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New to parenting a teen-couple of questions

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New to parenting a teen-couple of questions


New to parenting a teen-couple of questions

Hello everyone. I'm very new to this. Not just the site but parenting in general. For two months now I (male 30) have taken in my younger sister. Let's call her M. She's 16. I'm her legal guardian now. Long story involving a mother struggling with addiction all of our lives and the same bio father who has been in and out of our mother pants for years but always completely out of the picture regarding us (me and my sister). I moved out of the house when I was 18 and have just now managed to get my life together and be able to support M..
With the big age gap and our **bleep**ty home life before we never got really close, but our mom is completely out of it now and I couldn't stand not taking the kid in. I love her, I just don't really know her yet.
Things have been a bit awkward. We've been living together for two months now. I try to do things with her so that we actually start having an actual relationship, but it's hard to keep balance between being a parent figure and a brother.

I've set down some rules for her. Nothing too much. A curfew (different for weekdays and weekends so that she can have some more fun on weekends), some priority rules like homework before going out... She has some house chores but I'm doing most so that she has time to focus on homework and actually enjoy some free time too. I expect her to let me know where she's going when she leaves the house and with who she is. Also we have just one car, mine, and of course I expect her to ask for permission if she wants to borrow it.

So first question... Do these sound reasonable? Do I need to add more? Are they too strict? I literally have no idea if I'm doing this right.

She enjoys reading and watching TV series, so I make a point to notice writers she likes to surprise her with a book or something at some point. We watch a couple of shows together too. Those we both like. I'm thinking of taking her out for a street-photography type of thing as she loves taking photographs and that's a hobby I wanna help her develop even though I know nothing about it.

Second question: what else could I do with a 16yo girl for the two of us to come closer?

And my third issue ... The one that actually pushed me to post here.

A couple days ago she broke a rule for the first time. Well, a couple to be accurate. She took the car without asking me, went out and came back home two hours past curfew. She didn't answer my calls or texts while she was out either. It freaked me out and it pissed me off. I still managed to keep calm when she got home. I confronted her about it and while I managed not to yell, i was hard on her telling her how much she had worried and angered me with her behavior. It was the first time I doled out consequences. I grounded her for a week and took away her phone for the same amount of time. She also lost her driving the car privileges for two weeks.

Does that sound reasonable? I think it is, but then again I know nothing about these things.

Ever since this happened she's avoiding me and I can tell she feels embarassed and awkward around me. She doesn't seem mad at me. Just shy and guarded. I get that this is a new aspect for both of us, but I hate she walks on eggshells around me. I've tried talking to her but she shuts me out.

So what do I do? Let her go through this stage and gradually feel more comfortable around me again? Do I keep pushing for a discussion?

She's not used to being disciplined. Not just by me, but by anyone. Thank God she's always been a good and calm kid overall and hasn't been into any major trouble so far. Even if she did and I don't know about it, our mother never cared or paid attention to anything we were doing. I know from personal experience. When I asked her if mom had rules for her she had told me no and that she never really had punished her in any way. Just yell sometimes.

I know this is huge and I hope at least some of you read through and have some advice. I'm really worried and I don't wanna f**k this up. So thanks in advance for any word of support and advice.
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Re: New to parenting a teen-couple of questions

Hey @Sean89 ,


Thank you for your caring and insightful post.  You've shown real responsibility and a huge heart to jump in like this without any preparation.  On one hand, it will be tough for you to find out which form of discipline or behavioural modification works best for M, especially if she has never had discipline before.  This is new territory for both of you.  As such, it'll likely be a case of trial and error.  On the other hand, she's old enough now for you to have good discussions about situations when they arise (even if that discussion is delayed).  


To be honest, it sounds like you've made a wonderful start and your rules/guidelines are reasonable Smiley Happy.  You've found common ground with the tv shows, which is super important as it breaks the formal boundaries and helps bring you closer.  You've also bought books from her favourite writers.  This is a lovely gesture and it's likely she notices the effort you've made, even if she doesn't show it yet. 


You've mentioned that she's a little shy and guarded around you after the car episode.  It's possible that she feels remorseful about what happened.  All you can do is be as open as possible with her - that you are there for her unconditionally.  She'll come around to having that discussion when she's ready.  The best advice I can give is continue to do what you're doing, alter it dependent of what you find works for you and her, and be patient with her and yourself Heart