A few years ago, my wife and I took in a teen and “adopted” him out of his troubled home. He just had six months until high school graduation, and we decided we would give him a place to stay.
The teen’s name was Royce. I won’t get into the details, but things were bad at Royce’s home, and he desperately needed a safe, calm place to call home
We still stay in contact with Royce now, even though he’s long gone from our town and on his way to a successful career. I know that our parenting made a difference in his life, too. I won’t say that my wife and I are parenting experts by any means, but we did learn a few lessons after having Royce under our roof.
When Royce first moved in with us, he wanted to test our boundaries right away. He was glad to stay with us, but he still wanted to see what he could get away with.
Since my wife and I both work with teens in our day jobs, we knew to put our feet down right away and establish should clear boundaries. We didn’t want to be helicopter parents for those six months, but we did want to do our best as Royce’s adoptive parents.
Taking care of Royce, as well as working with teens for our day jobs, has taught me and my wife many lessons about caring for teens.
Here’s what we learned.
Set clear boundaries
Royce really wanted to stay out until the middle of the night every evening. This was acceptable with his “real” parents, so he tried to do this with us.
Right away, we gave him a curfew. We had different times for school nights than weekends. We tried to give him times that he could live with and still have some fun with friends.
We also had to know where he was at all times. This may sound excessive to some people, but we didn’t want Royce getting himself into any trouble. He had to always give us updates via text message.
It’s important to hold teens accountable. This is not a bad thing.
Be firm and consistent
Whenever Royce broke his curfew, he would lose certain privileges. We were very clear what he would lose for doing certain things, and we always stuck to our guns.
Consistency is important in teens’ lives. If you say you are going to do something, follow through with it! Don’t make threats only to feel bad later. This is bad parenting, and it does not work.
As a parent, you need to be an authority figure.
With that said, though, you still need to be realistic with your consequences. Don’t be too extreme, or this will cause your teens to rebel even more.
Check in on occasion
If Royce said he was going to eat pizza with his friends, we would occasionally drive by to check in on him.
If he went to a party at a friend’s house, we had to meet the parents first. This was probably a little embarrassing for Royce, but we weren’t going to let him stay with people we didn’t know.
Don’t go out of your way to embarrass your children, but don’t be afraid to check in on them, either! It’s just all about balance.
So, that’s it! Just remember that it’s important to be clear, be firm and consistent, and check in with your teens and make sure they’re being truthful.