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Need some outside perspective...

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So I'm going to try to make this as short as possible but no promises. My 17 year old sister lives with us. She came along much later in life than me and my siblings. We were a blended family and my parents never intended to have more children. There were 5 of us and they felt that was plenty. But when I was 19(I was the baby before my sister came along) my mom(really my step mom but she raised me and is who I view as my mother) found out she was pregnant. They treated Katie more like a granddaughter than a child in my opinion. She pretty much did what she wanted to. My dad got sick when Katie was 6. He battled colon cancer for 2.5 years before he  died in 2004. It was a long hard 2.5 years on all of us. Katie took it really  hard when dad died and before we even had a chance to grieve my mom told me she found a lump in her breast while dad was so bad but didn't get it checked out because she was afraid. It turned out she had an aggressive form of breast cancer that had already spread to her brain, her lungs, and her bones. She was diagnosed in October and died in January 2006 less than 18 months after my dad died. Katie was 11 by this time. I was a single mom at the time and didn't feel I was in a place to take on another child. My sister(my only full sibling) and her husband had a new baby and a toddler and had just lost everything in a house fire and also felt they just weren't in a place to take on an extra child. My 2 step sisters also for various reasons felt they couldn't handle her at that time and my step brother was in the army and about to be deployed again. So she was sent to North Carolina to live with our grandparents. Looking back I feel bad that we all did what we did but I know I was just barley getting by and didn't have the means to care for another child.

All of that took a huge huge toll on Katie and she started the rebel. My grandparents caught her smoking and doing drugs when she was 13 and then a few weeks later she was kicked out of her school. She was kicked out of several more schools and in trouble constantly until she was 15 when the bottom fell out. She got in a fight with a girl over some drugs and beat her so bad she ended up in ICU. My sister was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, as well as drug charges, and resisting arrest. She was originally sentenced to stay in juvenile detention center until she turned 18. But we were contacted in March this year after 18 months of being there and told she was doing very well, had been diagnosed as bi-polar and was being treated, and a motion had been granted for her to be released a year early in May on her 17th birthday on good behavior. But she had to be released into the care of someone she is related to who is 21 years old or older and she would be on probation. I am married now with 5 more kids(1 older step son and we have 4 young children together). After much discussion we decided she could come live with us and at the end of May she did. We laid down some rules for her including a curfew of 9 on weekdays and 10 on weekends, no boyfriends, we have to meet and approve of anyone she wants to spend time with,  she can't leave town(couldn't because of her probation anyway), she can't do any drugs, drink or smoke, and has to stay on her bi-polar medicine and continue seeing a therapist.

She has done very very well but now she is wanting us to give her more freedom. I'm not ready to do that yet and at first neither was my husband but the last week or so he has started to back off on that a little bit .I told her we would reevaluate the rules in February but my husband thinks it's been 6 months and we should ease up a little. I'm not sure what to do. I know she has changed. She is just a different person all together but if she screws up it's on my head, not just with the courts but with my siblings! So thoughts and opinions? Sorry this was so long, it's just a long complicated story! If you read all of that thank you lol!

by on Nov. 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Replies (11-19):
Jessiejack
by Silver Member on Nov. 30, 2012 at 7:26 AM

For me it would be a day by day extension. It would depend on where she was going and why. We don't do curfews at my house. If my DD wants to go to a movie and out for an icecream after we set it according to the time needed for that activity. If she is just going to hang out with friends and wants to be there at 3 in the afternoon, than 8pm would be the time she needs to be home. If its a school thing she can stay. If your sister is doing so well and wants to hang with friends until 11 tonight I would let her but I would keep the curfew the same unless asked that day. 

MrsBLB
by Missi on Nov. 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

I would give it a try.  

vlynn.iowa
by Bronze Member on Nov. 30, 2012 at 10:58 AM

If she has been good for 6 months you should consider giving her more freedom on a temporary basis.  I would do this with the expectation that the "new" rules will be evaluated in 1 month. If she is still doing well then let the "new" rules stand.

jjchick75
by Member on Nov. 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM
4 moms liked this

I think this is what makes it hard on me, when I decided to do this I did NOT have my siblings support. My sister was a little more accepting of the idea and so my step brother but my step sisters were not at all and were really mad at me for it, for awhile. But I always felt what was done to Katie when our parents died was wrong. Not only did she lose both of her parents in less 18 months, but she was uprooted and taken away from the only place and home she'd ever known. I really felt and still feel we all acted selfishly and abandoned her. I felt I owed it to her, to help her get a fresh start. I'm paying for her to go to college, I helped her find a job, I helped her find a therapist here in town, and have made sure she could stay on her medicine. We are in the process of  helping her fix up our basement and make more her style(it's more like an apartment than a basement. It has a kitchen, livingroom, bedroom, and bathroom) and she knows she can stay here as long as she needs to. We made the rules we made because we needed to make sure she had really changed and she was serious about staying clean.  I just want to make sure she is ready to have that kind of freedom again. But after a long talk with a good friend of mine I realized the only way to find out is to give it a try. I trust her and I believe she'll continue to do what she needs to do! So I told her this morning that we decided to move her curfew to midnight with the option of later if she comes to me or calls me ahead of time and that when she feels ready I no longer have an issue with her having a boyfriend and that I would help her get on BC if she wanted. She was thrilled about the curfew but said right now she doesn't really want to mess with a boyfriend and all that. She said she feels like she needs to spend awhile longer taking care of her and keeping me on the right track. I made sure to tell her how much I loved her and how proud I am of her. It was a nice little moment and I feel really good about this!  

Quoting annie2244:

I think she's earned some relaxing of the rules. She's almost 18 and she's not allowed to date and has this early curfew? I understand your caution, and I applaud that you've taken her in and weren't under any obligation to, but what is the level of your committment to her? She has to live like a nun, no demerits or she has to fear ejection? I think this kid deserves more from her family. She's your sister. She's had a ridiculously hard upbringing, with some understandable emotional problems resulting from the disruptions. So - I think she needs tough love with firm commitment from all her sibs. We've got your back. We won't support bad behavior, but we will be here for life, to help you succeed. We'll give you housing whenever you can be a reasonably pleasant and responsible resident. We'll help you with tuition whenever you can be a successful student. We'll help you out of financial binds whenever you need a leg up. We're your family. You're one of us. For life. We're so glad you are here. Congratulations on your success your first 6 months. Let's renegotiate the rules, and continue to do so together as things proceed.


andersongirl562
by on Nov. 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I would ease up and see how she does with a little more freedom. If its a problem then reel her back in but since she is almost 18 you want her to be leaning more how to control heself without otherd demanding it kwim??
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Barabell
by Barbara on Nov. 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM

What a terrific update! I really does sound like she is trying. I hope she continues to stay on the right path.

Quoting jjchick75:

I think this is what makes it hard on me, when I decided to do this I did NOT have my siblings support. My sister was a little more accepting of the idea and so my step brother but my step sisters were not at all and were really mad at me for it, for awhile. But I always felt what was done to Katie when our parents died was wrong. Not only did she lose both of her parents in less 18 months, but she was uprooted and taken away from the only place and home she'd ever known. I really felt and still feel we all acted selfishly and abandoned her. I felt I owed it to her, to help her get a fresh start. I'm paying for her to go to college, I helped her find a job, I helped her find a therapist here in town, and have made sure she could stay on her medicine. We are in the process of  helping her fix up our basement and make more her style(it's more like an apartment than a basement. It has a kitchen, livingroom, bedroom, and bathroom) and she knows she can stay here as long as she needs to. We made the rules we made because we needed to make sure she had really changed and she was serious about staying clean.  I just want to make sure she is ready to have that kind of freedom again. But after a long talk with a good friend of mine I realized the only way to find out is to give it a try. I trust her and I believe she'll continue to do what she needs to do! So I told her this morning that we decided to move her curfew to midnight with the option of later if she comes to me or calls me ahead of time and that when she feels ready I no longer have an issue with her having a boyfriend and that I would help her get on BC if she wanted. She was thrilled about the curfew but said right now she doesn't really want to mess with a boyfriend and all that. She said she feels like she needs to spend awhile longer taking care of her and keeping me on the right track. I made sure to tell her how much I loved her and how proud I am of her. It was a nice little moment and I feel really good about this!  

Quoting annie2244:

I think she's earned some relaxing of the rules. She's almost 18 and she's not allowed to date and has this early curfew? I understand your caution, and I applaud that you've taken her in and weren't under any obligation to, but what is the level of your committment to her? She has to live like a nun, no demerits or she has to fear ejection? I think this kid deserves more from her family. She's your sister. She's had a ridiculously hard upbringing, with some understandable emotional problems resulting from the disruptions. So - I think she needs tough love with firm commitment from all her sibs. We've got your back. We won't support bad behavior, but we will be here for life, to help you succeed. We'll give you housing whenever you can be a reasonably pleasant and responsible resident. We'll help you with tuition whenever you can be a successful student. We'll help you out of financial binds whenever you need a leg up. We're your family. You're one of us. For life. We're so glad you are here. Congratulations on your success your first 6 months. Let's renegotiate the rules, and continue to do so together as things proceed.



annie2244
by Silver Member on Nov. 30, 2012 at 1:33 PM
1 mom liked this

Good for you for standing by her and putting yourself out there to do this. (and shame on your siblings!). Helping family isn't always easy or convenient, but you still do it. Because it's the honorable thing to do. Because it is what it means to be family.

I think we owe family this. Not to get walked all over, but to put ourselves out there to say we will take you in and stick by you if you are a minor. And once you are an adult, we will help you at least temporarily to give you a leg up, when you need it.

Good for you. She is very lucky to have you. Sounds like she's trying to straighten out from a rocky start in life.

yupok
by on Nov. 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Wow..what a sad story for all involved.  I'd give her a chance to prove herself.  Like maybe 10:30 on the weekends, I'd still keep it 9 on weekdays because of school, (baby steps) for a few months. Maybe later on a special occasion like the prom under the condition that she keeps in contact (cell phone)  BUT if she screws up at all, it automatically goes back to 10:00 plus losing other privileges.  Just because she's 17, she still needs your love and guidence.  Stay in contact with her friends parents.  Do they know her situation?  If not, they should so you're all on the same page.  Parenting a teenager is rough even without all you've been through.  Most teenagers test their bounderies and it's up to you to be strong.  Compassion, empathy and tough love goes a long way.  HUGS and God Bless

mattsmom14
by Member on Dec. 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM

I'd say ease up a little, it sounds like she has earned the right for at least a chance. I would just make it clear that this a chance to earn your trust, not a blank check to go mess up. You should give yourself a pat on the back too. It sounds like you have alot on your plate allready, and taking on a teen with mental health issues is a big undertaking. It sounded like you felt bad for how things went down in the past and now you can say you are trying to remedy that. I hope everything works out for you and your family.

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