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Lee

Asking for parenting advice at church?

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My wife and I have been caring for our 8 year old nephew, whilst his mom is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. My brother is our nephew's father but he passed away 8 years ago, although we attend the same church as my sister in law and nephew so we are quite close. He has been excluded for hurting his classmates and before that we had to go to a meeting because he spat at his teacher and was walking out of class and running around the school. He also misbehaves at our house. We tried speaking with him but we didn't want to be too harsh because we understand he is having a hard time. Surprisingly, he is well behaved at church and enjoys going. We are young (25) and we don't have kids of our own so we are struggling to care for him. We have never had problems with raising children before, have you ever asked for parenting advice from someone at church? If so how? We are quite private people so this is unnatural for us. Also, do you think we should tell his mom?

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Welcome, @Lee.  I wouldn’t make *too* massive a production out of this, because you don’t want your nephew to start self-identifying as a “bad kid”.  That said, I agree that his behaviors aren’t OK and warrant gentle firmness as well as some some special interventions; and they should be at least casually mentioned to his mom (to keep her in the loop, if for no other reason).  Beyond that, many schools have a psychologist or counselor on-staff who might be able to connect you with further resources for managing your nephew’s behaviors and teaching him some better coping strategies for the stress he’s going through.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Hi Lee, I have one advice for you:

You will need to discipline your nephew the same way you discipline all children.  He can't get a pass because of his special circumstances.  Children need structure and boundaries to be successful and a clear line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior.  You have to provide him this just like his parents would.  Yes, he needs specific counselling for grief and also for the struggles of his mother.  @Just_A_Guy said it best - he needs to develop positive coping mechanisms for the heavy and scary circumstances he is in.

As far as getting advice from church, the bishop is a really good person to seek guidance from.

Hope this helps.

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On 2/27/2018 at 8:17 PM, Lee said:

We have never had problems with raising children before, have you ever asked for parenting advice from someone at church? If so how? We are quite private people so this is unnatural for us. 

Frequently.  It's not a big deal, I just ask a friend for advice.  This friend and I happen to be sitting in church together between classes.  It's the same as talking about any other subject at any other venue.  

On 2/27/2018 at 8:17 PM, Lee said:

 Also, do you think we should tell his mom?

That is 100% a personal decision that I, a stranger on the internet, in no way feel qualified to make for you.

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His mother is sick, at his age he is aware of this and it can be very difficult for a young developing mind to wrap around.  His behaviors seem extreme . If he is running around class, and spitting on people he needs counseling and to learn to deal with his stress or feelings in an appropriate manner. Should you tell his mother YES she is not dead yet and she would want to know if her child is misbehaving and help him in anyway possible.

He needs discipline and structure all kids need this.

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You are what's right with America.  If families took care of families, the country would be in much better shape.  I have no advice to offer, but the poor kid has been through the ringer.  

I wish you the best.  You must be a great family.

Edited by Grunt

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Wow - what does this 8 year old know about his mom, and why things are the way they are?  Poor guy might be bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He might be thinking he killed his mom because he didn't clean his room well enough (or something equally as melodramatic and wrong).  Children don't know, and when they're told, sometimes they hear something different.  

Is there a wise/experienced/knowledgeable person in all this who knows how to talk to this kid about his mom?  If there isn't, get one.  

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11 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Wow - what does this 8 year old know about his mom, and why things are the way they are?   

He knows everything that she is recovering from treatment and unable to care for him.

11 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

 He might be thinking he killed his mom because he didn't clean his room well enough (or something equally as melodramatic and wrong)

His mom isn't dead. 

 

11 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Is there a wise/experienced/knowledgeable person in all this who knows how to talk to this kid about his mom?  If there isn't, get one.  

We care for him but we are childless and the only other family he has are my parents but they can't really get involved because they're old. So unless we get him a councillor we don't know who this wise person might be. 

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On 2/27/2018 at 9:17 PM, Lee said:

My wife and I have been caring for our 8 year old nephew, whilst his mom is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. My brother is our nephew's father but he passed away 8 years ago, although we attend the same church as my sister in law and nephew so we are quite close. He has been excluded for hurting his classmates and before that we had to go to a meeting because he spat at his teacher and was walking out of class and running around the school. He also misbehaves at our house. We tried speaking with him but we didn't want to be too harsh because we understand he is having a hard time. Surprisingly, he is well behaved at church and enjoys going. We are young (25) and we don't have kids of our own so we are struggling to care for him. We have never had problems with raising children before, have you ever asked for parenting advice from someone at church? If so how? We are quite private people so this is unnatural for us. Also, do you think we should tell his mom?

This is quite a lot to have dropped into your lap.  Usually, parents get the experience of raising a child and understands their thinking and background enough to know how to deal with his tendencies.  In your case, you don't have the experience; you don't know him as well as a parent would; and you don't have the benefit of the historical parental role.  That's pretty tough.

You can ask for advice from any parents that you actually trust.  I'm sure anyone would be willing to help.

I have some ideas.  Take them as you wish.

There are some things you can do.

  1. As @anatess said, he doesn't just get a pass for everything just because life is tough.  You still need to employ some method of discipline.  This does not necessarily mean corporal punishment (although, sometimes that may be called for).  It also doesn't necessarily mean that you watch him like a hawk.
  2. Instill in him a sense of the standards of your house.  Does he know the standards of your house?  Do you?  Write them down.  This should include interactions with others (such as the golden rule).  Work on them with your wife.  Pray about them.  Inform him of those standards.  Have him repeat them line by line -- not necessarily memorizing, but he should know them well enough that when you bring them up again, he'll know exactly what you're talking about.  When he violates the standards of the house, remind him of what was written.  Live these standards yourself so that you are setting a good example for him to look up to.
  3. Give him his own space.  He needs to have a place where he can go to be by himself.  It should have some items that he feels he can physically pound or something like that.  It has to be a space that you're not afraid of him breaking something or hurting himself.
  4. Teach him every day.  Read scriptures with him every day.  Pray with him every morning and every night and at meals.  Discuss (not just preach) principles of righteous living every day.  Show him you love him every day.  Help him laugh every day.  Play with him every day.  Remind him that you're there for him every day.
  5. Find out good communication methods and coping skills.  Most parents don't realize that kids often act out because they simply don't know that there are acceptable means and methods of coping with the confusion, the grief, the fear, etc.  Find good methods.  Teach him to communicate what's on his mind.  Remember that this is difficult for a child with a small vocabulary and virtually no communication skills.  Teach him.

In the end, remember that you can only do the best you can do.  Continue seeking out advice where you can.  But always pray about what advice you should heed.  If you are essentially the de facto parents for this boy, then you need to be responsible for what advice you heed and what advice you ignore.  That seems like a lot of responsibility.  But that is what being a parent is.  You're going to make a LOT of mistakes.  There's no parent on earth that doesn't.  Learn from them.  Move on.

Edited by Guest

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30 minutes ago, Lee said:

@Carborendum Thanks for the advice but we would never hit a child. Especially, one who isn't ours but we wouldn't even hit our future children.  

Really?  That's all you got out of the entire post? Become so stunningly shocked at a single sentence that you ignore all other advice.  I can almost guarantee that you'll have no success with that attitude.  But hey, it's your choice after all (just as I said). Good luck.

Edited by Guest

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29 minutes ago, Lee said:

@Carborendum Thanks for the advice but we would never hit a child. Especially, one who isn't ours but we wouldn't even hit our future children.  

Carborendum actually provided a long post filled with excellent advice, a small part of one sentence of which mentioned the possibility of corporal punishment. If you want to ignore that part, I urge you to reread his post for the other 99% of the useful advice he provided.

For my part, I will tell you that a child feels MUCH better when his world is predictable and ordered. That means that when the child is allowed to run rampant, it's not only a disservice to everyone else, it's a disservice to the child. He NEEDS structure and discipline. He NEEDS to have boundaries, and to know them, and to know that adults who love and care about him will enforce those boundaries. You're in a tough situation, but if you rise to the challenge and provide this nephew the structure and discipline he needs, you will help him now and for the rest of his life. God be with you.

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11 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Really?  That's all you got out of the entire post? Become so stunningly shocked at a single sentence that you ignore all other advice.  I can almost guarantee that you'll have no success with that attitude.  But hey, it's your choice after all (just as I said). Good luck.

I did read your whole post and thanked you for it so chill bro. It is like you said really shocking to me to hit a child should be illegal.  

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