Just discovered 15yo niece is pg, in --nightmare-- tricky circumstances, it's v long but we need all the help we can get

(53 Posts)
phdlife Sun 20-Nov-11 10:34:14

My sister's been going through hell with my niece, who is extremely bright, doing very well at school, popular, talented performer, musical, etc. Her parents have always, as near as I can tell, been textbook parents: they are clear and consistent about where the boundaries are, they are on the stricter side but not unreasonable.

Earlier in the year dniece had several life-threatening medical emergencies; not long after she decided she hated her parents and all that they stand for. (Imho, this is a reaction to the medical dramas, which analytical, thoughtful, articulate niece has never felt need to discuss hmm.) But she has been increasingly vicious and rebellious - coming home with tongue pierced, etc. She went from wanting to do a dual degree in law/economics to wanting to quit school at the end of Year 10 and go caravanning round the country as a masseuse. She has said she's only waiting til she's old enough to legally leave and then she wants nothing to do with her family ever again.

Then she took one small, followed 2 weeks later by a larger, OD of paracetamol and has since been under the care of a psychologist. At the start of this month she was seen by a psychiatrist, which is protocol for an OD; in less than 40mins he decided that she needed ADs and offered this without discussion with dsis. Dsis, an RN, was against this on grounds that he couldn't possibly have made a correct diagnosis in that time, and indeed some of the evidence he used was deeply flawed. (For example, dniece complained of interrupted sleep patterns; dsis points out that she has itemised phone bills showing niece sending texts at 1 and 2 a.m., and that otherwise her sleep is just dandy.) (She was allowed to keep phone in room only after the OD.)

Dsis baffled; niece is still doing all normal social things, singing round house, bringing home the A's etc - she can even be quite nice, friendly, chatty, lovely to her mum - can she really be depressed? She thinks dniece is going through normal teenage rebellion, dressed up with her characteristic flair for drama. She can see that niece has been enjoying the fuss, likes having time off school and is enjoying battle of wits with therapist; Dsis and I both suspect niece is winning. I think this is all bluff and cover for deeper issues (near-death experiences) that have not been properly addressed. Dsis has been looking for another psychiatrist to get 2nd opinion.

Anyway. That background stuff is important, I think.

Then there's the relationship. He's 18 now, they've been together 8m but friends long before that, he has been through a difficult time thrown out of home a few months ago, my dsis always been very straight with him that she liked and supported him but she would kill him if he touched niece (not to mention the law). Because niece is such a reader, she thinks she is as mature as this kid and has not understood why she isn't treated the same. Apparently they used a condom, which broke, and it was the boy's advice to wait and see what happened instead of going for morning-after pill.

Dsis is completely devastated. Her trust has been shattered twice (by her dd and by the lad); she has tried so hard to balance between her values and instinct and niece's increasingly vitriolic, histrionic demands for more freedom. (Niece has always argued she doesn't drink/do drugs/have sex, so her parents should trust her more - and this was probably true until about 5 weeks ago.) Dsis is still in shock - has only known for 24hrs - but does not feel she can support her dd through this and sees only one option. Niece has already stated that if her parents give her a hard time about it, she'll emancipate herself. They are supposed to be going to family planning clinics tomorrow to discuss options but dsis is terrified that dniece, whose judgement she considers severely impaired at this stage, will only hear that she'll get gov't support for a baby and not realise any of the rest of it.

I am horrified and heartbroken for dsis, sorry and horrified for dniece. (Would also like to give her light slap upside the head.) But my gut feeling is that although dsis has done all she can - not perfect, by any means, but always striving to act thoughtfully, be informed, be open, etc. - you cannot make your child do what you want, and that it would be far worse, in the long long run, for either (a) all ties to be severed, (b) niece to feel she was pushed into a decision, or (c) niece to make a decision to spite parents. I know it's easy for me to say - it's not my child after all - but I don't see this as the worst fate that could possibly befall her. It sucks, for sure, but she's still alive and still here

Dniece has always said she likes me and admires me; dsis has always thought dniece was like me (bookish, critical, analytic mind, some slight indie hue - similarity ends there!). But she hasn't contacted me at all through any of this and although I did text her a few times, I haven't worked as hard as I should have. I'm thinking there's possibly a role for me here if I can get that door open, but I also feel the need to support my sister, I just would appreciate any advice at all as to how dsis and I can get this right...

oh and it's bedtime now, so it'll be a while before I can get back here. sorry to post and run!

mummytime Sun 20-Nov-11 11:28:52

Sorry but I think the best thing would be some family therapy.
A friend who has always seemed a much better parent than me, underwent this as part of the help to enable her daughter overcome anorexia.

phdlife Mon 21-Nov-11 10:24:17

thanks mummytime. I will put it on the table for them, but suspect they are all struggling with concept, especially as none of their experience with counsellors has been particularly useful. and that's putting it politely.

empirestateofmind Mon 21-Nov-11 10:38:13

Your poor Dsis and poor DN. What a horrendous situation. I am just looking at my sixteen year old and wondering what I would do under the circumstances. I really don't know.

Plenty of people will be along to say they managed to get a first while bringing up a baby, but I don't think anyone would say it was easy.

I hope I would step up and support my daughter and grandchild, but I know I would be shattered and disappointed. It would not be the future I wanted for any of us.

You need to wait and see what your DN and then Dsis decide to do. Until then be there to support Dsis as she thinks it all through.

phdlife Mon 21-Nov-11 10:46:38

yeah empire I've just been reading the other teenage pg thread. Have opened dialogue with DN anyway, figure she needs all the support she can get poor kid.

empirestateofmind Mon 21-Nov-11 12:01:26

I hope it all works out for DN, whatever she decides to do. Thinking of you all. sad.

stealthsquiggle Mon 21-Nov-11 12:09:43

OMG I just read the whole thread without noticing it was you, PhD.

You poor DSis and DNiece.

They are fairly local to you, aren't they? Could you invite DNiece over on some childcare-related pretence and see if you can get her to talk to you? You're dead right in that it needs to be her decision, not DSis's, but at the same time she needs to make it with her eyes open - maybe that is where you can best help, being closer to the whole care-of-small-child stage than DSis is (i.e. DNiece might believe you when you tell her how hard it is)?

TheRhubarb Mon 21-Nov-11 12:18:05

All she can do is offer unconditional love and support. Her daughter will need her mum more than ever now she is pregnant, she will not cope easily on her own and tbh, the responsibilities of becoming a mum might just shake her out of this rollercoaster she is on.

She can always go back to college so you mustn't think that her life has changed irrevocably. But I've a feeling she will want to keep the baby and your sister really does need to respect that decision and support her. The more she criticises or tries to give well-meaning advice, the further away she will drive her.

It sounds like your niece felt that she had no control of her life and that the medical staff and your sister were making decisions for her, taking away whatever control she had. Obviously they needed to do that in order to save her life, but now all she can see is that decisons were made for her and now she is rebelling and wants complete freedom. She wants to regain control of her own life and this is how she is doing it - she is only 15 after all.

Her mum needs to accept the choices her daughter has made, difficult though that may be. Try not to talk her out of anything or she will only resent you for it. Just let her know that whatever she decides, you will all be there for her and will support her. Once she realises this, she may well calm down and that's when she will come to you for help. But the more you try to persuade her otherwise, the more determined she will be to go her own way.

ChippingInNeedsSleep Mon 21-Nov-11 12:26:38

Could you offer to take her to the family planning clinic instead of her Mum, she might listen to her options a bit more if she's not so busy going against whatever her mum thinks.

My parents pushed me into staying in a relationship when I was only a little older than her, by banging on about how much they disliked him and how much of a bad influence he was etc (he wasn't at all and even looking back now their reasons for not liking him were so shallow and not reasonable at all) it's entirely different I know - but what I'm saying is that I stayed with him to prove them wrong, more than because I wanted to and it would be awful for her to do this re the pregnancy.

ChesterDraws Mon 21-Nov-11 19:31:13

I can smpathise with your sister, phdlife. Earlier this year my DD told me she was pregnant at 14. Actually, no she didn't. The school phoned me at work and told me to go in straight away and the school nurse told me. It was a very big shock- but I knew the only option was a termination. We went straight from school to the family planning clinic and then I made a phone call to Marie Stopes. It meant 2 journeys to a big city 50 miles a way and another trip to a city a bit closer. Sorry if I am being a bit vague, but I don't want to out my DD as this is something that we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives.
DD had changed from a bright, funny, friendly girl to a lying, deceitful, disobedient mess. This was the event that tipped the balance and she is slowly turning back to the girl she once was. I even took her to the GP at one point as I was really worried about her mental health.
The abortion pill was very severe and not at all pleasant, but it has to hurt really, or it all becomes just too easy and convenient. At one point she lay on the floor, bleeding, vomiting, crying 'make it stop, mum, make it stop'. It was heartbreeaking to go through but she has learnt a very hard lesson.
15 is too young to have a baby.

phdlife Thu 24-Nov-11 12:37:24

thanks v much, all. And hiya, squiggle! Rhubarb, I think you're spot on with your analysis - I agree this is a control issue. I think my dsis is so beside herself with grief and anger that she's not able to listen to my suggestions atm but will try to have a chat with her tomorrow. At this point she and Bil are refusing to support the pg, on the grounds that DN is being so manipulative (Tues night alone would've been another post as long as the first sad) and extremely verbally abusive to them. They have bent over backwards to accommodate her this past year and she hasn't got a civil word for them.

I offered DN some of my pg books, which she accepted by text, but has been too busy to collect. For instance, today she and the boy had an urgent date to play Guitar Hero 3 at a local shopping centre. hmm She has started investigating what she can get by way of gov't support and the boy's family are wading in - they have been decidedly odd in the past but they, the kids and DN's parents are going to a mediated session on Monday to work out what they are all willing to do.

It is clear that DN is using this as an excuse to break away from her parents, but how, precisely, to stop that runaway train, is beyond me - I think DN is trying to play me, acting v sweet and light-hearted and mostly ignoring me. Don't quite know how to get around that. Suggestions would be most welcome...

realhousewife Thu 24-Nov-11 12:56:27

That's the runaway train nobody can stop phd - the only thing her parent can do is make sure they've got a ticket on the same train.

phdlife Thu 24-Nov-11 13:24:05

I mean she's threatening to emancipate herself, realhousewife, she wavers between hurling abuse at her parents - I can't stand you, can't wait to get away from you, the gov't will give me a place of my own when the baby comes - and expecting them to then hand over $50 so she can go out to dinner. Don't exactly know how her parents can support that.

realhousewife Thu 24-Nov-11 13:51:45

By getting a ticket on the same train I meant that they shouldn't alienate her - let her go her way, support her in terms of goodwill, help her get started if that's what she needs. Not pay for a £50 dinner!

phdlife Sun 27-Nov-11 03:50:56

yeah I'm trying to get them to see that. Right now my dsis's position is that she does not want to do anything that could be interpreted as supporting the pg, such as paying for maternity vitamins. If DN chooses to go ahead her parents will not support her in any way.

However I have pointed out that by presenting DN with a brick wall, she's not really giving her any choice - she is effectively trying to force DN to "choose" to do what her parents want. Dsis agreed they were trying blackmail her, since she won't listen to any reason (or indeed anyone), but v hurt that she thought I was accusing her of handling it wrong. She and BiL feel totally screwed, as if DN stays at home and continues to receive financial support from her parents, she seems to be getting her own way on everything including flouting all rules and restrictions her parents attempt to set down. How can they be supportive without appearing to be total doormats?

Dsis also doesn't know how to give DN the freedom to make her a choice, when (a) she and BiL are so violently, heartbrokenly against one option, don't believe, on the evidence, that DN is capable of coping with a baby and do not want to end up raising another child themselves, and (b) after an initial flurry of family planning visits, DN's main focus seems to be either lazing around playing Guitar Hero, or manipulating more and more crises.

I can't go into all the details - it takes too long - but one example is that when the boy admitted he didn't want DN to have the baby, was not ready to be a dad, and thought it would ruin everyone's life, DN became violent with him and so emotionally abusive that he said he couldn't handle it any more and was going out to find a truck to stand in front of. His mother, who had been trying to get DN to see sense, is now more afraid for her son's mental health and doesn't want DN round there any more. But when Dsis went to get her, DN simply refused to leave.

So as near as I can tell, DN has not been to Centrelink. She knows she's entitled to a house and gov't support when the baby comes, therefore, as far as she's concerned, it's all going to be fine, she and the lad will settle down and be a lovely happy family. She has not picked up a single book on pg or babies, she is not searching online for info, neither she nor the boy have any money/income nor seem to be looking for a job, all she's done is carry on the high screaming drama and ask her mother to buy her some maternity vitamins.

I can see that they need to 'get on board', but I can't see how they can do that in practical ways, when their every instinct is telling them this is going to be a disaster.

fridakahlo Sun 27-Nov-11 04:17:49

Wow, no advice really. But have read. I was a pretty wild teen from younger than fifteen but I did know that there would have been one thing to do if I had of got pregnant, straight down to a Stopes clinic. Since she seems to be in a very self absorbed place at the moment is there no way that could be used? Or reverse pyschology? If you have the baby you will have to stay in the family home or something, so it stops being an appealing exit route?
I know that has probably been no use but I hope it comes right.

deemented Sun 27-Nov-11 06:24:07

Just wondering if it'd be worth playing the 'He's 18, you're 15, it's illegal and we're going to go to the police' card?

3rdOneComingUp Sun 27-Nov-11 06:36:07

I'd say first things first. You cannot change what has happened. Trying to apportion blame, in this time-sensitive situation isn't going to help.

Personally, after similarish circs myself, i had a termination and (sorry to disagree with you utterly chesterdrawers) it didn't hurt in the slightest, it made me a little sad but i have no regrets now - at all.

I'd support your DN unconditionally, even if that means accepting the lad. Having a baby at 16, with a supportive family is not the be all and end all, neither is a termination. They are both circumstances that can shift a young lady's life but not ruin it.

To me phd, your sister needs all the support she can get too as she thinks she's seeing the double first future shattering in the distance. It may not be.

FWIW, a male friend went to uni at Birmingham and got family accom, which meant he had his son on alternate weekends as his school girlfriend had had a baby.

Keep calm and make sure that everyone is talking to each other.

3rdOneComingUp Sun 27-Nov-11 06:40:46

phd, apologies, i didn't read your post from 3.50. The family sound like they need some professional advice with regards to boundaries and communication. Your DN doesn't sound like she is coping at all. Either with the consequences or her emotions generally.

GloriaTheHighlyFlavouredLady Sun 27-Nov-11 07:11:07

I'm pretty sure I would simply take the girl seriously. Research what she will 'get', tell her where she can get the damn vitamins (GP) talk through the practicalities and make her life as REAL as you can to burst the fantasy. She may not get accommodation for a while. And if so it may well not be somewhere a girl with her background will feel safe living.

Burst the bubble with truth. If she is the last to leave home perhaps talk about relocating yourselves as her Parents as you have been looking toward to this 'freedom'. Imply she is on her own practically but not emotionally. You won't buy vitamins for example but you'll help her access them herself.

Just what I think I would do if I could avoid the urge to slap her.

timetoask Sun 27-Nov-11 07:15:49

I have no experience with teenagers, however was wondering if there is a family mediator kind of professional that could help open up the communication between DN and Dsis? Not therapy as such, but just an impatial person in an impartial place that could literally sit down with them and be the middle person whilst getting all the emotions out?

MarieFromStMoritz Sun 27-Nov-11 07:47:34

I think your DS was being completely unrealistic in expecting them to abstein. Not unreasonable, just unrealistic.

The best thing she can do - IMO - is to support her DD without judgement or lecturing. The last thing she wants I am sure, is to drive her further away.

Oh, and apart from the prenancy, DN's behaviour is not that unusual for a teenage girl. It is very possible that she will grow out of it.

MarieFromStMoritz Sun 27-Nov-11 07:50:00

If DN chooses to go ahead her parents will not support her in any way.

Is it just me that finds this utterly dispicable?

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

DedalusDigglesPocketWatch Sun 27-Nov-11 08:04:07

I was just wondering if your DN has seen the sort of 'free' flat that teenage parents get? It sounds like she has quite a nice life, with lots if home comforts and to be put into a young mums hostel then moved into a tiny (usually quite grotty) flat would be a huge shock to her.

Is there a young parents group you could take her to so that she can see how things really are?

My SIS had her first at 17. She says there is no way she would have gone through with the pregnancy if she had realised the realities of what she would face. She lives her DD, but really wishes someone had taken control of her life before all this happened.

Good luck with it all, you sound like a lovely person to have on side.

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