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17yr old daughter with single mum struggling - Aunts concerns

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17yr old daughter with single mum struggling - Aunts concerns


17yr old daughter with single mum struggling - Aunts concerns


My sister-in-law (divorced from husband, my brother, who doesn't care to see his kids) has a son who has moved out of home and a daughter 17 who is in final year of high school.  They have been raised most of their lives without a dad.  The mum has a fairly permissive style of parenting - explains everything in detail to her kids when there where issues and allowed them many freedoms, which is good.  But now the 17 yr old takes liberties.  She is a really good kid at heart, but she has taken to smoking weed in her bedroom, misses school regularly, drinks in her room now and then.  She refuses to do chores and takes the stand that she's the kid and should be looked after.  My sister-in-law explains that she is the sole breadwinner and they need to work together to save money and keep the house running but she doesn't put her foot down about the smoking etc.  My niece has one good friend which she seems to dominate in that the friend will do anything she says.  They stay for hours in her room where she has mobile phone, tv set, netflix so no need to leave except when they get the munchies and eat all the food which was bought for lunches for the week.


They have been having so many fights.  My niece refuses to get counselling and says that the mum is making a big issue of it.  My niece feels very destablized when her and her mother are fighting as her mother, as she says, is all she has in the world.  Which is at odds with the way she treats her.  They do get along when the mum turns a blind eye to the behaviour and at times the neice will do her chores etc which makes the mum think that all is ok again.


I've tried to give advice, take away tv, phone etc until she modifies behaviour, but the mum is scared that this will destablise her daughter and create so much friction that the consequences may be severe.  The mum is feeling desperate and almost suicidal.  She works hard and to have to deal with this as well is making life impossible. 


Any suggestions on how to approach this, perhaps by a step by step approach, would be greatly appreciated.  My niece seems to fluctuate between being a sensible and sensitive girl, to a complete loser without drive.  She plays no sport and does nothing extra curricular.  She is not an outgoing girl at all but is very bright and fun when you talk to her.



Super contributor

Re: 17yr old daughter with single mum struggling - Aunts concerns

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Hi, @tess15  Welcome to ReachOut Parents!


Thanks so much for sharing your situation. There are lots of parents here who would relate to what your sister-in-law is experiencing. Also, there are just as many parents who would think that your sister-in-law is really lucky to have someone like you in her life. Don't underestimate the impact your concerns and efforts are likely having on your SIL. Single parenting is so hard, for a bunch of reasons, and one of the main ones is how isolating and lonely it can be. So to have another adult in your life who you can talk to and get support from makes a massive difference.


I would strongly recommend your SIL give our ReachOut Coaching service a go. It's a great place to start and to get some strategies to move forward with.

It's completely FREE and is done over the phone. They tailor the sessions to the parent's needs including if they work and need to chat outside of office hours.

Click here to have a look.


Do you think she might be receptive to something like this?

Super star contributor

Re: 17yr old daughter with single mum struggling - Aunts concerns

Hey @tess15, welcome to the forum.


I think @Ngaio-RO is right in what she says about how lucky your sister-in-law is to have you and your support and concern, and the positive impact that is likely having. Your niece is lucky too, I got the feeling you guys are fairly close too.


Coaching would be an awesome start if your sister-in-law can manage it. I've done it and the coaches are lovely and very experienced. I learnt some really practical tips to start using straight away. 


It's understandable that your sister-in-law is feeling so overwhelmed. I'm another single parent and it can be tough when you're not sure of the best way to go when dealing with our teens. Do you think she may be open to seeing a professional to give her added support? She sounds so exhausted and at the end of her tether, and I really feel for her. 


Good on you for reaching out on her behalf.