to think my DNiece is being neglected and my DBro should do something?

(198 Posts)
CrocsNSocks Fri 17-May-13 21:34:05

My brother has a DD with a woman he had a brief fling with 8 years ago. He has always seen her but irregularly for much of that time as he was struggling with alcoholism and not in a good place himself. He has been sober for the last 2 years and is now engaged and settled with a steady job. I'm posting because he, while he agrees that the situation with his DD is in his words 'not ideal' he feels there's nothing to be gained by any action and I want to canvas opinions to see if I should continue to try and persuade him otherwise!

So onto the details. My DBro was quite young (19) when he met the mother (who was the same age). She lived in a caravan on a nearby new age traveller site at the time, though moved into a flat with DBro when she fell pregnant. Their DD was born after they'd only been together a year and they split when she was 18 mo though things were rocky for most of that time and they didn't live together from when she was 6 mo.

Since then the mother has returned to living on traveller sites. DBro used to travel to wherever she was staying to see DNiece but since he stopped drinking and cut association with his old friends on that scene, she has been coming to stay with him for a week a few times a year instead and so the rest of the family have finally been able to get to know her over the last two years.

DNiece lives with her mother, her mother's partner, her 2 younger siblings, and various dogs in a bus. They are living without proper running water, just a tap in the corner of a field, and with no proper toilets (hole in the ground ones shock [vom] ) and no shower/bath facilities. She is usually filthy when she arrives for visits as she goes weeks without a proper bath though her hair is looked after really well, strangely hmm and I will say in her mother's favour that she never has nits.

She does not go to school. She can read and write and do basic sums but that's because she is a bright child, not because anyone has bothered to teach her. She is quite vocal in her opinion (I say her opinion, it'll be her mothers opinion but you know what I mean!) that school is a waste of time and her mother has apparently always said that no child of hers will go to school. Fair enough. But then she needs educating, not just running wild with a pack of children day in day out with the excuse that "she is learning what she needs to know" hmm

She has no bedtime at home (the children apparently get told to come in when it gets dark), gets taken to weekend long parties frequently, her mother/mother's partner/their friends smoke weed in front of the children (according to DBro who used to see this when he visited). She really seems to love and relish the basic care she gets when visiting - bathing, hair drying, wrapping up in a towel, painting nails with my DD, choosing new socks and knickers, that sort of thing - and also the routine of 'normal life'.

DNiece is a lovely child, she has good manners and is very bright and articulate. I don't think she is being abused by any stretch, but I do think she is subject to persistent low level neglect and think my DBro should grow a backbone and talk to his ex about educating her properly, washing her, and at the very least finding somewhere to park the bus that has showers and toilets fgs. DBro thinks this would be out of order, he says he let her down and now has no right to tell her mother what to do, he also tells me that their lifestyle is different and that unless his DD is in danger he isn't going to wade in like that. I think he is being a spineless twit and it is never too late to stand up for his own child....

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:04:39

Horrible thread.

You need to back off and leave your brother alone he's quite obviously not as bigoted as you.

The only thing at all in your post that makes me go hmm is the pot thing but apparently I'm a bit weird about that.

There is no legal requirement to send your child to school only to provide them with an education that education does not have to be formal. Every adult I know ( and its lots inc family members) who was home educated as a child is now a HRT and they recived a better education, by far a better education than the one that would have been provided by the state.

But let me guess because she's a traveller she couldn't possibly do it 'right'

Your entire op just screams racism

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:07:29

I don't think new age travellers are a race grin

Fairyegg Fri 17-May-13 23:10:00

Sounds like a great lifestyle to me. Def keep out of it. Yes your dn probably enjoys the change when she comes and sees db, in the same way that most people enjoy staying in a hotel on hoilday. That's not to say she would want to live your lifestyle everyday. I agree on asking to get this thread pulled. I think you could potentially be making a lot of hassle for your db here if this is recognised, which from your post is easy.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:12:55

Well, he has some rights. I think he needs to have a grown up conversation with the mother (and maybe a lawyer on the side whilst he's at it.)

If the mother is poor and a traveller, she may actually welcome a positive input re. education and money for her daughter. There is a secondary question of whether your brother is able to provide this? Or can you liaise/be involved in some way with your niece's future, in a positive way?

chipmonkey Fri 17-May-13 23:12:57

I think your DB is right; He really doesn't have a leg to stand on because he was absent for most of his dd's life and is hardly now in a good position to criticise.
To me, the lifestyle sounds like something the majority wouldn't choose but most of it, the tap in the corner of the field, the compost toilet, doesn't actually sound neglectful, if not to everyone's standards!

And I doubt if even a bright child could learn to read and write and do basic sums with no input at all from her parents.

The weed-smoking, no that's not good and if it were my niece I wouldn't be happy. But in the grand scheme of things, I think it is probably better to let that go, otherwise you and your dbro could end up with no relationship with your niece at all.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:13:33

Travellers are protected under the same legislation as other minority groups and have been for a few years

I think sockreturning is thinking of Travellers, like Irish/Scottish travelling folk or Romany Gypsies. Which would be racist, rather than bigoted I guess.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:14:36

And you have to kind of put it to your brother, to man-up on this. Is that a possibility? If its done in a sensitive and supportive way, perhaps your niece's maternal family may welcome it, who knows.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:16:56

Sock, new age travellers are hippies/drop-outs/alternative types, not an ethnic group.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:17:06

The rest of my text went missing, grr. But what I said was perhaps it could be welcome for the maternal family to get some input from him, you can but try? Regardless, as you say, yeah, he needs to grow a backbone and yeah, its never too late.

I personally see nothing wrong in the way the niece is brought up.

I wish I could have brought my own children up in a similar fashion. They learn a lot from not getting any formal education so young.

MammaTJ Fri 17-May-13 23:22:30

I think I would feel the same as you OP, if it were my neice. However, you do need to but out (which I am sure you have) and keep your opinions to yourself. They are not helpful.

Continue to be a loving and supportive Auntie and when she rebels against what she has been brought up in (which she surely will) be there to teach her the rebelious way (normal).

Have to say, am pleasantly surprised by the general mood on this. <thumbs up>

Hope you manage to find a way of everyone getting along and continuing to enjoy your weekends with your niece, OP. At least everyone has her best interests at heart- she sounds a lovely kid.

* On this thread.

quoteunquote Fri 17-May-13 23:25:03

Sock, new age travellers are hippies/drop-outs/alternative types

That is quite insulting to a lot of travellers, and a very weird simplification.

I wonder why the OP has not been back.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:31:47

And the op has just assumed the new age bit.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:32:56

How is that insulting? Certainly fits my experience of new age travellers - not many straight-laced conformists live in buses.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:34:01

Presumably the OP/her brother have met the mother and her partner, so why would it be an assumption?

CrabbyBigbottom Fri 17-May-13 23:38:19

An ignorant and narrow minded OP, but lots of cheeringly common sense replies.

OP you need to butt the hell out with your ill-informed judgements, otherwise you will alienate the mother and jeopardise the bridges that your brother is trying to build.

Bobyan Fri 17-May-13 23:41:42

Just out of interest, how many people on this thread would be happy for their child to live like the OP's niece?

I'm not sure I would...

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:43:59

I wouldn't choose it for my child, but then there are lots of acceptable lifestyles I wouldn't choose for my child either.

gordyslovesheep Fri 17-May-13 23:45:23

I wouldn't choose it for myself - so I wouldn't for my kids - doesn't mean it's wrong

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 23:47:09

I'd have no problem with it - in fact, I've done parts of it, either when I was a child or with/for my own children, Bobyan, including the having no bath or running hot water. The only thing I wouldn't tolerate is the dope smoking.

5madthings Fri 17-May-13 23:51:22

I couldn't cope with the no running water so no hot shower thing, I struggle with camping be cause of that, but that is due to medical needs related to skin condition. My children would be fine.

The no school doesn't bother me as I home educated for a number of years.

Dope smoking not great, but we just have the brothers word that this used to happen when he visited.

The op says she is a lovely girl, polite, bright and articulate, that doesn't sound like a neglected child.

Gubbins Sat 18-May-13 00:06:53

I'd be happy with my children living that lifestyle. I don't see that a lack of baths is neglectful, and would view the pot smoking as on a par with people who drink in front of their kids. There's no way on earth I'd have the patience to Home Ed, but I admire people who do. I had a lot of (new age) traveller friends when I was younger, several of whom had children, and I think it's a fantastic way of life for a child.

But the fact that the OP describes a two and a half year relationship as a 'brief fling' indicates to me that she's never been a great fan of her neice's mother, even when she was living a more 'traditional' lyfestyle with the OP's brother.

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