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Please tell me I did the right thing in criticising my sisters abusive parenting and standing up for her 13 year old DD ...

(22 Posts)
QuintessentialShadows Fri 27-Jun-08 10:18:27

They are currently visiting. But my sister is a critical hothead. This morning during breakfast her DD accidentally dropped some food on the floor (when helping tidying up after her mums meal)and was called a "Hell Child, some help you are!". DD runs out sobbing saying "mum you promised to stop abusing me" and locked herself in her room.

We had a discussion about it a few days ago, she was in tears at being called a fucking idiotic hell child, again for something trivial. Then it transpired that my sister does this on a very regular basis, she said she says things like this once every second months, her dd said she is like this every few days, everytime she makes a mistake. Then my sister agreed she should not swear like this, and should not call her dd names and be more tactful and considerate in her approach to her.

This morning I butted in. I said I was appaled to hear such language used and with a 13 year old sensitive girl. But she dropped the food, she said. She made a mistake, she did not drop it on purpose, nothing warrants such language. And NOT in front of my children either (they were breakfasting together) who are so young they may pick up on it. My sisters defence was that "it is so spontaneous she cant stop it, and nobody should really take seriously spontaneous outbursts".

Of course she went on to criticise my parenting, and I told her yes, I sometimes raise my voice with my boys, I have to, they are boisteroius but I dont call them abusive names, but if one day my children run away from me sobbing I will have some serious thinking to do.

Sure, it is not my dd, and really I should not meddle, but I dont think it is right to keep quiet as that would be like I was condoning her behaviour. What would you have done?

Lizzylou Fri 27-Jun-08 10:21:02

YOu did exactly the right thing.
Especially as her swearing was in front of your children, in your house

cory Fri 27-Jun-08 10:21:22

I would probably have done what you did.

And tbh who would want their 13yo to be imbibing the message that nothing can be done about spontaneous outbursts? Opens all sorts of doors, doesn't it?

Never hurts to model selfcontrol IME.

mummypig Fri 27-Jun-08 10:22:21

Well done for sticking up for your niece, especially as it must have been difficult. You are right that your sister shouldn't be regularly saying these things to her. But I just wonder if you could also think about why your sister is doing this - it sounds like she might have something in her life which is making her pretty stressed out, to take it out on her daughter.

MaryAnnSingleton Fri 27-Jun-08 10:23:37

QS - you did the right thing

PictureThis Fri 27-Jun-08 10:24:23

I think that you have done the right thing sticking up for your niece. If you saw a child call another child names to the point that it made them cry then you would step in wouldn't you. What is worse in this case is that it's an adult being the bully! The fact that she is the parent is no excuse.

AMumInScotland Fri 27-Jun-08 10:24:29

You were right to say something - it's not ok to deal with a child that way.

Once she has calmed down a little, could you have a serious talk with your sister? If she really feels she can't control her behaviour, then maybe she needs to be getting some anger management, or some other form of help to deal with the negative feelings she has. People's "outbursts" tend to show how they genuinely feel about an issue, and if that's how she feels about her daughter, there are probably some big problems in there which she needs to get help with.

QuintessentialShadows Fri 27-Jun-08 10:26:14

Thanks for reassurance. Mummypig, she is of bad health. Back problems, fibromyalgi. But I dont think that chronic health problems should be an excuse for such behaviour. Her dd is lovely, always helping her, does the cleaning, hangs laundry, empties dishwasher, stacks dishwasher, and she does it with a smile. She is sunny, intelligent, and simply a really nice girl. But she can sometimes be clumsy. My sister is always impatient with her, hurrying her about her chores, and get really angry if she has forgotten to do something when my sister is out.

QuintessentialShadows Fri 27-Jun-08 10:29:22

AMumInScotland - spot on. She has always longed for her dd to grow up, when she was a baby she could not wait for her to be a toddler, then a school girl, then a teenager, etc.
Now they are here, my sister spend her time with her nose in a book, I am taking her dd out together with my kids, I ensure she gets dinner, and she eats supper with me and the kids, as my sister is still reading or watching tv. Seems to me she doesnt want to do anything with her. But she needs her to help, so wont let her live with her father (who sadly is not much better)

EffiePerine Fri 27-Jun-08 10:29:23

Sounds like your niece could do with a hug and a Supportive Aunt. Maybe spell out to her that it isn't her fault and that her mum is saying these things becasue she loses her temper? Poor girl (13 is a shitty age anyway without this)

ComeOVeneer Fri 27-Jun-08 10:30:18

From this and your other posts it sounds as though your sister has some serious issues over her behaviour towards others.

EffiePerine Fri 27-Jun-08 10:30:18

Can you have your niece on her own in the holidays for a bit? She sounds like a bit of an asset grin

QuintessentialShadows Fri 27-Jun-08 10:34:41

grin Effie - when our new house is built (currently camping at my parents) I will for sure invite her!

CoV I think you are right. Not much one can do in terms of personality change when you are so stuck in your ways. I remember when I was a teenager, she was arguing with me constantly, bickering and shouting, reducing me to tears, and my parents had to ban her from the house for a six month period (She is 13 years my senior).

piggypoohsmum Fri 27-Jun-08 10:44:26

I think you were right to pull your sister up.
My other half pulled me up the other day when i shouted at DD because she had been 'clumsy' and DD had burst into tears.
i felt awful for upseting her and there was no excuse for 'losing the plot' over an accident.
Also if your neice is clumsy at the mo it could be that she is sprouting out (as my DD is).
my dad reminded me how clumsy i was at that age!
it is a form of abuse when it is constant and will reduce your neices self confidence.
My mother ranted at my sister and i for nothing and i got to the stage where if i couldnt do anything right then it didnt matter if everything i did was wrong. (food for thought for your sister)
Also the poor child is probably struggling enough with hormones, boys, school, friends & being a teenager.
she is lucky that she has you and i think you were right.

AMumInScotland Fri 27-Jun-08 10:51:11

It does sound like this is a longterm personality thing for her, I was imagining it was just a recent problem and maybe related to having her DD, but that seems a lot deeper if she's always been an angry and unpleasant person.

If she doesn't realise that it's causing problems, and doesn't want to change, then it's very hard to say what can be done to help her. Is there anyone whose opinion she trusts who could talk to her about this?

Apart from that, all you can do is try to be there for the girl and give her as much self-confidence as you can. It's tricky to tell a child "your mum has problems", but it may give her something to hold onto if she understands that this is her mum's issue and not a real reflection on her value as a person. Maybe tell her how angry she used to get at you? Then she'll know it's not her that's at fault?

mummypig Fri 27-Jun-08 11:05:22

wow it does sound like your sister has been having problems for ages. I think your niece is lucky to have you around.

MarmadukeScarlet Fri 27-Jun-08 11:13:18

Poor girl, poor you.

The more concerned about making a 'mistake' your neice is, the more likely it is to happen. My DD has dyspraxia and I used to get frustrated with her, she is better now I have backed off.

My heart goes out to her, she is child caring for an adult who is abusive and rude to her. She cannot give up the caring as she is her mother's only help, what a dreadful situation for her.

Keep up the good supportive Aunt role and you will help her self esteem and boost her confidence by showing her how much she is appreciated.

Dragonbutter Fri 27-Jun-08 11:20:32

Please tell her not to do this.
My father used to talk to us appallingly using the most un-PC terms that i cannot even bring myself to type.
And for silly things like dropping stuff or not being able to do something. It affected my confidence so badly and still does to the point that I then would be careless or unable because i felt nervous.
Using such negative words for your children will affect them their whole life.

...but i would talk to your sister about it when your neice isn't around. you don't want to undermine her.

amicissima Fri 27-Jun-08 12:30:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pannacotta Sat 28-Jun-08 11:13:13

Think you did exactly the right thing. Your sister needs to learn to control her temper. I'd be concerned for her daughter, agree with amicissima about teenageers often being clumsy. Can you offer your niece some extra TLC and support while they are there?

Aitch Sat 28-Jun-08 11:18:53

it's a fact about the growing and clumsiness. also teens grow from the hands and feet inwards, so spend quite a lot of their growing periods with hands and feet the wrong size for the rest of their bodies.

smallwhitecat Sat 28-Jun-08 11:30:08

Message withdrawn

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