23 going on 44

I know it’s unrealistic to plan your life this way, but humor me I promise there is a point. So lets say I’m done with school by 26, married (or committed) by 27, pop out my first kid (or finalize adoption papers) by 29 and bam thats life (reproduction people thats what its all about, as if). Anyway, the point is by the time my first kid is 15 I’d be 44, I’d say thats enough life experience to raise a 15 year old moderately successful.

So hear my struggle when I tell you I’ve stayed home to help my 60 year old disabled father  raise my two younger sisters  (I’ve bloggled about them before) Skyler who is 15 and Breanna who is 14. Did I mention I’m only 23, an uphill battle is an understatement. Parenting is hard, like the hardest job in the world. So underestimated.

Now I’m not alone, I’ve got two older sisters who helped take part in raising me and they’re a huge help. But they dont live here and they have their own familes and jobs and life. So I get to experience the day to day stuff.

Okay wordpress, let’s see just how strong this community can be. I am calling on all parents or anyone with experience with teenagers or maybe you were the difficult teenager, I NEED your help.

I’ll start with something simple, chores. Now growing up I was never a fan of cleaning so I understand the resistance, but I was also fairly OCD so I kepy my area clean (I just despised cleaning up after others) but it was easier for me to deal because I couldnt stand mess. The girls on the other hand are the opposite, they function just fine in clutter.

I have a white board in our kitchen and for a while I would write everyday their list of chores or reminders and while I thought this was a great idea, I’d have days when they wouldnt do their chores and their responses would be “I didnt look at the board”, completely defeats the purpose. How do I get them to do their chores?

and to piggyback on that concept, when it comes to punishment for them not doing their chores, I’m runnung out of options, you take away all their electronics and they cant hang out with friends. You give them extra chores or tske away their privacy, but its like nothing phases these kids anymore.. suggestions?

Okay I think thats enough for now, I’d really love to hear back from you guys. I need all the support I can get!



16 Responses to “23 going on 44”

  1. June 21, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Amusing Nonsense and commented:
    Simplyshardai is a good person asking for some help. She’s having to help raise her two teenage sisters. I’m not a parent, but to any parents of teens that can give her advice, please do so.

    Author’s Note: Comments disabled here. Please comment on the OP’s site.

  2. June 21, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    my dad did this to my brother and it cured the entire family.
    1) Verify with DHHS the things that MUST be provided to be a good home.
    In my dads case it was the following
    1) A roof over their head
    2) A bed (Not a bedroom set, not anything fancy but mattress/box-spring and bed frame
    3) 3 square meals a day (Liver and onions is square, pick the worst things kids hate but are wholesome)
    4)Clothes (Good will works here!

    Now remove everything else from their room, take the phones, computers, internet, TV, game systems, take their new/nice clothes, everything.

    When they get home sit them down and tell them the state requires x/y/z and you will find that is all you have. Until you earn the other stuff. it isn’t yours it’s mine and when you earn the privilege I will allow you to have some of them back.

    Squared us away but it is extreme. Honestly sometimes being a parent means being a a–hole. But respect has to be there. In my case I saw it happen to my brother and decided to fly straight, he hated it, he complained but he became a model son.

    • June 22, 2015 at 3:08 am

      That’s genuis, they are high school girls so clothes are definitely a good bargining tool, I’ll try that! THANK YOU!

      • June 22, 2015 at 8:32 am

        For my brother it was the clothes and no game system as well as phone. It’s extreme but sometimes extreme is what kids need.

        Here is what you’re entitled to, here is how nice we’ve been. 🙂 Hopefully it doesn’t take them long to see either.

  3. June 21, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    the importance of “raising ” children in the effective years cannot be overstated. From 0 to 5 or 6 and you are basically done and the molds are cast. After that you just love them and try to protect them from themselves. Also deals work pretty good if you have leverage. Like ” you can use your tablet after chores are done”. Or if you read 2 hours of classic lit you can have 2 hours on the x box”. And by the way. All electronics and wifi off at 9 pm or earlier. There has to be more to life. These are a couple things that work for me and be creative. It’s not hard but does take discipline and consistency. Regards

  4. June 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    You need a maid! They can transform your life.

  5. 8 karenh1234567890
    June 22, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Not knowing what your Dad’s disability is, my first recommendation may or may not work. Your Dad needs to back you up. Talk with your Dad about what needs to be done. He needs to tell your sisters that it needs to be done, not just you.

    That one out of the way, for weekly cleaning, instead of a chore list, can you set a time when everyone in the household is normally home and where everyone in the household participates in the weekly cleaning. If your father is able, together with him find something that he can also do during this time, like folding the smaller clean laundry that can be brought to him.

    Can your family afford weekly or every-other-week housecleaning? If so, use it. Same goes for yard work, if you have a yard.

    Also, depending on your clutter-tolerance, you may need to back off. Try to distinguish between clutter and dirt. The way I see clutter and dirt, for example : Clutter is something along the lines of piled up papers and magazines on the coffee table; Dirt is used dishes left in someone’s bedroom.

    Dirt attracts roaches and other vermin. Maybe if they are creating dirt as well as clutter, talk about roaches and so on. Teenage girls may not like to clean up after themselves, but they may also not like roaches. If there is a yard and the family needs to care for it, talk about tall grass and the snakes and rats that can hide in it.

    The best of luck to you, you are doing a very difficult thing.

    • June 22, 2015 at 3:17 am

      My dad is definitely fully functioning and able bodied, he’s just a total push over unfortunately, but in all fairness I haven’t tried to reach out to him so I’ll definitely consider that.
      I’m sure I nag about clutter just as much as dirt and that’s something I’ll have to be more self-aware about.
      Weekly group cleaning I’d never thought about that, but hey divide and concur.. couldn’t hurt to try.
      I really appreciate all the advice, thanks a bunch!

  6. June 22, 2015 at 2:47 am

    It sounds like you’re not parenting but trying to control. Won’t work.

    Look, the goal of parenting is to get people to the stage of adulthood so that they’re happy, healthy, responsible, caring and considerate people. That;s the goal. How do you get there?

    Well, you’re starting in a really poor position in that you’re not the parent. You’re both a sibling and a substitute care giver. That sucks because it’s not by choice but by circumstance and so it’s perfectly natural that you’ll constantly be reacting with a few attempts at pro-acting. But you’re hardly old enough to know what techniques work best for each sibling. IN my experience, if you can position yourself in your siblings’ eyes to be the source of approval, then your disappointment is about the most terrible consequence imaginable and kids will do a lot to avoid this. To get to that stage of being the primary source of highly desired approval requires a very large amount of support by you demonstrated to them. And part of this is the slow expansion of allowing kids to be responsible to earn approval as well as a source of honest and caring help when asked. The kids tell you what they need and then you provide it. But the trick is to figure out the ‘wants’ and not confuse these with the ‘needs’. Sure, providing ‘wants’ helps but it has to balanced with kids meeting attainable responsibilities. They go hand in hand and it provides a moving boundary as they get older.

    All this being said, it doesn’t help you at all when faced by a pair of teenagers busy pushing these boundaries that are way too brittle if used to control. So my advice is to change how you parent.

    It’s time for these siblings to grow up and recognize that they are very much part of home team. They have to know that you’re doing your best to keep the home functioning and providing necessary support for them… but you need their help to accomplish this, too. You can’t do it by yourself. And that’s their job. So you have to figure out a way to get them to join your team because they want to, play for your team because it serves them to do so, follow the team rules just like you do to play this game well and have fun and feel a sense of importance as well as belonging. On the whole, family life can be – and really should be – the most important part of everyone’s life because it yields the most value.

    I think you need to change direction, to admit to them that your ways too often fail to create this kind of life. I would admit that your tactics too often cause more stress and hard feelings than you ever wanted but that you are learning too and ask for forgiveness. Tell them about your frustration and how it too often translates into anger and resentment and that you don;t want to feel this way and don;t want them to feel this way, either. And feeling this way is no way for anyone to live.

    So talk honestly with these guys and try to make the kind of changes that cover the necessities together, that all of you are in this together and its up to each one to create something they want, lives gilded and quilted together in love and praise and support and humour and interest and so on… all the things all of you really want in your home life. A functioning family meets all these needs and builds something vital – healthy, happy, responsible, caring, and compassionate RELATIONSHIPS upon which all of you can ground yourselves so that all of you can take chances and grow and learn how to become the kind of adults we really want our kids to become. And that’s what your family is… a group that is becoming.

    So give it direction through good management, through team building and relationships that are unbreakable. And the harder life is, the stronger these relationships become when you’re all on the same team.

    I heartily wish you the very best and hope you have the patience and desire and ability to build the kind of family that is enviable so that when you have your own kids you do so with your heart ready to embrace this greatest challenge and richest reward imaginable.

    You can do it… one step at a time.

  7. 12 Lane
    June 22, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I’m actually about the same age but I’ve worked at a school the past four years, going on five. I don’t have much direct experience with teenagers (I work with younger elementary kids and recently started working at a preschool) but I know a lot of people who do, and we talk. So, take what I say with that grain of salt.

    My theory is that there are basically two kinds of kids. The little ones, the ones I am most comfortable with, are alien anthropologists. They have no idea how our civilization works, but they’re here to learn. Interacting with them involves a lot of in depth, conscious teaching of what it means to be human. Then, at one point around puberty-ish, they stop being aliens. They not only know our human customs, but they have internalized them. In fact, they are basically adults, except for one thing. They are bad at it. Really, really bad, because they’ve only been human adults for a little while, and anybody who has only been doing something for a little while kinda sucks at it. It will take several years before they become adults-who-are-pretty-good-at-it, aka grown-ups.

    So basically I’m siding with the people who say, “yeah, you’re past the point where this is about control and absolute obedience.” They’re ready to start making their own decisions, and sometimes those decisions will be awful, because they haven’t made that many decisions yet and they aren’t terribly good at it. Sometimes what they will need is not somebody making all their decisions for them, but somebody willing to let them make their own mistakes.

    It’s a good idea to think about the worst case scenario if they don’t obey, and set consequences accordingly. For example, the clutter. I like karenh’s distinction between clutter and dirt. Dirt might have lasting and expensive consequences. It’s a good idea to have strict consequences in place for failing to take care of stuff that is dirty. Clutter is mainly a problem in that they might lose something they need, and also that they need to learn to respect shared spaces and the cleanliness tolerances of those around them. I’d set consequences along the lines of “no thing that you really enjoy until these shared spaces are tidied up.” Then for their private spaces, let them be as cluttered as they want, and experience the natural consequence of losing stuff. They’ll figure it out, and maybe they are just the kind of people who function best in an environment that’s a little more cluttered that you would like. That’s fine, so long as they aren’t disrespecting someone else’s space.

    One more thing, and this applies to kids of all ages, a consistent consequence can be better than increasingly strict but inconsistent ones. Often people’s behaviors exist because they serve a purpose, and when that behavior stops serving that purpose, often the first response isn’t to change the behavior, but double down. With my three and four year olds, that looks like “I tantrum in order to get what I want. Oh, you aren’t giving in? I’ll tantrum even harder.” It’s called an extinction burst. Once doubling down doesn’t work, they’ll change tactics pretty quick. So you might think setting boundaries and taking away electronics isn’t working, but it might just be that they think ignoring you will make you cave. Often adults will escalate and escalate until they are exhausted, and then they stop trying, which is how kids get away with bad behaviors. It’s better to set a boundary that you can maintain and hold your ground until they learn. Just because they aren’t obeying right this minute doesn’t mean you’re failing.

    Hope this helps and best of luck to you!

    • June 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      You know its funny, I’ve worked with elementary level for about three years myself, and the age difference from them and teenagers are like two different worlds. It really affects you differently when the child is your own (or in my case family). You’ve made some good points though and I appreciate your perspective, specially as a peer.

      I really want to thank you for the last part as well, its hard to not feel like a failure when you are not seeing immediate results.

  8. June 29, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    First of all, kudos to you. Not everyone would have stayed back and taken all this responsibility on their shoulders. It’s a tough job.

    We face similar issues at home – getting our daughter to do her chores. But she is only 8. Here is what comes to mind, based upon my experiences:

    – You must have heard the quote about leading a horse to water. I have a different version: you can drag a horse to the water, even dunk its head inside. But – you cannot make it drink. It is the same with people – not just children. Your challenge, therefore, is to figure out: what is it that you can do, which will make them *want* to do the chores (and other things that you want them doing)?

    – What has worked most of the time for us is love, kindness even more patience. Based upon what you have written, I am sure that you have all that, and more to spare.

    – Try motivational talk, and praise them for what they do. E.g. if you ask them to do x, y & z – and they only do x, still praise them for what they did. Don’t point out what they did wrong, but focus on what they did right. When they mess up, be kind and show them how to correct it, instead of only pointing out what was done wrong.

    – Above all, remember that you are human – and it is perfectly ok to feel overwhelmed. In such times, just give yourself a break and don’t punish yourself. You have what it takes to survive this.

    So tighten your bootstraps, and keep marching on!

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