I have been married to my wife for 4 years and have known her family for about 5 years. She has a niece who is 9 years old now and we visit the family quite often (about once a month). When we visit, I dedicate my time spent to the kids and love to do things with them, take them places, and teach them things that they don't get to experience.
A little backstory on the family of my niece: They lived in one state for the first 5 years of her life but moved to another about 4 years ago. Her father left and she never knew, but her mother remarried and divorced while she was young. I believe she and the second husband had a good relationship. her mother recently remarried for the third time. She is the second youngest of 4 to a new baby brother by the third husband. The mother is always working, they are not terribly well off but they make do, and I am going to declare that she and her husband do not pay much attention to any of the children except the youngest who is just over 1 year old.
When we come over, the kids are begging for attention and they know that my wife and I are the ones who will give it to them. my niece particularly adores my wife (my wife used to live with her mother and took care of her when she was younger). We have a great time, we always do. However, my issue comes in with some unusual behavior from my 9 year old niece.
She loves playing with me. We do art, sports, baking, and I even will play along with her Barbie stuff if I'm feeling fancy some days. I may have even spoiled her in that I have a hard time saying no to doing things with her. She always comes to me knowing that I am always willing and excited to do whatever it is she wants. When we are together, she is my little buddy and couldn't be a better kid. The issues come when we are around other people. When we are with the entire family (and particularly with my mother whom she ADORES), she begins treating me very poorly. She will boss me around, sometimes say mean things having little regard to how it may make me feel, and sometimes she will even throw stuff on me (like if she were reading a book and wanted to go do something else, she might toss the book on me instead of putting it on the coffee table). I don't understand why she is like this.
My wife and I think that she has never had a steady male role model in her life... everyone she ever knew ended up leaving or not being attentive towards her. Maybe she feels vulnerable? I sat down and talked to her today about her attitude and something that she had done that was very disrespectful towards me and she kind of went threw the motions and said "im sorry" and everything, but the way that she said it was as if she has never had a serious conversation with anyone in her life, and she didn't know how serious I was being and wanted to move quickly on to something not related to the topic.
I am concerned about her. She is a very sweet girl and I really want to be someone that she can look up to. I THINK she does, but then sometimes she just treats me like crap. So I don't know what to think anymore.
I will leave it at that for now. Sorry for the long read but thank you very much in advance.
Hi there. Well, what does her mother say when she exhibits the disrespectful behavior? I would set a very clear boundary with her. And have a consequence. Consequences, I've learned, can be a little hard on US when we have to use them but it is a great deterrent to bad behavior. You can tell her that you enjoy your time with her but if she is disrespectful (and then say specific things you mean by that) that you and your wife will end the family time together and leave. And then follow through. How many times do you think she'd act disrespectful after that? Once to test you. Maybe a second time to be sure, but probably not too many times after that. And if she behaves appropriately, then praise her, reward her, etc.
That's about all I can think of as she's not your child. Hope that helps.
Her mother will maybe yell at her if she does something wrong, but that's about how it goes and as far as I know, she never sees any real punishment for bad behavior. Honestly, the mom doesn't seem to make her older children much of a priority anymore. I can handle her well, I do set consequences and I do let her know when she does something wrong as does my wife.
I guess I am more interested in some insight as to WHY she acts this way rather than how to deal with her. Thank you very much for your advice though I do appreciate it!
I think it's just her trying to get more attention from you, sounds like you and your wife are the only ones giving her any at all. And I would say she is probably just testing u to see how far she can push u (she at that age I myself have a 9 year old daughter) might just like the attention weather it be good or bad its still way more fun than getting none. She probably feels like she can push u because u love her so much just like testing her bonderies with you. It's so sad what you said about it seeming like no one has ever had a serious conversation with her, you might be right and maybe that is another reason she is doing it maybe she likes the one on one attention even if for the wrong reasons. Just keep doing what you are doing she'll grow out of this its so heart warming to hear how much you care about her she'll do great as long as u and your wife keep doing what you are doing for her. God bless you both who's to say if she would be getting any attention at all if it wasn't for the two of you.
All kids at some point will try and push the limits. She knows your soft spot.
When she is rude to you, you need to be firm, look her straight in the eye, and tell her firmly that you do not like what she is doing. Don't allow her to treat you in that manner. You need to be firm in your voice and very assertive, you do not have to shout. When she sees that you are serious, hopefully she will stop what she is doing.
It does not matter if her mum is in the same room or not, if you are being treated the way you do not like, then you need to make that clear. It does not mean that you love her any less. You can also tell her that you love her, but will not tolerate her behaviour.
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