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I'm a 30 year old guy, and I'm single, never had a real girlfriend to speak of. My sister's first born is in some trouble and she has decided that her daughter cannot live with her anymore (there's been some lying, stealing, running away from home, and, well, sexual activity). So it's either she lives with me (I'm not exactly a short drive away) or she gets sent to a foster home, or basically a prison for teenage girls.

I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep that girl safe, as my family is very important to me and I especially adore her. I took her in as a visitor for the past month or so, and things have been fine so far, we get along great and I haven't had any problems.

As it turns out, her mom has basically told her nothing of the seriousness of the situation, that she is kicking her out. It's apparently up to me to tell her, or have her mother tell her, and I'm not sure what's the best (least bad?) way. I kind of get the feeling that they're not communicating very well, and that they tend to fight a lot, so I'm not sure if her mom should be the one to break this news, or if I should be the one. I'm sort of an easy going guy that tends not to get too worked up, I don't judge, it's all cool by me, I usually just coast through life in chill mode (even though it sometimes bites me in the ass when I get kinda lost).

In this case, I'm definitely kinda lost. I've never had a kid. I don't know how to raise one (I don't know if I can ever "know", is that something you pretty much just have to wing it?). I don't know how badly this is going to mess her up, if it will cause her to misbehave with me the way that she seems to with her mom. I guess there are so many questions that I ultimately have, but it starts with the big one first

How do I talk to a 14 year old girl about something important like that? How do I say "your mom is kicking you out, you can either live with me or she's going to ship you off to some boarding school type deal"?

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    This is definately something the mother should tell her. For one, if you say it and keep the girl at your place and the mother later wants the daughter back, you can probably be tried for kidnapping and get in trouble. – Erik Jul 26 '15 at 6:57
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    Consider having a joint meeting with you, her and your sister where you discuss this like adults and emphasize the seriousness of the situation. It is very unfortunate that her mother has let it go this far without her daughter being aware of it. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 19 '16 at 13:18
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    Wow. Make sure you send your sister a nice plastic baggie full of crap this Christmas, to reciprocate for the bag of crap she's handed you. You're a wonderful uncle to be willing to do this, but for a parent to kick a child out and want someone else to tell her? You definitely need to have a conversation with your sister. – PoloHoleSet Oct 3 '16 at 14:33
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    Are 14 year olds frequently "kicked out" of home, and in which country does that happen? US? I have lived mostly in Europe and never heard of it. – user985366 Apr 17 '17 at 14:17
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    At 14 the mother is likely still legally obligated to take care of the child. Talk to a lawyer familiar with your state's laws about getting legal custody/guardianship, child support, etc. You may need all that just to get the kid enrolled in school in your district anyways. – arp Jun 5 '17 at 10:44
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If things have been going as you say then I'd suggest you don't 'tell' her anything - she's 14 and old enough to start having some input into her life so why not ask her?

Just summarise the situation between you and her as you see it which is that she has had problems and got into trouble back home etc. but since coming to stay with you see that she is doing a lot better and seems to be happier - then ask her if she'd like to stay with you indefinitely. Gloss over the bit about her mum kicking her out unless you have to go there.

I think there's a good chance she'd go for it. If it doesn't work then someone's just going to have to tell her outright - if that happens to have to be you then don't pussyfoot around it, outline that the situation isn't working for her or her mum and that her mum would like her to live with you for a while... and then give her some space to deal with it. Perhaps offer to take her to the DIY store to get some paint to make her room her own or something.

If it does go ahead make sure you get some legal papers drawn up to give you legal guardian status too. It'll save a lot of hassle in the long run.

Also, you could draw up and sign an agreement with each other - it won't be legally binding but it's an act of commitment on her part where you can both lay down your expectations and frame it somewhere in the house.

As for 'knowing' parenting... I don't think anyone ever can 'know' it - you learn what you need to know as it applies to the child in front of you at that time.

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    "Listen, I know you and your mum have been having a lot of problems lately. We think it would be better for everyone if you moved in here for a while. How do you feel about that?" – RedSonja Sep 21 '16 at 9:09
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    @RedSonja: Nicely put, except that it isn't the truth. It also implies that the uncle is colluding with the girl's mother, which could be damaging the relationship between the girl and the uncle. – gnasher729 Nov 4 '17 at 1:13
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In my opinion, your sister is taking the easy, extremely immature, way out of this difficult situation by "kicking out" her daughter. While your niece has demonstrated poor behavior (especially that sexual in nature) for her age, the best solution for the child is for mother and daughter to attend counseling together. Personally, I question what elements of your nieces home life have led her to behave in this way.

Furthermore, the fact that your sister has not told/does not intend to tell her daughter, will be immensely damaging to her daughter. If your sister is going to make this poor decision, she should take responsibility for it, not you. You should be present as a mediator if you wish to keep the break as "soft" as possible, but that is all.

Finally, keep in mind that your niece probably will continue this behavior with you as her guardian. If you begin to enforce rules, you will no longer be her "cool uncle" and she will rebel. Be prepared for this, and if you are going to take her on, stipulate that she must enter therapy.

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I think there are 3 points you need to consider:

  1. I don't think you can tell her. For the simple reason anything your sister might or might not say to you doesn't have any real meaning. Aside from the ethics I can say every day I can kick my kids out. But until I actually do that it's just talk.

  2. There also is a legal side to this. In many countries a 14 year old cannot just go and live anywhere. They need to live with their legal guardian. Is your sister willing to sign the paperwork?

  3. Talk to the authorities. Social services isn't a child stealing organization. If you have a place to offer for your niece they quite likely would help you to make it happen.

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    Simple answer here is you don't. – Mister Positive Nov 5 '17 at 18:13
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If you love your sister and care about her, please make her understand that she needs to be present when you break the news to your niece.

Your niece needs to know that this is an act of desperation, not of ignorance. If your sister can not handle that then ask her to write your niece a letter which you can read with her.

Then you make her the offer to stay with you.

1

First, decide if you want to be the one to raise this child. Yes, parenting often boils down to "winging it" because life simply doesn't have an instruction manual. However, it can be the most rewarding experience you will ever have.

Assuming you do, then contact a lawyer. Given the mother's attitude here, IMHO, it would be best if you adopt the child. You are going to need parental rights in order to enroll the child in school, handle medical issues, help them get a drivers license, etc.

There are quite a few issues here and eliminating the mother from the legal picture is the best way to go. I'm not saying cut her out of the child's life entirely - just remove her from making any actual decisions.

The legal route will also a few important things. It will force the mother to make a conscious choice to give up custody. Sometimes a parent just needs to calm down and being faced with this might help her understand the seriousness of it. Second it will give the child some stability as the mother won't be able to just show up on your doorstep one day and demand the child leave with her.

Bear in mind that no matter what happens your relationship to your sister is going to be radically altered.

As to the "who tells the niece" - that should be a conversation the three of you have in person. Meet the mother for lunch and have the mother explain to the child what's going on. I'd wait on this until after speaking to a lawyer and getting positive confirmation from the mother that things are going to go forward.

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