Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Parenting Concerns

We had a little change in the household yesterday. The 17-year-old step-granddaughter got into a bit of hot water with Mandy and the upshot of this whole deal is that the step-granddaughter got ticked off, packed some bags and left. Went to "live" with her mother.

Ok, a little bit of background information here.

The girl's mother and my son-in-law were never married. From the time the girl was born till she was about 15-16 months old -somewhere in that vicinity -she was in her mother's custody. But then, the mother was accused of not caring for her properly and the girl's great-aunt took custody of her as a foster child. The son-in-law tried at that time to get custody of the girl but the courts would not allow it then since he was unmarried.

When he married his first wife (daughter is wife #2), he petitioned for full custody of the girl and won. However, his first wife was not the best parent to the girl -nor to the two children she and the son-in-law had -and when they divorced, the son-in-law maintained full custody of the girl and the maternal grandmother of the two children from the marriage got custody of those kids.

The girl was about 9-10 years old when Mandy and the son-in-law began dating and was almost 11 when they married. Early in the marriage, the relationship with the girl and Mandy was fairly good but over the past 5 years or so now, there have been a lot of problems.

When the girl was around 13 years old, the mother tried to regain custody but it was denied. She has two sons -one a year older than the girl who had been in his father's custody for several years until he got into a little trouble and the father sent him back to live with the mother. She has a younger son to the guy she was married to but is now either separated from or possibly they are divorced now -not quite sure about that. But she now has the two boys living with her -and her boyfriend.

The mother has not been the best of parents -whether on an absentee basis nor when the girl would go to visit her. She's been known to give the girl a nice gift for her birthday (December date) or for Christmas and then, turn around and take that gift and give it then to one of the boys. She is very lax on any type of discipline, could care less if the girl goes to school, does homework, participates in any extra-curricular activities, had refused in the past to transport the girl to any things she was interested/involved in, including church and youth group stuff too until the courts told her if the girl was staying with her (visitation things) and needed transportation to something, she HAD to take her, not rely on Mandy and the son-in-law to go get her, take her places, bring her back to the mother, etc.

Mandy's tried to be consistent in her rules and regulations she expected the girl to follow while living here. Not oppressive, but strict in some respects. However, the girl is not overly ambitious, has a lot of pipe dreams about what she wants to do -now and in the future -but unwilling to do things in return for things she wants. Thus, she still does pretty much as she pleases here.

She does get herself up and off to school in the morning on her own. Gets up at 4 a.m. to shower, dress, do her hair and make-up in order to be ready to get the bus at 7 a.m. I personally think she is slightly insane to give up that much extra sleep time but then, that's my own personal thing as I would rather sleep till say 6 a.m. and then get up and shower and get ready for school. (Sleep ranks quite high on my priority list ya know!)

Over the past two years, there have been several incidents involving the girl, some of her friends at school and away from school that created a lot of issues between her and Mandy.

At one time, we found out she was taking pills -prescription meds of her Dad's, mine too -taking them to school and agreeing to sell them. She also about two years ago was stealing packs of cigarettes from me and selling them to other kids at school. During that time period, there were also some issues of money going missing from my purse, from Mandy's purse too and she eventually confessed to being the culprit in that as well as taking the cigarettes and pills and selling them. She is just lucky that we found this out before she was caught with any contraband stuff at school though otherwise, she could have gotten in some really big trouble with the school and the law.

Because Mandy felt perhaps she was acting out due to jealousy over Maya and then Kurtis coming into the family, Mandy sought and got counseling for her back then.

There's the issue of school work which she pays no attention to until her grades are so low that she is in risk of failing and denied permission by the school of participating in certain extra-curricular activities which has also resulted in special classes at the school after hours at times, and yes, more counseling. And each school year, she has continued in the same vein -not doing homework, not even cracking a book -unless it is fiction -not participating in the required extra coursework assignments, etc.

This summer, she spent a good deal of the summer with her mom -who now lives about 3/4 of a mile from our house, here in the village. It was during that time that Mandy learned -via various sources -that the girl was smoking. Mandy told her she couldn't watch her 24/7 -obviously -but that she was not permitted to smoke here in this house. She placed high emphasis on the fact too that she had found proof on a few occasions that the girl was smoking in her bedroom -using various make-shift items as ash trays and Mandy told her in no uncertain terms that smoking in her bedrom was totally off limits as she felt this was way too risky a behavior, aside from being illegal at her age too! (Mandy has very strong reasons for this belief too because you see, 17 years ago this past spring, my son caught the house on fire -did extreme damage to the upstairs of the house and we ended up living in a motel for almost four months until the house was repaired. Now, especially with the two little ones here and their being autistic, not always having the same cognizance about many situations as other children their age might have and plus the fact that they are so young, Mandy is adamant that the girl not disobey this particular house rule.

Yesterday, when the girl came home from school, the first thing Mandy told her was that she had discovered the girl is smoking in her bedroom again, tossing the butts out the bedroom window, also leaving the window wide open too, which is a bit insane when one considers the cost of fuel oil to heat the darned house too. So as a result of that, Mandy told her she wanted her to go outside and clean up all the butts she'd thrown out into the yard and again, told her to refrain from smoking in her room and preferably to not smoke at all too. And, if she didn't like this one rule for living here, then she could go live with her mother!

And so, the girl then packed some stuff and away she went.

Now the question here with us, with her aunt too (the son-in-law's sister) is how long will she stay at her Mom's house? Her aunt figures she will be returning back home shortly as she is addicted to the computer and playing with her "My Space" account. Mandy figures it won't take long before the mother will ask her to do something she doesn't want to do so she will come back and I figure it will be when she needs money to do something at school or after school and the mother won't fund her in any way along those lines so she'll slide back and suck up to Mandy and the son-in-law because she needs something.

Now, if this situation were in your own home, how would you deal with this stuff?

My kids were far from little saints when they were in their teens but the did have some responsibilities they were supposed to take care of without my telling them EVERYTHING that I wanted them to do every time something needed to be done. They were supposed to see to it that the dishes were washed and if need be, if I was in need of a little extra help with the laundry or a little cleaning up, yardwork, etc., they were expected to help out then. And usually, they did pretty good about doing most of these things. Usually, not always. But then too, I worked long hours, afternoon-evening shifts and they were here alone and left to their own devices to do these chores and to deal appropriately with their school work as well. (NO, they didn't always follow through all that well on the homework stuff and all three of them now see the error of their ways in that aspect. Yeah, Monday morning quarterbacks, ya know.)

So come on -those of you with kids -especially teens -what rules/regulations would you impose, what would you expect of an individual in this age range who expects to have things handed to her in the way of clothes, permission to go to dances, concerts, money for this, that and the other, and then turns around and does things in total defiance of the one and only real rule she has been expected to follow in the house?

Feel free to log in bets as to how soon she will be back or what will be the compelling factor that will most likely send her back home too.

This inquiring mind really wants to know.


Meloncutter said...

I don't think the comments section holds enough words to be able to type a response to this.


Later Y'all.

Mary said...


First of all, I think she will be back as soon as her mother makes her do something she doesn't want to or won't give her the money she needs. When she appears at the door, I would welcome her back, sit her down and tell her that she is not going to bounce in and out of the house like a rubber ball. She either stays or she leaves and if she decided to leave, she can't come back. This is tough love and a very hard thing to do but something that must be done so your household is not enabling her.

Next, I would let her know that the computer was off limits until her school marks came up. If need be, disconnect the entire thing and store it in either yours or Mandy's bedroom. There would also be no extra curricular activities until the marks were up. The door to her bedroom would have to stay open at all times until she stopped smoking in the house.

She would also have a set schedule. In the door from school, a half hour of relaxation time and then homework. If the homework was done to (Mandy's or son-in-laws) satisfaction then after dinner she would do a couple of household chores and be given some free time before bedtime. If not, she would be studying. If exams or tests were coming up, she would be studying.

Mandy and son-in-law, you too, need to give her lots of "atta girl" when she does well and maybe a reward or two. An extra hour on Facebook or doing something that she likes. Take her to a movie she wants to see or give her a treat she likes.

Make her do chores and if they aren't done, she doesn't get any rewards. This may seem very strict, but I think this girl is hurting terribly about something and needs all the love she can get, even if it is tough love. Have Mandy or son-in-law talk to her to find out if she knows why she does these things. If she won't cooperate and talk to them, then they need to be firm.

Get her more counselling. She should be going once or twice a week. She has problems that she doesn't know how to deal with and she may not even know what they are.

I will pray for your family, dear friend. I do know that my daughter was no angel, but she did know the consequences of her actions. I was a single mother for 17 years while she was growing up and for many of those years worked 15 hours driving taxi. She had responsibilities and knew what they were and the consequences if she didn't do them. Yes, she tried to avoid, but when she recognized that she and only she was responsible for what occured, she came around.

Good luck. Prayers speeding heavenward. Please let me know how things go.

Love and blessings,

Anonymous said...

First of all I would say that this child is crying out for attention. Not spoil-me attention but love and affection that she simply wants from her own mother. If a mother's love isn't there or the bond is broken, the child will never know true love. There are way too many issues here to deal with and it's clear that the adults involved in bringing her up need to seek professional advice.

As for having 2 autistic children living in the house makes the situation very difficult to handle. As you probably know, autistic children live by copying, following on, an extreme vulnerable approach making it very easy for these children to pick up habits from the girl.

I sympathise. My ex has an autistic son who is extremely destructive, starts fires, drinks, smokes. Most of his behaviour is another cry for help. I won't let Amy (our daughter) in the same house as this child because of her vulnerability. I refuse to feel guilty about this.

I hope the situation gets sorted out soon. It needs to be.

Crystal Jigsaw xx
p.s. thanks for popping by my blog!

Jo said...

Hey, this has nothing to do with teenage daughter issues, but I thought you would like to take a look at my boyfriend's blog. He has been posting for awhile now. Feel free to leave him a comment. http://phungo.blogspot.com/

FYI, it is mostly about baseball.

RazorFamilyFarms.com said...

Oh, I am totally with Mary on this one. That girl will be back just as soon as it's not fun to be someplace else.


fermicat said...

Step families are hard. I've been in them as both a child and a step-parent. Never easy, not even now that I am an adult, dealing with my stepmom. (I've had an assortment of stepfathers, the latest of whom just didn't seem like a parent figure to me at all - probably because of my age and the quantity of them. Seems like a revolving door!)

No telling what the girl will end up doing. I think no matter where she lives, there will be things she doesn't like.

terri said...

Oh my... where to begin?

I think she'll be back by this weekend! It really sounds like she's got it VERY good at your house. Many parents would flat out insist that she not smoke EVER, anywhere. Mandy compromised, allowed her to make her own choice even if it was a poor choice. To ask her not to smoke in the house is COMPLETELY within reason. She violated that rule, putting everyone else at risk.

If she returns, I would make the punishment fit the crime. If she can't be trusted to obey the rule about not smoking in the house, she shouldn't be allowed to spend time alone in her room unless it's bedtime. The door should remain open when she is in there. I would also think about revoking computer privileges for a while since that is one of her favorite things. Allow her to gain that privilege back slowly as she begins to prove she can be trusted again.