What do I do about my mom, and my 6 year old sister who may possibly have a mental problem? Long, snowflakey details inside. My first question on Metafilter, please bear with me, I really need your help.
posted by thegunner100 to human relations (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
BG info: I'm a 19 yr old boy currently dorming in college over at long island, and my house is in NYC. My parents are Chinese; my mom knows very basic english, and my dad barely knows any at all. My grandparents from my mom's side live with us, and they're the ones who pickup my sister from school. Unfortunately they don't know any English either. My sister is 6 years old, and is attending first grade in a catholic school 5 minutes away from out house. My parents chose this school only because it's really close to our house, and it would be easier for my grandparents to drop and pick her off. We all live in the same house, except for me during school semesters. My mom works weekday, she feeds my sister in the morning, goes to work, and comes home shortly after my sister is picked up from school. My dad on the other hand, works 6 days a week from early morning until late at night.
My sister has been spoiled ever since she was born. My grandparents are always there to take care of her, my dad pampers her whenever he has his days off from work, and my mom used to give her what she wants. I'm the only person who doesn't spoil her, and as a result, she listens to me once in a blue moon, and my family always tries to scares her by saying that i'll discipline her.
My sister is able to communicate with my family in chinese, and she is able to communicate fairly well in English with others as well. Unfortunately, she is also very selfish and yells really loudly whenever she gets what she wants. She doesn't like to obey authority at home or at school. Her teacher complains all the time about her acting "fresh" around other children, and that she harasses people all the time.
I've personally tried various methods of punishment/rewards with her over the summer. It works for a few days at most, and then she goes back to being her usual self again. My family has spanked her sometimes for messing around in the house, and no results. She cries, says she won't do it again, and then forgets that she ever got spanked before. Eventually I gave up trying to discipline her, as I knew I would be leaving for school soon.
Now the real problem... She's always really hyper, and can't seem to focus on any academic work. I've tried teaching her how to write some basic words properly; She would start off writing the words mildly sloppy, and then get progressively worse. Even though I teach her how to write the individual letters, and about spacing the letters, it would never stick in her head.
There was another instance in which I tried to teach her the concept of the "same", using the starting letters of words that she knows. For example, she knows what "good" and "girl" each start with. I tell her that they both start with the same letter, G, then I told her that "golf" starts with the same letter as "good" and "girl", and asked her what letter "gold" starts with. No luck, I told her that it starts with, and then proceeded with another example. Tried this for an hour and she still didn't understand.
My mom has tried teaching my sister basic addition using various methods. My sister is in first grade, and addition is something that she should have learned from kindergarten already. No matter how much my mom tries, my sister is still unable to do addition, especially if we randomly try asking her what "2+2=?", for example.
In school, her teacher tells me that my sister has trouble paying attention and keeping up with work. For example, if the class is trying to a problem in a set, my sister would be try to do another problem on her own, even if she doesn't understand the assignment.
Now for the part that really bothers me: my sister can't do her homework on her own, and as a result, my mom has to help her all the time with it. Unfortunately, my mom isn't able to help her all the time since she has trouble with English. It's not just the homework, that my Mom doesn't understand, it's nearly all of the handouts, informative papers, school news, consent forms, etc that she has no clue about. My sister's afterschool program, (that we have to pay for), helps her with the homework sometimes, but it's not enough.
Since I'm not home on the weekends, my Mom calls me up nearly every weeknight, asking me to translate things for her over the phone. We have this D-Link security camera that my uncle bought for us, and my mom attempts to show me my sister's homework and handouts to me through the camera. The camera isn't meant to transmit small printed words on a piece of paper, and the video feed that I get from it isn't very high quality. I struggle to read the words on the screen from my computer, and I have to constantly tell my mom to zoom in & out, and move the paper around. We bought a Brother FAX-575 fax machine and it worked pretty well - till it stopped working after 2 weeks. Even with the fax machine, my chinese is limited, and I don't know how to translate things all the time.
About 2 weeks ago, her guidance counselor (yes, they have those at an early age for troubled kids), called me up and told me that she, and my sister's teachers were recommending my sister for extra help, AKA special education. So they had my mom fill out a form so that they can schedule a child psychologist to evaluate my sister and determine if she's eligible for some form of special education. There is no scheduled day for that yet, but I'm hoping that it comes soon for our sake.
This whole ordeal is very frustrating for me to deal with every week. I already have trouble keeping up with schoolwork and trying to get myself to focus, and the added stress from my mom and sister is too much. There's no one else around to help them, and I feel as if I have a huge huge obligation to constantly help them all the time. As my sister's workload gets harder, my mom will be able to help her less, and then I'll be the one who has to suffer even more.
There's also the problem of her school being a catholic school. My parents have to pay some decent money just to keep her in school. My family is fairly well off, but having to pay for my college tuition and her catholic school tuition is a burden.
How can I possibly make it easier for myself? I feel like im constantly breaking down and depressed from having to do this all the time. Is there anything that my mom can use to show me my sister's homeworks and handouts more easily? She's computer and technology illiterate, so that rules out a lot of things. Maybe I need to find a better fax machine that won't breakdown in 2 weeks? Even then, it will only help just slightly. Do I need to just wait and see what my sister's psychologist says? But even if she gets extra help, they won't exactly be able to help her do her homework at home either. Is there anything that my family can do to help my sister be more disciplined?
Thank you for taking your time to read this, I'd appreciate any help that you can give me.