Okay, so I've recently gained guardianship of a 12 year old girl, and since I've never raised a child (I'm only 23) I'm finding it difficult to know exactly where to draw lines as far as raising her. It isn't a problem of getting to know her; I was unofficially taking care of her since she was ten, so we are very comfortable with each other and I care for her very much. The problem is that she has never lived with me or had to follow my rules, and now I'm finding it difficult knowing what rules to set in place for her, and how seriously to take it when she doesn't follow them. She is a very good girl with a sweet heart, and she isn't really causing trouble aside from her not really taking my rules seriously: such as my curfews, or needing to call me before she leaves a friend's house; simple things like that. I'm wondering if it's perhaps because she's never been raised by a guy before, so she doesn't really see me as an authority figure for that reason, or if it's just because we were more like friends than parent/child for most of our relationship. I know I need to be firm, but it's just that she's never really had friends before this point in her life, so I'm finding it difficult to be mad at her for getting carried away with her new relationships; at the same time, I don't want to let her down in the long run by not being strict enough to teach her discipline.
I suppose I'm just looking for general advice, and how I should go about sitting her down and telling her that I'm not just her friend anymore, but (kind of?) a parent. What approach should I take? Should it be a stern talking to (which I've never really done with her before) or just a casual conversation while out shopping or something?
I know I shouldn't feel so overwhelmed at such a small problem, because like I said: she's a great kid overall. I'm just new at this, I guess...
Any advice would be appreciated.
I'm not a foster parent, but I felt like someone should respond!
I think that a casual conversation is fine, especially since you have a good relationship and her behavior isn't too problematic. At 12, autonomy is starting to get pretty important to her. You might let her know that you understand that, but she has to understand that it comes with increased responsibility. And let her know that you care about her, that being home on time and letting know where she is going helps you not worry about her safety. If she's known you for sometime, she probably cares about your relationship as well, and will understand.
I hope that helps!
Banana, doula wife to Papa Banana and mother to Banana One, Banana Two, Banana Three, Banana Four...
Not the same situation but my stepdad (who also had never been a parent) came into my life at 15. I had never had a man tell me what to do, so we clashed a lot. He wanted to parent like I was 5. I'd say just have an honest conversation with ehr and start setting boundaries and follow-through with reasonable consequences for not following your instructions.
Carly, mama to DS C (5th grade), DD Miss M (07/09, fostered 1/10, adopted 08/10), and Little Miss C (11/10, fostered 01/11, adopted 11/12). Foster Son, Mr. A, age 11 placed 10/13.
My angel babies , ~01/08~ (twins), ~09/08~, and ~01/09~.
You should come up with rules together. Tell her that you want her to have fun, and you want her to have a good life, but we just need to set some boundaries to keep you safe, and moving forward in this life. And come up with some rewards and consequences together.
I am not a rewards/consequences type of parent, so my advice is in a different direction. I would not mean to argue with posters above, but this might not be the kind of kid who responds well to arbitrary rules and punishments. With my kids, including new foster kids, my approach is more to find boundaries we can all agree on. You need to know where she is; she needs to have time and freedom with her friends. Perhaps giving her a phone, so she can check in, or you can call her when you are unsure where she is, would meet both your needs.
What other rules are issues? I have pretty high expectations of my kids, but they have an awful lot of freedom within boundaries of safety, consideration of others, and school rules/laws. My experience is that most kids react well to an honest discussion of concerns and needs, mine and theirs, and an honest attempt to collaborate on a solution.
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)