16 yr old home alone for a week - help, urgent! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm in a weird and difficult situation.

I've been babysitting regularly, for over a year, for a family's 2 and 4 yr old daughters. They are away for the week visiting family several states away, and I am housesitting for the week, taking care of their dog. Their 16 yr old daughter is home alone for the week, and the parents explicitly told me, more than once, that I am absolutely not responsible for her. In fact, me sleeping at their house was optional - all that they asked of me was that I come let their dog out 3 times a day. I've chosen to sleep there, though, just to make the early morning walks easier.

Last night when I arrived, the 16 yr old had 5 friends over for a pizza party (4 boys, 1 girl). She told me they were sleeping over. I told her no, they can't sleep over, and showed her the note her parents had written her that says please do not have friends over. I told her they could stay for 2 more hours then would have to leave. She reluctantly agreed, but protested that her parents would never have to know, if I just didn't tell them. I told her I didn't feel comfortable lying to her parents. At the 2 hour mark, she and her friends hadn't budged, and I had to remind her, and 15 mins later they left the house...then they all stayed in the kids' van in the driveway till nearly midnight.

I'm really pissed that this kid has put me in this horrible situation. And I don't know what to do. The parents told me she's not my responsibility, but... then whose IS she right now??
I just went over to the house to walk the dog one last time for the night, and gather my toothbrush and stuff, 'cause tonight I'm going to sleep at home. But when I got there, at quarter of 11 pm, she was alone with a boy in the basement, watching TV with all the lights off. AARGGHGHHHfdksahfjklh;
I reminded her that she's not supposed to have friends over, especially not so late at night. She was just all, "Yeah, yeah, okay, see you tomorrow!"

I'm back at my house now, and I REALLY don't want to spend the night there. I'm exhausted after a 40-hr week of babysitting and dogsitting, I hardly got any sleep last night due to supervising her stupid pizza party, and I need to be well-rested tonight because I'm climbing a MOUNTAIN tomorrow.
AND SHE'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE MY RESPONSIBILITY!!!

I don't have the parents' phone number for where they're staying, and at this point, the only way to get it would be to ask the 16 yr old, and I doubt she'd give it to me. I have the mom's cell phone number, so I left her a voicemail, telling her that her daughter has had boys over 2 nights in a row and I've told her not to and she's not listening to me, because she knows I'm not responsible for her this week.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do here. I hate it that the parents are going to wake up to such a voicemail. I hate being a "tattletale" - this kid is gonna hate me. I'm just so angry at being stuck in this situation.

Advice on what else to do?? Am I being horribly irresponsible by not spending the night at that house tonight?! Honestly, I'm not sure it would even do any good if I were there. She could just stay in her room all night with this boy, and there's really nothing I can do - her parents are across the country and she knows I don't even have their phone number. The parents didn't give me any other emergency numbers.
I've been babysitting for kids ages 10 and under for 16 yrs, but with teenagers, I am totally at a loss. I'm in way over my head here.
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#2 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 12:18 AM
 
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First of all, it's the girl's parents who have put you in a tough situation. It was really unfair of them to give you "rules" for her but not any means to enforce them.

I think you did what you could. There's no way I'd leave my 16-yr-old home for a week unsupervised for this exact reason. (Hello, I've been 16!) It sounds like the parents are tired of being responsible for her or something.

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#3 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 12:35 AM
 
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It sounds like the OP showed her a note that was written to the daughter not to the OP. The OP was told she was not responsible for the daughter. You don't have to stay over there and you don't have to tell the daughter what to do or remind her of her parents rules all you have to do is let the dog out. I would ignore the daughter's behavior and let the dogs out. I was left alone while my mom went on trips when I was that age and I was fine but I certainly had friends over. I think it's strange for the parents to leave a person at home who they can't even trust to let the dogs out- but whatever. This is between the parents and the daughter and not your responsibility or business.
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#4 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 12:36 AM
 
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First of all, it's the girl's parents who have put you in a tough situation. It was really unfair of them to give you "rules" for her but not any means to enforce them.

I think you did what you could. There's no way I'd leave my 16-yr-old home for a week unsupervised for this exact reason. (Hello, I've been 16!) It sounds like the parents are tired of being responsible for her or something.

I agree. And I too would not leave Stephanie home that long by herself. For a day into the evening, yes, but never for a week.
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#5 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 12:43 AM
 
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I think I'm more along the lines of what PoppyMama is saying..

Were the daughter's rules left just for her or did they give them to you too?
If they were for you to read as well, then that's just crazy because to me it really left you in a tight spot and that is not fair.

But I would have to say, I'd still go along with what PoppyMama said.
I also think that if the parents came to me once they're back and asked if their daughter did things she wasn't suppose to, I go ahead and let them know. That's just me though.
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#6 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:05 AM
 
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I think it's strange for the parents to leave a person at home who they can't even trust to let the dogs out

yup
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#7 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Yes, the note was for the daughter, not me, but I read it because it was on the kitchen counter and wasn't addressed to anyone. It just says stuff like "remember to turn on the fan when you shower, and close the windows at night," blah blah... and it wasn't until it said "Remind [Inci] about [blah blah blah]" that I figured out it was written only to the daughter.

And the parents gave the 16 yr old the option of taking care of the dog for the week, but she didn't want to, plus she's in school during the day when he needs his long walk, so that's why they hired me to do it.

I already left the mom a voicemail saying that her daughter's been having boys over. And I was really torn about whether or not to make that call - but decided that my priority is maintaining the open and trusting relationship I have with the parents. I worried that they would lose trust in me if I kept their daughter's behavior a secret from them.

Marlne, what you suggested was my tentative plan last night - that if the parents asked me specific questions about what their daughter did when they were away, I would answer honestly - because like I told the daughter, I won't lie to her parents. But if they didn't ask about stuff, I wouldn't need to volunteer info about the party she had.

But tonight I kinda freaked and called her mom and left that voicemail. It's just that I saw a big difference between having a few friends over for a pizza party, and being alone in a pitch dark basement with one boy late into the night.
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#8 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:18 AM
 
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i understand your disapproval even though I don't see anything wrong with the pizza party personally (or any of it really except the arguing and requests to not tell her parents). I don't understand why you're driving yourself crazy about this though. No one asked you to control the daughter. The note with her rules was not written for you and you were not given a copy. I don't know why you discussed it with the daughter at all or got into the argument with her. I would have gone about with the job I was given and answered any questions the parents asked honestly when they came back or if they called me. I'm sorry you're all stressed out and losing sleep.
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#9 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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Considering that I have only recently departed from my teenage years, I feel qualified to respond..

Look, the parents specifically said you are not responsible for the girl and that you dont even need to be sleeping over at their house. You informed the parents which I think was a good choice because that way they can parent their kid, not you. So quit sleeping at their house, just walk the dogs, thats your sole responsibility. If the girl wants to be a little *edit* sexually-active-unwed-female-which-is-her-choice-as-a-liberated-female (not to say that she even did anything with those boys, your post just seems to imply that), oh well. I mean seriously, oh well! Its their kid, their responsibility! And really, throughout my time as a teen, I watched movies with guys in the dark (who the heck watches movies with the lights all on?) and never did one sexual thing with them, not even kissing. Not every teen out there is looking for action. If they all go sit in a van until midnight, theyre probably just smoking pot.. Still, not your problem, not your kid.
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#10 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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If the girl wants to be a little sl*t (not to say that she even did anything with those boys, your post just seems to imply that)

I find the use of the word slut to describe females who are sexually active extremely offensive.
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#11 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 01:57 AM
 
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I disagree, but will gladly edit the post.
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#12 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 02:36 AM
 
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I would let her parents handle it. Parents set rules, kids break them sometimes.... that is just the way it goes.
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#13 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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I would have just gone home when she was having the pizza party. You don't have to stay there, and whatever is happening is between her and her parents.
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#14 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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I would have just gone home when she was having the pizza party. You don't have to stay there, and whatever is happening is between her and her parents.
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#15 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 11:59 AM
 
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ita with the least-resistance approach here ...

a) your employer repeatedly informed you that the 16yo was not your responsibility

b) your employer is the parent of said 16yo, not you

c) you seem to have chosen to take on responsibilities that were not yours to take on

d) you'll drive yourself crazy trying to prevent a hormonal, determined teenage girl from hanging out with boys if she wants to, especially when her parents have left her alone for a week ... what she wants to happen will happen, despite whatever intrusions you attempt

e) not your problem, not your kid, as a pp so eloquently put it.

i'd be extremely irritated, as a mother, if i told someone explicitly "you are not responsible for 16yodd's behavior while i'm gone" and then that someone took it upon themselves to enforce rules on her anyway.

seriously, what are you going to do? sit over there all day and all night, shooing the boys away with a broomstick?

also, i would caution you that the tone of your OP made it seem a bit as though you somehow disapproved of the girl's behavior, or suspected that she might be doing some sexual exploration and that seemed inappropriate to you. please remember that this is not your judgement call to make, strongly as you may feel about it. your own parenting model and your own morality aside, this is not your family and not your call. if you have a moral problem with the 16yo acting like a teenage girl, you need to resolve that within yourself, not by trying to police her.

oh, and i TOTALLY agree with poppymama's offense at the use of the word "slut" in this or any scenario ... misogynist, destructive language. No place for it here.
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#16 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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I am approaching this as the mother of a 17 y/o boy who we left at home last year when we went on a trip. If we didn't trust him, we wouldn't have done it. I think you are overstepping your bounds.

We told our neighbors that we were out of town, and asked our son to check in with them every day to make sure he was ok, but that was the extent of their responsibility. I did not expect them to enforce any rules we set up with our son, and I certainly did not expect them to make judgment calls about what he might be doing with a girl in the basement in the dark.
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#17 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If I were housesitting for acquaintances, neighbors, random people I had just answered a housesitting ad for, etc., I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten involved at all.
I mainly chose to inform the parents about what was going on because they have been my employers for over a year and we have a really solid, trusting relationship that I don't want to jeopardize. I'm not making any moral judgments about what this girl may or may not be doing with boys - I'm taking issue with the way in which she put ME in a really difficult situation, by breaking the rules her parents had set for her and then asking me to lie to her parents/keep it a secret. If the parents found out that their daughter was throwing parties and having boys sleep over and that I knew about it and didn't tell them, they would probably be quite upset with me and not trust me anymore. My loyalty needs to be to my employers, not their 16 yr old.

And I'm NOT sleeping over there anymore, and I'm not talking with the 16 yr old beyond "Where's the dog? I'll give him his dinner," etc. So, I don't know what she's doing/who she's with, and I don't want to know. I wish the parents had not put me in this situation.
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#18 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 08:35 PM
 
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Not your responsibility.

Go over, walk the dog, leave. Ignore the 16 year old. Tell the parents what you observed when they get back, but otherwise don't worry about it.
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#19 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 09:07 PM
 
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It sounds like the OP showed her a note that was written to the daughter not to the OP. The OP was told she was not responsible for the daughter. You don't have to stay over there and you don't have to tell the daughter what to do or remind her of her parents rules all you have to do is let the dog out. I would ignore the daughter's behavior and let the dogs out. I was left alone while my mom went on trips when I was that age and I was fine but I certainly had friends over. I think it's strange for the parents to leave a person at home who they can't even trust to let the dogs out- but whatever. This is between the parents and the daughter and not your responsibility or business.
Totally. I'd tell the girl that if she needs my help with anything (like an emergency or someone won't leave her alone, etc) she can come get me, but other than that I'd just let the dogs out and call it good.

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#20 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 09:19 PM
 
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I would have just gone home when she was having the pizza party. You don't have to stay there, and whatever is happening is between her and her parents.
Me too.

I think your plan for the remainder of the time sounds good.

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#21 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 09:40 PM
 
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I think it was awfully tacky of the daughter to hint that you could just not tell her parents but you started all these problems for yourself when you started trying to direct the daughter. It was wrong of you to take the roll of her babysitter. I can see why you feel the need to tell her parents but that is all you should do.
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#22 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 09:41 PM
 
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Ugh! so many posts, can't take it all in...................my 15 year old in this situation(which she would NEVER be allowed in) would be strictly instructed that if I should hear that anything negative or inappropriate happened during my absence, I'd have her hide on a stick. Me being the dog sitter, I WOULD report all issues that were inappropriate and let the parents decide if and what to do about it. I would NOT be sleeping there to supervise any 16 year old who clearly has an opinion of her own as to proper behaviour.

No worries here though, my job is to be the mama to all my girls, I would never place anyone in such a stressful position. I have a dog and if I'm going to be away for a week's time, girls come with me, or they go to a friend's and dog is either boarded with a friend or reputatable establishment.

Totally unfair to put you in this spot!!!:

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#23 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 09:46 PM
 
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I would have just gone home when she was having the pizza party. You don't have to stay there, and whatever is happening is between her and her parents.
I agree.

Can you have the daughter delete the message you left on the parents' voice mail? Is it part of their family's phone line?

You're not responsible for her (and it doesn't sound like she was doing anything awful anyway -- just getting annoyed that someone was trying to boss her around when she knew said someone wasn't "in charge" of her). Sleep at home unless you want to stay there, and leave her alone.

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#24 of 50 Old 06-14-2008, 10:15 PM
 
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I'd have done the same as you, most likely.

And your plan to just do what you were hired to do and keep your nose out of it unless asked directly seems reasonable.
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#25 of 50 Old 06-15-2008, 01:08 AM
 
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She's 16. Don't treat her like she's not an adult. Feel free to rat her out, but it is not your responsibility to *prevent* her from ... having sex, getting pizza sauce on the couch, smoking/drinking. Geez I left for college at 16. Didn't have sex but I hung out at all hours, drank rum and diet cherry coke and went to really sodden frat parties ... somehow this was not the end of the world. You mean well but you are not describing horribly unsafe behavior that needs your good samaritan intervention. It's better she does this stuff in the house than driving around in some teen's car, her parents' rules notwithstanding. You left the message and they can sort it out later.
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#26 of 50 Old 06-15-2008, 04:56 PM
 
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Their 16 yr old daughter is home alone for the week, and the parents explicitly told me, more than once, that I am absolutely not responsible for her
You brought all this hardship on yourself. You have nobody to blame your tiredness on but yourself. You asked whose responsibility this girl is, the answer is her parents. The parents trusted her enough to let her spend the night at home alone.

At age 16 I was left alone for a week twice by my parents. Nothing big happened. The place didn't burn down. I think my boyfriend may have stayed over twice, but that was about it.

16 year olds are not helpless.

My advice is, mind your own business.
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#27 of 50 Old 06-15-2008, 05:34 PM
 
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Maybe this really isn't the main point, but in the future I would make sure that when you agree to housesit/dogsit for someone that you have a way to reach them. Stuff happens - the hot water heater could explode or the dog could get sick and really you shouldn't be in that situation without having a way to reach them.
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#28 of 50 Old 06-15-2008, 10:07 PM
 
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I think the OP was put in an awkward situation by the parents. They know she's responsible. She's been babysitting their younger children. I agree in theory, it's not her job but she is bearing witness to a violation of house rules and irresponsible behavior.

I just can't get over that a 16yo is allowed to stay home for a week but isn't held responsible for walking the family dog or watering the plants. O.k so they need a dogsitter for a long mid-day walk. The 16yo can do the rest.
Sheesh. If I had a 16 yo who wouldn't do that, I wouldn't leave her alone for a week. I'd take her with me, have her stay at a friend's house or hire the sitter to supervise her. I digress...

If it were me, I'd leave a vm for parents to call me asap and have a heart to heart about the uncomfortable position I've found myself in.
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#29 of 50 Old 06-15-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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As a mom of a teen, I would thank you for calling. But I wouldn't want to leave a teen home alone for a week.

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#30 of 50 Old 06-16-2008, 12:04 AM
 
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Yeah, I pretty much concur with everyone else. How did you know she was in the basement with a boy in the dark? Did you need to go down there for the dog for some reason, or were you intruding?

I would treat it like you would someone you were pet sitting for who has a roommate. If I were housesitting for roommate A and roommate B was absolutely trashing the place or selling everything in the house or something totally bizarre, I would probably call and say "Uh, there's something weird going on at your house and I thought you should know." But not for a pizza party! You and she should be civil to one another, but unless it pertains to the pet, or she asks for your help outright, it's not really your business. I would have treated the pizza party like I would a roommate shindig too and said "Oh, I expected it to be quiet, with the house rules that were set out to my understanding. I'll have to go home and come back in the morning." (Because it's a pain for you to expect to spend the night and discover that you either can't or it will be loud and difficult for you to sleep if you do).

That said, I would stop, report, or call the parents in the case of truly dangerous/illegal behavior. So if they were all drinking beer, or especially drinking and getting ready to leave and drive... THEN I would call the police and the parents.

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