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help me help my niece
Old 06-07-2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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help me help my niece

Hi all,

I'm hoping those who have teenagers/college-age kids can help me out here.

My niece just finished her first year of college. She broke up with her boyfriend (who was pretty mean with things he said to her) a few weeks ago. Now she just went on an Outward Bound trip where she felt so connected to people and had a great time. She has a lot of trust issues and self-esteem issues. She doesn't have a lot of friends.

Well, she's come back from the Outward Bound trip and is now having a crisis. She ran away (took the family car, but called her parents, and now is in a safe place). I talked to her, and she said she ran away b/c she misses everyone from the Outward Bound trip, and feels alone, like nobody cares about her. I think she is willing to talk to me more than her parents b/c (1) I'm not her parents and (2) I'm closer to her in age.

I gave her lots of support and made lots of suggestions (activities she can get involved in to build friends where she is, journaling, seeing a counselor, calling me whatever time of the day/night she needs to, reminding her how much her family loves her, etc.). Unfortunately, I've made the suggestions about activities before (with links and everything to various social clubs in her area), but she didn't act on it. Depression runs in my family, and I know exactly what she is going through (I did tell her that, which seemed to help her not feel so alone).

My brother (her father) says she does read quite a bit, so I was thinking that I'd like to find her a book or two that will help her process what she is going through. I want a book that is good for college age kids going through something like this. Any suggestions?

Also, any other suggestions are welcome. I will give my brother the link to this thread, so feel free to make suggestions for the parents, too.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:20 PM   #2
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P.S. My nephew just totalled the family's other car last night (he is fine, TG)...so my brother really has his hands full...
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(49, married; DH 53. I am fully retired as of 2015 (well ok, I still work part-time but only because I love the job and have complete freedom to call off if I want to travel with hubby for work), DH hopes to fully retire 2018 when he turns 55 to access 401K penalty-free...although he may decide to do part-time consulting)
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:37 PM   #3
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SimpleGirl, you have already done so much to put family depression out in the open. In my family we can pinpoint exactly which side it comes down through back to the 1860s. Shortly after I moved somewhat close to an aunt and cousins, we set up a time to visit them. A few days before that date, their 13-yo son died, a possible suicide. They had a private funeral but went ahead and met with us. Too late, we all discussed our experiences and concluded that we all have the depression potential which can come up suddenly....

Your niece may not need a lot of friends, you say she doesn’t have many but you are a very very good friend!
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:39 PM   #4
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No kids, so take this response with a huge grain of salt.

1. She must return the car. No excuses. Now.
2. Get professional counseling set up for her ASAP. A stranger may be able to help her out and confidentiality is guaranteed.
3. Lots of love is needed to compensate for the boyfriend breakup, even if it is tough love.

Good luck!
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
2. Get professional counseling set up for her ASAP. A stranger may be able to help her out and confidentiality is guaranteed.
I agree and suggested this to her today. I'm working on building her trust in me more before I push it too hard. She has to agree to it...

Thanks for your feedback.
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
SimpleGirl, you have already done so much to put family depression out in the open. In my family we can pinpoint exactly which side it comes down through back to the 1860s. Shortly after I moved somewhat close to an aunt and cousins, we set up a time to visit them. A few days before that date, their 13-yo son died, a possible suicide. They had a private funeral but went ahead and met with us. Too late, we all discussed our experiences and concluded that we all have the depression potential which can come up suddenly....

Your niece may not need a lot of friends, you say she doesn’t have many but you are a very very good friend!
Thank you. I really wanted to help her see it's not her fault the way she is feeling...that she is prone to it due to our family history, and she has to find strategies to fight it as it will likely rear it's ugly head multiple times in her life. I wanted to emphasize to her that it is a battle that can indeed be fought and WON.
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Old 06-07-2009, 06:15 PM   #7
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It seems to me she's running the gamut with highs and lows right now. I don't think you could possibly do anything more than you are doing right now. Keep telling her your ears and heart are always open.

I've had to deal with this type of thing before with my niece. She has finally realized she can come to me anytime with her thoughts.
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:00 PM   #8
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Reminds me of what my brother went through with his 2 boys. One was a total hell raiser that was up to no good. They got him in a rehab facility but not sure it helped much. This one moved away and no telling what he got into then. But the one thing he was always interested in was cooking. To make a long story short, he worked at many different restaurants which kept him occupied and he now owns 2 bbq restaurants on the Alabama coast and is doing well at the age of 30. Just got married too.

His other son was just the opposite. Jealous of his brother because he got so much attention due to sports activities and just all the trouble he was in. And he didn't have many friends. But he matured and reconciled with his dad before he died and now has a good job. He is 32.

All you can do is give your niece support as you are doing. Hopefully she will mature before getting into too much trouble. Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:37 PM   #9
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I have a girl and a boy, both in college.

Fortunately both of them are still close to me and both still talk to me. Generally speaking, my daughter is more emotional, less logical than my son. She makes quicker decisions based on her CURRENT (as in RIGHT NOW) feelings, without much looking back or forward. Fortunately, again, she tells me what her decisions are before acting on them.

Most of the times, the decisions do not sound right to me. But instead of telling her so (which is very ineffective), I told her to not act on them immediately. I told her to look both back and forth, and to think about the cause and consequence of her imminent actions.

After a night or a day, she usually came back and tell me that she was going to do it differently.

Sam
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:39 PM   #10
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I wonder if the Outward Bound program can be of help--if they have some kind of after-program resources available to the young people who have gone through the program? (I looked at the website and it has an alumni area Outward Bound Alumni)

Since your niece seems to have enjoyed her experience so much, maybe continuing something that follows the same philosophy might be valuable for her?

Also the summer after freshman year can be a hard one--hope she will feel happier when school starts again.

You're a good aunt.
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Old 06-07-2009, 11:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl View Post
My brother (her father) says she does read quite a bit, so I was thinking that I'd like to find her a book or two that will help her process what she is going through.
Whenever I'm feeling sorry for myself, I read books about people who have even worse problems. Cheers me right up.

I'm too old to truly appreciate Alexandra Robbins, but her version of teen/20-something drama & angst sells very well among young women. Maybe some people read her books for the same cheer-up reason I do, or others read them for new ideas on how to solve or even avoid their problems. "Pledged" impressed me with the quality of the research and the writing. And it totally killed the mythology of hot sorority chicks.

Robbins has also earned some controversial press for "The Overachievers" and "Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis". Again, most of us are smirking at the idea of a "quarterlife crisis", but I suspect it'll resonate very strongly with your neice.

Otherwise, I wonder if Outward Bound needs some interns or part-time employees?

I don't mean to make light of your family's situation, but I know several local families whose kids have gone to schools like Amherst & Purdue and boomeranged 6-12 months later in total retreat and surrender. Some did it with much publicity beforehand, others lied/cheated/"forgot" to send in the papers. They're working Taco Bell shifts and occasionally remembering to show up for English 101 at the community college. The macabre humor is these parents would be thrilled to someday wake up to find that their kid has taken the family car and set out on their own. Some would even consider losing the car a bargain by comparison. Your neice's approach certainly removes the temptation to hide from the world in Mom & Dad's livingroom while "going to college" and "earning a living".
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:32 AM   #12
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Years ago I worked for Outward Bound and their programs are truly empowering for many. Small groups are a key to success. Along with the other good suggestions on this thread you might have her take a look at her college choice. A small liberal arts college might provide a similar environment. Think Earlham, Warren Wilson or a host of other tiny, but tight academic communities.
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