Wedding Woes

This child needs therapy for starters.

Dear Prudence,

My brother-in-law died last year, leaving my sister to struggle as the single mother of a toddler. Her 10-year-old stepdaughter, “Stephanie,” went to live with her paternal grandparents, as her mother is out of the picture.

My sister has struggled to keep Stephanie in her life, but Stephanie acts awful around her. She blames my sister for the accident and the fact she had to change schools and houses, since my sister could not afford the rent on the house and had to move into a studio. Her grandparents can’t handle her, so they pawn her off on my sister whenever they can. And since my sister works as a waitress, she takes whatever shift she can get, meaning she puts the kids with me since I am a stay at home mom.

I love my sister. I understand Stephanie is a kid going through a lot of stress and grief, but I can’t handle her! Stephanie will pick fights with my kids, deliberately disobey me, and has even run away twice while my back was turned. I can’t even run errands because I can’t trust Stephanie to behave in public properly. It can’t keep going this way. Therapy is a pipe dream. We all live paycheck to paycheck. I am ready to just put my foot down. It isn’t getting any better. Help!


Re: This child needs therapy for starters.

  • Options
    Your sister needs to do some tough love and draw some lines with the grandparents here, but she's burying her head in the sand and making it your problem. But you can set boundaries and stop keeping Stephanie. 
  • Options
    This is really sad all around.  I know the LW doesn't want to let her sister down, but she also can't keep living in an untenable situation herself.

    The sister needs to have a CTJ talk with the grandparents.  That she will help with Stephanie when she can, but as a struggling single mother, her job has to come first.  She no longer has babysitting options for Stephanie, so they need to take care of their grandchild...*cough, who they have custody of anyway, cough* least when she is at work. 

    And therapy isn't a "pipe dream".  The US is utter trash for adults who can't afford healthcare.  But there is a lot more help for children.  Stephanie probably qualifies for a state medical program, which I assume has some kind of mental health options that can be used.  She should also be receiving social security death benefits until she is 18.  The grandparents would be receiving that since they are her legal guardians.  I assume there are also group grief counseling meetings that are low cost/free and might even have some specifically for children.

    The sister should also look into government programs for herself and her own child.
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