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Discussion Starter #1
To a niece you haven't seen since she was 8, but she will be 13 next month?

Backstory:

My brother and his girlfriend at the time had a baby at 15. They broke up but he didn't lost contact with his daughter. Our entire family did all they could to make my niece (Briana) feel like part of the family. I was only 10 at the time, but I'm much older now.

When she was 8, her mother (Julie) tried to get my brother to leave his wife (Jennifer, the one who recently passed away) but Jennifer was pregnant, so he didn't (lousy excuse, yes). Julie got miffed and took Briana and we haven't seen her since.

Fast forward 5 years and Jennifer is gone, and Julie has left Briana with her mother. Her mother called MY mom and told her that Briana was with her, etc.

I am terrified of calling her. I haven't spoken to her in 5 years, she's almost all grown up (13 as opposed to 8) and she's TALLER than me!!! I'm excited that she's back in our lives, but terrified that she and I won't have the bond that we used to have. She used to tell people that she was her Aunt Jade's mini-me. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
timskitties said:
emrldsky said:
She used to tell people that she was her Aunt Jade's mini-me.
You know, I'll bet she still feels the same way. 8)
Maybe..then again, her mother told her that our family didn't want to have anything to do with her, especially her father (which is a full blown LIE!). I'll have to think of what to say before I call and talk to her.
 

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I left my sister when she was eight to go to America. I practically raised her since my parents were going through a divorce...

She still thinks I abandoned her...I don't know what to say either...we used to be so close...she was a mini-me.
 

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Just follow your heart and allow her to 'lead'. Show her you still care and love her. Try to see what her interests are (computers, sports, etc...) and talk to her about that. Offer to take her shopping or out to lunch (most kids that age prefer fast food...at least my 14 y.o. daughter does). See if she would like to go to a movie. Try to spend some time with her one-on-one. I think you will discover that she would love to have a relationship with you. If she brings it up, then you can talk about negative things said and try to assure her they are not true, but it is best if you don't try to make anyone look bad, regardless as to whether or not they said bad things to her about your family. They are still her family and she will be hurt and or offended if you say anything negative.

Just enjoy her! I think you will be pleasantly surprised. If she is resistant, don't push her...she will probably come around very quickly. :D
 

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First, tell her how much you've missed her and how happy you are that the two of you are in contact again. Let her know that even though things became complicated between her parents, all of you love her and never stopped thinking of her.

I'm sure you know this, Jade, but I'll say it anyway -- it's important that you don't mention that her mom lied about the family not wanting to see her. She will most likely defend her mom and the conversation will deteriorate.

Then give her a chance to talk a bit and see where's she's at. You have alot of fond memories to share and a chance to find out what she's like now. Now that she's older, I'll bet you'll have even more in common as far as music and other interests. There will be plenty to talk about.

Good luck and keep us posted!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
lymekaps said:
First, tell her how much you've missed her and how happy you are that the two of you are in contact again. Let her know that even though things became complicated between her parents, all of you love her and never stopped thinking of her.

I'm sure you know this, Jade, but I'll say it anyway -- it's important that you don't mention that her mom lied about the family not wanting to see her. She will most likely defend her mom and the conversation will deteriorate.

Then give her a chance to talk a bit and see where's she's at. You have alot of fond memories to share and a chance to find out what she's like now. Now that she's older, I'll bet you'll have even more in common as far as music and other interests. There will be plenty to talk about.

Good luck and keep us posted!! :D
Some new developments:

Briana is living with her grandmother on her own action. She felt her mother wasn't being truthful with her in regards to the family (esp. her father). She told her mother she wanted to talk to her father, she refused, but Briana kept demanding. Finally her mother just said, "Whatever" and that is why we are here now.

Briana told my brother and my mom what her mother said. She also said that she didn't believe her and that her stepfather is a jerk. Man, she's so much like me it's not funny. ;)

I talked to her briefly today. She said she's doing well in school, she wants to go to college and be a criminal investigator and work in forensics. She also says she's 5'3.5" (yeah, we'll see about taht half inch) which makes her a bit taller than I am.

I asked my mom if she still looked like me and her response was, "Ooooh yeah! Spitting image."

I guess I'm just really proud at how adult she is. I mean, most people would feel sad that the circumstances in her life made her grow up so fast, but in reality she's always thought and acted more like a little adult than a child. I was the same way. When I was 13 I pulled myself out of a severe depression without counseling or outside help. Just me.

I'm hoping that my brother will go and visit her this Sunday, so I can try and go with him. My mom, her father and my dad's mother went to see her today. I'm sure my mom is sooo happy.

I guess my family is still in a bit of schock. After losing Jennifer only to have Briana come back into our lives not long after...it's amazing.

For those who believe in God and his work, I can honestly say I feel he is present in every aspect of my family's life.
 

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(((((happy hugs)))))

13 is a tough age to be. My daughter is 14 and has many conflicted emotions, just being that age. Briana is a brave young lady to be so assertive. You must feel very proud of her.

I am so happy for you and your family. Briana is a blessing, and after losing Jennifer she will fill some of that void.

Enjoy her! :D
 

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Well, she's a pistol, lemme tell you! I talked to her (well, she did most of the talking) for 40 minutes on the phone last night. We would have talked longer, but my phone was getting too warm (I only have a cell phone).

She definitely has a mature personality, but she's so SPUNKY! Reminds me of myself at her age. ;)

And she looks so much older, it's almost sad that I didn't get to see her growing up into the beautiful young woman she has become (and she's not even quite 13 yet!).
 

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Briana sounds like an absolute joy! I am so delighted the two of you were able to talk as you did. You will play an important part of her life now...I really believe that. It is also great that she did "most of the talking" that shows she is comfortable with you and she has probably not had anyone that she felt comfortable confiding in until now. Even if it was just "idle" chatting so far...it opens a lot of doors for her to come to you in the future.

I have a very open relationship with both of my daughters (ages 18 and 14) but when it comes to some issues, having their aunts to talk to is very important. Sometimes, teen girls will "shut down" with a mom or grandma and listen more attentively to an aunt. At least this is my experience. Even though their aunts (one is closer to their age: 10 years older than one daughter and 14 years older than the other) have the same views on serious subjects as I do (in regards to stuff like intimacy, boys, and other 'touchy' subjects that young teens face) they seem to be able to relate better because their aunt is younger and went through this more recently than a mom or grandma did.

You will be a very positive influence on Briana. I am so glad she has you in her life, and I know she is, too. It is a bit sad that you missed those years, but you have come back into her life when she will need you the MOST! I can't emphasize that enough...the early teens are very difficult years and having someone to understand what she is going through is priceless!

Please try not to say anything negative about her mom, even if she talks about it, don't agree with her, just listen and empathize: tell her you are sorry that happened but don't tell her she is right. I had a bad experience with a teen girl when I was in my 20's. Her mom was horrible, and this girl would rant about her all of the time. I agreed with her, and it back-fired and ruined our relationship. I won't go into details about that, but I will always regret the way it turned out.

If you have any questions, I will be glad to talk to you about it. My kids, and the teen I mentioned above, have been through some pretty tough things. Feel free to pm me, if you want to talk about it in detail. :)

I am delighted for you and for Briana. btw...is she living close enough to you that you can spend time with her often?
 

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Sounds like things are working out great. I'm sure she's thrilled to have YOU in her life too... blood relations are important and then have someone that you "click" with is great. My aunt that's 8 years older than me is one of my best friends and we talk about EVERYTHING!
 

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Thanks Brynn for the advice. I made sure that I didn't talk bad about her mother, but I also made sure to let her know that I wasn't making excuses for her mother either (that's not my job).

I am actually only 10 years older than she is. In fact, up until she was older (7-8 years old), she had a hard time calling me AUNT Jade. I definitely want to be there for her through tough teenage times. She reminds me of myself so much that I feel I can definitely give her sound advice based on my own experiences.

I also told her how proud I was of her and her choice to go to college. That is a BIG deal in my family. I was the first to get my bachelor's degree in my family. My mom was a semester behind me (she got an associates before me, though!).

It's almost as we picked up where we left off so many years ago, except her sentence structure is better. ;)

Thanks, also, to everyone else who posted with advice. I guess I was just worried more about how *I* would react than how she would. I should have known she wouldn't forget her Aunt Jade. :)
 

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Does she live close enough where you can see her often? It would be great if you could take her to, say, McDonald's (or whatever she likes) and then to a movie or skating or a museum...whatever her interest is. I think it would be fun for both of you and further re-inforce your bond.

I'm glad to hear you are staying away from being critical of her mom.

I'll tell you about one of my experiences with a similar situation:
I dated an older man when I was in my late twenties. He had custody of his daughter, who was 14 years younger than me. Her mom dumped her, and even though this so-called mom lived only a few blocks away, her daughter was not welcome at her house unless she was invited...which was almost never. She didn't even call the poor girl but on her birthday and the rare "charitable" call once or twice a year.

Her dad (my b.f. that I also lived with for 2 years) was a great dad, and wanted the mom to be in her life. Two years had passed between visits at one point (remember, she was living right down the street!). Before I moved in with them, I lived about 20 minutes away. The girl called me early one morning, hysterical. She usually walked to school (about 1/2 mile away) but it was storming badly. She called her mom (her dad had left for work) to ask if her mom could give her a ride to school. Her mom cursed her and told her she didn't have time for this s--- and hung up on her. I drove the 20 minutes (each way) to pick her up and take her to school.

The girl was constantly hurt by her mom and complained about her frequently. When she teen confided in me, I thought it would be good to validate her feelings and agreed with her that her mom was being a 'bad mom'. After a while, she and her mom reconciled. She told her mom all about the 'bad stuff' I said and I was the 'bad person' then. No matter how angry she was, her loyalty always remained with her mom over me...as it should have.

It caused the teen to eventually hate me, and also the demise of my relationship with her dad. Because she hated me, 'dad' had to consider his daughter's feelings and end our relationship. I felt like I got the raw end of the deal, but now know I screwed up by saying something negative about her mom.

No matter how horrible her mom is and how angry Briana is with her mom now, it will probably change, once hurt feelings are not so raw. This is the reason I wanted to warn you to not make any negative comments. It can cause hard feelings later on...and this woman IS still her mom. Even if the mom doesn't deserve her!

It also could make Briana feel 'I am part of my mom, so if Jade thinks my mom is bad, maybe she thinks I am bad, too'. It doesn't have to make sense to us, and Briana probably won't even realize she feels that way.

Sorry, I don't mean to interfere, and I certainly don't want to lecture. I just wanted to share my experience in case you are ever tempted to agree with Briana. It can come back around and cause hurt feelings. Sounds like you already knew all of this, though and that is great! :D

It sounds like Briana is extremely strong and well-adjusted. Be prepared that, once the initial anger subsides, she will go through a variety of emotions and your being there for her is so valuable. It is like a survivor going through the five stages of grieving a death.

Sorry for the very long post...I can't seem to ever submit a post that is reasonable in length. :oops: I need to work on that. :wink:

Enjoy your newly-rediscovered niece! It is wonderful that you have each other again! :heart
 
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