I got a question from a worried family member that their teenage niece was not being properly homeschooled. This is the answer I gave.
The first and very best thing that you can do as a loving family member is to give them positive support. That means, offer to help, to be a mentor or a role model for the 14 year old, and to be a positive presence in their life. If you feel that you can’t do that, then the second best thing is to not be involved and to trust the universe, and God, that he will take care of them.
The reason why I suggest this is that even if you are right, they will not listen to you if they don’t trust you to be honestly, lovingly there to help. If you really want to help your niece succeed in life, you need to love her and her mother. Understand them. Listen to them. Not judge them. Otherwise, they won’t have any reason to let you in and let you help them. Would you let someone “help” you if you didn’t trust them or love them, or felt like they thought they knew better than you do how to live your life?
If she’s abusing her, or neglecting her basic needs, you can call CPS. You don’t want to turn the other cheek if the niece is being physically abused, or mentally abused. But not being able to read is not mental abuse. If it were, there would be thousands of children in school who are being abused.
So, as much as it sucks to have a family member who is not living the way you’d like to see, you don’t really have any power to force the mom to do anything. You do have the power to find a positive way to make change. I encourage you to do that.