t; a 12 year old boy, what to expect?
My 12y/o brother is moving to live with me in the new year. He's been living with my older brother for the last year or so, although he's come to stay with me for one weekend most months in that time. He'll be permanently with me from January, and the panic is slightly setting in (I'm in my 20's and sometimes he seems like a foreign species to me)...anyone offer any pearls of wisdom/hints/tips. Things you think I should know but probably don't? All advice gratefully received
In my experience (currently parenting my third 12 year old boy since 2012) they can vary quite a bit. My three have been generally helpful, eager to please and affectionate. However, if left to their own devices, I don't think they would have showered, used deodorant or brushed their teeth from one month to the next.
Has your parents passed away?
Make sure they do well a school. 12 is the time around when kids who are self determined start working their way up and the ones who need a push lag behind.
Good luck no experience of having a 12 year old boy but I inherited my niece when she was 12 and I was in my 20s. Best thing I've ever done!
Listen properly to his thoughts and opinions, asking pertinent questions.
Keep reminding him you trust him and respect him at the same time as explaining the boundaries you feel are appropriate.
Allow him to be different to you.
They can be such lovely people, 12 yr olds.
He's generally a pretty chilled kid, our dad died a couple of weeks after he was born and then our mum last year, he's been kind of up and down since then. School wise he's fallen behind a bit and he tanked his transfer tests last year but used to get good grades so we think he will probably be fine on that front once things settle for him. My OlderB said littleB can be quite stubborn over stupid stuff like what he's going to eat/ bedtimes/school lunches etc but that he's tried to pick his battles over the last year. I'm going to aim for strictish routines that can be agreed with him as far as possible, but I don't really know how much autonomy a 12 year old should exercise, and he's had a massive life altering change so I mostly want him to feel secure. I'm rambling. Thanks for the advice so far though. I think I'm just feeling a little daunted.
Sorry I don't have advice but I'm so sorry for your loses but glad your little brother has you to care for him. I guess he needs lots of love security and stability like any child.
Is your younger brother happy to be leaving his elder brother? How did that come about?
On a practical note, does he have a social worker? Will you have help when you need it?
May I recommend researching attachment and how that impacts on a child, and also recommend looking at the PACE approach which relates...? It is all very therapeutic & social worker-y but I think actually would apply to a child in his position, and help you find some strategies for communication and interaction. Hope it is helpful, I do think it is harder parenting a teen without the building blocks of preceding years, and the main thing is for him to feel secure & safe with you - unfortunately that might mean he then feels able to challenge you & push you to test if you are going to give up / leave / commit... but I hope it is a wonderful chance for you both.
Am a social worker with Looked After Children so worked with a few situations not dissimilar. Hope it's helpful advice.
OB and his wife are having a baby in January so things will be busy in their flat and tighter money wise when SIL is off work, we gave him the choice and he said he'd like to come here so that's what we're doing. No social workers involved, but I guess if we need something like that we can sort it out once he gets here. We've all been muddling through. Will look up the attachment thing, thanks
I find that my boys need more cuddles than they admit. And enjoy fuss if they get it. They enjoy chatting about their interests. And like little luxuries such as nice food, bath stuff, soft clothing. They love fun - funny tv, dvds, youtube videos. I let eat one choose a tv programme at meal times. With routines, I get them all to set an alarm on their phone for bed preparation and sleep and waking times. They tend to obey themselves better lol.
What a difficult time for you all, so sorry for your loss(es).
Please please do look up attachment. It's not at all basket weavery, it's based on neuroscience and basically explains how the brain reacts in different relationships.
If you're in Scotland DM me as I organise training on this and would be happy to arrange for you to come along.
Very best wished; you're doing a wonderful thing.
There will be loads of books about raising teens on amazon.
I find getting kids onside most effective. Appealing to their better nature. Mutually agreeing bedtimes, half an hour of homework daily, x amount of screen time daily, rewards, punishments, chores. But most importantly spend quality time together and make him feel valued and adored
The more connected and bonded you are, the better
He's probably going to have a lot of problems so you should be prepared for that. Behavioural and educational issues. Your brother might be better to deal with him at this age
He's going to push the boundaries to test how much you 'love' him. In other words, how much you'll put up with and still not send him away. Everywhere he's thought of as home has been taken away. It'll be hard for you both but you love him.
Get as much help as you can. Even the most well-behaved and well-adjusted 12 yo boy is hard work
He's going to be angry. How about some fun anger therapy? I say this because I remember a psychologist friend of mine once said Kids that age have a lot of frustration and loosing a mum would bring so much anger and confusion. I think your siblings focused too much on the day to day things rather than the whole picture. Let him be an active part of your life and not see him just as a responsibility. All children love being told that they are wanted and loved. How about a routine activity like walking a pet or a sports activity( does he enjoy football?) that you two can do to bond?
You might even get him to help with cooking? My cousin trained up her younger brother when he was 12. Don't start with something heavy, maybe make a dessert he likes together? Having a sporadic activities that you can do together will ease the tension and increase the bond.
Try and make your own, fun routines perhaps. Maybe movie night on a Friday, with snack food. Or games that you play together. Sometimes we get so bogged down with responsibility, it's important to have fun together too. Good luck!!
There are some excellent support groups for children who have experienced bereavement. The name varies according to which area you're in but a Google search could come up trumps. My nephews were greatly helped by a group when they lost a parent.
He is so lucky to have such lovely family support around him. You are a credit to your parents from the sounds of it. I hope he settles as well as possible.
Winston's Wish is the organisation that generally gets mentioned wrt bereaved children.
Bless you for looking after your brother.
It won't be easy.
Parenting never is but much harder for you I'm sure given your actual relationship as siblings and your recent loss.
He must be feeling pretty unsettled and now being asked to leave your elder DBS can't be helping.
I had a disjointed upbringing and the worst bit by far was not feeling I had a parent to care for me even tho other people did heir best That sense of self and belonging is so important and it's hard to describe how it feels when it is missing.
Can you take some time off college or work when he first joins you? Really spend time hanging out together and getting to know him properly?
I'd second the making of your own routines and events such as a regular pizza and movie on a Friday or going out for a burger after school one night a week etc.
Ask him stuff. Chat.
I have had two 12 year old boys (both now older) -and always found chatting occurs much easier and openly if we were engaged in another activity such as cooking or cycling or walking a dog. That being alongside rather than face to face allowed for ease of conversation and a bit of natter seems to let more important stuff creep in.
Let him make your home feel like his. This is so important. He isn't staying with you. He lives there now. His place. His space.
Let him invite friends over. Be interested in what he likes. Go and see him in sport or at the skate park etc.
Be consistent and honest when it goes wrong. Work as a team to solve stuff but be firm on your boundaries. Discuss and negotiate but be clear at what point you say no more.
Do you have a partner? Ensure they give you and your little DB space for a few months to find your roles and place in the house.
Don't back off if he pushes you away.
One of my boys said not so long ago that he never forgets how reassuring it was to feel loved even when he was being a shit (his words). Follow the 'I don't like your behaviour but I love you' rule of interaction.
I wish you lots of luck. You may well end up having an amazing bond and be grateful you had the opportunity to get to know him as well as you hopefully will.
And second getting him someone independent to talk to. School may be able to help on that front or google local agencies.
Winstons wish are amazing
Thanks for all the advice and tips. You're all lovely
I've looked up some grief counsellors and there's a support group for kids quite near. Initially LB had a couple of sessions with a counsellor back home but he didn't like it, and probably wasn't really ready to deal with things. I will chat to him about the options when he gets here though.
He's not really being asked to leave my BB's house, we gave him as many options as we could, if he'd chosen to stay i would have stayed in my rental and used my savings to help BB buy or rent something bigger. I'm buying my first house ATM so I'm hoping it'll be good that LB is moving at this stage because it'll be us moving into our house rather than him moving into my house. I'm hoping that will make it seem like he has a place of his own.
My work is trying to be flexible but they are used to, and expect, long days from me, usually I start around 7:30 and finish at 8:30/9, but that won't really be an option, so we've sort of agreed to me having a home office set up so I can work mornings and drop him to school before work and then evenings once LB is in bed, and someone is going to cover my on call police station weeks from Jan - March so I won't have antisocial calls until we figure out who can watch him if I have to dash off.
I think the main advice I'm getting is just be prepared for him to challenge the boundaries a little and try and keep talking.
As bad as the circumstances are, I'm looking forward to having him around, and BB and I are saving extra in the month so LB can travel to see BB once a month if possible. They're both coming up tomorrow to spend the weekend, see the new house and all try and talk through things. I think both my BB and I struggle a little to know what we should say to him and what not to say, he's still so little to us, but has definitely lost his little kid-ness this year. He's been really brave but our instincts are protective. I guess he will let us know if we are treating him with kid gloves against his wishes.
Sorry to ramble again. Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to reply xx
You're not rambling, sometimes it helps to get your thoughts down so you feel more ordered and prepared ☺
My nephews didn't have specific individual counselling when they lost a parent, my eldest was a little younger than your LB. They seemed to prefer the less intensive therapy from group activities and then a little 1:1 therapy alongside. They attended a place called Slideaway which I cannot recommend enough.
One thing I'd suggest (you may already do so), but don't forget to hug your LB. I don't remember being hugged much as a kid and it makes me feel sad. My nephews always get hugged and I always do the same with my DC. I always make it clear that I still love them even when I'm cross.
Your plans for your LB sound lovely. I am so sorry you're all having to go through this.
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