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February 24, 2005



When I was 27 and my sister was 15, I coached her high school cheerleading squad. Most of these girls came from one parent homes(if they were even living with a parent. Two sisters lived with their aunt and uncle,one girl lived with grandparents and one girl was in a foster home.)These girls were so broken, I couldn't believe it. I mothered them all. One of them was a cutter and although she was an "A" student and very popular she was deeply depressed. Her mom ran away and her dad lived out of state so she lived with her paternal grandparents and was so unhappy. After a severe cutting episode I went to the guidance counselor,her grandparents were notified and in the end,the police removed her from school and got her to a therapist. She went kicking and screaming and declaring that she hated me and hoped I died. I cried because all the time I spent with her,all the things I did with her and all the love I gave her just wasn't enough. All our talks about her future and how good a person she was and all of that just wasn't enough.
Ironically,she now works at the ophthalmology practice where I work and is also getting her plumber's license. We talk whenever we see eachother and I am glad she is doing well.
My point is, you just never know if you can help. I would say follow your heart. No one can tell you what to do.It's a huge emotional investment and you do have your own child. Maybe visiting you often could be enough.
Good luck!!


Your heart is in the right place, but please proceed with caution and don't invite her to stay with you for more than a day or two at first.

The following is kind of negative, so I apologize in advance for that, but here it is:

If you have younger children in your home, they have needs too, some of which are good role models, safety, and predictability. What bad things will they be learning from watching her, while you are trying to teach her and help her? When I was a kid we had a teenage girl who seemed normal (not troubled) stay with us for a few months. She turned out to have bad habits and bad language that weren't apparent before she came to live with us, and she taught us kids the bad words and some bad ideas behind our mother's back, among other problems. Before long my mom was seething and counting the days before the girl was scheduled to go back home.

I've had the experience myself of how tough it can be to invite a young person to come live with you. It can get really tough, really fast, but by the point you realize it you're already stuck in the situation. I suppose it's that way with house guests of any age, even nice ones. Isn't there an expression about both fish and house guests beginning to stink after 7 days? And that's the nice house guests. Even they are a strain on everyone, but usually a net positive. When you have troubled houseguests, now we're talking strain.

Helping a troubled person is hard, but inviting them to live with you and stay in your home for more than a day or two can turn out to be downright hellish. Once they move in with you, you are stuck for better or worse, every aspect of your routine and your own private time has to be adjusted or given up, and if they are already troubled, it's just plain hard work at times. Not only that, but if they are self-destructive, you may end up being afraid to set reasonable limits or send them back home, for fear that they might act out and hurt themself.

By all means help her, but I'd recommend starting gradually. Take her to lunch, just the two of you. Invite her over more often for the day, as you're planning. But don't have her stay with you until you're pretty sure that the price your family will pay is worth it.

My two cents worth.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do. And in your efforts to help her, Godspeed. I am saying a prayer right now for your success. She probably has no idea how blessed she is that you care about her and are thinking about her needs.


Good luck. Welcome her. You can't control nor predict what the results will be. But considering the mother's rejection, let her know that she can stay with you. If she does, there must be "rules." Realistic ones. And as you get closer, confide your own past, but remember she's in a dangerous state. You may need counselling to cope.
And again, good luck.


You wrote that no one is listening to what she wants. So maybe you should be the one to ask her what she wants. Not so directly but you can mention that you are family and that you love her and are there for her to listen to what she needs or what she is feeling. This is definitely a heartbreaking situation...my best to you and your neice.


If her parents are up for it, then I'd definitely ask her to come and stay. At the same time, if there is any family who live elsewhere, that might be even better. I had some similar issues as a young teenager and I went to live for awhile in France. Getting away from all of the stresses that triggered my self-harming behaviour and being able to rebuild my life without judgement from people who'd already decided exactly who I was and where I fit, was so important. It changed me forever and I became a happy, healthy individual who enjoyed life again.

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