Teen vent

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Post  Sun, Mar 16 2008, 10:41 pm
I know my situation is differnt and unique (hence the amother). DH and I are a 'young couple' with an 18 month old and another on the way. Added to the mix is my 15 year old cousin (female) who is living with us. Her parents aren't in the picture and haven't been for 12+ years. For most of her life she lived with our grandparents and for the past 4 years with my parents - until that situation blew up. So 7 months ago DH and I took the plunge and took her in.
This shift has greatly benefited her, but she is still a burden. I hate to say it that way. Every day is a battle, clothing, food, behavior, school etc. Some days she is great others not. The biggest issue is that she seems so ungrateful and takes everything we do for granted. She sees my home as more of a dorm than a house/family. She will never eat dinner with us, refuses to keep her room any where near clean (it smelled for two weeks until I finally cleaned it and found the very gross source of the smell). And so much more.
I know I chose this and signed up for it. But it is so hard. I can't even have initmate time with DH without hearing her in the house (she's loud - however many times I beg her not to be). We try to give her space to let her be who she is and try not to impose much on her, while at the same time giving her limits. It's just so frustrating.
We spoke to a therapist who essentially told us to look at her as we would our 18 month old. I know that I can ask DD to put away her toys, but she's a child and won't be able to do it every time. Same with my cousin, she's not able to live by the same family rules that many children can learn to live by.
I get the psychology of it, but that doesn't make day to day life any easier. There are so many things we have had to sacrafice and continue to sacrafice on her behalf, jobs, where we live, who we have over for shabbat etc. And we get no response that she even cares that we are doing this for her. I don't expect her to kiss my feet, or even say thank you, I just want to see that maybe she feels something family like.
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Post  Sun, Mar 16 2008, 11:34 pm
teens are never easy ... even the easy ones ... she is there with baggage ... loads of it ... and while you are trying to raise a young family - this cannot be an easy task ... you have to think whether or not you can really handle it because it is hard to be bounced around feeling like noboby cares - it is hard to be appreciative of life when in her eyes it sucks - she needs way more patience, love, understanding, than the typical hard teen - keep strong for her if you can - hopefully within time she'll come around - good luck!!!
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Mama Bear


Post  Sun, Mar 16 2008, 11:58 pm
You know, for one second I put myself into your cousin's shoes. The poor girl!!! she never expeirenced parental love/attention, never had a stable home - she is such a rachmonus. You 2 are being aamazing for taking her in, she must be such a difficult person to deal with - she has no parameters or understanding of rules, stability, obedience etc - she lived with 2 'older' people, was then shunted somehwere else, didnt get along, etc. - she's simply a rachmonus. She has to be treated firmly and nicely at the same time. It's a really tough job! Do you feel you can continue doing this? It must really shake up your young, embarking life! Youre a saint!
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Post  Mon, Mar 17 2008, 12:32 am
when I was a young teen my life changed, my mother passed away I went to live with another family, it was really hard all I wanted was to be in my normal house. I didn't want to live in a place with new rules and a different structure that I was used to. there were a lot of rules, I couldn't think for myself, I didn't want to be told everything. I did say thank you at least I hope I said it enough, the mix of personalties warm to cold is hard to deal with, I felt like they didn't really want me there I also ruined their lives. I was moody. I was hurting. the best thing for me was to go away to school. there were rules but from the dorm councilor and not a parent figure, someone else's parents, I could be away from home like the other girls in the dorm, and learning things on our own, if we don't wake up on time we will be late, if no one cleans eww.... that is what worked for me.

maybe don't have rules that are from you. but are what happens if something doesn't get done. if you don't wake up. you will be late and have absence on her record. is she in the same school?
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Post  Mon, Mar 17 2008, 5:54 pm
OP here. thanks for the responses. At times it feels so lonely in this situation. I do try so hard to put myself in her shoes, but at the end of the day I am coming into the relationship with a lot of baggage and expectations also.
DH has said many times that the worst thing we can do is to have her leave - which is at times the only thing I want to do. I don't know if we are the right people to be dealing with her and her stuff. I am due soon, and she has started to say things like "I am going to brainwash this baby (as opposed to my dd) so it loves me". that is such a hurtful thing to hear. #1 we give her so much love #2 my dd absolutely adores her and #3 I want to scream "DON"T TALK ABOUT MY UNBORN CHILD LIKE THAT! At the same time, I hear all her pain in saying what she says.
When she reads dd the book "does a kangaroo have a mother too?" the refrain line is "yes a kangaroo has a mother just like me and you" she reads it as "yes a kangaroo has a mother just like you". It breaks my heart. At the same time, it is so so so so so hard for me to have my life turned upside down on a daily basis and feel like I am getting no positive response!
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Post  Mon, Mar 17 2008, 5:59 pm
You may be fishing in the dead sea. I would contact Ohel or a local organization for classes on how to deal with a foster situation, besides for speaking to a therapist. They have extensive experience with resistance from teens who are loveless, confused, and exactly as amother # 2 described.

I would also start hinting to her sooner or later, maybe she can ‘find out for you’ which seminaries her friends will be going to (for age 15+ ) ? And yes, maybe she is actually better off without family, whom she might blame for her difficult life.
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Post  Tue, Mar 18 2008, 5:30 am
We have had my nephew with us for the last 8 years. He will be 15 after Pesach. DH and I were not on the same page and it was a mistake. What we learned was same rules for everyone but more understanding. But we have children the same age and their chinuch had to be considered as well. You can give her a wider berth because your other children are too young to have the same issues. You don't need a professional. You need to make your rules on whats good for her and be consistent. Compose your rules with a lot of thought keeping in mind that it is easier to loosen than to tighten. Pick your battles and respect her.

Its like training. At first it hurts but afterwards is SO appreciated. Coming from the right place (care for her) and consistency is what a good professional would say as well.

As to dorm, here in Israel there are schools where it is normal for good girls to go out of the home. I think this is much less in the states. I would say to aim for sem at the age when all girls are going. It should feel like a normal part of growing up not that you are shunting her off again.
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Post  Tue, Mar 18 2008, 9:25 am
there are plenty of high schools with dorms & out-of-town students ... but that is not the way to go just yet - shipping her out yet again is really a teens worst fear - "see nobody wants me so I might as well make them hate me" ...

be consistent with your love & discipline as imaonwheels said ... that is all they want ...

and when the kid says "kangaroo has a mother just like you" point out that everyone has a mother - cause that is how we are born ... but life & love create a motherly bond and she should try to find s/o who can fill that void - tell her you would like to try ...

as for "brainwashing" the baby ... she is assuming nobody in the world loves her ... so a baby coming into this world might be convinced to love her ... I don't see it as evil ... but as needy once again ...

not as easy stitch either way you look at it ... good luck !!!
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Post  Tue, Mar 18 2008, 9:46 am
greenfire wrote:
"see nobody wants me so I might as well make them hate me" ...
That is very powerful, I think that was my main goal in life as a teen!
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Post  Sun, Mar 23 2008, 12:42 am
did u ever consider the phrase MY WAY OR THE HI-WAY?

you`d be surprised how good they can be when confronted head~on and understand which behaviour is UNACCEPTABLE. if cousin has no consequences to pay, what will stop her from pushing to the limit? you AND your dh should be a joint and firm front and make new ground rules. she will benefit from a rigid structure which she so craves, believe it or not! chores will make her feel part of the fmily, and meeting the family`s expectations will give her a sense of pride and POSITIVE attention.

good luck in your amazing mitzvah, dont be afraid of her, she needs you more than u can imagine, but as her power source, not as her soft sympathizing charity worker. be tough and though at first she may resent it, she will quickly learn that u r loving!
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Post  Sun, Mar 23 2008, 7:41 am
I think she needs to see a therapist, just so she can have someone to talk to who is not related or a friend. She probably has a lot of anger and resentment and she needs to get it out. Put yourself in her situation, but remember, she's a teenager.
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Akeres Habayis


Post  Sun, Mar 23 2008, 8:04 am
I have a teenage daughter...I went thru birth pains w/her etc.
her room is still amess,that's just being a teen.
this is a big chesed u are doing,and admirable!!!
please take a moment and put yourself in her shoes,a lot of times when someone speaks aloud and it seems as if they aren't talking to u they are.when she was reading the story(which is very nice)and said u have a mommy....its true.she needs unconditional love,I know its tough but I believe its possible.
talk to her more,be totally honest w/her she has been thru too much to not get that.u dont have to treat her special,but understanding is the key.
hatzlacha,and Hashem should truly bless u and your family w/nothing but revealed brochos
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