Need advice, please help

There’s a twelve-year-old girl who lives downstairs from me who’s having a hard time socially. Her mother home schools her, and as far as I can tell has made no effort to get her involved in activities to meet kids her own age.

To make matters worse, she is very far behind intellectually. I’d estimate her reading level at third grade, tops and I actually saw her use her fingers to add 12 and 20. She tells me that she hasn’t even begun long division or fractions. Call me a nosy neighbor, but I’ve observed that her mother is gone most of the day and when she is here, the daughter is babysitting for the other moms in the neighborhood, so I’m not sure exactly when this homeschooling is getting done.

Kris comes to my house nearly everyday to hang out, and my neighbors say that she is always at their houses, too. It breaks my heart to hear her talk about how she wants friends her own age, maybe even a boyfriend. She tells me that the other kids call her ugly and stupid and want nothing to do with her.

I’ve tried talking to her mother, assuring her that the schools here are pretty good and letting her know about activities that I think Kris would enjoy, but she seems a little unhinged to say the least. Whenever I go down there, she tells me how everybody is “against” her. If you don’t notice her walking down the street while you are driving, then you’re her “enemy”. I try to stay on her good side so that I can help Kris, but it’s hard…

I’ve noticed that Kris has started stuffing her bra, and dressing provacatively, and I’m concerned about what she might do to get some attention. I try to give her good advice about boys and relationships, but at that age friends are everything.

I just don’t know what to do! It’s so damn frustrating. I don’t know any other kids her age to introduce her to. I’ve considered offering to tutor her, but I have a feeling that her mother might be offened by this and then I’d be an “enemy”.

Does anyone have any ideas? Please?

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

Even the home-schooled are supervised by the state. If you think she isn’t be properly educated, a call to the school department might not be out of line. Other than that, just try to be availible to this poor kid. Her mother sounds pretty useless.

Where is the kids father, huh?

Anyway, if you want the mother [yes, she is useful] to do something, just figure out a way so that it appears that it’s the mother’s idea. That usually gets them to do what you want.

Yeah, I was gonna say something about the State thing. There are regulations, and the kids have to keep passing tests. My guess is that the mother hasn’t officially done anything regarding her daughter’s education, and is probably not a poster girl for mental health.

Therefore, you CAN contact someone regarding this. Start with the Department of Child Welfare in your state. Sounds to me like this kid is suffering from neglect. It’s actionable. If I were you, that’s exactly what I’d do.

This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.

In California child protective services would want to know,

You guys are right, I’m probably going to have to take this to the proper authorities. The reason I’ve been dragging my ass on this, is I’ve just been hoping that the mom would get better soon. She just remarried, to an air force man, right before the family moved here (Germany). I thought that maybe the family was adjusting to their new circumstances,but they’ve been here for eight months.

I’m very concerned about the mother’s mental health. Her husband is often gone, and she hasn’t been able to connect with anyone here. I think everyone just got fed up. Supposedly, she has been under treatment for bipolar disorder in the past; but since she hasn’t told me this, I don’t know wether to believe it or not.

Well, thanks again, I’ve got a lot of phone calls to make today.

BTW, has anybody ever made an annoymous report to Children’s Services? I don’t mind telling the authorities who I am, but I don’t want it to get out that it was me who filed the report.

It sounds like you have a busy day of phone calls ahead of you. But you are doing the right thing. You dont really know what goes on when mom is actually home and in alot of ways a child is everybody’s child when it comes to their health and safety and sometimes its up to us to make the tough choices to advocate for them. You are a kind person Tater for caring enough to be concerned.

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

btw… ive made many calls to child welfare authorities because of the job i do. I have never had to give my name, altho a number of times i have. All information you provide is supposed to be confidential.

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

Are there any structured activities you could get her involved in? I just thought maybe a neighborhood volleyball game and hot dog roast might be fun and you might be able to hook some other families with 12-year-olds to come. If this girl’s mother could be convinced to help out, you might be able to help out two people.

That’s my only idea. In any case, cheers for caring and noticing. I hope this girl gets good friends and education.

Out of curiosity, why is she home-schooled? Is it an Air Force thing I don’t understand? I thought there were usually polyglot schools for military kids. Or maybe it’s preference on the part of her family?

My last bit of advice (imagine Boris B giving solicited advice!) is, don’t blame yourself if you find that nothing you can try works. If this girl ends up running away, hanging with the wrong crowd, or whatever, it wasn’t your fault. I know I fall into self-blame in some of these situations, so I speak from experience. You are helping her because you want to and think it’s worthwhile, not because you are responsible for her, and you’re certainly not omnipotent.

Thanks again for the advice guys!

Unfortuntatly, I didn’t get anything done on that front today, long story involving a 4-year-old in a “phase”, no car, and not one, but two missed buses. I did find the number of the right agency to call and I plan to do it first thing Monday morning, even if I have to sedate the 4-year-old.

Boris B asked why Kris is homeschooled. To be honest, I’m not sure. Everytime I talk to her mother about it, I get a different answer; sometimes its drugs & violence, sometimes the schools can’t teach…who knows? We do have a complete American school system here and it is pretty decent.

I am trying to find the number of the local homeschooler’s group and see if they can be of any help. To be honest, I don’t know what the rules are here regarding home schooling.

As far as structured activities go, we have a lot of things here, sports leagues, youth groups, ect, but they all require parental permission slips. Frankly, I think that she’d be better off in a one-on-one situation, less intimidating. I’m on the look-out for kids her age that I could invite over to meet her, my friends all have young children.

I’ve been worried about this for a while, but I’ve really gotten scared for Kris lately. I found out that she’s been hanging out at the barracks (her older sister dates a GI)! What the Fuck! The barracks is no place for a girl her age! Most of the guys are perfectly decent men, but I grew up on army posts, and let me tell you there are a few of them that are complete scum and wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of a girl her age. Her parents left her alone with her sister while they were were on emergency leave in the states, and of course big sister threw a party w/alcohol and GIs. Luckily, all of us neighborhood mommies have “adopted” Kris, and she had someplace safe to go.

Sorry for the long post, I just feel so frustrated!

And Boris B, thanks for your kind words. Yes, I do tend to “self-blame” as you put it, but it is so hard not to. You like to think if you can just care enough, then these problems will resolve happily, but that isn’t always the case. Life sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?

I called up Family Advocacy today, and in a word:


The lady I spoke to was nice, but not terribly helpful. She said she’d send an investigator out some time this week, but she wasn’t sure what could be done about the problem (or even what the rules are for home schooling in our area).

What can I say, I tried.

If nothing improves, I think I’ll have my husband call next time around. He knack with getting people to do his bidding. It’s come in useful more than once.

It sounds like you’re doing what you can. And you are right that it’s a matter of concern for her to be hanging out near the barracks. Can you talk to the CO? E.g. asking what the policy is for civilian kids on base? She is an unsupervised minor … maybe the base security people will watch out for her and kick her out of the barracks area, or at least give anybody getting too friendly with her a stern talking-to.

If her educational deficits are big enough, they shouldn’t get by the inspector. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they try to get her into the American education system with perhaps some special effort to get her to catch up. Better that she seek the acceptance of other 12-year-olds than GIs - not that GIs are a bad group, but, as you said, a few bad apples can be pretty bad.

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

Thanks for the support, Boris. I’m going to double up on my efforts to find fun & constructive things for her to do. We take her with us to plays, concerts,musuems and movies when her mother allows it (which is not often)

Regarding the barracks, she has been kicked out a few times by the NCO on duty (don’t know the proper term) but I guess a lot of the time whoever is in charge doesn’t notice or care that she is there. I think I will send an e-mail to the community commander on this issue, thanks for the idea!

BTW, does anybody know what 12 year olds do for fun these days? I’m still trying to hunt some down. I’ve seen a few at the store, but I think their mothers would object if I asked “Little girl, would you like to come play at my house today?” :slight_smile: