I need some advice when it comes to my niece. Your help would be greatly appreciated (details inside)
It’s been quite a stressful few years for my family and I. Especially, my older sister who has had a rough go.
My sister (who is 47) and her husband adopted a little girl from China. She was a year old at the time of the adoption and is now 6½. I would describe her as being a free-spirited child, loving, smart, but, with a mind of her own. She really is a great girl.
Two and a half years ago my sister and my niece were in a terrible car accident. And, because of the accident, my sister, who is an RN hasn’t been able to work since. She suffers from multiple injuries (they have now labeled her as being partially disabled), has some brain damage and isn’t able to form a grip with her right hand (no longer able to work in the OR)—there are also other spinal issues, as well. And, since the day of the accident, she has battling it out with the insurance company. Still is. All of it is very stressful and is a huge strain on her marriage (they’re worried about money and because of the accident, she’s depressed).
Six months after the accident, my Mom, whom all of my siblings and I were extremely close to, died of Ovarian cancer. It was a short illness, and such an awful thing to witness. It tore my siblings and I apart. My niece was 4 at the time of my Mom’s illness and death. Back then, my niece had issues with my sister leaving (her side, really), and would have extreme meltdowns when my sister tried/or needed to get away. We’re talking—rubbing her feet together so hard, that she would form bruises. My sister described it like this—it’s as though my niece goes into some sort of a trance/another world and it’s extremely difficult to bring her out of it. I got to witness it a few times and it was awful. Because of this, my sister had to bring her up to the hospital when we were there for my Mom. My niece got to see Grandma at her worst. She and my Mom were extremely close. Kindred souls, I would say. And, so, the poor thing saw Grandma sick and the pain, worrying and sadness that the rest of the family were going through. I mean, my sister and I would take care of my Mom at night, and my niece was always there and saw all of it..
A year later, my sister’s husband lost three family members, including his Dad. My niece was close to him, as well.
Since my Mom’s death, my niece has brought her name up everyday. She talks about “coffins” and “skeletons” and would break down and start sobbing when there was a movie or show where a child or animal lost it’s Mother. Anything that was sad in a movie, she would break down and start sobbing. She often says that she misses Grandma and cries. She is also worried that her own Mom, my sister, is going to die or that she will leave. For the past 3 years, she has started with some strange controlling behavior (when it comes to my sister and my brother-in-law). Weird things like, my sister can’t buckle up her seat belt before my niece does, or, my sister can’t come down the stairs before my niece does (it’s almost obsessive/compulsive). It changes all of the time… The other day, she wouldn’t let my sister help a young friend when her nose started to bleed. My niece saw the blood, started to cry and say “don’t help her, Mom. You can’t help her”. They had the hardest time calming her down and had to bring her into the house, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. They were worried that the neighbors would think that they were hurting her.
I feel that because of the accident, my Mom (and the other family members), who died, and, perhaps, because of being abandoned as a child (she still remembers being in the crib at the orphanage, and a few other “not so great things” from when she was an infant in China); that she, in her own (6½ year old) way, is trying to control her world the only way that she knows how. She’s afraid of losing her Mom and Dad and that’s why she acts out.
I really do think that my sister needs to get some help with this. A child psychologist, perhaps.
Any advice, or your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.