How much freedom does your 15 year old have? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We live in a rural area, so there is no walking to/from the mall, shopping, movies, activities, etc. So up until now my 15 year old daughter has always depended on me getting her to/from anywhere she wants to go. Now she has a boyfriend that drives. They've only been together for a month or so, so I'm still getting used to this. They've gone to the movies once, out to eat once, he drives her to/from school and he's taken her to a couple of activities they were both involved in.

This morning they both had to be at the high school for a volleyball tournament they were involved in. She called around noon to say they were leaving the school (like I asked her to do) and then went on with "We have to call his dad, stop at his house and then we're going to do X, Y and go to Z..."

Ummm...No, you're not. You're going to come home, like you are supposed to, and then we are going to discuss further plans for the day. You are *not* going to just *tell* me what you are going to do.

Am I over-reacting? Does the typical fifteen year old girl just go off and do whatever? Am I wrong to expect to be *asked* instead of *told* in this situation?

To further complicate this, her boyfriend is also my future step-son, so they are already trying to play both sides with us - I often hear "We asked Dad and he said..." and he hears "My Mom said it's okay if we..." Needless to say we are on top of things and will *not* allow that to happen, but it makes it a bit trickier in many ways...

Thanks for any comments or ideas you may have!
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#2 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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Honestly I don't see what the big deal is. Were these things that you would not let her do normally or you just didn't like that she didn't come home to discuss this with you face to face. To me having her drive all the way home just to talk to you when she has a phone readily available is just a waste of gas if it wouldn't have been a problem otherwise KWIM? When I was 15 as long as I just gave my mom a call and gave her a heads up and was home at a decent time (like by 9 at the latest) then we didn't have a problem.
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#3 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess what I didn't like was being *told* what she was going to do and not asked permission. Permission was given for her to go to a school activity and then come home around noon. Permission was not given for another three - four hours of running around, you know?

As for the waste of gas - I agree with you, but if they were going to his house so he could change clothes they would have been less than a mile away from home and would have to go past my house to get to the next destination.

Again, I think my biggest problem was the fact that she just *told* me what she wanted to do, not discussed it with me. Like I said, this is all new for us - two months ago she would have not been out on her own with a friend that drives (she's a just turned 15 year old freshman, so none of her close friends drive yet), so any plans would have had to have been discussed with me in advance. Does that make sense?
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#4 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 07:12 PM
 
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I don't really see the problem. It sounds like a control issue to me. My kids are 9 and 11 and they'll say "hey mom I'm going to the corner store". I don't take it as an insult to my parenting it's just logistics. If I object to the trip for some reason I'll say so.
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#5 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate the comments - thank you! Like I said, this is new territory for both of us. She even told me when she got home that she understood why I felt weird about it, and I promised to let go more as we both got more comfortable with this new, more grown-up freedom.

Thanks again!
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#6 of 23 Old 02-28-2009, 10:35 PM
 
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Ummm...No, you're not. You're going to come home, like you are supposed to, and then we are going to discuss further plans for the day. You are *not* going to just *tell* me what you are going to do.

Am I over-reacting? Does the typical fifteen year old girl just go off and do whatever? Am I wrong to expect to be *asked* instead of *told* in this situation?
um hello? NO you are not wrong. Perhaps if she was 18 AND graduated, it'd be a lot different. My 15dd has a fair amount of freedom... from my perspective, not hers. She has a boyfriend, and has been allowed to go on two dates. She also sees him at church every wed night and at school. She gets to go to the mall with friends and movies etc. we only say no if she hasn't done chores, or has been disrespectful, or family plans etc. But she still has to ask permission! I'm sure this will gradually phase over to informing, maybe even before 18, but it's a matter of maintaining respect.
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#7 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 10:26 AM
 
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Quick response here, sorry not much else to offer at the moment..
No, I don't think you are wrong either. I'd keep talking with her, tell her you want her to keep calling like you asked and to ask you for permission to do things that were not already discussed.
She seems very willing to work with you on this.
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#8 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I really am glad to hear perspectives from both sides.

It is definitely more complicated because of who the boy is.
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#9 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:07 PM
 
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My 15 & 16yo DSs both 'tell' me what they're going to do.

"Hey Mom, I'm going to Sam's house for awhile!"
"Okay, be home in time for dinner at 6!"

They always have to tell me where they are going to be whenever they leave the house. I do reserve the right to say no whenever I feel it necessary. It may not be phrased as a question, but I've always viewed it as a request. They have a set curfew but it's open to negotiation, for example, on weekends they have to be in at 11, but if they want to go to the movies with a group of kids from school and the movie gets out at 11:30, that's ususally fine.

So I guess they do have a lot of freedom, but I feel like they are good kids and they haven't done anything to make me want to take that freedom away.

My 15yo's girlfriend came home with him on the bus one afternoon and they hung out here for a while, then he came and told me that Kaitlyn's mom was on her way and he was going to go over to her house with her for a while. I said okay, I'll come pick you up later. She looked really surprised and said wow, if I just told my mom what I was going to do, she would say oh no you are not! So you certainly aren't the only one that perfers to be specifically asked! I was thinking maybe I was unusual in my way of handling it!
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#10 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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I think it sounds like normal teen behavior. At least she's being responsible about letting you know what she's doing.

I'm confused though. Are you saying that your daughter is dating her soon to be step brother?
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#11 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes. Sigh....

There's a thread about that here: http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1036673, if you're interested.
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#12 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 01:05 PM
 
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That sounds complicated.
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#13 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 08:59 PM
 
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I agree with the other posters, she should call and ask "can I/may I go and ..."

I just love it when my 10 y.o. walks home with a friend after school and then calls to tell me she did it. :
I actually grounded her for doing that and then going to the park after that where she knew she was not allowed to be. Because sometimes those impromptu change of plans are cover for something dubious. (in this example, "hey mom-It's me I walked home with Sara." became a call to Sara's mom to verify whereabouts to find out Sara's mom had no clue wth they were and thought the girls had gone to the park. Checked two local parks before finding the girls deep in the woods up to their KNEES in mud and some weird guy walking the trail. (The woods is very isolated, homeless ppl live back there, kids go there to make out and get high, and it's chock full of poison ivy) So I prefer my child not go there without an adult. I called sara's mom to say I could not locate them and just then out they emerged covered in mud.
Scared the you know what out of Sara's mom too, who I thought should have kept a better eye on the two of them but wasn't familiar enough with the park to know the risks. So yeah, one voice message two hours of looking for the two 10 year old girls. UGH, by the time I found them it was getting dark.

You have every right to ask her to come home by a certain time and not to extend her day. (I post my example to illustrate)

I would tell my mom-by phone-oh mom-decided to sleep over at Ember's were' going out to the movies. And then sleep over at dh's. (At 16) I'd call again and say oh they invited me to stay another night. was never a problem cuz Ember would cover for me and Ember's mom was never home, she was out with her bf.

IF she was with her girl friends would it have bothered you as much?
I think this is more of a dating issue. Let me know if I'm off.

And I would prefer my 15 y.o. dd was out with a group in a public setting (movie, mall, school event) than in a car alone with a boy. Or better yet, that his parents were driving them around. LOL (His parents are way more conservative than even me Prudemama.)
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#14 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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Another vote for "asking" vs. "telling".

I have my reasons

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#15 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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I would never ground my kid for calling me to tell me what they did after the fact. I actually don't really ground my kids for much of anything.

My 15 yo dd pretty much decides when she's going to bed, when she gets up, what she does during the day, who with, etc. She has total control over her own life. It isn't unusual for me to be told by her at 9 pm that she's going for a sleepover at one of her friends houses. I wouldn't have it any other way. She always lets me know what she's doing, and she always has her cell phone and answers when I call it. Once in a while she'll 'ask' rather than 'tell', but quite often that's because she wants to use me as the 'bad guy' when she needs an excuse not to do something she really doesn't want to. She's showing respect for me by keeping me informed like I have always asked, and I'm showing respect for her by letting her know that I trust her to make the right decisions.

I was 15 when I left home for good, so perhaps that's why I'm pretty careful not to alienate my teens the way my parents did to me, by being too strict. Sometimes I lean too far in the opposite direction, but I do still maintain 'authority' over them (if you want to call it that) and they definitely listen to me better than I did to my mom!
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#16 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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It sounds a bit over the top to me. She's 15 not 5. DD's 10 and if it's something she knows she'll be allowed to do if she asks, she skips that step and just tells us what she plans on doing. She also knows that we can say "No" if for some reason we don't want her doing it at that point.

DH and I are of the belief that after a certain number of years of being able to trust her to make good choices, she deserves the freedom to make those choices without formally running them by us though.

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#17 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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It sounds to me like the part that is bothering you is the fact that she told you what she was doing instead of asking. I would be very careful about entering into power struggles with a child this age. Just like a toddler teenagers are searching for their autonomy. This independence is a very important part of learning to become an adult. She sounds like a very reasonable person and very willing to work with you ... for now. I would try to foster that.

If my son calls me to tell me he is going to do xyz, normal he does not ask. Unless he thinks I may have a problem with it, then he will. If I do have a problem with it I will state my concern. He will then agree or disagree, then we will discuss it and come to a resolution.

I see it as teamwork, rather than "ruler/follower" type of relationship at this age. There is a good article in the Mothering archive, I will see if I can find it

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#18 of 23 Old 03-30-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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He's allowed to go wherever he wants with whomever he wants. But he's very responsible (now) and I trust him. He can ride his bike the 5 miles into town, ride in the car with his licensed buddy, whatever.

But I'm comfortable with it - I know him. This is a very personal decision for every parent. We are very "free range" here - they are allowed to roam from a very early age on, they get the confidence early and earn my trust very easily.

Good luck!

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#19 of 23 Old 03-31-2009, 05:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmace View Post
This morning they both had to be at the high school for a volleyball tournament they were involved in. She called around noon to say they were leaving the school (like I asked her to do) and then went on with "We have to call his dad, stop at his house and then we're going to do X, Y and go to Z..."

Ummm...No, you're not. You're going to come home, like you are supposed to, and then we are going to discuss further plans for the day. You are *not* going to just *tell* me what you are going to do.

Am I over-reacting? Does the typical fifteen year old girl just go off and do whatever? Am I wrong to expect to be *asked* instead of *told* in this situation?
Well, that's why cell phones exist - so that you can make plans on the fly.

I guess for me, it would depend on what activities are represented by X, Y and Z. Unless we have some pre-scheduled family activity, I don't expect to be asked for permission to visit friends etc. I DO expect to be told, and of course when told I can always raise any objections I have.
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#20 of 23 Old 03-31-2009, 09:07 PM
 
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It sounds a bit over the top to me. She's 15 not 5. DD's 10 and if it's something she knows she'll be allowed to do if she asks, she skips that step and just tells us what she plans on doing. She also knows that we can say "No" if for some reason we don't want her doing it at that point.
I totally agree with this. When I was a teen I would ask my mother if I could do something that I wasn't sure she was okay with, but I would often just tell her if it was something I knew I'd otherwise be allowed to do. And of course that wouldn't stop my mother from saying "no" if she had a good reason. Like if I knew it was fine to ride home on the bus with my boyfriend afterschool (one of his parents would be there and we knew the family well from church) I might just call from school to let her know, but if she had a last minute errand she needed to run and needed me to watch my sisters than she of course would tell me it wasn't a good time. Frankly I think that my mom and I had this relationship well before I was a teen. I remember being at the park with my dad and step-mom and grandmother when I was like 5. I got royally chewed out by my step mother for "telling" her that I was going over to a farther play structure instead of "asking." My mom felt so bad for me because in her mind it wouldn't have made a difference as long as I was polite.

Quote:
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It sounds to me like the part that is bothering you is the fact that she told you what she was doing instead of asking. I would be very careful about entering into power struggles with a child this age. Just like a toddler teenagers are searching for their autonomy. This independence is a very important part of learning to become an adult. She sounds like a very reasonable person and very willing to work with you ... for now. I would try to foster that.

If my son calls me to tell me he is going to do xyz, normal he does not ask. Unless he thinks I may have a problem with it, then he will. If I do have a problem with it I will state my concern. He will then agree or disagree, then we will discuss it and come to a resolution.

I see it as teamwork, rather than "ruler/follower" type of relationship at this age. There is a good article in the Mothering archive, I will see if I can find it
I agree with this too. I think getting into power struggles with teens can be dangerous. I think it is so great that she is calling you and keeping you informed of her whereabouts. Your focus needs to be on having a respectful relationship with your child is only a few years away from adulthood. You want to keep the lines of communication open, and not get caught up with semantics. I would probably have just said, "I'm really glad you're keeping me in the loop about your plans, but I am little uncomfortable with you telling me instead of asking me for permission. I'm willing to let it go as long as you keep in mind that I always have veto power"

To me 15 is a turning point where children really start gaining a lot more independence. I think that as long as what they are doing is safe, legal, in keeping with your family's values, and it doesn't affect you negatively (ie, you don't have to drive, or have your home invaded by a gaggle of teenagers, etc.) then there is nothing wrong with telling instead of asking. After all she should have some autonomy over what she does. If it violates any of the previously stated rules than she should than she should come to you for permission and abide by your wishes should you say "no." I think you really want to focus on the importance of keeping you in the know rather than whether she has asked or told.

Also would you have said "no" if she had asked instead of told you her plans. Because if you tell her she can't do something, just because she didn't ask you properly I think she'll be more likely not to keep you informed at all because she'll be afraid if the words come out wrong you're going to tell her "no" arbitrairily.

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#21 of 23 Old 04-01-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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While I give my dd lots of freedom to go to mall with friends, out to eat after being in school play, etc. another parent or I drive and drop off. I do not let my dd get into a car with another teen...yet. I know it will happen but I am just not comfortable letting my almost 15yo (two weeks to go) drive with other teens. So I am no help here.

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#22 of 23 Old 04-01-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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As far as the "asking" vs "telling" goes, I wouldn't make a big deal of that. Is that a power struggle you think you can win? Is it worth it?

I will preface this by saying that my dd is very trustworthy and has repeatedly proven to have a great head on her shoulders.

My dd is 13 and in the 8th grade, and she calls me (or her father, depending on who is available) every day with her plans for after school. Generally she tells me what she is doing: "Hey, I'm going to stay in the library and work on a project until 5" or "We're going downtown to get coffee". These are things that she is generally allowed to do. If she's doing something out of the ordinary, she usually frames it as a question; but honestly, I don't think my response would be any different.

She doesn't hang up on me immediately, there is always discussion about who she's working/hanging with, will they get home under their own power or does she need a ride, what's going on in the evening, etc. She's a fairly reasonable gal, and if I say she needs to come straight home for some reason, she's fine with it. Her friends are low key, I know them all very well, they are all good students and good kids, and I trust my dd to not be stupid.

On weekends we usually ask her what her plans are, and tell her what *our* plans are, and if we have any family plans that involve all of us. Often she goes to a friend's house or some friends come to our house, or she and her friends meet somewhere downtown for coffee or dessert and to hang out. Depends on the weather. Sometimes we tell her no, but usually we don't have a problem with it, as long as she gets her chores done and can get in some music practice. I guess my kids has quite a bit of freedom, but she's earned it and has not abused it.

We also live in a smallish town. I know if she were being a punk I would eventually hear about it from neighbors, shop owners, etc. When she broke her helmet strap and had to ride home with the wind in her hair once last year, I got TWO phone calls about it. Her aunt saw her and gave her a lecture and then called me to let me know my kid needed a new helmet, and another kids' mom called me to tell me she saw my kid riding without her helmet and she knows we don't allow it, blah, blah, blah. I figure, if riding a bike without a helmet one time causes that big of a stir, imagine if my kid was downtown smoking or being obnoxious? I'd have to turn my phone off!

The car involvement may freak me out a little. I mean, I wouldn't mind if *my* kid were the driver of other kids, but do I really trust someone else's kid? Obviously this is something I'm going to have to let go of at some point, but dang, that's what would get me the most!
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#23 of 23 Old 04-05-2009, 11:50 PM
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My son is 15 and a freshman. No way in he!! would I ever let him drive around in a car with his friends. Especially not an older girl. Just based on the fact that the driver is inexperienced is the first issue.

This is what I have figured out. This is based on my brother who was out of control as a teen (started drinking at 13).

They need to be busy in the afternoon after school.
and
Teenagers need opportunity and lack of supervision in order to make poor choices. As long as I can control those two, I'm good.

Now - I realize at some point I can't control these things. But as long as I can - you bet your bippy I will.


And I totally agree with you that you needed to rein her in based on her 'telling' you where she was going.

Also, I need to add that my kid is the sort of kid who is perfectly okay with hanging out at home. He has never asked to hang out at the mall with his friends. He's never asked to be taken to a movie and dropped off. So he's pretty easy. Right now he is perfectly content to have one or two friends over and or to go over to their homes. Where he is supervised the entire time. I felt like it was important for me to add this part so that you understood it is (so far) easy for me to control these things.

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