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Tell me about your 16 year old

(15 Posts)
purpleroses Thu 16-May-13 09:09:27

My DP's eldest DD is nearly 16. She's quite clear about what 16 year olds do. In her view they are adults who can:
- Stay out all night wherever they like
- Stay home alone if the rest of their family wants to go of on holiday
- Get any part of their body pierced
- Go off on holiday/to a festival with friends

Her mum doesn't agree with any of this and alternates between screaming rows with her and throwing her hands up in dismay and emailing DP telling him to "make her do XXX". DP tries to reason with her but she's a strong-minded girl and he's is a bit clueless really - he went to boarding school himself and doesn't really know where to start with boundaries, and DSD is quick to exploit this. She lives with us at weekends, and her mum during the week btw - though tends to choose for herself which house to be at some of the time, which is fine if she's choosing a house that there's someone in at, less so when she's choosing to avoid the rest of the family and host parties at the house of whoever's gone away....

But 16 is kind of an adult isn't it? What sort of boundaries do you keep in place at that age? And how do you enforce them? She's staying on a school doing A-levels, but has a Saturday job so financial sanctions don't hit her that hard.

LaurieFairyCake Thu 16-May-13 09:18:50

You shift talk from telling them they can't to getting them to reflect on consequences for their own decisions and to being responsible.

Added to that they still have to follow the school 'rules' about home learning as that's their 'contract' with work - so if the school says they have to do 15 hours home learning they have to plan the hours within the week to do that. We make it clear that just like we have a contract with work, the have a contract with school and that learning to be an adult means being responsible.

So when dd asked to go to a party this morning for Saturday I didn't have to say no, I just had to say 'aren't you already doing something'? so then she had to think about her plans for homework/weekend.

Added to that they have to learn to be responsible and you get a choice as the owner of the house to decide what you want in your own house - so if you can't sleep til their home or they need picked up then you get to say what you will do. Same goes for friends/boyfriends staying over.

LaurieFairyCake Thu 16-May-13 09:26:21

And as for tattoos and piercings - different ones can't be done without parental consent or til their 18. And some schools won't allow them in during school time.

I don't give consent for certain things and again I encourage her to think about the consequences - for example she wanted her belly button done at 13, I said no to consenting - she stropped and I then said 'the fact you're stropping means you're not old enough to think about the consequence - now go and ask your dance teacher what they might be'

That really worked as the dance teacher had another, older student show the awful scar where a bar had been pulled through while dancing. So now she still thinks she might get it done when she's legally allowed but will only do it before long school holidays so she can remove it for dancing.

purpleroses Thu 16-May-13 15:47:06

She seems to think it's 16 for piercings. From a quick internet search it would seem she may be right as there's no legal limit (unlike tattoos) so it's just up to the shop or wherever you're getting them done. Tbh - I don't really have a problem with piercings, and am staying well out of that argument. She has thought it through to an extent - plan is to get nose done (and possibly tongue) at the start of the holidays so that by September she can exchange the nose one for a small skin coloured one she thinks won't be noticed at school (Not sure how she thinks she'll hide a tongue one though - she'd have to keep her mouth shut grin)

It's the behaviour and level of independence I do care about - the difficulty is that she's not asking if she can do things most of the time - she's just going out and doing them. We live quite near town so she doesn't have much need for lifts, which is one less source of control we have. DP and I each have younger DCs too, so I'm well aware that whatever freedoms she has the others will likely expect to have too at the same age.

I get what you're saying about the role being to shift from telling them what they can do to helping them make their own mind up, but we know so little about her life I don't know how to judge if she is making sensible decisions or not.

secretscwirrels Thu 16-May-13 16:08:50

So in fact she is 15.
I have boys but even my 17 year old wouldn't do those things without consulting me first. My 15 year old wouldn't even ask.
Families are different but perhaps she has not had normal family life and is playing her parents off against each other.

purpleroses Thu 16-May-13 16:54:53

She's nearly 16, year 11, so will be starting sixth form in September. She doesn't exactly play them off against each other (they largely agree in principle what she should/shouldn't be doing) but she does sometime exploit the two homes set up. And it is definitely harder to parent effectively between two homes.

She's strong-willed and comes across as very independent and the attitude is very much "don't worry about me, I'll be fine". We are trying to reign her in, but it's hard! She's now required to ask before sleepovers, and DP is going to check with the other parents - to prevent being lied to. And we're discussing ways of preventing her having access to this house when we're away.

But she's very skilled at just doing the things she wants, without asking, giving us little time to react. And acts as if she doesn't expect there to be any boundaries, certainly not once she's 16. I'm just struggling a bit to figure out exactly where they should be, and what is realistic given where we are at the moment and the lack of sanctions that either of us can think of that we could actually enforce. Her friends are mostly a year or two older, which doesn't help.

cory Thu 16-May-13 22:57:43

My dd is 16. In some ways I do treat her as an adult in that I discuss house rules and decisions with her in an adult way.

But she recognises that her part of the deal is to deal with these discussions in an adult way: to try to understand where I'm coming from, keep her temper and make her points, be prepared to compromise. It's a two way street.

The four specific points you mentioned haven't really come up: none of her friends stay out all night either, unless at a specified sleepover; as for body piercings, she is hoping to be an actress so is wary of doing something that may be difficult to undo to her body; she seems quite happy to be holidaying with us for the time being. On the whole, I think she is happy to wait another couple of years for full independence: we are all more or less working on the assumption that she will be leaving home after Sixth Form.

I think having a definite plan about what she wants to do after school helps her to be patient. I remember as a 16yo thinking that it isn't really worth upsetting my mum and dad because I'll be gone soon anyway and then I can do what I like. Probably harder if you are living very much in the now it is harder to feel like that.

mindgone Fri 17-May-13 00:20:47

She sounds just like a character in a book I am reading at the moment! A Patchwork Marriage by Jane Green

chocoluvva Fri 17-May-13 09:04:52

That all sounds very difficult to handle. The double household must make things very difficult.

IME 14-15/16 is the most difficult stage so she's hopefully nearly past the worst of it.

In the weeks leading up to my DD's 16th birthday she was full of talk about how she'd soon be an adult and able to do whatever she liked. (She's 16 and a half now). It was mostly bluster though. Hopefully some of your DSD's talk is too - when she says she's going to do X try not to react too much. If her parents aren't going mad about it she can't do it as a way of rebelling and it might seem less appealing. If you can take an interest in the other things, be positive and encouraging she'll feel rewarded and valued and experience the natural consequences of 'behaving well' compared to 'behaving badly'.

As for boundaries in general - all adults who share a home usually let the others know where they are and roughly when they're going to be home and whether they're going to be eating with the household. And they answer their phones. And they contribute to some of the running of the household. They have reasonable manners. Those are the minimum standards you should expect and she would be unreasonable to complain about those as an expectation. If you can demonstrate that the adults in her life, especially her parents and you behave like that she can't feel they're trying to 'control her'.

Occasionally my DD will ask if she can do something that I'm not happy about and I'll say I don't think she should but it's up to her. Sometimes she does it anyway (sometimes not). I don't think she likes feeling disapproved off though - there won't be sanctions, but she doesn't enjoy it when I'm not feeling kindly disposed towards her and not sharing her pride/pleasure etc in whatever it is she's done IYSWIM. Your DSD will still want the approval and support of the adults who are close to her too.

chocoluvva Fri 17-May-13 09:12:56

Posted too soon. Remind her calmly that she should let you know her plans for going into town etc and 'reward' her verbally for anything she does that's considerate/kind etc.

Ask her about her plans for when she's left school. Really listen. Ask her about her views on things. That will make her feel that she's being treated like the adult she thinks she wants to be and reassured that you do respect her as a young adult.

Don't complain about irritating unimportant stuff like an untidy room.

chocoluvva Fri 17-May-13 09:13:30

Now, if I could just take my own advice....... smile.

purpleroses Fri 17-May-13 11:14:38

Thanks Choco - that's really helpful. I think sometimes we can get hung up on the problems she's throwing at us and the lack of control anyone has over her that we forget about some of the positive stuff we can be doing. If she had more positive interaction with the adults in her lives, she might not feel the they're just getting in her way and actually care what they think a bit more - hence we wouldn't need boundaries and sanctions so much because our opinions would count for more. She's out so much that the opportunities for positive interaction can be hard to get - need to make a point of grabbing them when they do come up.

happyAvocado Fri 17-May-13 11:28:18

I think I like a lot this distinction - if you want your rules to be accepted - you contribute to running of the house

financially or othervise

BackforGood Mon 20-May-13 00:00:17

To answer your first post :
No and
No.... well, this is the one I might possibly negotiate on

My eldest is a ds, and year older than your dd. I have a 14yr old dd too, and am close to nieces who are 18 and 19, so not just innocently projecting from not having any teens grin

I agree with Cory about them understanding they need to act in a mature and trustworthy way if they want to be treated as an adult and trusted to make the right decisions. Not sure that I can advise you in your position though, as I think this is something that you work on for years, from when they are quite little - the whole 'you get more freedom when I can see you understand the boundaries' scenario.

cory Mon 20-May-13 09:17:49

The problem of course is that the maturity thing only works if they are prepared to do their bit: otherwise the best laid plans fall to pieces.

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