16Yr Old Rules

Updated on July 28, 2009
S.S. asks from Euless, TX
27 answers

My 16yr old niece will be coming to live with us in Aug (before school starts). It's has been a while since I was younger and I was in a broken family and did what I want. I am looking for what rules other parents with teenagers have. I am not sure if this is the norm, my thoughts so far (the #1 rule is no grades no play in our house, was thinking curfew weekend 11/12 do ya'll have weekday curfews considereing they have howemework that needs to be done after school. she is planning on getting a part time job and we were going to put her through drivers ed and help get her a car. With the vehical are extra rules inforced. I just want some suggestions so when we talk this weekend we all can be on the same page of the rules of the house. I also do not what to be to over the top one way or the other. Thanks for all the help!!

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answers from Dallas on

Hi, S.-
I am a mom of 9 children, so I admire your sacrifice to take on this new responsibility. I have some hard and fast rules in our family. (I have a 2 teenage boys at home now, 2 boys in college, and 5 married, responsible adult children, who all have at least a Bachelor's degree from a university. (One of my daughters is a CPA and attorney.) I like these guidelines because they focus on what to do, not what not to do.

1. Be a good person. Be a good family member. (Details include picking friends who do what is right, obeying the law, being honest, speaking kindly, and doing your fair share of the work. It also includes going to Church, if your family already does, helping others, and having a good attitude about babysitting or chores. Being considerate of other people's time is a biggie. I don't drop everything to run to Barnes & Noble for a needed school book at 10:45 PM before they close. One of our family mottos is, "Be where you're supposed to be, and do what you're supposed to do".)

2. Work hard and efficiently in all you do. No slackers allowed. (If my kids are milling around, not doing anything, I ask them if there is anything they could do to contribute to the welfare of the family or improve the world around them. This also includes getting good grades, putting things away in the right place, doing their homework before playing, working on school projects far in advance-instead of staying up until 2 AM the night before they are due, etc. This includes chores, school work, planning ahead and staying organized.)

3. Communicate (Needs, wants, who they're with, where they are going, problems, details - like if they need a specific shirt washed & ironed for a band concert. This also means communicating with others - teachers, friend's parents, etc. This means writing down their appointments on the family calendar. This also means that if they tell you they are going somewhere, then decide to go somewhere else, they call you before going somewhere else. I would rather receive 8 30 second phone calls in one evening, than to find out later that they went somewhere possibly questionable that I didn't know about. This also allows you to get in touch with them in the case of an emergency.)

4. Be in charge of your own things. (This says it all- put your own things away, clean up after yourself in the kitchen, mop your own spills, iron your own clothes, etc.) Mom is not the maid.

5. Driving a car is a privilege, not an entitlement. (My kids have to ask before they leave, even if they're the only one who drives that car, and they consider it "theirs". No one gets mad and stomps out of the house and leaves in the car. Before leaving, they have to tell where, what, who and when. Certain responsibilities go with it: running errands for the family, filling it with gas, waiting while it is being serviced, etc.)

6. Telephones and computers are a privilege. (Giving up the family phone when another call comes in Call Waiting. Giving up playing games on the computer when someone else needs it for homework. Going to only approved sites on the internet. Answering cell phones when parents call, even if they are already talking on it. Taking good care of the equipment, etc.)

7. Being home when expected is vital. (Our school night curfew is 10 PM, weekend nights are 12 AM. If they are going to be late, I better receive a phone call. As a parent, I wait up to be sure they aren't hurt, stranded, etc, so being late is inconsiderate and worrisome.)

8. Home is where you learn LIFE SKILLS. Everyone learns how to share, do the laundry, cook, iron, clean a toilet, paint a room, plant flowers, etc. You want to give your children the skills that will see them through their adulthood.

9. Love is Spoken Here. (We say this sometimes 20 times in one day, but it reminds everyone to curb anger, forgive, cooperate, help, and above all, show and receive love. This also means that "we" are more important than "me".)

I liked having these guildelines, rather than hard rules. It allowed for busy days when everyone had to pitch in more than usual, or for slow days, when we had minimal chores and responsibilities. (Rather than take the trash out every day, and dishes once a week.) I wish you the best in this new experience. It will probably be very rewarding. Have any questions? call me: L. ###-###-####

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My experience with 16 yr old girls is that if you come on with DO THIS DO THAT DO THIS, she'll shut down and not want to speak to you.

I am all for rules...when the situation comes about, but not sitting down and saying...this is how it's going to be period and have a nice day.

I'm thinking that if she is to come live with you and it's already been arranged, you guys should have established "what is expected" of her BEFORE agreeing to the arrangement, not when she gets there.

No drugs and alcohol are a given. Making decent grades...also a given...curfew...depends on the event and who they're with, but a normal curfew for my daughter is 11...10 on week nights. But again...depends on what she's doing and where she's going and who she's with.

About the cell phone...if she abuses it, she loses it. About the computer...same thing. And we have a timer on the computer as well...so two hours a day during the weekday and 4 per day on the weekends...and that's it.

I am firm but I am fair...and I think that makes for a good parent/teen relationship.

Kudos to you for taking in your neice. Raising a teen isn't for the weak...that's for sure.

Smiles to you!! Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would agree with the other moms on curfew, dating, grades and such, but I would also suggest asking her what she thinks house rules should be. You might be surprised that she knows what would be better for her rules and then compromise from there. Maybe ask, "What do you think would be a good time to be off the phone?" Then if she says 10, you can point out that the little ones go to bed at 8, so lets meet in the middle at 9. It will give her some control over herself and make her more likely to follow the rules she helped set. Don't forget to get her to help set the consequences too, and let her write them down as they are agreed upon. When a rule is broken you can point out that she helped decide the punishment, and you won't be the bad guy so much!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What a great thing you are doing by taking in your niece! I have two teenaged daughters and one 12 year old daughter. First and foremost with us is grades--definitely, no pass/no play! My girls are all involved in school activities, so bad grades mean they don't get to participate in cheerleading, drama, choir, etc. It just helps reinforce our grade rule.

As for curfew...in our house it is earned. Most cities don't even allow minors out past midnight (sometimes 11). Also, there are curfews for new drivers as well. Responsiblity earns our 17 year old later curfews. Normally she is to be home by 11:30, but on occassion has been allowed out past that time. Communication is key. If she doesn't communicate with us via phone call or text when she will be later than planned, then there are consequences, like being grounded for the following week. We've only had to enforce grounding on two occassions though. We've been blessed with responsible girls.

Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

God bless you, for taking in your niece at a very important time in her life. This can be a very exciting and sometimes difficult time for her. She is trying to grow up and be her own person. Be positive and praise her good qualities,just as a preschooler needs praise, so does a teenager. Don't be too fast to give her too much freedom. Make sure you know who her friends are and their families. Be sure to monitor her computer and cell phone use. In our house my 16 year old daughter is required to be home by 9:00pm on school nights and by 12:00am on weekends. I try to make room for exceptions, a late school activity, work schedule, etc... Our daughter just started working and I told her that she is now earning her own allowance. When and if she makes enough money she will be required to pay for gas. I am a mother of three the youngest is 16. I have always told my kids that once they loose my trust they have to earn it back and I mean earn, grounding etc... Be sure you form a network with other moms of teenagers, because I have also told my kids that I have eyes and ears all over town. I have awesome daughters and truly enjoy watching them grow, mature and develop their God given personalities. Everyone needs a hug. Hold her responsible for help around the house, just because she lives there. Cherish her and encourage her to be the best she can be. She needs to know how to set up boundaries with her boy friends. Make sure she knows that you love her for just being her. Hope that I have not scared you to death. Enjoy her and embrace having an older girl to do things with. I realize that this is more info than you asked for. Just wanted to share what I have learned.
J. W.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

11/12 is reasonable on the weekend IF, you know where they are going and what they are going to be doing until 11/12 (movie, at someone's home, etc.). 16 year old kids don't need to be "roaming" the streets at 11/12 at night. 10 is reasonable during the week, unless they have a job, in which case, come straight home after work and be home as close to 10 as possible. If they can't get up in the morning and get to school on time, the curfew is too late.

Our rules were simple but not negotiable. As long as she followed the rules, she was free to make her own decisions and choices.

No drinking, no drugs, no exceptions. If you get caught up in something, call me and I'll come get you, no questions. (Only happened once, and she told me what the circumstances were several years later, but I had never asked.)

No riding in cars with a driver that has been drinking or doing drugs, no exceptions. See rule 1.

Sex has consequences. Consider them.

Tell me where you are and who you are with and when you will be home, all the time. If something changes, call and let me know your plans have changed. Which brings us to the next rule,

Cell phone is on at all times and you will answer it when I call you. If you need to turn it off, call me and tell me first. (Don't call them excessively when they are out.)

Those were the "biggies", we had some minor "house rules" such as:

Pick up after yourself, and occasionally be nice and pick up after someone else for no special reason.

Respect all the other people in the house. Don't say or do anything to them or around them that you would not do to a stranger - and try to treat them better than that if you can.

In exchange for following the rules, we gave her a car, gas, insurance and a cell phone. She always worked for her spending money.

Break the rules, lose the privledges.

She turned out OK. She is in college, on the Dean's list (the good one, not the one I was on) and is a warm, beautiful, wonderful young woman. Kids are great, I hope you enjoy her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Oh my, teenagers are difficult to start with in midstream. Teenager GIRLS add a whole other spin on things.

First off Midnight is way too late for a 16 yr old. Especially if they are a new driver. We set 10pm on weeknights and 11pm Friday and Saturday. If you are going to be late, CALL me (no texting! I want to HEAR your sweet voice to assure me you are ok).

Let her know that she is expected to help out around the house beyond her normal "chores" (even if she is working part-time she should still contribute to the household work).


1)We must meet the boy, then if we approve you may go on a supervised date. (we then graduated it up as things went well to unsupervised once she had her DL)

No phone calls to the house after 8pm (or whatever your littleone's bedtime is).

I don't care WHAT everyone else is wearing you will NOT look like you work part-time on a street corner on Harry Hines! I don't want to see butt cracks, thongs,bras, or any other undergarments sticking out for public view.

-Music and other Media-
(personally we have MySpace blocked at our Router so it cannot be accessed in our house. However that is YOUR choice to make).

No music containing foul language or highly suggestive behaviors (we actually have a few artists that were banned from our house due to explicit content).


These are just a FEW things you may want to sit down with your husband and discuss. Teenagers are difficult enough. Then when you throw in the fact that she is already 16 and has some habits developed it makes it even more so. Then there is your younger daughter to consider. Your neice is going to be setting "examples" for her. Trust me, I have a daughter 5, Son 19, and another daughter(my rebel)who is about to turn 20. My 5 yr old tried so hard to mimic her older sister (BIG Problem!).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have been thru the first 3 teens and am finishing with the last 2. Thank God I have so far survived. Some suggested rules:
1.) curfew on weekdays-10:00
2.)put a monitor camera in the car and know all
3.)meet and greet all friends and as many friends' parents as possible, haven't met them? This girl doe NOT go out with them
4.) Feel free to meet with and talk with her teachers. Keep fairly close track of her grades. (NOT DOMINEERING)
5.) Any church activities? Make it a requirement to go. Whether she believes or not, she'll have more "family time" with all of you. And who knows, maybe she will believe one day. And HOW IN THE WORLD CAN THAT HURT?
6.) chores around the house-clean her room-no leeway here, and maybe take out the trash.

Just a few ideas...Later, V.

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answers from Dallas on

Let me recommend some resources that can really help you!
"Teen-Proofing" By John Rosemond
"Parenting Teens with Love & Logic" Foster Cline,M.D.
www.empoweringparents.com free website with TONS of great articles and blogs regarding specific issues. It is partnered with The Total Transformation System which I also highly recommend.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

S., You've already received some amazing advice so I just wanted to tell you how much I admire what you are doing for your neice, I don't know the circumstances that have created this arrangement, but you are obviously a loving aunt that wants to create a safe and secure environment for your neice while allowing her the freedom to be a teenager and have fun. I pray that you will continue to embrace her individuality while helping her learn the boundaries that will create a strong, intelligent, creative and beautiful young lady. Bless you and your family for opening your home!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've read through all the other wonderful advice on setting limits and rules for a 16 yr. old you are so lovingly accepting into your home.
I agree w/most of the other advise given but I would like to add one more piece of advice that I feel strongly about.
When thinking about driving safety, I would limit the number of people permitted in the vehicle at any one time. At least until she has had a year of driving experience. I did not allow more than one friend at a time to ride w/my son during their 1st year after they recieved their license. I also did not allow them to ride w/anyone that had not had their license for at least a year or w/a large group of kids in a one car with the exception of a short ride, etc....
I know this advice may or may not apply to your neice as I do not know her personally. She may be a careful person who follows rules and doesn't do what the crowd entices her to do.
I do know my sons and they can get distracted very easily and they are also followers. I always worry that they could be enticed to "Drive faster" or whatever else someone in their car may encourage them to do. Not to mention just the normal distractions of music, phone use or conversation.

I hope this helps you in setting the necessary limits, but remember that even w/all the rules in the world if she doesn't respect you she won't follow them. Be sure to show her respect, and love of course, and she will be happy to show you respect for your rules!

Good Luck! D.



answers from Dallas on

At this age the curfew was 12 on weekends no matter what I was doing and my mother had to know where I was and who I was with at all times. As for weekdays I was not allowed out during the week at all except for work (I worked retail at the time and that sometimes kept me out till 11pm). A LOT of what rules you have for her are gonna be based on her actions. I would just set some very basic rules for now but make sure she understands that more will be added or some may be modified based on the decisions she makes. The biggest one in my house was grades come first. For us it was a required B or better to go out but once again it is based on her this may not be a realisitc goal for her you may just require her to be passing.



answers from Dallas on

You have gotten some good responses. You know this is adjustment for all. I would set some basic rules and just make up the rest as you go and feel the need to make adjustments. Defiantly a curfew. 11/12 on weekends is great and weekdays really need to depend on her extra activities and her grades. As long as her grades are good and shes being respectful and picking up after herself in the home be easy on her.

I am the oldest of 3 sisters and 2 brothers. One brother is a year younger but all the others are 7-14 yrs younger so I remember alot. And now that my oldest will be 15 this year I am starting to remember some things.

TRUST is the key, give her freedom until she gives you a reason not to.



answers from Dallas on

In Saginaw there is a law of curfew which I love. My friend's kids were standing out by the curb in front of her house and a policeman told them to get in so that will help. There are signs on the streets too, I can not remember the deadline. Teens are the hardest ane they rebell, try alcohol and drugs and sex and will not listen because they think they know it all. So far my granddaughter I am raising can be sweet or mouthy and you never know which one will come it. She also argues with a final say so on everything. Drives me nuts. She can be so sweet and give me a kiss or she will just slam a door. I did not like who my children were at teens and the rules kept them in all the time. I would have rather they were out having fun but they kept making crisis in our home. Good Luck it is a not appreciated task. G. W



answers from Dallas on

I have a 16 yr old. Everything revolves around the cell phone and facebook. Those need to be monitored. Cell left in kitchen at 10pm on skool nights. (Otherwise they text until midnight if they can). Computer time to be determined by the family, but they also spend hours on tv. You should say no electronics after a certain time. My 16 yr old daughter only attends school activities during the week. Midnight curfew on weekends. A lot depends on the child really.


answers from Dallas on

How thoughtful you are to be giving this so much consideration to be fair to her.

I have a 14 yr old. We are VERY lenient. She also is very aware that when she slips up, there are consequences.

My first suggestion is COMMUNICATION....no topic off base.

Our daughter's life revolves around her laptop with MySpace and her cell phone. We allow MySpace...as long as we have the password and it is checked randomly.

I am not as strict as some moms on here....I offer my daughter the opportunity to make good choices. I won't be so rigid as to demand what she wears, etc. She knows right from wrong.

As for curfew...my 14 yr old goes to movies often and some parties. She must be INSDIE the house by midnight. She does not go out on school nights unless it is a school function (and we have a lot of those).

We don't worry about the grades. Our daughter is a cheerleader, in Concert Orchestra and in all Honors classes. Both Orchestra and Cheer have where both the....no pass no play rule. Her weekly schedule is quite full. She is often at school until 6pm.

Just last week, I, along with her best friend's mom, were the "meanest moms in the world" because a party was scheduled to last until 1am. We said no, that we would pick them up at midnight. They both almost did not get to go to the party at all but decided a party until midnight was better than no party at all :)

Be firm on the rules but listen to her point of view. I do know that Allen and Plano have teen curfew. I believe it is 11 on weeknights and midnight on Friday and Saturday.

I don't know about the driving thing. I am scared out of my mind on that part!. We've been blessed with a responsible girl but she knows parts of her "freedom" will be pulled in a heartbeat if she crosses certain lines.

Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

My parents told me that I couldn't date until I was 16. that's probably one of the only rules I remember having imposed on me. My family was also "broken", so I pretty much did as I wanted. What I wanted was to babysit and make money, go to school games and events, and hang out with my friends.

I turned 16 and I figured there'd be a stampede to my door asking me out on dates. It never happened. My dad told me years later that I probably should have started dating earlier, but no one was asking me out then either. What purpose did the rule serve?

My parents raised their kids with good sense and we used it for the most part. When we didn't, we either got caught or more likely confessed our sins out of guilt.

What rules does the kid have now, and why do you think she needs to have a whole set of rules at your house?

We used to host exchange students and our rules for them were simple. Clean up after yourself. Take part in family activities. Let us know where you're going and when you'll be back. Check in periodically so that we know where you are and how to get in touch with you. No alcohol or drugs. We didn't want to have to make a call to their parents giving them any bad news.



answers from Dallas on

Many of the suburbs have teen curfews, so check into that. Also after drivers ed is completed, they have to drive with a permit (with an adult in the car) for 6 months before a license will be issued. The car is a big privilege, and the 1st to be taken away when there are problems. It is a big motivator to do well. -- What a good aunt you are to take your niece into your home!



answers from Dallas on

Read "Love and Logic" with your husband before she comes. These books are excellent - there is a version for teens! It is all about teaching your child to think for themselves using natural consequences.



answers from Dallas on

S., boundaries are good and ALL kids need theem. I thin that you are on the right track. Just to let you know, there is no need for a teen to be out after 11pm on a week night. There is a city curfew and if she is working, she is not suppose to work past 10 or 10:30, by law. "No grades, No play" worked well with my sister and me growing up and my daughter. We had to do all HW before going anywhere or doing anything. I had 2 jobs in high school and played sports because I kept my grades up. if not, then all I was going to do was work on getting back up. Take a look at her transcripts to guage the type of grades that she usually has and set standards based upon that and goals for improvement. The car should be earned through hard work (grades) and behavior (attitude, chores, responsibilities).



answers from Tyler on

I think understanding the situation she is coming out of... is a start.

Curfew- definitely no later than 11/12 on weekends and I would say 9/10 on weekdays. If she plans on working this probably will not be much of a problem.

If she is planning on playing sports in school- there is an automatic no pass/no play policy. But you can require that for extra activities she put forth her best effort.

Also may want some boundaries (with teens it's not about rules so much as giving them boundaries), where they have a choice... think about what you would expect of your daughter (because for good or bad she will be an example for your daughter)... what are your limitations or expectation on clothing, makeup, hair... cell phone, chores, dating.

Yes a car is great leverage... a parent or guardian in TX has the right to have a teens license revoked for any reason, just a simple form to fill out. Driving is a privilege not a mandate.

I would suggest, you and your husband sitting down with her in a relaxing atmosphere and discussing what her expectations are and what ya'll would require and expect as well. If you have a good relationship with her already, the transition may be a little smoother.

What a great thing ya'll are doing for her.



answers from Dallas on

I know this is late as I was out of town, but I wanted to say that consistency is critical for a teenager, just like with your little one. Also, keep in mind that it is easier to give in little increments as they "earn" rights than to have to take them away because you gave them everything up front and they don't live up to their responsibilities.

I think you got great advice on curfews, driving, use of electronics,etc. Please let us know how it went. Bless you for your generosity. I hope that she will someday realize the enormity of what you are doing for her.



answers from Dallas on

Haven't read all the responses but the best rule my parents had for me was no passengers in the car (other than parents & older brother) for the first 6 months after getting my license and no passengers in the car if my grades were bad. This kept me from being a chauffeur for all my friends (I was a fall birthday and turned 16 before many of my friends). I think this helped me get comfortable with driving before having added distractions.



answers from Dallas on

Remember NO means NO. NO negotiating because once the negotiation starts that's a sign for okay gotta the parents over... then the manipulation goes into full force. second, stick to the rules. side step the rules once and it will occur again to the point that the rules are a total joke. remember who the parent is here... curfews are limited to the grade the child is currently in... 10:00 pm = tenth grade; 11:00 pm = eleventh grade; midnight = twelveth grade weekends. during the week 9:00 pm. no need for a child to be out and about after a certain time. means TROUBLE. if the child balks about who's friends parents does what, tell the child who's house is the child (your child) currently residing, who's paying for this/that in order for the child to have a comfortable life... great about the part-time job/help with purchasing the vehicle. do not be afraid to remove the car if grades slip or child is caught in a lie/predicament. if the child currently has a cell phone, no telephone calls from 9:00 pm - 9:00 am. if the child is caught utilizing the cell phone during the aforementioned time, confinscate (spelling). make the child pay for their own cell phone...if the child does not pay for the cell phone... then guess what no cell phone. it is called teaching responsibility. also if the child leaves anything laying about in common house areas and was told once to pick up, you get to confinscate with no return. same with clothing laying about in the child's room... if the clothes are not put up properly, the clothes will no longer be the child's but salvation army. make the child clean the bathroom she will be utilized on a weekly basis... do their own laundry... wash dishes... empty trash cans... good luck.



answers from Dallas on

My step daughter is 16 and we have just a few rules..her curfew on the weekend just all depends on what she is doing, if she is just going to dinner and hang out with friends at the bowling alley then she has to be home by 11 and if she is going to a movie and it runs a little past 11 that is fine but she is to be home by midnight no questions asked and if she has to leave the movie to get home by 12,oh well. During the week we really don't like her to go out but if she does she has to be home by 9 and all homework and chores have to be done before she leaves though. She knows her grades come first no matter what. She is in all AP classes and is a member of the Varsity cheerleading squad. If she fails a class they have to sit out until progress reports and if they are still not passing they sit out till the 9 weeks, but if she fails she is out altogether, she is an AB student so we don't really have this issue. You just really have to see if she is going to try and push the envelope or not, if she's a good kid and gets good grades follows all the rules etc make your rules off of that. I want Kiersten to be social and not just sit around the house but she knows that I will keep her home in a heartbeat if she messes up to bad and believe me 16yr olds mess up quite a bit. Good Luck



answers from Dallas on

It's been a while since my son was in that age group. But my suggestion is "common sense". You goal is to let her know that you love her and care for her happiness and safety. Make the rules to be fair and with her safety in mind. She needs to earn your trust. And when you make a rule that is broken be prepared to enforce the restrictions or don't make them.

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