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Setting boundaries for 14-year old

(21 Posts)
wheelsgoround1 Wed 02-Dec-15 11:04:40

Adolescence seems to have arrived overnight in our household and I need all the advice I can get. The big area of contention at the moment is where she can go, who with, how late and how she travels to and from. She's 14, just began year 10, and we live in a medium-sized city.

It's more complicated than that (of course ;) in that I'm a lone parent with a too-small network of advice and support at the moment. I'm also a wheelchair user which means I haven't had access to buses for years, nor am used to travelling alone at night without my car (ie. walking through dark streets). I missed out on my own teen rebellion, so it's a bit of an unknown world.

Meanwhile, DD has recently fallen off a cliff, with a breakdown in September; out of school since then and unlikely to return. New group of friends from a youth group, who sound like good people, but unlike the friends she's left behind, i don't know them and they cover quite an age range. Breakdown seems to have segued dramatically into adolescence and I'm desperately trying to keep up with - and keep safe - a young person I currently scarcely recognise. Recent health events have shaken my trust in her ability to protect herself fully (which has always been sound until now) though this is probably more my shock at recent events than her lack of self-preservation.

I know that 'boundary setting' is the thing, but any advice on what those boundaries should look like would be so useful. How late do you let your DD stay out? How far do you let her roam? Who with? Does she use public transport (alone or with others, and until what time of night) or do you run a taxi service? How do you adapt these boundaries over time?

Thank you.

Lozza1990 Wed 02-Dec-15 11:44:01

I remember having to walk my dog and do the washing up everyday at 14, on a school night I had to be home by 9:30 and weekend about 11, unless I was being picked up by my dad (for a party or something). I also remember having to introduce friends who's houses I stayed round or party I went to, which at the time I found utterly embarrassing but I will probably do the same when the time comes! It was just me and my dad and it seemed to work well I think.

There's nothing wrong with asking to meet her friends, tell her to invite them round, then you will feel more comfortable when she does go out with them. One thing I'd also say, is trust her to learn from her mistakes.

lljkk Wed 02-Dec-15 11:51:04

Do some adults run this youth group?

Wheelsgoround1 Wed 02-Dec-15 12:02:41

Hi lljkk. Yes, they do. I'm in touch with one of the group's leaders and he's being supportive. Confidentiality means he can't tell me much about the other young people, but he's been able to offer some reassurance.

Wheelsgoround1 Wed 02-Dec-15 12:08:46

Thanks, Lozza1990. This is helpful smile Did you travel home on your own (except where your Dad was picking you up) or with friends?

lljkk Wed 02-Dec-15 15:17:27

What kind of youth club is it? Most of them have safeguarding procedures many inches thick.

DD is 14 & only one of her mates allowed to go to the little bad city by herself using public transport (18 miles away). I'd be okay about it up until 8pm or so. We live in a sleepy place, though, and DD is very confident.

Is your Dd in school or not? You talk about her being in yr10 like she's at a regular school but say she's not likely to go back to school.

Wheelsgoround1 Wed 02-Dec-15 17:02:17

Thanks lljkk. I'm very happy with the group's safeguarding. It's meeting up outside the group that's more unknown (for me), though I think it's very likely fine. She's not in school (would be yr 10 if she was there), so there's been a falling away of most of the structures (routines, friends, etc) that were there until very recently. With those structures in place, it was much easier to identify the boundaries with reference to her friends and their families. Without them, I feel more adrift in knowing what are the most appropriate limits (even allowing for the fact that these will shift as we go).

lljkk Wed 02-Dec-15 17:12:50

Other than enticing her friends to come to yours (take away pizzas!) I think the other thing is to talk to her about your worries, in a "I know I can't stop you so can you just reassure me that none of these bad things will happen" way.

It's really good that she's engaging with people, don't discourage that.

Travelledtheworld Wed 02-Dec-15 17:35:24

Sounds like you are having a tough time.

If she's not in school, are you home educating ?
And don't the friends from youth group go to school ?

saoirse31 Wed 02-Dec-15 18:42:05

Surely your main focus should be getting her back in school, or is she home educated?

Wheelsgoround1 Wed 02-Dec-15 22:33:40

Thanks, llijkk. I think pizzas (and conversation) are definitely about to go on the menu smile

Thanks Travelledtheworld and saoirse31. Really appreciate your questions and comments. I won't go into the school stuff here because I can't say too much at the moment. That stuff's in hand, but the advice I need is more specifically about the kind of boundaries that other parents are setting for their 14-year old daughters (in very practical terms), such as:

How late do you let your DD stay out? Do you have a 'curfew'? How rigid/flexible is that?
Does she use public transport do get back home? In which case, do you let her travel alone or say she must travel with others? Or do you run a taxi service?
How do you manage friendships with kids/families you haven't met?
How do you adapt these boundaries over time?

Thanks, all!

BabyGanoush Wed 02-Dec-15 22:43:14

A combination of trust and rules:

Always travel together (this may require sleepovers), always make sure she lets you know where she is.

Coming home at reasonable hour

Also opening your home to her friends (pizza, sleepovers) is a good thing as you want to know her friends a bit

And trust your instinct.

If she proves to be reliable you can give more privileges (staying out longer)

lljkk Wed 02-Dec-15 22:46:20

Mine don't like to go out, sorry we haven't had to curfew, I am thinking 8-9pm maybe if I were in your situation.
I encourage DD to tell me about her friends in as much gory detail as possible.

At 14 we have to hope we've instilled them with aspiration & enough common sense not to screw up too badly when they make their own decisions. Think of this resourceful 12yo before we decide our 14yos can't possibly be old enough to be good judges of character or cope with risk.

saoirse31 Wed 02-Dec-15 22:47:37

The thing is you can't and prob shouldn't manage her friendships, she's of an age where she decides who she's friends with, and you hope she chooses well. You prob won't meet some of parents but that's fine once you meet the friends.

Re transport, I'd think public transport fine but personally would prefer if its late that she's not on own. Also I have found its useful sometimes to give lifts if u can, to her and friends, in interests of communication.
Also , if u can, have her friends over often
Best of luck

purpledasies Wed 02-Dec-15 22:57:43

I think the key thing I've learnt so far is that it's better to have fairly liberal rules that are followed and you can enforce than it is to have strict ones that you can't. So the first question is how much control over her do you have? With my eldest DSD we struggled when she was 14/15 with DH having never got in the habit of checking with friends parents when she went on "sleepovers" and it became increasingly obvious she was lying about where she was. It would have been much easier to keep her safe if she could have been open with us about where she was, even if that was staying over with a BF. Given we didn't have control over her anyway (which is pretty much impossible when they have another parent who's lost all control) the "rules" my DH vaguely suggested were useless and just made her lie.

Can you set a curfew and will she respect it? If she breaks it, do you have a sanction you can enforce? Limiting access to money, lifts or WiFi are possible options.

For reference my DS (15) is allowed to make his own way by train and bike to an activity once a week and gets home around 10.30pm. He has been out later babysitting. DD (12) has recently started going out with friends to the cinema, etc and makes her own way there and back, home by 9 usually. I've never been keen on teenagers going out to hang around parks etc so would tend to impose an earlier curfew for that sort of thing and ask lots of questions about who will be there, maybe offer to pick up by car to get a look at what's going on.

Wheelsgoround1 Thu 03-Dec-15 14:42:07

This is really helpful. Your link, lljkk, is very thought provoking (in so many ways) and everyone's practical advice is exactly what I need smile Thanks so much.

BackforGood Thu 03-Dec-15 23:32:12

Mine tend to be chauffeured around at night (my youngest is 14)

Re boundaries and rules, I do try to let them make choices as much as I can - I've always thought lots of 'banning' just sends things underground, or just means they are storing up some massive rebellion later.

what we've always tried to do is have lots of 'theoretical' conversations - maybe something in the news or on a film, or something a fictional colleague's dd has had happen or has done, so we can talk about scenarios without it being like a criticism of them, or without them having to worry about breaking confidences, but it makes them think about options and different ways of dealing with thing.
I think it started when they were younger and I used to ask them things like "You know earlier, when I popped to the shops, what would you have done if I hadn't come back when you were expecting me?" to kind of have them think things through before the situation ever happened. It then morphs easily into things like "What if you were at a party and......" type discussions.

Wheelsgoround1 Fri 04-Dec-15 18:00:25

Thanks, BackforGood and everyone else. Really useful. smile

titchy Fri 04-Dec-15 18:10:35

Re curfews - don't have a fixed one. Each reason she's out will need a different curfew. Going to town shopping with friends on Saturday - back by 6.00 for supper. Going to a party on Friday then she needs to either be picked up at 11.30 or have someone drop her home.

The key isn't the curfew, it's what is reasonable given the event, and knowing where she is and who with.

Public transport in day - absolutely fine. Maybe ok in the evenings too if route home from bus stop to home well lit.

Sundance2741 Fri 04-Dec-15 21:23:06

Mine is just 15. Sadly she's not good at having friends so only occasionally goes out with them but she does use buses to get to and from various activities. It depends on where and why she's going. I would definitely pick her up after 09.00 but feel less like letting her travel around now the evenings are dark.

As has been said, it's more about the situation and her either keeping to the times agreed or phoning to let us know that she'll be later.

But dd went through a very tough time earlier this year and disappeared for a few hours several times - wouldn't answer phone etc and the police were called a few times. So we're very careful to monitor closely now she has settled down again. (If necessary we threaten loss of favoured activities, but we haven't had to do that for a while).

BackforGood Fri 04-Dec-15 22:18:13

I totally agree with titchy about curfews. It's not about a specific time, it's about staying safe and the courtesy of letting you know where they are / when they'll be home, etc., and, sometimes, fitting in with the rest of family life.

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