won't change... usually, problems not dealt with end up creating more problems.

    Just because you can't afford to pay for something doesn't mean you rule it out - there are ways, sometimes amazing ways, to get stuff. Maybe it has to be court-ordered. I don't know all the details of the system where you are (I'm in Canada...). But I'm amazed on this board at how often there's a way to get from A to M...
  18. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    I've read the information on this page:
    ...and MANY of the causes of this disorder were present in her life. This is so sad. I want to cry. These kids never asked for a hard life. It just isn't fair.
    I need to look into the attachment disorder more, and find out treatment or home-remedies (like changes in communication or showing extra attention, or something!?)
    I definitely think that family counseling is a good idea. And my Niece needs to find a counselor for herself that she likes. Her not liking her counselor is a big problem. It is highly unlikely that she will open up to one she doesn't care for.
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You need to get all the specialists on-side with "attachment issues".
    If that can be done, then all the advice from each party will line up with solving the same problem.
    If it really is an attachment problem, then the whole approach is radically different... we did not deal with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but rather with a kid who became detached later - this is easier, because they do have a base of attachment to draw from, know what its like to be attached... we "just" had to get "back there" and re-build. And even that isn't easy.
  20. orcaauntie

    orcaauntie New Member

    Question: She has a good relationship with Grandpa. He is also her primary caregiver. Although my Mom is the enforcer, and Grandpa is not united with her efforts. Niece told me last night that "Grampy doesn't care about what I post on FB. He just tells me to delete it." (This is in regards to the horrible names she has posted about my Mom).
    So back to asking my question- is it likely Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) if she can have a relationship with him, loves him to death, seems to respect him and listens to him, but not my Mom? She is highly capable of building relationships, and has friends, etc.