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Becoming a parent to a teenager

(17 Posts)
Sofiatheworst Fri 05-Feb-16 17:19:51

Hi, I posted this in teenagers and someone there suggested putting it here,

Long story short I have recently gained residency of a 13 year old relative. I am child free myself, in my 20s and single with no immediate support and all in all I'm finding it tricky.

Today I have found out she's been smoking, and taking things belonging to me. I don't know why I'm posting really, I guess I'm just after some support off others who have children a similar age as I don't really know anyone with teenagers. I never did anything like this myself, but the 13 year olds mother has a long history of lying, stealing and drug taking and I guess I'm after any tips to make sure she doesn't go down the same track.

How would you react to this and what punishment should I put in place?


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FarrowandBallAche Fri 05-Feb-16 18:18:45

Goodness that must be scary for you. Well done for helping this young lady.

Is this a permanent arrangement? Are SS involved? Is there any ongoing support ( although I guess I know the answer to that )

I'm sure there must have been some trauma/disruption in her life for her not to be with her mum or dad?

I guess how I would react and the choice of punishment would have to reflect on many of the answers to the above questions.

Sofiatheworst Fri 05-Feb-16 19:29:47

Thanks for the reply

Social services are not involved and haven't been since the court order last year, this is a permanent arrangement and I am totally committed to giving her the best upbringing I can. My whole career has been with children and I did work with teenagers for a short stint but this is completely different as I am the one having to make all the decisions!

Both her parents were heavily involved with drugs and alcohol. Dad never on the scene and she hasn't lived with mum since she was 7 when her and her siblings were split up. She then lived with my mother for 5 years but sadly she died last summer and I took over the role as her guardian.

Neglect was pretty consistent throughout her earlier years but she did have consistency for 5 years and was parented very well. I am aware though that the loss of my mum will be having effects. I have suggested counselling but she is point blank refusing to go. She's a good girl on the whole but I am finding these teenage problems a bit scary. I just want her to be ok.

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FarrowandBallAche Fri 05-Feb-16 19:49:04

I admire you immensely for becoming her guardian. You sound like you are very committed to her.

I'm sorry for the loss of your mum, she sounds like she did a wonderful job of parenting her but your mums death will have impacted greatly on her especially at such a sensitive age. She's been through so so much. She will definitely be hurting and she will probably feel some insecurities regarding the stability of her future given she's had so much disruption. Neglect in wary life is something that is very very hard to overcome even with love and security.

This will display in ways like smoking, stealing, arguing with you ( possibly ) because she's hurting and grieving for what she's lost.

I do think some therapy would be beneficial for her given what's happened. She needs to be able understand it to be able to move forward.

Are school working with you? Is there a teacher/head of year that you could talk to?

It such a huge thing and you could do with some support to I'm sure.

Sofiatheworst Fri 05-Feb-16 20:15:11

Thank you for taking the time to reply and for your advice. It's actually just good being able to discuss it, as with work and home life it's rare I get the opportunity to reflect upon the past year. I shall look into counselling in the hope she will be receptive to it.

Thanks again

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FarrowandBallAche Fri 05-Feb-16 20:23:14

Hey no problem.
MN is good for being able to offload.

Best of luck to both of you flowers

ChocolateJam Sat 06-Feb-16 10:02:50

Hi Sofia. I have a 13 year old adopted DD. She didn't go through quite as much trauma as your relative but we've also had to deal with stealing and lying. We punished her for some of it but in retrospect this was not the best approach and building relationship would have been better. This doesn't mean there shouldn't be natural consequences, e.g. if you stole money you pay it back with pocket money or extra chores. In your case you will have to communicate to her that you are a family now and in your family people don't treat each other like that.
Tell her that you will always be there for her and support her, you care for her but you don't approve of the behaviour. This is a difficult age to start building a relationship as teenagers are hard wired to pull away from the adults in their lives and become independent. Does she have any hobbies or interests that can lead to activities you can do together?
My DD has gone for counselling with mixed success. I think it it might be more productive at this point for you to go and see a counselor experienced in working with teenagers, rather than trying to force her to go.
I admire you for what you are doing. Remember that you must also look after yourself. Take care.

fasparent Sat 06-Feb-16 12:21:10

Would contact school should be able too put in some interventions none evasive, would also be able too apply for Pupil premium + £1900 per year too help with any support at school see for details, just have too produce legal doc's too school, can help with things such as, out of school support, tutoring, club's, activity's in school you may be unable too afford. Your child may be on pupil premium but the + is a significant higher some so worth applying for , Also have a teenage DD of same age and situation, mainly its about promoting self esteem and inclusion's with her peers , wish you all the best.

Sofiatheworst Sun 07-Feb-16 16:36:04

Thank you for your replies.

I will definitely be speaking to school further. I fee like I have let things slip there as I work almost full time too. I will make time to go in though and speak to the head of year. I'll look at pupil premium + too. I know she gets pupil premium as it has helped towards providing her with some equipment.

Half term soon and we will be going to the cinema together and spending some time together so hopefully small things like that will lead to a closer bond.

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lifeonmarsbars Sun 07-Feb-16 18:09:04

Hi Sofia, we adopted my DH's nephew when he was 12, nearly 13. His parents had died after various drug and mental health issues. DH and I had only been together as a couple for two years and I had just given birth to our son. That was 6 years ago. Like you, I was and am totally committed to giving him the best care and start in life. He is now 18 and preparing for university this year, but there has been school refusal, bad school behaviour, recreational drugs and very challenging behaviour on all fronts.

Keep posting here. We had no SS involvement and have just had to muddle through guided only by our best intentions and belief that children must be properly cared and I really believe that in our situation, all outlets are good.

I will be very happy to share my experiences and multitudinal mistakes.

Sofiatheworst Mon 08-Feb-16 18:55:35

Thanks, I have lurked here for a long time and I am so glad I posted. I will definitely be around looking for you to all share your wisdom and experience again in the future I'm sure!!

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Italiangreyhound Mon 08-Feb-16 23:44:24

Sofiatheworst you sound amazing. Your relative is fortunate you are there but she is most unfortunate to have had the terrible experiences she has had.

I wonder if she would go to counselling if you would be there too, a chance for you both to grieve the loss of your mum, maybe bereavement counselling if appropriate?

I would not punish her for the cigarettes but I would make her watch some on line info about how it rots your insides, slows down your breathing and how you can end up attached to an oxygen tank. Or better still show her young people protesting outside tobacco companies, make tobacco seem as uncool as it is...

And the stealing, I would do as others suggest and talk to her, explain how unpleasant it is to have your things taken away. Plus make sure valuable items are out of sight and reach of sight so she is not tempted. Our dd when through a phase of this, she is 11, we talked to her and it seems to have stopped.

Good luck.

Sofiatheworst Tue 09-Feb-16 17:54:30

Italian - I really don't feel amazing - sometimes I feel I'm doing it all wrong and like giving up. But thank you so much!

Thanks for the link and the words of wisdom.

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Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Feb-16 02:03:51

I don't have any wisdom, but my dd has stolen from us (she is 11) and I smoked from age 12, so it is really not unusual stuff. Focus on building the two of you as a team, of her being able to tell you anything, practice not being shocked! So she keeps talking.

There should be consequences for some things, like watching some information or a removal of small small privilege for things but not something that makes her feel really threatened and undermined.

I have heard someone somewhere talking about stopping all contact with friends/curfew/taking phones or whatever as punishment - that may be ok for a day or so, but I just feel removal of phone etc takes away some contact with friends and a young woman in her shoes really doesn't need that, in my humble opinion.

FrancisdeSales Wed 10-Feb-16 02:57:56

My mum died when I was 13 and I didn't have the support your dd has (you!). I was devastated and I was in shock and very angry which came out in my behavior. Would you be able to spring for some massage for her? That could help release tension and emotion that she may be holding in. I would suggest dance, swimming and any other physical activity especially those you could do together for stress relief. I used to go clubbing when I was 16 and dance for hours and it was my best therapy but she is a bit young for that! An equivalent could help though.

Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Feb-16 03:17:12

rancisdeSales sad I am so sorry for your experience. I am glad you found something that helped you.

Sofiatheworst Sat 13-Feb-16 18:58:26

Hi, sorry only just replying. The physical activity is a great idea and we have looked into things like that this week. I'm hoping she'll join a netball team or something similar!
I think she had a bit of a shock and almost wonder if she was testing me. We have had lots of chats and I have said I always want her to talk to me. Now I'm not daft, I know this isn't a permanent fix but she's certainly seeming a little happier the past week. I am looking to book us a holiday abroad this summer, if I can get her a passport (any advice on whether this is possible without her mothers signature would be welcome!)

She's having a sleepover with friends tonight and I miss having her in the house!

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