Should we take this boy in?

(66 Posts)
CoolStoryBro Sat 04-May-13 15:21:20

Hi. My 16 year old's son's friend is having a really tough time. Both of his parents have died and he's been staying with a relative. Naturally, the poor kid is pretty messed up and it hasn't been a smooth transition. It's all culminated in his relative saying he has to leave.

Ds has asked if he stay with us "for a while". I was just wondering if anyone had any experience of this. Did it work? I have 3 other younger children, so I am worried about the impact on them too.

Obviously my heart says reach out to this boy and we have plenty of room and can offer him some stability while he sorts himself out, but my head is saying, "Eeek!"

Any advice gratefully received.

CoolStoryBro Sat 04-May-13 15:22:47

I should add we don't live in the UK.

Littlefish Sat 04-May-13 15:27:14

What is the relative proposing this child does? I think it is wonderful that you are considering this. I think you need to have a discussion with the relative and the boy to discuss some possible guidelines before you make a decision. Is finance an issue for you? Would the arrangement be open ended? What are the boy's future plans?

3littlefrogs Sat 04-May-13 15:34:30

I have done this with 3 teenage boys. I would do it, but you need to make sure he will abide by your house rules. 16 is a difficult age and you need to set boundaries.

Also, you need to think hard about your other children. If they are old enough, talk to them about it. I think it taught my dc kindness and thoughtfulness for others less fortunate. That was the way I was brought up.

There were times when my house seemed a bit crowded, but I would never have seen those lads on the street, and IME there isn't much help out there for a lad over 16.

CoolStoryBro Sat 04-May-13 16:36:42

Littlefish I think there is a lot of grief and hurt on both sides, so I don't think the relative is thinking clearly tbh. I think they've both taken their grief out on each other.

Financially, we can afford it and we have a spare room.

3littlefrogs Did you get involved with their schoolwork, etc? That's one of my big concerns, that DS would think there was one rule for him and one rule for his friend. DS needs no excuse whatsoever to get lazy about his schoolwork!! Perhaps that's one of the conditions on DS we make.

So much to think about! Thanks for replying

Littlefish Sat 04-May-13 17:03:30

That poor boy. How devastating to lose both your parents and now know that you are not wanted by another relative. I have absolutely no experience to draw on - it might be worth posting in the adoption thread area. Some of the people on there have experience of blended families where some children are adopted/fostered and others are not. They may help you to clarify your thinking on some of the issues you are considering.

3littlefrogs Sat 04-May-13 19:33:21

No - because both had dropped out of school. But I let them stay till they sorted out college/job whatever.

If school work was an issue I would make the rules very clear though.

MNBlackpoolandFylde Sat 04-May-13 19:42:34

I think if I felt it would help I would take him in if I could afford.
On condition that both of them stuck in school and tried their best.

Would he go to counselling? Winstons Wish are VERY good with children who have lost family.

If you have the heart, the room and the finances.. then I would say go for it.
The poor kid..he's a child, lost his parents and the relative wants him to go?
I would imagine any stable family where he is cared for will be a life saver for him, and having the same ground rules as your children will make him feel safe.

We have just done a similar.(.tho less intense )thing here.. my eldest is at Uni and her best (male) friend has just been left all alone in the world.. to the point of having to arrange his mother's funeral all by himself. He will be welcomed here every holiday just as my daughter is.... because even tho he's a couple of years older, the thought of him being alone with no grown up who CARES is unbearable to me...

purpleroses Tue 07-May-13 22:53:18

My ex's parents did that when my ex was about 16. The lad stayed with them for a year or two I think, sharing my ex's bedroom. They got on great, and he and my ex are still good friends to this day, and is still in touch with my ex's parents too. I don't know the details of how they set rules or anything though - it may have been harder at the time I guess, but certainly worked out well in the long run.

flow4 Wed 08-May-13 07:49:21

The tricky thing is, if you do take him in, I think you need to commit to keeping him with you for a set period of time - say til he's 18 - even if he's difficult. You could do more harm than good if you take him in, then reject him too.

bootsycollins Wed 08-May-13 08:09:52

Take him in, you know it's the right thing to do. I wouldn't expect the kid to have no issues after what he's been through, poor lads well and truly had the rug pulled from under his feet. He'd definitely have to adhere to the house rules that your dc do to avoid anarchy and bad feeling but ultimately this experience could be really good for all of you thanks

Yes, I've done similar. Couldn't not. My SS (surrogate son) had the same rules as my own two - all v close in age. It all worked out fine, and I have no regrets.

I think I posted on here at the time (maybe name changed...) I'll try and find original thread when I get home. There was some good advice on it

Helpyourself Wed 08-May-13 08:22:09

Can you propose a trial period of say, two weeks? Moot it as giving all parties a break and see how it goes?
thanks for thinking about it even.

flow4 Wed 08-May-13 20:59:18

I don't think a trial period is a good idea. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm putting myself in that boy's shoes... It would be devastating to do two weeks and then feel like you'd 'failed' or been rejected. sad
I think it's a fantastic thing to do, if you can... But I really do think you have to commit to him, if you're going to have him to live with you at all.

ThePskettiIncident Wed 08-May-13 21:10:30

My mum did it when my brother's best friend couldn't cope at home any more when his parents divorced. He stayed with us a few years from 13 onwards. He slowly built up his family relations and married young at 19 - still married some 12 years later!

He was lovely to have in our family and he's still my other little brother and my parents see him lots.

If I ever had the opportunity, I would do it. It taught me so much about being kind to people and real family values.
Poor lad, I wish you all the best and that you can find. Solution that works for you all.

Helpyourself Wed 08-May-13 21:12:20

A 2 week break then- you're right suggesting it a trial wouldn't work- m

Helpyourself Wed 08-May-13 21:12:54

Sorry-
More a come for a break. Then see how it goes.

Ledkr Wed 08-May-13 21:19:05

I've done it too.
I didn't have room or money hmm it was ok he was better behaved than my boys "yes ms Patterson" we helped him get re housed.
Be under no illusion that it won't be easy though as his issues won't go away.
Good luck

mrslaughan Wed 08-May-13 21:21:14

I think it is a wonderful to do.

But think you have to have very clear ground rules/house rules - or if he is not in the emotional state to cope with you laying down the law from the outset, just a very clear understanding, that you want it to work, and for it to work all children need to be treated the same, so everyone lives by the same rules.

CoolStoryBro Thu 09-May-13 00:02:57

Thank you for all the replies.

So, we had a meeting on Monday with the relative. She's his Grandma and she's not coping at all with losing her dd. She is also devastated that she's struggling so much with him.

We then had a meeting with his SW, his Guidance Counsellor and the school Psych, as well as the boy himself.

So, he's going to come and stay with us. The plan is, ultimately, he will return home. He will live with us Mon-Fri and, whenever possible, return to his Grandma's at weekends. If he doesn't want to, he doesn't have to, but we're hoping some space between them while they work through everything may help.

DH and I are very aware we may well have the rockiest two years of our lives, but both agree that this kid really needs someone to step up for him right now. For whatever reason, it seems its us.. When Ds suggested it, I had no inkling how much our lives were about to change!! I'm nervous as hell but, deep down, know we're doing the right thing. Hopefully.

Littlefish Thu 09-May-13 06:34:20

I admire you so much for making this decision and supporting this family in such a caring and practical way. I hope that in the long run it will turn out to be positive for all of you. Good luck. Please keep us updated.

Helpyourself Thu 09-May-13 07:14:58

Wow. flowers and much kudos to you. The weekend breaks sound like a good idea- very good luck.

flow4 Thu 09-May-13 07:43:36

Good for you! smile

bootsycollins Thu 09-May-13 07:47:56

You've landed yourselves a bonus grandma too! Good luck op hope everything turns out well for you all thanks

3littlefrogs Thu 09-May-13 18:25:16

My DH was fostered. We are both so grateful that a family was willing to take him in.We are still all very close.

I really hope it goes well for you.

neolara Thu 09-May-13 18:29:47

You've brought a tear to my eye. Good luck. It's a wonderful thing you are doing.

flowers What a wonderful, generous, selfless thing to do.
You know where to come if you need support and please come back and tell us how it goes smile

Oh good for you. I know someone like this and he was taken in by a family.

He ended up married to the daughter.

What a wonderfuly kind thing to do.

I hope it goes well for you all.flowers

HighJinx Thu 09-May-13 18:42:04

You sound lovely OP flowers

I hope it all works out for everyone.

CoolStoryBro Thu 09-May-13 22:54:44

Awwww. You're all too kind! It's not completely altruistic. Think how many hours in the car I'll save now I don't have to give DS a lift to his friends' house!! wink

I certainly think the Teenagers board will be my new MN home with 3 of them in the house!

So, today I went out and bought new bedding (the guest bedding wasn't very 16yo boyish!), towels, etc. I also found a cute desk on Craigslist which I pick up tomorrow. Got to show we're serious about him keeping up with his schoolwork! Then he's moving in on Saturday.

Talk about a life changing few days!!

And, thanks again for the kind words. It's been really lovely to read and only strengthens the feeling that we're doing thd right thing.

ladymariner Thu 09-May-13 23:54:55

Well done you, what an amazing and totally generous thing to do.....looking forward to your updates, and got everything crossed it all works out brilliantly for you all xxx

Monty27 Fri 10-May-13 00:19:09

Cool I so hope this goes really well for your family. You have demonstrated such humanity and I really hope it's successful and fulfilling for all.

Kudos to all who have done it and other similar things.

flowers

We'll be here for you too, I have a ds of 17 so have a fair bit of experience smile

AcrylicPlexiglass Fri 10-May-13 00:29:02

Good luck to you all. Like others I think it's a lovely thing to do. xxxx

AThingInYourLife Fri 10-May-13 00:38:03

What a wonderful thing you are doing.

I hope it works out well for all of you smile

Thumbwitch Fri 10-May-13 00:42:34

Bless you, you've brought a tear to my eye - what wonderfully kind people you are. thanks

From the point of view of how you manage with him, I think the best thing you can do for him is to treat him exactly the same way as you would your own son - same rules, same punishments, same everything (with some allowance for his grief state, but not too much) - it will make him feel like he's part of the family rather than "some poor boy who needs kid glove handling". Anything that creates a level of "normality" (in as much as it can under the circs) will help to settle him. I hope he and his grandma can work things out - I'm sure they will be able to when they've had some space from each other.

mindfulmum Fri 10-May-13 00:59:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ElizaDoLots Fri 10-May-13 09:37:10

What a tear-jerker. Good luck OP - I think you're amazing.

FuckThisShit Fri 10-May-13 09:46:17

Wow what a wonderfully kind and generous family. Such a heartwarming post and thread to read. thanks

foofooyeah Fri 10-May-13 09:52:32

Just wanted to say I do hope it all goes ok. Yes there will be 'moments' - but I hope there will be a lot of good times too.

SanityClause Fri 10-May-13 10:00:40

Cool, Neil Morrissey recently did a couple of programs about how he had been in care from about 10. If it hadn't been for a school friend's family taking him in at about 16 or 17, he would not have been able to stay in the 6th form, and would never have been an actor.

You are giving this boy a fantastic chance. flowers

libertyflip Fri 10-May-13 10:04:54

Well done and good luck to you all.

NigelMolesworth Fri 10-May-13 11:03:03

What a wonderful thing to to. I wish you and your family all the best.

<note to self: do not read tear-jerking threads immediately before going on an important conference call>

bootsycollins Sat 11-May-13 08:31:18

coolbro that's brilliant news, you really are doing an amazing thing. I hope he settles in quickly and that you all enjoy welcoming your new family member. Please keep us updated, good luck to you x

amazing.

you are changing this boy's life for the better. there should be more people in the world like you. flowers

CoffeePleaseSir Sat 11-May-13 08:46:09

This is a wonderful thread.
Op I hope it works out for you all & well done for stepping up for a boy who sounds so lost.

CouthyMow Sat 11-May-13 08:51:08

I think contacting Winston's Wish on the boy's behalf would be a good idea. They really helped me to deal with the grief from losing my Father when I was 10.

WinkyWinkola Sat 11-May-13 08:55:32

Cool story, you are brilliant. Lucky boy to have you and your dh on his team. He stands a far better chance of happiness in life now.

toomuch2young Sat 11-May-13 09:01:47

How brilliant, hope the moving in goes ok OP, good luck with everything.
flowers

MrsMeg Sat 11-May-13 09:06:27

We are doing it too - our daughters boyfriend has been thrown out of the family home by his stepdad.

He's a lovely boy, very bright, very polite and caring, motivated.

It's tricky because he and DD are young (17 and 16) but he has no other family and we said yes in a heartbeat.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 11-May-13 10:13:19

I would be much more wary in that situation, MrsMeg, tbh, unless it was very temporary. What will you do if your daughter breaks up with him?

MrsMeg Sat 11-May-13 10:58:43

You are right Acrylic - our situation is somewhat different to the OP's with the added complication of a relationship behind the scenes.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that he would have been sleeping rough if we had not taken him in, so that made the initial decision somewhat easier to make.

We are all keeping a very open mind however and our first priority is our daughter

mamateur Sat 11-May-13 18:00:41

coolstory we brought DH's nephew to live with us when he was 12. He had been brought up by his grandmother (my MIL) until he got too much. She too was broken by the death of her daughter. It has worked out well for us but we are looking at a longer haul than you. If he is 16 then it is maybe just two years.

We had space, no financial worries and no SS involvement, so I can't discuss those considerations but if I had my time again (we are now 3 years down the line) I would make the rules very clear at the outset. You are not his mother and cannot replace her. I would offer to be a kind, supportive understanding person in his life who will work to help him towards his goals. In return you ask him to respect your rules.

CoolStoryBro Sun 12-May-13 01:52:39

MrsMeg and Mamateur consider me your new buddies!! Happy to take advice from both of you!

So, he has moved in. It was actually really fun. DS and DSF (that's the easiest way of me describing him!!!) set up his PS3 and tv and also covered one of the walls with posters. We had managed to wangle that the younger 3 had either playdates or parties to go to this evening, so we went out for Mexican, just the 4 of us (DH, DS, DSF and I). That was a good move as that's when we brought up curfews.

They are now in the family room with some of their friends. There is a lot of guitar playing going on and, seeing as his bedroom is off the family room, I've decided to go out and celebrate Mother's Day tomorrow by buying a new tv in my bedroom! It's my gift to me!!

Thanks again.

mamateur Sun 12-May-13 12:39:42

Well done Coolstory. Your situation is very positive, because he is old enough to understand and also to appreciate what you're doing.

I would also source some counselling for him as soon as possible. Not sure if that has been mentioned upthread.

Monty27 Tue 14-May-13 00:04:27

smile That is all, and how lovely.

flowers

CoolStoryBro Tue 29-Oct-13 01:52:56

Ok, would be interested in anyone else' views.

Firstly, for the most part, this has been going FANTASTICALLY! He's a great kid and we love having him around.

HOWEVER, the boys have recently taken their PSAT's (like Mock A Levels, but not quite. Difficult to explain if you don't know the US system). We don't have their grades back in but neither of them studied as much as they really should have done.

We want to enroll them both on an extra curricular SAT course (on Saturday mornings) as it only seems fair that if we're paying for one, we're paying for both. This is a completely normal course that kids take. Our guest has said he's not going to go. We can't really force him to, although we really think he could benefit from it.

Soooo, now, DS has said, "If he's not going, I'm not going!" We have dug our heels in somewhat and told him he is, but it's now causing a bit of a fight. Pre-friend arriving, it would have been non-negotiable here....you go the SAT class because we're paying for your driving lessons. We're still trying that way but this is blurring the rules somewhat.

Any ideas?!!

laraeo Tue 29-Oct-13 02:25:05

Howdy, Coolstory.

So are they both juniors in high school? This is going to come out all wrong, but does the friend plan on going to college? If not, I could understand not wanting to do the extra SAT prep. Does he already have his license (so no chance of similar driver's ed bribery)? Is there some other sort of reward you could use for going to the class? Or is there an similar on-line course he/they could take instead? Or work through a study guide at home - I did that to brush up on my math for the GRE many moons ago. (Much to my surprise, I found I actually liked doing the mathsmile.)

I hated the SATs and took them exactly once. I've done do many standardized tests since then (need to for teaching license every time we move to a new state) and they drive me batty. I imagine it's even worse for students now with all the different tests they're required to take. I know I hate having to do "practice" questions and teach kids how to take multiple choice tests during class time. He could be all tested out.

Maybe you could just wait for the PSAT results and then go from there.

Not much help. But I do think it's awesome you've taken him in.

CoolStoryBro Tue 29-Oct-13 02:37:01

Hi Lareo! Yes, they're both Juniors. Our guest (I hate calling him that but it makes it easier in this case) took the PSATs too. We are not involved with his driving licence as his Aunt offered to do the driving lessons with him. Which is nice that she stepped up.

It's good to hear that ballsing up the SATs is not the end of the world. We are British and have no experience of US education. It kind of freaks me out!!!

deXavia Tue 29-Oct-13 03:42:49

I don't want to out my Sister so I'll keep it vague-ish.. but she did this with her DS's friend at a similar age. In the UK so we're talking just after GCSE and into A levels. The background is less relevant but just wanted to position it as a similar lifestage.

Similar happened re exams - for both they offered to pay for tutors and extra classes. Friend said no but like you they considered it non negotiable for their DS. In the end they just sat them down and were really clear - it was non negotiable for the DS, for the Friend they knew they couldn't make him but for these reasons they thought it was important and they told him very clearly if he had been their son it would have been non negotiable.

They believed that at 16/17 the boys were old enough for honesty and it set a tone - which was that in general it was the same rules for both boys, but occasionally big things would come up and they would have to be dealt with. But they were dealt with in the open and by talking.

In the end the boys went off on different career paths - one University, one the Forces - so my Sister supported them both differently depending on what was needed. We're a good few years on now but the Friend is still very much part of the wider family.

Good luck and I agree its awesome that you could help him out.

Roshbegosh Tue 29-Oct-13 04:57:29

I wonder if it should be non-negotiable for both of them. You should be in charge and they are not going to make the best decisions at this age. I would go back and lay down the law here. It is true that you can't make either of them do anything but you are the adult and they need to go with your rules. It doesn't seem right to care enough to make it non-negotiable for your son but not care enough about the friend when you are in loco parentis.

DoubleLifeIsALifeOfSorts Tue 29-Oct-13 05:16:42

I'm so glad it's working out in the main. Well done for doing something truly life changing for this child.

I would take the same approach mentioned above... Take your son aside and tell him it's a non negotiable. Also make it clear that although you care for his friend a great deal, he is still your son and you are putting your foot down about this for his future. Absolutely non negotiatable, and he's not comparable for him to pull the 'but you aren't making hiiiimmm do it'.

Also I do wonder whether you can apply more pressure to the other boy and get him to think about doing it too?

laraeo Tue 29-Oct-13 12:43:52

In all honesty, I didn't mess up the SATs too much - got me into what I'd consider a 1b-type school - not Harvard but respected. I had friends who kept on retaking them and only ever wound up with a 10 point increase.

Having said that, the newish writing portion would be something I'd think you could improve with more practice and feedback (the writing part wasn't around when I took them but I teach high school and know the kids really stress out about that part especially).

Have you talked to him about his grades and plans for after high school? I doubt he'll have very good job prospects without some sort of additional vocational school or at least a junior college. Has he considered enlisting in the military? Not only would it give him some stability, it would enhance future job prospects (gotta find a different word for that) and could help pay for college or a vocational school down the road.

Could he be worried about the cost of everything? Not just the SAT revision per se, but the cost of going to college? There could also be a fear of leaving his comfort zone. A junior college might help ease the transition.

Does he have a decent guidance counselor at school? They can be hit or miss but might have some ideas.

I agree with deXavia and everyone else, the most important thing is to keep communication open and if your DS has to do the class, then he needs to be told that in no uncertain terms.

CaptainSweatPants Tue 29-Oct-13 12:52:17

Does he spend weekends with his grandma?
I don't think your ds can refuse if he's friend is away every weekend

whatsagoodusername Tue 29-Oct-13 13:12:51

I did a SAT prep class back in the late 90s!. I'm not sure it did me a huge amount of good, but I certainly had no regrets taking it. Maybe see how well they do at the PSAT?

I took the SATs twice, with only a slight improvement on the second score. But I knew quite a few people who took it many times and improved each time. I did have friends who did the PSAT, took the course, and had much improved SAT scores.

Encourage them to do the practice tests if they are absolutely refusing the course. If the maths and English sections are the same as when I did them, the practice tests and study guides should be enough if they use them. However, the writing bit is new to me, and I would think that the course would be very helpful in pointing them to the correct style to get the most points.

I'd be inclined to insist that your DS does the course and strongly encourage his friend to do the same. Maybe do the class in the morning, then an activity they would enjoy after, that you wouldn't usually do?

If the friend is worried about university costs and what he will do after high school, the best SAT scores possible will only benefit him (as I am sure you know!). Extra study, which you are funding, could lead him to a scholarship. Maybe go at it from that angle? Plus, iirc, the military much prefer the kids who are doing well in school and get good scores.

Or just pay for the course for them both and tell them they are going because you have. See if any of DS's friends are also doing the course and get several of them together on the same course to make it a little more fun?

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