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Thread: Out of control teens, when and where to draw the line?

  1. #31
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I don't believe that getting a license at 16yo is a right for every child. It's not an expense for having a child like medical insurance and lunch money. If he doesn't show the maturity (i.e. in the decisions he makes, the behavior he exhibits, his initiative in helping to cover the expense) then he doesn't get one for awhile.

    It seems that every person who has said that he should have his license, regardless of his behavior, was a teenager that was working, contributing and showed maturity beyond their age. I was the same way - worked since I was 13, part-time during the school year, full-time in the summer, all through school. Our thought processes were not the same as his. We can't compare ourselves and our situations to his because he obviously does not have the maturity yet.

    We see it happening now, and keep reassuring him that we don't expect him to be perfect. We know he'll make mistakes. But before when their was a constant pattern of bad choices, we weren't going to give him further independence to harm himself or others.

    I do appreciate your perspective. We see that we needed a shift in our discipline awhile ago. But, we're not quite ready to just give him complete independence. Once he gets a job - if he gets a job- we'll let go even more.

    Oh, and how do we force him to get a job?

  2. #32
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default The military...

    Dh joined the Navy when we were newly married with a baby. It was good for us, good income & benefits, etc. But, he wanted to be in the Navy for awhile. Ds has never shown any interest, so we haven't encouraged it.

    I won't encourage it unless he shows interest because I've seen the lifestyle. People say it forces you to grow up and respect authority, but I don't believe that. It gives you a steady job and demands compliance, but it can't change who you are unless you're ready to change. Plus, it gives you a place to live and eat so that, if you choose, you can get your paycheck, party all weekend and spend all your money, then live on the ship/base until the next payday, and repeat. We saw this *alot*.

    B's plan senior year was to go to the local junior college because his grades weren't good enough for a 4yr. college. And he doesn't know what he wants to do yet. We applied for financial grants, but was denied because of his grades.

    The other problem here regarding getting a job is that we live in the Central Valley of CA and the unemployment rate here is 20%. So the typical teenage jobs are all going to the laid-off 30-50yo's that need jobs. Hopefully he'll find something.

  3. #33
    Troy is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I used to agree that a license wasn't so important, but I think the reality is that a license has become extremely important for a lot of different reasons -- identification, travel, etc. If the state has a comparable id card system, then that might be okay. But it's really not that easy to learn to drive and get a license once you leave home. That's just my opinion, but I no longer understate the importance of a driver's license, especially if you live in a suburban community. It's an adult rite of passage. I am grateful that my parents forced me to get my license when I was still in high school.

  4. #34
    ahava is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    You ask a *really* hard question. How do you force him to get a job. I think the only way that happens is to make him pay rent and be willing to kick him out when he doesn't - but that does not sound like the path that is right to take.

    So I guess I would ask - why doesn't he want to get a job ? I guess to me when you are 14-16years old, you start to go out with friends (pizza, movies, school functions,etc) and you need $$. I wanted to buy "cool" clothes. So this is a tough one - I guess I'd ask - why doesn't he want to get a job ? Would he get a job if he knew that as soon as he had enough $$ (wouldn't be more than about 6 weeks) that you would let him get his license ? It sounds like this would be a big motivation for him ? Then if car ins is $90/month and a cheap 2k car - he could get a loan for another $100/mo - sounds like in 3-4 mos he could be driving - would that motivate him ?

    Also, I read the comment below about being at his girlfriends alone -- I was the same as you - just lucky enough not to be a teenage mother. My parents would have been mortified had they known. But this is the problem I think - I did it anyway and I still have no regrets. Saving it until marriage were THEIR morals -not mine. So I guess what Im trying to say is that he is almost 18, what are HIS morals ? He needs to start living by those standards and see how well they fit with what you are comfortable "while he is under your roof".

  5. #35
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    Default My Thoughts (Very Long)

    First of all (hugs). I feel your pain in so many ways. 5 years ago we became guardians to my then 12 year old cousin. Her dad lost custody due to neglect and drug issues and probably should have lost custody long before. We have no idea where mom is and my cousin hasn't seen her in over 14 years. My cousin just graduated from high school last month.

    For most of the time that our cousin has been with us she is a great kid 90% of the time, but the other 10% is awful. Cussing, violent, angry fits. Self harm tendencies. Threatening to run away. Threats of drug use...you name it, we've had it. It finally culminated a year and half ago when she punched me and bit me (she gets on much better with my husband...she has female authority issues). It got to the point that dreading the 10% ruined the other 90%. At that point we did several things.

    1. We told her that we would never give up on her, but her actions and not her words would tell us how she was going to choose. From that point on she could no longer scream, curse, or be violent with us. If she did that, we would have to find a "safer" place for her to live.

    2. We took her to a psychiatrist. She was diagnosed with ADHD and bi-polar disorder. Having her on a combination of medications has been a saving grace for our family. She can really tell the difference too. She too had been in therapy many times and would not cooperate or open up (actually I think she couldn't and didn't have the emotional words or wasn't in touch with her emotions enough to talk it out). However, the medication alone made a big difference especially with impulse control. Her medication compliance is also a ground rule for continuing to stay in our home.

    3. We "bribed" her for good grades. If she brought her GPA up to a 2.5 it was worth a $1000 scholarship for college. We told her we would buy her a netbook for graduation if she accomplished this. As small steps along the way, we checked her grades online. On weeks that she turned all work in, she did not have to pay us for gas. On weeks that she had missing work, she either could choose not to use the car or pay for gas that week. This worked really well. So, I'm thinking perhaps if you would pay to finish the Driver's Ed, then your son will get a job kind of deal?

    4. She does have a rolling curfew for when she is out depending on the event. However, she cannot text or talk on the phone after 10pm (actually after graduation we moved it to 11pm). She rolls her eyes at this sometimes but other days she tells us she is thankful because she doesn't have enough self control otherwise and gets cranky without sleep.

    5. We have tried to say yes to her whenever possible. Yes to going out with friends. Yes to seeing movies we don't necessarily like (but talk about them after), etc).

    6. Finally, we have started to talk a lot more about money with her. She too got a chunk of change for graduation. She will need to use a portion to buy a car. She wanted to spend the rest. When we asked her what she would do when she needed $500 for a car repair bill, you could almost see the lightbulb go on over her head. She asked us to go with her to the bank to set up both a savings account (for said unexpected repair bill), as well as a checking account so she can pay at the pump. She is really unsure about how to handle money, and we have been so busy trying to get her to pass high school it hasn't been our top priority.

    7. One on one time has also been key for us. About once a month we try to do something girly (just recently we went to go see Letters to Juliet together). She likes to play cards with my husband. This has been huge for us during the rough times.

    8. I went through and worked out a budget on what it would cost her to live on her own and how much she would have to work at a minimum wage job to earn what she needed. That was another eye opener for her. She stopped threatening to "run away" and get her own place after that.

    9. More and more we are trying to let her make her make her own mistakes. In you case though, I think my lines would be criminal activity (drugs, stealing the van, etc).

    10. If you need, my husband would be glad to give your son the stupid fun vs the stupid stupid speech. Stupid fun is drinking 4 shots of expresso and staying up all night with friends watching zombie movies and eating pizza (or insert other crazy behavior here). Stupid stupid is taking the van without permission to help a girl out. The way you tell the difference is if someone over 25 might shake their head and say "that's crazy, but have fun" or "let's stop and think there is a better way to do this".

    11. We still give our "daughter" (because I love her just like my own daughter) permission to use us as an excuse to her friends. She can tell them that we said no. She can tell them that we would kill her if we found out. She can always talk to us too about how to make a good decsion or how to get out of a mess she has made or is in.

    12. If she is in a dangerous situation, she can call, and we will come get her no questions asked. This has never actually happened and I have a feeling I would want to ask a ton of questions and impose consequences. However, I would rather know she can call us to get out of something without fear of reprisal than stay just to avoid getting in trouble. Of course, she knows that if she calls from the police station, yelling will probably be involved, as will hugs.

    I think a big thing for me too was fear that she would not break the cycle of her biological family. I still fear that. However, I know that the years she has been with us have been good and for her to go back to that abusive, drug-filled, and poverty-filled life style would be difficult for her. I also know I will always love her and will always encourage her, and that has to count for something.

    Kari

  6. #36
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Thank you so much. It sounds like you can really relate to what we're going through. As much as ds and dd are our children in every way and we love them just as much as our bio kids, there is another facet to our parenting them. We have to factor in the heredity issues (ours have bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia and addiction in their bio parents). We also have to deal with any 'damage' that occurred in their early years.

    It's almost like I'm holding on tighter because I'm so scared that we haven't quite done enough to help them *not* become just like their bio parents. It honestly scares me to death. During the worst of B's rages in middle school, he threatened that he'd jump off the overpass because he was just done with life. I never thought that as a parent I'd be sitting in a mental health center in the middle of the night with a suicidal 13yo, but there we were.

    Ds was never diagnosed with anything beyond anxiety, at least at this point in his life. That's been an answer to prayer because even the anxiety meds he finally 'weaned himself' off by hiding them in his air vent.

    I love your suggestions. It sounds like you've dealt with similar things with your 'dd' and that she's come a long way, too. Sometimes I have to just stop and remember how far our 2 have come since they came to live with us. Even ds admitted that to his therapist recently, so I know he does realize.

    We need to work on saying yes more often, especially since it's become an automatic response to say no. And we need to find little, even weekly, rewards like the gas money we can use with ds. And I love the stupid-stupid vs. the stupid-fun thing. That makes sense. And the one-on-one time; that can be huge.

    Our kids youth group did a financial program from Dave Ramsey called Generation Change, especially for teens. It was really good and my kids learned a lot. It may be something for you to look into.

    Thanks again. Your response really meant a lot. Sometimes it's nice to know we're not the only parents going through this.

    Heather

  7. #37
    ybab is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Yeah!! Great update - I'm so happy to read it. It sounds like he opened up a bit, you loosened up a bit - a much better place for everyone. My only concern is...how old is your youngest child? Because I'm going to need your parenting wisdom when my kids are teens - and you better still be around these boards .

    How many parents never look at what they're doing and get stuck on being right? You should be proud of yourselves for being willing to change. As far as forcing him on the job front, all I can think of is that you help him along, by perhaps finding a friend who wants to hire him for yardwork, or their business or something. So it doesn't come from you directly, and is perhaps something small so he can do it and be successful. I think once he starts getting that cash - he'll realize it's a good thing. Good luck and keep us posted!

  8. #38
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    Default Hugs Again

    I do get it. You put it very well about holding on tighter to help overcome all the stuff from their biological past. I agree that bringing my dd into our home introduced things I never thought I would be dealing with either. Sometimes I have just had to grieve the loss of what I wanted my family to be, or the early loss of some innocence for my younger kids. Then there are the other times when my cousin and my 2 year old are giggling together and taking walks that I think my life would be much less rich without my cousin here. I just know she is a part of our family and family's just do what they need to do to take care of each other (sometimes I would say that to myself in the shower with tears streaming down my face when I thought I couldn't take it anymore).

    Thanks for the tip about Generation Change, I will look into that.

    If you would like, you can e-mail me at pakamill@aol.com. We can support each other through this transition of sending our kids into the big scary world if you would like?

    Hugs again,
    Kari

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