10 yr. old daughter/friend


#1

Hi--

Need some advice as a dad to a 10 year old girl. She switched schools this year and has had some struggles making friends. A classmate befriended her and has been very clingy- almost stalking. Red-flags went off right away- she calls frequently, walked to our house uninvited several times (a mile walk), dresses provocatively, wears make-up and earings, etc... She seems nice enough- but we are pretty cautious with our kids.

We contacted the teacher (who we trust) for some input and where told to discourage the friendship. The girl has a very troubled home- dad is in jail, mom left the state, she lives with a step-dad, step siblings in/out of the home, pretty chaotic.

Teacher referenced that the girl has been abused in the past. Said she has seen things we will never see in our lives. Said she should not get together with the girl and either home (we considered having her at our place under our supervision).

Well, things cooled for awhile, but the past couple of weeks have "heated up". I attended a school function last week and the girl was like glue to my daughter- constantly interjecting herself in conversations, inviting herself over, very pushy,
etc... My daughter does not know how to handle this. She is not a mean person and does not want to hurt her feelings. She makes excuses on why they can't get together. But how long can you do that?

Tonite the girl called the house twice (phone message) and then showed up at the door with her father (uninvited). My daughter did not want to talk to her. I went to the door and said we were having family time tonite and were not making any plans. The girl just kept asking me questions, while the dad just stood there. Very awkward.

I feel bad for the girl, but I cannot put my daughter at risk esp. at this critical point in her development and life. I don't know what to tell my daughter or how to advise on this. I have told her that her mom and I have concerns about the girl and her family and we need to keep her safe. (w/o going into any further details).
I have told her to try to distance herself,, but she say the girl seeks her out, etc.... (I believe this is true). Difficult when they are in the same classroom and together all day.

Any thoughts are appreciated.


#2

Yes, here’s my thought. Has this teacher called protective services since she seems to know so much about this poor kids home life ?

I remember a girl in school just like what you described and it turned out that she was being sexually molested (actually raped) at home. She wanted a friend so badly but she was very advanced for her age and very mixed up in her thoughts from the abuse she suffered. I saw her many years later on Rush Street in Chicago and it was obvious that she was strung out on drugs. She had a very sad life and I confess to not helping her at an early age. I have felt guilty about that ever since and this is many years ago.

This poor girl is getting the same treatment, no help and alot of shunning. I understand that you want to keep your child at arms length to protect her but this other child seems to need protection too.


#3

thanks for the reply.

I may have misrepresented the teacher's comments. She implied the abuse- but didn't come out and state it. The girl sees the counselor at school so I know she is in the "system".


#4

It sounds to me like this girl desperately needs a good friend and a good family to share good morals with her.

I would not discourage this friendship at all. I would encourage your daughter to be charitable towards her. Jesus lead this girl to you and instead of offering her friendship you are trying to get us all to tell you it is okay to shun her.

Pray about it. Ignore the "gossip" that the teacher shared. It is not her place to share such information. How would you feel if other parents were calling the teacher to ask about your daughter and your family life?


#5

Are any of her step-siblings girls? It could just be that the step-father is in over his head and doesn't know how to deal with her. Several years ago, a friend of mine ended up having to take in the daughter he didn't know he had. To make a long story somewhat short, he hadn't seen the girl's mother since about 8 months before she was born and didn't know she'd been pregnant. She'd had a very rough life the first 8-9 years of her life and when the mom got into some legal trouble, the grandparents refused to take the daughter. After a blood test to make sure she was his, he took her in. He was in his mid 20's and had no idea how to be a dad, especially to a troubled little girl. When we first met her, she acted a lot like the girl you're describing. He wasn't mistreating her or trying to be a bad dad, but he didn't know the first thing about raising her (she missed the first month of school the first year she was with him because he didn't know he was supposed to register her, or when school started).

When we came around she was very clingy toward my wife & son, so much so that we were tempted to report him. After a while, and a few long talks with him, we realized what was going on and did our best to help. She turned out okay, but it took a lot of work and several years of counseling (mainly because of what her mother had put her through).

On the other hand, we've also dealt with kids from just plain horrible backgrounds who had some of the behaviors you described. We made the mistake of getting personally involved in one case and it led to some huge, nasty problems. I hate to suggest turning your back on her if that's truly the case, but a call to children's services could be the best thing for her and your family.


#6

Maybe you could let your daughter play with her outside the home, such as in a public place, under your supervision in case things get bad? This girl is being abused and REALLY needs a friend right now. It is good that she sees a counsellor; hopefully she is getting the help she needs.


#7

Does your daughter want this friendship? If so , you can teach her the boundaries to allow the friend. It sounds like the girl and her father don't respect or understand boundaries. So your daughter has to set limits. If she is unable to handle that, the friendship is not good for her. She will be easily taken advantage of.

If your daughter does not want the friendship, then give her an out. Tell her to tell the girl that she is very sorry but her parents do not want this association. When your daughter can blame someone in authority, then she won't have the girl be able to get mad at her per say. Students understand when "parents are mean" so your daughter will still be able to be pleasant and say hi in passing but won't have to handle anything more involved. Be sure to ask the teacher to try and not put them near each other in the seating chart. Be your child's advocate and do what she is unable to do at this stage of maturity .

It is not uncharitable to protect your daughter from a questionable influence. It is not yours or your daughter's responsibility to make up for what the girl is lacking. The teacher is responsible to report what she suspects, to get the girl help. Your gut instinct is telling you that your daughter is vulnerable and this girl is not the best influence. Trust that. You've seen enough to know something is off. God bless.

Sincerely,
Teacher for 32 years.


#8

Thanks to everyone who replied. Your comments have helped.

Maurrern- you suggestion to pray about it is spot on- and I did just that last nite.

Forgiving- I don't know if she wants the friendship. I think she wants to help her- she knows bullying is wrong and I think she wants to "save her". On the other hand, she knows that some of her actions are inappropriate (ie, the boundries). I do not think she is strong enough to follow thru on boundries, etc... esp. b/c this girl has a strong personality. Thanks for your advice, it really helped me.

Gordon- thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.


#9

just some thoughts,

is your wife able to be home in the afternoons, after school?

maybe allow the girl to come over and they can do their homework together, say two nights during the week...

one of those nights, allow her to eat supper with the family.

Do no allow the girls to be alone, or out of sight of your wife.

make sure the girl is leaving or gone not long after you arrive home from work. ( you wouldn't want her to ever accuse you of anything, know what I mean?)

She actually NEEDS a friend and possibly a mother figure, which could be your wife.

So, I just suggest limiting the friendship and only allowing your daughter and her to be together in your home. Set times. Etc.


#10

I agree with DJgang. This girl is desperate for a mother figure and a "normal" family setting. I was similar to this little girl when I was young and my heart breaks for her.

I think if you can find a way to have her over a few times for very supervised visits you would positively influence this girl and teach your daughter a good lesson about compassion.

A little bit of positive influence goes a long way in a troubled child's life. I am living proof!


#11

I agree with Djlang and Raising 3, Both of their suggestions are great. As the mother of 4 and grandmother of 4, I have seen my share of these poor kids. Charitable behaviour might save this girls soul, BUT totally supervised and limited to what your daughter wants or can handle. Hope this helps.


#12

I had an awful abuse history and no friends at different times. I don’t agree with having your daughter be this child’s friend if she does not want to be. Your daughter cannot save anyone and she needs to learn that at a young age. You mentioned stalking-type behavior now. If you teach your daughter to reward stalking behavior, she may find boyfriends who stalk her as she gets older, b/c the message she’s getting is that she needs to be a kind person and keep a stalker/clingy person in her life when she does not want to.

The girl needs help but it’s above the level that your child can provide. Thinking back to my own problems, I was not a stalker but was very withdrawn, I did have rejection from the other kids but they also didn’t know what to do. I thought everyone knew about at least some of the abuse but looking back I’m not sure that’s true. The girl will know if your child is keeping up a friendship b/c she feels she has to. You don’t want to teach the girl that people who don’t really want to spend time with her will put up with her b/c she’s troubled. She deserves to have people in her life who can handle her problems and genuinely want to be there.

This is where - a lot of posts on CAF stress the fact that there is sexual abuse in families and schools as well as the church. I don’t support comparing the badness of abuse problems, but the church does realize abuse happens other places and as far as I know that is part of the Catholic Church’s response to sexual assault - helping kids who are not abused in the church. I would start with your archdiocese and contact whoever it is that is responsible for protecting children and lay out the situation, whether the girl is Catholic or not. If there is other abuse in addition to or instead of sexual abuse, I’d still do that - the church has stated it’s concerned about abuse. If you get blown off by them or just a ‘well here’s a phone number’ then keep calling. If you are going to take on this child’s problems in any way, I would suggest that you call around and keep calling different people, priests or other religious, domestic violence shelters if that’s an issue, teachers, child abuse hotlines, until you find people who will be more proactive in this child’s life.

I do agree that it sounds like less effort is being made to help her than should be, I can’t really judge that from here but her behavior seems to indicate she needs far more help than she’s getting. an hour or two in counseling a week may not cut it. I would start with the Church, talk to them about finding professional therapists who help with child sexual assault, call child protective services if you think abuse is ongoing, and persist. The other thing is you may need to coordinate your efforts with the child’s teacher and other adults. It’s possible that more is being done than appears to be, but people aren’t talking about it for confidentiality reasons. If her teacher is trying different option you don’t want to duplicate that so I think talking to the teacher is important, although it sounds like you’ve already done that.

Maybe start by asking the teacher if it’s OK if you make a call to your archdiocese and then call them and talk about what to do and proceed from there. Meanwhile I think your daughter needs to learn that she has the right to determine who is and is not her friend and she needs help ending the friendship if that’s what she wants. The other girl clearly needs a lot more help than she is receiving given that she continues to be so distressed.

praying is always good too.

take care.


#13

yes, silent star, you are correct.

if daughter doesn’t want to be her friend outside of school, then no go on after school.

however…not that this family can provide the help, but what if, just what if in say two weeks of spending a few afternoons with this family, she feels able to tell an adult the truth? Then this family can move forward confidently to contact the appropriate people.

however, I don’t even think the OP knows all that could possibly be going on…one has to be very careful in this situation…but if daughter doesn’t want her as a friend, no go, I agree.

I meant to mention that in my first post. :slight_smile:

There is this little boy in my sons class. He’s got ADD, etc and my son has a hard time being around him, at church he sometimes asks to come home with us. I’ve been talking to my son about him, but really can’t convince my son to want to have him over…see, this little boys father is dying. he is an only child, and he probably would really enjoy coming out in the country with us one afternoon, playing outside, feeding the chickens and other animals, it’s hard. Anyway…


#14

I think your priorities are in the right place: 1) PROTECTING your daughter, then 2) possibly helping this girl. :thumbsup:

This is a very important boundaries lesson for your little girl, and it sounds like her instincts have already kicked in as they ought to. (Pat yourself on the back now - you're doing a good job!) Now you either reinforce those healthy boundaries by letting her choose to keep her distance and helping her do that, or you allow this other child to tread over them. It sounds harsh, but this is a vital lesson. She cannot "save" the other girl at the age of 10. She's a child; children do not save other children **- **that's an adult's job.

So, some thoughts:

If this girl is a bad influence at 10, think how she'll be at 13.

If your daughter wants distance from her, you and your wife could help her make friends with some other girls at school. Clinging kids look for other kids in isolation. If your daughter is part of a group of friends, then they can welcome the other girl in if she still chooses to hang around. But the effect of her inappropriate dress/talk/behavior will be diluted.

If your daughter is interested in spending some limited time with this girl, as others have suggested, your wife can provide a safe and controlled environment (if she's up to it).

If this girl has been abused, she's liable to open up and talk about her very disturbing experience with ... guess who? * Your 10-year-old.* They should not be alone together. When I was that same age, another girl told me some deeply troubling things that had happened to her, and it took a chunk of my innocence and haunted me for years.

It sounds like her step-dad may be either out of control of her, or else not well put-together. If it's the latter, you don't want him forming ties with your family, because, as I said earlier, your FIRST responsibility is to protect your daughter.

Yes, your home could be a shining light for this child. But, as Jesus tells us, we must be** "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." ** And where troubled families are concerned, we must be very, very careful.

Finally, good job to both of you. I think you already have all the wisdom you need to handle this situation appropriately. :)


#15

I have actually seen the opposite happen. When people reluctantly spend time with an unpopular/troubled child b/c they feel they should, their commitment usually does not last long. Then they pull back and that is more painful than not having the attachment in the first place. I had a lot of girls in my class tell me they would not play with me before I gave up talking to them, and I didn't cling much but was trying to talk to different people. It isn't the responsibility of a a child to save another child. If this family invites the child into their life and they are reluctant, and the child makes a disclosure of abuse, they are committing themselves to working with social services and maybe testifying in court, unless they do the wrong thing and ignore it.

If you commit to a child you really need to make the commitment and assume that child will be in your life for years. A child who is abused and neglected with no friends and is not fitting in will not likely improve quickly. A lot of people have wishful thinking and they would like to think that a child will be doing much better with a couple of weeks of attention, and then it's someone else's job. That is rarely the case. There have to be supportive people who are ready and willing to take over and form an important part in the child's life.

I would say, don't do things like inviting her into your home unless you are prepared to keep her in your life through college-age. That might not happen but if you or your daughter have had enough in a month, and she sees you as a refuge, you are left with throwing her out which might make things worse than before.

When I did not make friends in my class I started talking to younger kids and I made friends with girls one year younger than I was. They were pretty good friends. However if someone in my class had kept trying to be my friend when she didn't want to be, I never would have found the better friends I had. I should not have been left on my own to figure this out though. At that time being friends with kids not in your own grade was really odd - people thought it was weird - but I had girls I liked to talk to and it made school much better.

If she is developmentally delayed she may benefit from having younger friends. At any rate I would really recommend calling the teacher and putting pressure on her to do something. Such as, find an expert on bullied or neglected kids, or kids who don't fit in, and getting that person to take on this child as a mentor and give the child a lot of individual attention. Even if the abuse is in the past, why is this situation being tolerated? There may be people in the Church community who will help even if the child is not Catholic.

I understand it's heartbreaking to see a child like this and too many people have been there, but I would really encourage the OP not to take on a personal commitment to socializing with her unless you are potentially prepared to keep it up for the next 8 to 10 years. If that's not the case you are potentially looking at being exhausted by her needs and kicking her out, and then she could be in worse shape than before. 8 years might be far longer than this girl would want to spend time with you, but if you are thinking a few weeks and she is thinking she has a new family for the rest of grade school, then she could be hurt unless you maintain a commitment to stay in her life. And I think that is a lot to ask of the OP's daughter, a 10 year old who really is learning how to have friend's herself.

In contrast I do think the OP could do a lot by starting to call adults and figuring out how to work with other people such as the teacher if they are trying to help, and pushing them to do their jobs and not let this girl fall through the cracks. Someone who is trained in social skills evaluation should probably be working with her. If she is delayed she might benefit from having younger friends and she would need help finding them since they are not in her class.

Another way to help is to find books about famous people who often were outcasts or really felt different as kids, and give that to the child, especially if it seems like she's bright. Being unpopular is no guarantee of adult achievement, in fact it makes life a lot harder, but many creative people have trouble with not fitting in from an early age. Children's librarians may be able to locate books about unpopular kids who grew up to have friends and a family and they may or may not have been famous but they found rewarding work and etc. Also I think many Catholic saints as children suffered from feelings of being different, sometimes b/c they were persecuted and sometimes b/c they had a strong sense of spirituality at a young age and were more devout than other kids. It might be possible to find some books like that which will help the girl realize there is hope, even though she is struggling right now.


#16

[quote="silentstar, post:15, topic:234692"]
I have actually seen the opposite happen. When people reluctantly spend time with an unpopular/troubled child b/c they feel they should, their commitment usually does not last long. Then they pull back and that is more painful than not having the attachment in the first place. I had a lot of girls in my class tell me they would not play with me before I gave up talking to them, and I didn't cling much but was trying to talk to different people. It isn't the responsibility of a a child to save another child. If this family invites the child into their life and they are reluctant, and the child makes a disclosure of abuse, they are committing themselves to working with social services and maybe testifying in court, unless they do the wrong thing and ignore it.

If you commit to a child you really need to make the commitment and assume that child will be in your life for years. A child who is abused and neglected with no friends and is not fitting in will not likely improve quickly. A lot of people have wishful thinking and they would like to think that a child will be doing much better with a couple of weeks of attention, and then it's someone else's job. That is rarely the case. There have to be supportive people who are ready and willing to take over and form an important part in the child's life.

I would say, don't do things like inviting her into your home unless you are prepared to keep her in your life through college-age. That might not happen but if you or your daughter have had enough in a month, and she sees you as a refuge, you are left with throwing her out which might make things worse than before.

When I did not make friends in my class I started talking to younger kids and I made friends with girls one year younger than I was. They were pretty good friends. However if someone in my class had kept trying to be my friend when she didn't want to be, I never would have found the better friends I had. I should not have been left on my own to figure this out though. At that time being friends with kids not in your own grade was really odd - people thought it was weird - but I had girls I liked to talk to and it made school much better.

If she is developmentally delayed she may benefit from having younger friends. At any rate I would really recommend calling the teacher and putting pressure on her to do something. Such as, find an expert on bullied or neglected kids, or kids who don't fit in, and getting that person to take on this child as a mentor and give the child a lot of individual attention. Even if the abuse is in the past, why is this situation being tolerated? There may be people in the Church community who will help even if the child is not Catholic.

I understand it's heartbreaking to see a child like this and too many people have been there, but I would really encourage the OP not to take on a personal commitment to socializing with her unless you are potentially prepared to keep it up for the next 8 to 10 years. If that's not the case you are potentially looking at being exhausted by her needs and kicking her out, and then she could be in worse shape than before. 8 years might be far longer than this girl would want to spend time with you, but if you are thinking a few weeks and she is thinking she has a new family for the rest of grade school, then she could be hurt unless you maintain a commitment to stay in her life. And I think that is a lot to ask of the OP's daughter, a 10 year old who really is learning how to have friend's herself.

In contrast I do think the OP could do a lot by starting to call adults and figuring out how to work with other people such as the teacher if they are trying to help, and pushing them to do their jobs and not let this girl fall through the cracks. Someone who is trained in social skills evaluation should probably be working with her. If she is delayed she might benefit from having younger friends and she would need help finding them since they are not in her class.

Another way to help is to find books about famous people who often were outcasts or really felt different as kids, and give that to the child, especially if it seems like she's bright. Being unpopular is no guarantee of adult achievement, in fact it makes life a lot harder, but many creative people have trouble with not fitting in from an early age. Children's librarians may be able to locate books about unpopular kids who grew up to have friends and a family and they may or may not have been famous but they found rewarding work and etc. Also I think many Catholic saints as children suffered from feelings of being different, sometimes b/c they were persecuted and sometimes b/c they had a strong sense of spirituality at a young age and were more devout than other kids. It might be possible to find some books like that which will help the girl realize there is hope, even though she is struggling right now.

[/quote]

Excellent advice, from one who's obviously been there. God bless you! :)


#17

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