Mothering Forum banner

What to do with an almost 18 year old who doesn't want to follow the rules?

1580 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  nzjmom
My brother has been living with us since he was 14. He lived with my grandma before and she was fairly mean and abusive to him. We don't ask much of him. What we do ask is for him to be in by curfew, help out around the house every now and then, and keep on top of his schoolwork. That's pretty much it. In fact, night before last, he told me how he has it WAYYYY easier here than he did at grandma's and also said he's got it easier than most of his friends.

That being said, I don't understand why it's so hard for him to follow the few things that we do ask of him. He is constantly breaking curfew or sneaking out and I'm seriously pissed off about it. The other night DH and I had said we were going to bed (the kids stay up late usually). Well I got back up at 1 am to get a book because I couldn't sleep and decided to ask him a question. He wasn't here. He had snuck out. I tried calling his cell and he didn't answer so I locked all the doors and went to bed.

He's not doing so hot in school either. He's 17 and just finished his sophomore year. He actually has to go to summer school if he doesn't want to repeat it. He doesn't have a job and doesn't seem inclined to get one.

DH thinks if he wants to act like an adult who can come and go as he please, we treat him as one. He thinks we should let him come and go as he pleases but start charging him for room and board. And anything else he wants/needs is up to him to buy also. So he thinks we should take his cell phone away (since we pay for it) and let him deal with all that stuff himself.

I'm just not sure what is the best thing to do in this situation. If you've read this far and have ANY ideas, bless you.


Edited to add: I should mention he's not a bad kid. It's not like he's getting into trouble constantly or anything. He's just not very responsible.
See less See more
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Has he considered working towards a GED in lieu of going to high school? High school can be a soul-killer in ways that people seem to forget... especially if he is way behind his agemates and sees no end in sight, KWIM?

I graduated early, because high school was too toxic to go back for a fourth year. Really. And if I'd known that I had two-plus years to run the hamster wheel, I'd have been just as irresponsible as your brother. Escaping from high school was so liberating that my attitude improved about 300 percent. Even the U.S. Army was a breath of fresh air compared to public school.
out of high school for only about 3 years now...I can understand both of your sides. I was determined to just END high school asap. I didn't even learn anything the last year, except how to turn out fake papers and squeak by with enough to graduate...which hasn't been a benefit to me, except learning to do the minimum in life.

I'd sit down and talk to him, ask him what he realistically thinks of school and what he does and doesn't like. (Maybe have him read "The Teenage Liberation Handbook" --i think thats the title...) School really isn't all it's cracked up to be to tell you the truth. That's why so many kids "give up" on it after awhile.

About the curfew thing, I had to be home by 10 until i was 16 (and could drive) and then midnight till i was 18.... but I managed to just get out of the curfew thing alltogether by convincing my parents that just the fact of having a curfew made me feel like i wanted to stay out later. So when I was 17, (before they agreed to no curfew) I started breaking curfew, sneaking out (and getting caught...but that didn't change much) etc. Finally they agreed to try no curfew. For about a week I came home at all odd hours. Then, after realizing that I didn't even really care to stay out that late, I was coming home around 1, midnight, 11, and even 10. Some nights I wouldn't even go out...because it was getting old.

Of course, I don't know your brother personally, but I can at least understand how he might feel in that position. I was a pretty responsible teen and my parents let me make my own mistakes and fix them, which I really appreciate now...because I can make my own decisions based on my own rewards and consequences. Maybe you can work something out, like having the "rules" be that he come in quietly and not disturb your sleep, or that in exchange for allowing him to make his own choices, that you would appreciate some help in return around the house. And when he doesn't do those things... well, the guilt trip always worked with me. My mom would pull me aside and I could already see the sadness in her eyes as she would explain how "she tries to do things to help me all the time while I just don't give a rats ass. All I care about are my friends and my life, and her efforts don't seem to mean jack to me...and if they did, I had a real crappy way of showing it"
then she'd leave me alone and when she wasn't around I'd clean the entire house...and then start doing my share every day because I realized that I had HURT her more than just made her angry.

just some thoughts from my own teenage years.... hope you guys can work something out
See less See more
I've recommended the GED thing or an alternative school to him and he won't have it. He's bound and determined to graduate from a "regular" high school. The helping out around the house thing is the one we have the least problems with. He's very good about that. As far as curfew goes, we live on a military base and there is a base curfew for people under 18. They're pretty strict about it.

A lot of people keep telling us we should tell him we're going to kick him out if he doesn't follow the rules. First of all, I don't think threats are going to help. Second, I wouldn't just throw him out (not unless he was doing some really awful stuff, which he's not).

We sat him down and discussed all these kind of things. We think we've come up with a pretty good plan that still has rules, but gives him more responsibility and freedom. We get $300 a month in SS for him. We decided we are going to take out some for room and board and give him the rest and let him buy all his own needs/wants, etc... However, if he blows it all and finds he needs something, that's too bad. We will not be lending him the money.

We upped his curfew a bit, but if he breaks curfew there will be consequences such as an earlier curfew or loss of his cell phone. If he maintains curfew we will up it again. Hopefully this will teach him some responsibility.
See less See more
What do you want from him? Do you want him to follow your rules and be a good roommate, or do you want him to learn some things and be a good human being?

You kind of sound like you're resolving to do some of one thing and some of another. It's okay not want to parent him - but the goal then isn't "teach him some responsibility". It's also okay to want to parent him, but then the goal is not "he has it WAYYYY easier here than he did at grandma's". I suspect that if you had a goal in mind, the rules would fall into place easier.

Originally Posted by Apricot
What do you want from him? Do you want him to follow your rules and be a good roommate, or do you want him to learn some things and be a good human being?
A bit of both, I suppose. I don't think they're exclusive.
It sounds like you guys pretty have figured out a good solution, I hope that it works. Is he in counseling of any kind? I'm 18, so I'm not that much older than him. When I was living with my dad, he could get pretty abusive, mostly verbally, but it didn't always stop there. Our relationship was very volatile, to say the least. I became very depressed, didn't do any of my chores, started skipping school, etc. This age is so hard. Going to counseling might be very beneficial for him. I know it was for me.
Nice to see someone from New Mexico.
Missing NM, and Burque.

But I feel like I am a little bit in this situation.
It is not easy, I think when we take on the
responsibility of someone else, then we feel
very obligated to show them the ropes, or
at least push them along to know something better.

For myself, I can say that I was a decent child
until late high school, but I did come home on time.
But it was when I was away at college that I did the
wrong things.

I think as long as he is nearby, it is good to tell him
your own experiences. Perhaps also to ask him if he has
goals in life. Or to know what his interests are.

My stepnephew is probably in a much worse situation.
He's already been to Juvi. And indeed his home situation
is probably the main cause. I can see that he probably
has no motivation.

If you can involve yourself with him, to do things
together, perhaps it will be a one year with you
that makes a positive difference in his life, so he
sees that he can trust people and realize a goal
for himself. I think with age, people mature.
If there is a positive, trusting feeling emanating
from those who are there for him, then he will
be able to have a ground to stand on to know
and want to find out how to make the world
a better place. This is also coming from my own

I know for myself, after growing up from a divorced
family for 30 years, that only at age 30, did I begin
to see happiness inside me. Because I found solutions.
Perhaps he is seeking solutions, so allow him to
seek solutions, allow him the trust he needs to grow,
and be there as a support.
See less See more
Well first off I know this must be a diffiuclt situation, but here's my two cents worth, since I have two teenage daughters. Although I have never been a parent that sets alot of rules, I do have rules which reflect my core values. The rules I set are based on Honesty and Respect and Hard work. I expect my daughters to work to their abilities in school, respect themselves, their family, and others. And not to lie or be dishonest. That being said, my girls know that there are non negotiable consequences if they fail to abide by these values. The most effective consequences in my house are loss of the cell phone, the car or weekend priveledges. And the few times I do meet out these consequences they know there will be no negotiating, discussion or arguing unless they want the consequences extended. (That takes the arguing and emotion out of the equation). As far as the curfew goes, I've always believed that is overrated. My girls know that I want to be awake when they get home so I can go to sleep knowing they are safe. So in our case, the curfew changes on how tired I am. There are times when I know I'll be up late and the girls can stay out till 2 or 3 am, and other times I want to be in bed by 11 so they know they have to be home by then. Obviously when they are out late they tell me where they will be and aren't out joy riding around the town all hours of the night. I tell my girls the curfew is set out of respect for me the mom, and not because I don't trust them. I have been accused of having very liberal views towards parenting, but I parent my girls based on my core values and beliefs. So far I think it works, but that's just me. Good luck with your brother, and just remember, set expectations, and establish consequences when he doesn't live up to those expectations.
See less See more
I think it's great that you are making the effort by allowing your brother to live with you. I have three sons 17, 14, and 10. The 17 year old is an upcoming senior. We pay for his cell phone as well as part of his car insurance. He does a lot of driving for us. I will admit that he is probably our "easiest" for lack of a better word . we do have a contract of sorts with him of what we expect in return for the phone, and car insurance. He must take the trash and recylables to the convenience center once a week on a day of his choosing, must keep his room free of disgusting stuff ( old food, dirty dishes, putrid laundry) other than that a vacuuming once a week and a general cleaning to make sure there is not anything important that needs to be signed, turned in etc. He was actively involved in writing this contract. We did some give and take. He is also responsible for planning and cooking one meal a week again on a day of his choosing. Just has to let us know the day he picks about a week ahead of time. My husband and I wanted to tie grades into the whole contract. But, that was one point we conceeded as long as he put forth effort. I hope some of this helps

Mom of three in Knoxville
See less See more
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.