Friday, June 12, 2009

Shock And Concern

Posted by Anonymous.

A few days ago I was over at my sisters visiting. My sis "J" was noticeably so I asked her if she was ok…what she proceeded to tell me completely floored me.

My niece, my little 9 year old niece that I love to bits and have lived with for 5 years on and off helping to raise, well she has a journal and lately J has been having an odd feeling so on a whim when she was up in her room putting laundry away upon seeing her journal laying on her desk….she read it.

Now I do not agree with her reading it at all...that's something very personal and yes even though my niece is only 9 it's still personal….but.

What she found in there warranted some concern…scratch that….A LOT of concern!

My little niece has this boy who likes her and of course she's crushing right back…..turns out this little boy has commented that he wants to have sex with her. That's right... SEX!!!! J told me this and I swear to god my heart stopped.

When my sis and I were growing up we were raised in a very religious house…very religious, plus my mom was in a serious car accident when I was quite young, one that resulted in her having brain damage that made her acting like an actual mom fairly impossible. I didn't learn about sex until I was 15…and that was from romance books..and I didn't even have sex until I was almost 25, not for lack of opportunity but because I consider it something special. I was also very inappropriately touched when I was young throughout my teen years by extended family members, "friends" of the family and boys at school..and I had NO idea what was really going on. I knew it was wrong but that was it.

J and I had had numerous chats before she had kids and she had told me she was going to start having the body talk, inappropriate touching and sex talk early. So when she told me that my niece had written this I asked her if they had already had "the talks"…..and I couldn't believe it when she said no….and even more concerned when she expressed…almost disgust…at the thought of having to have the sex talk with her 9 year old. I think, mostly with the fact that she thinks , as I do, that 9 is WAY too early to even be thinking of sex.

Am I out of line to be concerned? I just don't understand how she could have waited for so long. Girls are starting to become sexually active so much earlier then when I was a kid and seriously..I am only 27!! When I have kids..boys included..I plan on talking to them as soon as they can talk. Of course not the whole adult explanation but things they CAN understand, such as that their bodies are private and special, bad touches, good touches. I don't want my kids to learn about sex and their bodies from their "friends", I want them to be able to come to me and talk to me about anything…about any concerns or questions, no matter what.

I'm now also concerned that my niece will hide even more from my sister. They have such clashing personalities that they don't always get along and it's getting worse as my niece gets older. She knows she can come to me and talk to me about anything but my sis doesn't like me to "interfere" as I'm not her mother.

J talked to my niece after she read her journal and it turns out the boy didn't tell my niece this directly but was talking to some of his friends who then told my niece. But now niece knows that J read her journal….what if she stops writing in it? I don't know what I would have done..would I have read the journal and then talked to my niece in a roundabout way? Would I have admitted to it? Or would I have just sat her down and had the talk without admitting to knowing anything?

I don't know what to do….I'm just so worried. I want to talk to my niece but I don't want to overstep my boundaries. I am not her mom and I know this…I know it's not my place. My sis is a wonderful mom, she really is but I think this is just really uncharted territory.

So what do I do? Do I talk to my sis and ask her if they've had the talk? Do I talk to my niece? Do I just let her know if she has any questions that she can talk to me? Do I then relay her questions to my sis? I've encouraged her numerous times before to talk to her parents if she has any questions at all and I know she does sometimes.

I am not looking forward to being a mom when it comes to this….can't we keep them little forever???


Jill said...

If you talk to your niece, I would do it with your sister's knowledge. Maybe approach it from the point of view that you know it's hard for her to talk to your niece about it and since you have a special relationship, maybe your niece would feel more comfortable talking to you. When my niece was 13 she told me that kids in her school don't have bf/gf, they have "Friends with benefits" and I was floored. I didn't know what to say to her or whether I should tell her mother or not. I wish now I would have probed more because at 15, almost 16, I don't know if she's sexually active, but I know that she makes out with boys in public places -- like high school basketball games that members of our family are also attending. I think public displays of affection are glamorized by papparazzi and all the fake celebrities doing it to get attention, so I really think there's a need to talk to girls and boys both about sex from that perspective as well.

Good luck!

Courtney said...

i think as a mom we sometimes have plans for things we will do when we have kids, but then when we have them things change and we realize things are so much harder than what we thought they would be.

As for talking to your niece i don't know the right answer as i am a mother as well and don't know how i would feel in this situation. I do know that growing up my parents never really had the sex talk with me. i always talked to my aunt about all things sex. She was my confidant and although i know now that she did tell my mom when she talked to me about anything important she was still an adult that i trusted (and still are very close to this day) and confided in. She always gave me the advice that was proper for my age and to this day i trust her with everything.

I think most importantly as a aunt and her mom you have to take into consideration that no matter how much you talk to her about it she is still a person with her own brain and will inevitably make a choice. You just have to be prepared (along with her mother) to be calm and talk to her about the choice that she makes. Children no matter how well raised have the ability to choose and sometimes they make the wrong decision. Show her support no matter what and dont make her feel like she cant tell or talk to either of you because you will scold her.

SP said...

It sounds like you and your sister are pretty close. I would talk to her about offering yourself to your niece as another safe adult who loves her unendingly that she can always talk to, especially when she just feels like she can't talk to Mom. We were all there when we were young, things we wanted to talk about but for one reason or another be it rational or not we did NOT want to talk to our parents. It does in fact take a village to raise kids.

When your sister says yes, I'd try and start planning "girls day" adventures with your niece and begin good open dialog and see where it goes. You don't have to move directly to this situation but the topic in general will open up a lot, even things that have nothing to do with this boy. And never ever betray her trust from these conversations unless she is in danger.

That's just my advice. Doesn't mean it's right for you or your sitation but what came to my mind.

I hope you check back and tell us how it went.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Your sister doesn't want you to mother her child, which is understandable. But I think, if you present it to her as reinforcing her message, you might clear the roadblock. If your niece is upset that her mother read her journal, she is not likely to listen to any following message. If you tell your sister that your niece might be a little more likely to listen to you without being angry, then your sister might see it as a different way to communicate with her daughter. Just make sure you don't have differing views than your sister.

Anonymous said...

You gently remind your sister to speak to her daughter, but remember your place as aunty and not the mother. I do not believe it is your place at all to speak to your niece unless her mother has talked to her first or that her mother has told you it's okay because again, you are not her mother.

Anonymous said...

On a side subject, my daughter (who is now 20) later admitted "accidentally" leaving her journal out because she WANTED me to read it. Your niece might want to talk to her mom, but didn't know how to start the conversation. My daughter is also very close to my sister, her aunt, and I love that she has another adult to talk to when she can't or won't talk to me. Your niece is a lucky girl.

Anonymous said...

As a fourth grade teacher, I am sadly not all that surprised by your story. Kids today are way too "old" for my comfort level. Seeing some of the things our sixth grade students wore to school floored me. I wouldn't dress like that to go to the bar with my girlfriends even in college!

One thing to ease your mind just a bit is that I often hear kids using words like "sex" but having no idea what that actually means. My best friend's 9 year old son told her that his cousin was having sex with his girlfriend on the couch and that he saw it. She tried not to panic and was able to calmy talk to her son. Turns out that the cousin was kissing his girlfriend (not too awful considering the cousin was 17). Her son had no idea that kissing and sex were 2 different things. She used the situation as a great opportunity to talk to him about some of the words he was hearing other kids use and sadly hearing on TV.

This is a great chance for your sister to talk to your niece. If I was your sister, I would also explain that as mom her job is to keep her safe and that she is sorry for reading her journal, but she has to keep her safe and that in the future niece can come and tell her absolutely anything and it's ok.

Kay said...

My suggestion would be to let your sister know that you'd like to talk to your niece, just kind of an "I'm here if you need to talk" type of conversation.
If a child that age has NO information about sex, and is already being propositioned, it's dangerous.
I know you don't want to damage your relationship with your sister, but in this case I think your niece's safety has to be the primary concern.
My mother NEVER talked to me about sex, other than to say that it was only for married people. She also didn't allow me to take the "Sex Ed" classes in school. When I was assaulted at 11, I felt I had NO ONE to turn to, because I certainly couldn't talk to her about it. So I didn't tell anyone for 19 years.
My son is almost 15 now, and knows he can come to us. But, we've also made sure that there are other responsible adults in his life that he's comfortable talking to, in case he doesn't WANT to come to us. It's understood that they'll keep what he tells them confidential, unless they consider it something that we NEED to know. He knows that, and he trusts their judgment. It's made parenting a teenager a little easier, knowing that he has these people in his life. Just remind your sister that you don't want to undermine her in any way, you only want to help.
Your plan to start talking to your kids as early as possible with age appropriate information is the best way to go. This way the subject doesn't have a chance to become uncomfortable like it has for your sister and niece.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous who posted at 2:17. It could very well be that these friends of the boy are doing more talking than the actual boy in question. They may not even know what they are saying means. The important thing is not to panic. And that is why I would strongly urge you *against* saying anything to your niece.

You may not like what I'm going to say next, but I'm speaking from experience. Frankly, these issues are delicate enough. It's not just how your sister handles it... How your niece perceives the way her mom handles it is hugely important to maintaining the trust between them. Speaking from experience, I did not tell my mom a lot of things she should have known because I knew for a fact that her best friend (who was my second cousin and someone I really did like) would find out about it. Frankly, I resented that my mom could not keep my secrets. I hated that my cousin (who again, I DID LIKE) was always privy to any/all information I shared with my mom.

Your sister has already talked to her. It might embarrass your niece to know that other adults know the contents of her diary, especially when the one person who really needs to know, her mother, already does. If your niece believes her mom is going to share all her secrets with other adults, she may hesitate to confide in her mom in the future.

I understand that you and your niece are close, but if the niece was comfortable with you knowing, she would have told you about it herself. I totally understand your concern for your niece and that you want to make sure that your sister handles the situation in the best way for your niece. However, I don't think I would press your sister by constantly checking up on the situation, asking her if she's had "the talk" with her yet, etc.

It's okay to tell your sister that you're willing to help in any way you can. Make sure your sister knows of your concern and willingness to help, and then leave it alone.

St said...

I don't know your sister so I am only speaking for myself. I really hope my sister will be the adult my girls can go to when they are to nervous to come directly to me. I trust her and every child needs someone they can trust and confide in without fear of punishment. If you talk to her, keep it to yourself unless there is a real danger.

Pookie said...

Well only you know your sister well enough to know how to handle this, as for me I have a 13 year old and had her at 18. I always dreamed about having a little girl until I realized how difficult it was especially the "talk" part I always planned on how and when I would do it until the time actually came I found myself freaking out! And was very thankful to have my sister help me out with the situation! She is usually who I run to with all my dilemas. I have learned that your own child will usually confide certain things in another adult thats not the "parent" so maybe your sister will be willing to let you be that person.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone else. 9 is a CHILD. You have to talk to her or your sister or both but please do something now! It is not important as to HOW you found out right now, not in this siuation, the possible outcome of not knowing would of been a lot worse!

Anonymous said...

I know your sister thinks of it as interference, but she needs to be thankful if your niece trusts you. If she won't go to her mom, she needs an adult that is trustworthy to go to. You should also talk to your sister about what your niece says to you, keep her informed. As the parent of 3 teen age girls, I was very grateful that they went to my sister for answers and not their friends, which, I'm sure would have ended up in a not good way.