May 12, 2010,
B.W. asks from Tarboro, NC on May 10, 2010
What Am I? a Bed and Breakfast??
Can anyone here enlighten me on why teenagers must treat their homes like a bed and breakfast? That's what I feel like sometimes. I have 2 teenage girls. One is 16 and the younger one is 13. My 16 year old has a boyfriend and likes to spend time with him. However, during the school week, she seems to love to come home, eat a ton of food at 3:00 in the afternoon (like a mini-dinner), and then asks to go out and doesn't want to be back home until 8:00 or 9:00. This happens often. The boyfriend comes from a good family and is a really nice guy but I have an issue with my daughter not eating dinner with our family and this habit of blowing in and out of the house like a tornado. Family dinners are now GONE. I also feel like this is behavior that my 13 year old is watching closely and I really want to shut it down. Am I being ridiculous or is it really that common for 16 year olds to be flying in and out of the house randomly and suddenly they can't eat dinner with the family, hang out, have an occassional conversation...etc. I wasn't allowed to do this when I was her age. I ate dinner with my family and then, if I had no homework or chores, I might be able to go out on a school night for a little while. Can anyone shed some light here? Just to clarify...my daughter is a straight-A student and pretty good for the most part but this is really annoying me. Here's the deal.....my office is at home and I am here in my house all day. No one ever comes home to an empty house which is a major perk of my job. We also have strict rules on the boyfriend. NO BOYS are allowed in our home unless parents are present. When the boyfriend is over, they have a media room that they are allowed to be in, with the door open, and only when parents are home. Bedroom & upstairs is off limits. Both my daughters have chores such as garbage detail, dishwasher, laundry, cleaning their room & bathrooms. My issue is how much time is too much time on weekdays to be out of the house? I am trying to compromise and be realistic without being overbearing and stifling.
So What Happened?™
Both my teens have rules to follow, chores to do, and a pecking order to adhere to.....Family, School, Self and all else is secondary. Those things are at the top of the list. I am NOT a new-age parent. If anything, I tend to throw-back to when I grew up and utilize the same structure that I lived with unless I feel a new one is more appropriate. Last night, my husband & I sat our daughter down and laid it out cut and dry. No more weekday outings until homeowrk, family needs, chores, etc. are completely tended to. AND....even so, you will only be allowed out of the house twice during weekdays so choose wisely. Dinner is no longer optional. You can eat at three but you best make room for our regular family meal as well. Same rules will apply that we already have regarding the boyfriend and the way our house and his house operates. No body is allowed over when parents are not home, no boys/girls in bedrooms or upstairs. Both our home and the boyfriend's home operate the same way and we are in touch with the boyfriend's family on a regular basis. That has been the case since day one. I explained to my daughter that she is 16, not 26 and that this is a teen relationship and not a marriage or even close. It never will be. Family comes first and the rules apply in EVERY instance and if she or the boyfriend don't accept that....time to call it quits. She was receptive to what we told her and agreed to follow the rules and stop trying to scoot out of the house when she knows she really needs to be home more. She told us that she is just trying to "have a life" in and amongst AP?Honors classes, two sports, and a boyfriend. I told her that those things are her life and that unfortunately she has been "shorting" the family. She got the point. I think we are in a better place now and I want to thank everyone for your help. I am not a loosey-goosey mother by any means. However, I do want my child to have freedoms that are earned and deserved. A lot of times when I was her age, I did not have that and I was always the "odd man out". It was hard and I don't want to put her through feeling that way. Balnce. It's all about balance. I made the shift to balance her out now. I'm hoping this will continue to make her a well-rounded and productive teen. What do you guys think?
R.T. answers from Orlando on May 10, 2010
Wow, seriously? Please take a moment to read your own post because you answered your own question! Why is she treating your house like a bed and breakfast? BECAUSE YOU ALLOW HER TO! You said it yourself that you would not have been allowed to do this at her age, so why are you allowing it and then complaining about it?? You are the parent! Don't like it, then put a stop to it! Where is she going from 3 to 8? To an unsupervised house? What does the boyfriend do for dinner? If his family is allowing her to join them for their dinner all this time, then you should be allowing him to join in your family dinner now and then to be fair. My 12 year old comes home from school starving but he isn't allowed to have a full mini-meal/early dinner when he walks in the door, just a snack, so that he'll still be a bit hungry when we sit down for our family dinner.
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L.M. answers from New York on May 10, 2010
Your daughter is treating your home as a bed and breakfast because you allow it.
My oldest daughter is 15 (no boyfriend, but friends who are boys), but I have none of the problems you described. She's a A/B student taking 4 honors classes. Sometimes she hangs out after school with some friends (supervised by the band teacher). She comes home, does homework, and chores. When I come home from work (hubby works most evenings), we sit down and eat dinner as a family. After dinner dishes are done, then it's time for friends. Ocassionally we have a friend for dinner, her friends seem to enjoy having dinner with us. It seems with such busy schedules of sports, clubs, music, dance, etc. that many families don't have the opportunity to eat together as often as they like. Our activities don't start until 6:00.
It's not common for 16 year old to come and go as they please. My daughter's friends (one is 16, most are 15) ask their parents permission. Tell her no boyfriend until after homework, chores and dinner. Maybe you should invite the boyfriend over for dinner ocassionally.
CONGRATULATIONS on making a tough decision and "laying down the law". You summed it up best, it's about balance. Good luck.
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A.P. answers from Boston on May 10, 2010
When I was a teenager I knew a lot of kids like this, it all comes down to who could get away with it really. Kids will go out with their friends every day if they can, who wants to stay home (that's boring). Honestly even straight A students can hang out with the wrong crowd and eventually go downhill. Being out 3-8 every day with her friends is a whole lot of time to do teenage things... I think you need to come up with some chores that she absolutely has to do when she comes home from school to keep her busy. Tell her she has to eat dinner with the family at least so many nights a week (3-4 maybe?). Set some rules and stick to them. Make her clean up after herself. She needs to learn this now before its too late.
As far as the eating after school, I remember being absolutely starving by the time I got home from school and raiding the fridge too. We used to eat lunch ridiculously early like 10am or something, so by 3pm I was starving. Maybe you could pack some snacks or something that she could eat during the day, not that schools ever let you eat, but that would help her not be so ravenously hungry after school. Teenagers just need a lot of food.
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S.H. answers from Honolulu on May 10, 2010
At that age, you gotta have rules.
Not letting her just do her own scheduling for socializing.
If that were me, at that age, my parents would not put up with it.
A 16 year old... with a boyfriend, is not an adult, making those same choices. The human brain is not even fully developed until 26 years old.
And what about her homework? And household responsibilities/chores?
If she has none of those criteria for being a PART of the family, then yes, you are a bed and breakfast.
Next, where is your Husband in all of this? He AND you have to create a set or rules of conduct and expectations. She is way old enough for that.
It doesn't matter if she is a straight-A student or not... she is a part of the family, and there are obligations to that, and to her parents. Regardless.
I think, the leash is too loose. Not that "family" is a "leash"... but you know what I mean.
You AND Hubby sit down, and talk to her. It being not a "punishment' but it being HER responsibilities and familial task to have the family as a "priority" TOO.
And, yes, your 13 year old. Whatever happens now, will be a precedent... and the 13 year old will probably regurgitate to you, whatever you "allowed" your 16 year old to do, or not. So, wrangling that.
And so it seems she can come home whenever she wants. And go out whenever she wants. And hang out with Boyfriend whenever she wants. And do whatever she wants. She's like a "tenant." But does not pay rent. Wow!
What about curfews? What about designating certain days/nights she can see boyfriend? What about designating certain nights she has to have dinner AT home? What about chores? Designating that too, and a host of other parameters.
Its not about "controlling" her, but how to be a part of the family.... and her being respectful of that... she can do her things... but there needs to be a bottom line, right?
AND the most common sense thing to me would be: WHY can't Boyfriend come over to your house TOO, to hang out with your daughter?????????
AND what the heck does your daughter/Boyfriend do at his house????? Do you even know? Do they hang out in his bedroom? What are the "rules" there for opposite sex hanging out???? Or do they even hang out at his house? Or do they then go out elsewhere, and do you KNOW where she is or what they are doing????
Does she know about sex and birth control, for example?
What is their "relationship" like? Do you know? Does she tell you????
Also, at 3:00 in the afternoon, most parents aren't even home themselves, from work (if both parents work).... so um, until the boy's parents comes home... your girl AND that Boyfriend, are basically BY THEMSELVES....???? Doing what? I don't think its just sitting in the living room watching TV until 9:00pm....
Also, your daughter should be ASKING permission, to go out. Not just coming and going...
all the best,
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D.B. answers from Charlotte on May 10, 2010
Addition: Hi Mom - In your 'what happened', I know you were reacting to someone's remark about your appearing to be a "new age" parent.
I really don't see you as a "new age" parent from what you originally wrote. I think that this just started with your daughter and snowballed. It's easy to make those kind of value judgements when it's someone else's child, that of calling you a "new age" parent. We all have to figure stuff out as it comes - she probably has different issues with her own children. Never believe that you are the ONLY mom whose kids give you a run for your money - they ALL do, because kids are never perfect, no matter how a proud mom acts or what she says.
I just want to say that it's a GOOD thing that you are giving your daughter some decision making choices and responsibility for her own actions. That's not "new age" parenting. That's helping your daughter learn what she needs to learn, up to a point, before she leaves the nest. Kids who are always managed to the nth degree and have authoritarian parents, with everything decided for them, sometimes go "nuts" when they leave home. You seem to be doing things the best way, Mom, trying not to be overbearing and stifling, as you say.
Don't let the remarks of someone who doesn't know you make you jump a little too far to the strictness that would cause your daughter to sneak around. You are doing well, especially since your daughter took your 'reining in' of her social life pretty well.
All my best,
Does she have chores to do? What about washing the dishes and washing her own clothes? Does she vacuum the floors and do any outside work on the yard?
She needs to be responsible for handling housework. Even if you do it better. Even if she gives you a hard time. Even if she hates it! Even if this takes time away from her boyfriend.
I won't allow my son to do what your daughter is doing, and he is 17 (and a boy). Every other day, he has to clean the kitchen. (His 15 year old brother has to do alternate days.) If he doesn't because of a late day at school (choir or drama) or too much homework, then he has to do the next days' dishes too. Yes, it's a pain because that means my kitchen is dirty the next day and I have to look at it, but if I did it for him, it would cause a real problem with my younger son who would say that I'm not fair. Plus, if each boy does the dishes on his own day, then he doesn't have double the dirty dishes by letting it slide. This teaches better responsibility. (Putting it off just makes it worse for him.) He also washes, dries and puts away his clothes - I rarely help him with this. He will need this skill when he leaves home and goes off to college.
Your daughter is very capable of continuing to be a straight-A student and starting to take care of herself and being more responsible to the family. Require her to spend 3 nights a week at home having dinner with you. You can let her invite the boyfriend to join you - make them both clean the kitchen before they can go elsewhere. Get what you want from her before she can have the privilege of doing what she wants away from the family. This works with my kids - they might not like it, but they are doing pretty well with it.
PS - When we visit the grandparents, they have to do the dishes after dinner for them. Yet, I help them when they need the help - the week my son was coming home at 8:00 every night the week before his big musical debuted (practices and dress rehearsals), I did the dishes all week. It gave him a break, and my younger son didn't get all upset. I do that during semester exams too.
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L.K. answers from Grand Rapids on May 10, 2010
The first thing I thought about when I read your question is: are the boyfriend's parents at home or at work when they get out of school? Is that why they spend so much time together during the school week?
I agree with you and the other replies that you are setting a precident with the rules for your younger daughter. Maybe invite the boyfriend over to hang out with her at your house and share dinner with your family sometime. Maybe you can put her in charge of planning and making dinner one day a week or a month - something to keep her mind off not being with her boyfriend and either giving you a little break or some quality time together with your daughter.
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L.W. answers from Miami on May 11, 2010
She is the child- you are the parent. Forgive me, but it sounds like you're letting her set her own rules. I'm sure she's a good kid- and I appreciate the fact that you're trying not to sit on her... but staying out till 8-9 o'clock every night on a school night is a lot of freedom for a kid that age. I say make rules for school night that YOU are comfortable with and stick to them. (including family dinner time). After all, it's for her own good- and you're right--- little sister is watching and taking notes!
(I have a 16 and 19 year old- so I know what you're going through!!!)
Good luck! : )
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M.B. answers from Tampa on May 11, 2010
I would say to let her know how you feel and that family is very important to her and you guys miss the dinner time together- she may not appreciate you right off the bat for sticking to your guns, but deep inside she knows it is the right thing and will appreciate that you made that decision for her and the family0 although she is 16, she still looks for you to guide her.
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