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Private "fostering"; of teen neice by inexperienced couple - HELP!!!

(13 Posts)
GlenysE Sat 18-May-13 16:12:12

Hi. Myself and my OH agreed to look after my OH's neice over the summer hols in 2012. Her English father (devorced from her Ugandan mother) had been told by our Neice and her older brother (22yr old with Ugandan Father) that she wasn't happy with the way her mum was bringing her up, and she wanted a rest. She is still with us now!

We both have never looked after children, but after the first six months we managed to move her out of a put-me-up in the living room and clear our office out into a hut in the garden.

Her new room originally housed both our clothes in a built-in wardrobe, but I took my clothes out to give her room in half of it, and my OH took a few essentials out but had to leave things like suits etc in there as we had nowhere to hang up anything in our room apart from a small wardrobe which we had bought for her to use in those first months in the living room.

She is doing the typical "keep out of my room" thing now. She talked to her father (who comes up to see her every few weeks), saying that how come she is not allowed to go in our room to get anything (?what things, I would like to know), but we are constantly going in hers interfering when she is not there.

I feel that because she won't put all her washing out when we ask, and because the room window need opening to be aired off to prevent OH's clothes in there smelling like a 13 year old girl's armpits - and for him to have access to her room for his clothes, then we have every right to pick up soiled knickers (too much info?, sorry..) off a new carpet (that skint us to buy a month before she moved in, for the new business that is now not happening any more because of the extra un-accounted for responibilities), and ask her to clear hair of the floor so it won't ruin the hoover.

We spent a lot of money on the room before she moved in, and there is already makeup on the walls, and torn wallpaper. OH was made redundant 2 years ago and I work a 3 day week to keep a mortgage going.

Only her father pays towards her keep and is homeless at the moment, living in a van next to his offices 40 miles away, as her mother won't pay him anything for her, as she feels she is the one who has been wronged.

I do have sympathy for her, but her mum has never once got in touch with us to ask why and how it has all happened, and is very well off with a successful business empire. My Neice won't go back home now - she has made it clear, and had, we thought settled in well (until the latest news), and we are starting to get used to all her really nice friends. She is a lovely girl herself, and we didn't know she felt this way.

Does anyone have any advice to us "newbies", please.

I also apologise for the "war and peace" above, but couldn'tfind a way to shorten it, sorry

GlenysE Sat 18-May-13 16:13:57

I must add she moved up from South Wales to Yorkshire to be with us, so had to start a new school at the last minute and make firiends again, so we know it has been hard on her, so we don't want her to feel uncomfortable.

Maryz Sat 18-May-13 16:23:46

I think you should post this over in teenagers (there are a few people over there who have taken in teenagers), but my initial thought is that teenagers do need privacy, and she probably needs it more than most.

I think you need to pick your battles. Most teenagers have messy bedrooms, but there are more important things to fight with them about - drink, drugs, school, curfews, friends, money etc etc.

I don't go into my teenagers rooms on a daily basis. I wash the clothes that are brought out, otherwise they don't get washed. They aren't allowed to eat in their rooms, otherwise I leave them alone - with a monthly demand that I can see the floor and a 6-monthly clear out of all the crap. Which they do, with my help if they want it.

I think if she is staying with you long term you have to find somewhere else for your dh's clothes. It really isn't fair to have him going in and out of her room every day, and really if she has adapted, is well-behaved and going to school this is one thing you could back down on.

NorthernLurker Sat 18-May-13 16:39:03

I agree that you HAVE to move those clothes. By leaving them there you're just providing a cource of conflict.
My dd is 15 and we had a huge row a couple of months ago about non-wearing of coat, Now we could have carried on fighting with her or we could do what I did - which is come home the next day and suggest we buy a coat of her choosing as a birthday present. Any coat as long as it's waterproof. She immediately narowed it down to three very nice ones and asked my view <<faints>>. Now she has a coat she wears! Do you see what I mean? You can and will fight about the small stuff but you need to move on and avoid conflict as much as possible so you have strength and authority for the big battles.

MMMarmite Sat 18-May-13 16:58:43

I agree that you should find another place to put the clothes. She needs a space that feels like her own, a retreat.

If there are knickers and hair on the floor, so be it, it sounds fairly normal for a teenager. Come up with an agreement, with her input, of how often the room should be aired and cleaned, possibly getting her to clean it herself.

I'm a little worried that you feel somewhat resentful at the financial implications of looking after her and that you are expecting her to be trouble-free to make up for it. Obviously it must be hard on you financially, and I don't blame you if you feel annoyed at her parents, but make sure you direct it at the right people. It must be very stressful moving in with an aunt and uncle at 13, so you may find once she feels secure she starts to act out more - make sure you keep getting support from here.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 18-May-13 17:01:21

From an emotional point of view you need to take every opportunity to make her feel it is her room.

She needs safety and security and that is the need you need to satisfy first.

greenformica Sat 18-May-13 17:09:25

I think you just have to leave her room a mess carpet included. It's her space. Move DH's stuff and find him a new work station

GlenysE Sun 19-May-13 23:56:12

Hi.

Thanks for the advice :-)

Hubby onto looking at a space in the attic we can clear to put clothes in. She does spend a lot of time in her room without interruption, so we feel she is settled, and she comes down to talk to us in the eves on a regular basis.

We are a little resentful of the cost, that is true and MMMarmite has hit the nail on the head there. We definately try not to take it out on her,as she is really lovely and doesn't deserve it, as you said.

Out of the two of us, I would say hubby probably gets the most upset at the damage to the property in general, as most things will get worn out faster if used more, and I get precious that she uses my towels and hairbrush, despite both myself and her father having asked at least 10 times for her not to, as I have skin and scalp problems which I do not want her to get. I put the brush on a top shelf in the bathroom so it is not the first thing she goes for, but she still likes to use it. I have wondered if it is a bonding thing or not, as she can't stop doing it. Would anyone know about this. I have stoppped mentioning it to her now though...

Now all I do is go in her room and pick up anything she has not put in the wash basket, which I ask her to put out each week, and check she has not left all her nusic system on. Hubby might go in for any extra clothes once a week max, and to air the room out weekly when she hasn't done it upon asking. Is that possibly too much?

GlenysE Sun 19-May-13 23:58:54

Whopps pressed post before finishing off with a big thankyou and a smile

CabbageHead Mon 20-May-13 06:26:38

I have 3teenage stepdaughters so I know what u r going thru!! They def need their own space at their age, and might feel uncomfortable with your OH being a male, going into her room (as most teens live in their room 24/7 at this age!) .. Get clothes out, make it her room, but she needs to know her boundaries and will respect you for it in time.. My youngest stepdaughter is like this with sharing brushes etc drives us all nuts! Buy her one of her own, get her to choose it herself as a treat . She might not have been brought up to respect everyone's resonates items.. Post more later bub is awake!

JollyOrangeGiant Mon 20-May-13 06:32:28

There should be some entitlement to financial support if she is staying with you. It might be worth having a chat to your local council or citizens advice. You could be entitled to claim a kinship caring allowance or child benefit.

CabbageHead Mon 20-May-13 10:59:04

Can u buy a cheap large mat, or seconds carpet piece to cover your new carpet? I would be horrified if we had new carpet, the kids have been wanting it for yrs but I keep fobbing them off because they r too grotty! Ha ha.. And can u get her to help u try and glue the wallpaper that's torn, just little things like that that might get her to see how much u value ur home..
Does she contribute to the household by doing tasks like cooking or cleaning? That's a good way to let them know how much hard work a house can be.. Although teens are notoriously lazy so usually bribing in some way helps! But it does help n the long run.. Our girls are in their late teens now and finally appreciate what we do for them as parents but it took a looonnnggggg time!

What would happen if she went to find clean clothes, underwear and there weren't any because she had failed to out them out for a wash...?

U could make friends with her friends parents too they r bound to have some great tips!

CecilyP Mon 20-May-13 12:46:36

I don't know much about fostering, but I do know that, if she was your own teenager, it would be perfectly normal to go into her room and do the things you do. If she could keep her room spotless herself and could be relied upon to open windows and put washing in the washing basket and collect the clean stuff when it is washed, then you would not have to go into her room so much - but at the moment she can't do that. The one thing that has to be sorted is your DH's clothes situation - I think it is important that he finds another place to put them.

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