Help! I'm a 43 yo bachelorette who has never had to think of anyone other than herself before - lo and behold suddenly I am in charge of a kid, going through the labyrinth of enrolling her in high school, finding & scheduling doctor appointments, having to be sure there is decent food in the house...
Actually I'd been offering this option to my sis for a year (after her soon to be ex-husband threw her across a room against a wall, and she finally admitted to us he'd been drunk and violent for 2 yrs, groan) but it was kind of a shock when suddenly she took me up on it!
Alas, I'm a functioning, intelligent adult, I can do this! Right...?
So, experienced moms, what are some good baseline RULES to have with one 15 yo girl (who among many reasons has been whisked away from her homestate for getting in with the wrong crowd, including older men!) suddenly plunked down in my house? I figure I have about a month of grace period, as she doesn't know anyone here yet, so it's hard to get into trouble... but she's a hottie and sure to get plenty of interest in the new school, so I need some good rules along that line - I mean I can't say she can't date at all, right? But how do we limit dating to dating and not DATING? LOL
So far we haven't burnt the house down nor sustained any major injury, so I'm on the right track, right? Or do I just need to raise my standards a wee bit...?
I don't get why parents are always complaining about how tough it is to raise kids. You joke around with them, you give them pizza, you give them candy, you let them live their lives. They're adults for God's sake.
sorry I couldn't resist a favorite Office quote. But seriously.. just go with the pizza and candy...
And booby trap the house. 15 year olds can be expert sneakers. I was...
Be sure to lay down the ground rules of your house. Let her know up front her chores she is responsible for and what you expect from her behavior. She cannot run over you, you are the ADULT in the house,
She should help with household chores, laundry, food prep/cleanup, pet care and keeping her room clean. You also need to set down electronics rules (no cell phones/texting, computers, TV, videos) after a certain time of night, homework rules. You must know the phone numbers of friends' parents before she can do anything with them. Have a curfew and stick to it. Chaperone her to activities, if necessary.
Be sure she knows if she follows your rules, you have a reward for her, special meal or activity each week.
Good luck, but remember you are the adult and are responsible for her. Who cares if she hates you or your rules, you are there to be the custodian of the child for the time being. YOU have to keep her safe.
Get her in therapy and talk to the school about what resources are available to *you* (parenting classes, getting a social worker) and the like. Be proactive and get as much structure and support lined up as you can *before* you need it. I suspect you're right that there will be a honeymoon period.
I know there are a number of folks on here who've done a lot with foster kids, I bet they'll have good advice.
I agree that the parent role has to come first, but a little psychology doesn't hurt either, as in, ask for her help in understanding things in her world. Ask about school and scheduling, ask about her after school activities, ask about her life, always in the 'help me do this right' frame of reference. Nothing a teenager likes more than be the font of all knowledge ....
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926
Yeah, my sis had started her in therapy and she's actually on some mood meds already, so I will be setting up with a new therapist down here. And she's already on the Pill, so at least I won't have a teen pregnancy to deal with!
A little background, besides seeing her mom get beat up for 2 years until mom threw dad out, her oldest sis is suicidally depressed, and the youngest (13) has been hospitalized as possible childhood schizophrenic. She is the middle kid and seemed to be handling it all but then was found drunk at a party with 20 yo men at 2 in the morning.
I feel for her, but I agree, tough love is the solution!
I sort of got a foster kid for 3 months and had no experience. I see no difference in kids and animals. Positive reinforcement first, negative second and punishment only when its a matter of life or death. Its not at all like raising your own kid. You get a clean slate and can set boundaries and have no years of history of manipulation or guilt to deal with.
Be honest. Do not talk down to her. Reward every little thing she does right. And get her to a pony ASAP! Teens understand their own behavior better when facing the same attitude from a pony
Never ever let them see you give in to their testing of your limits. No yelling, no hysterics, just firm consistence and and mutual respect. They want you to be the adult and be firm but fair. And maybe a GPS tracking device like they have for dogs?
Even if she is on the pill, make sure she uses barrier protection too! (If she is sexually active.) HIV and STD can harm and even KILL a person. She needs to protect herself from life changing and life killing diseases, as well as not getting pregnant.
Have THAT talk with her too. (Who knows how much info., if any, her mom gave her. I bet she has learned a lot of misinformation over the years. Set her straight with the FACTS about sex, HIV and STD.)
Set a curfew for her. Seriously. Ten at night is not unreasonable for a 15 year old. She's not going to have her own car anyway, so the curfew is going to be pretty easy to enforce because she's going to have to be driven everywhere by you. IF she starts to prove her responsibility, then let her extend/bend the curfew, IF the situation warrants it. (Going to a later movie, etc.) I lived essentially curfew free because I was always open with my parents about where I was going/what I was doing. My sister, who tends to be a bit more on the sneakier side and run with a slightly odder crowd, still has a curfew at 17.
But really. All the parties and stuff are going to be happening later at night...and if you can just get her home before then, it'll save a lot of trouble.
Also...encourage her to bring her (new) friends to your house, if that's something that you're comfortable with/have the room for. There's no better way to keep an eye on your kid than if she's sitting on your couch! Plus, you'll get to know the people that she's hanging out with, and whether or not you should be worried about them!
And I could not agree more with the person who said to hook her up with a pony asap! I hope she likes them, cause there's no better medicine to keep her outta trouble. I was never a big party-er in highschool (or now). Why? Cause it f***ing sucks mucking stalls and turning out horses at six am with a hangover.
I hope you have a horse, if so put her to work at the barn where it is boarded, say every Saturday morning. That is good clean hard work and fun if done right, plus it involves carrying for someone other than her and gives the two of you bonding time. I have no parenting skills (no kids) so I have no other advice but it is nice of you to do this.
Keep her very busy with fun activities. Riding lessons, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, involvement in band, travel, church youth groups and anything else that keeps her happy and tired is good. Keep her in activities with motivated, good, kids. Find her some adult mentors. Think about putting her in Catholic school or an all girls private high school. She may need the extra support from small classes and teachers who have the extra time to give her extra attention. Give her lots of good choices (do you want to work at Habitat for Humanity or would you prefer to help with therapeutic riding). Reward her for good behavior and involvement. Reward good grades. Get to know her friends and their families. Do not let her go anywhere unless you know the people she is with and an adult is supervising.
Get others to help you. You need help from lots of responsible adults.
Enjoy her. You are very fortunate to have her in your life. What you do over the next 6 months will greatly influence her future life.
All good advice. Be fair, be consistent. Be honest and open with her and she will be more likely to be honest and open with you. Ditto on what Alice said - let her know she's wanted, that you stepped up to help her because you wanted to.
As a former teacher of high school kids that had challenging backgrounds, get her INVOLVED with something! First choice, horses. Start lessons, chores, reading, if she gets hooked, much of the "other stuff" may fall to the wayside. Introduce her to the barn kids etc.
If she is an animal person and you are able to, get her a dog. That will sleep with her, be her buddy to take care of, she can cry to, tell her secrets to that will love her unconditionally. Go to the pound, pick one out, be proud of her for helping something that needed a home...
If she is not animal oriented, dance, hip hop, Karate whatever. But KEEP HER BUSY. Where she will find self esteem, self worth and feel proud.
Your right, there will be a grace period, then, she will test you. Its all about respect. You will respect her but SHE MUST respect you as well. She is a teen, she is going to make poor chioices, its the nature of the animal, even ones in stable households.
Good for you! No kids myself yet, but like Drummerboy, I used to be a teacher in a school for, basically, kids who were kicked out of the public school system and considered "high risk" for dropout, pregnancy, drugs, crime, etc. My best advice is to nurture whatever is her passion, whether it is horses, another sport, art, writing, music, whatever. Talk with her about her dreams and get her enrolled in a club or lessons for whatever she is passionate about. It was so rewarding for me to see the "violent" boy create beautiful artwork and watching the girl who was molested and abused starring in a local play...what they needed was an adult authority figure who encouraged and supported them in pursuing their passions. And firm guidance.
A sense of humor helps too.
I have taught teenagers for 17 years, and remember, you can think about it.
Think about what you will do when the rules are broken-My punishments generally fit the crime.
A curfew is needed.
Fair rules, keep them simple.
No spending the night out until you know you can trust her.
Call other parents-play the "I'm new at this card"
Be honest-you did this, I am doing this.
I really don't care what your friends do, you are not leaving the house dressed like this, and yes I will come to school to see if you changed.
If you think she has snuck out, go nap in her bed until she comes home.
Or move the furniture around
Have fun-do thinks you can only do with a teenager. Go to the vampire movies,pedicures, go shopping, do fun stuff.
The parent thing-she needs to learn through therapy that it happens so easily, and you need to realize that her father probably beat her down emotionally, and that is when people think they can't leave. She is much more apt to try and have a relationship with someone like her dad-Abusive, as she thinks that is the best that she can do-so watch for that.
Email her new teachers, and do this every other week, to see whats up there.
You have taken on a great challenge, and bless you.