Yikes! The day a 15 year old came to live with me



It was my great nephew and he was in a lot of trouble. I think he thought I’d be a push over. I mean in his eyes I was his great aunt, gray and old! Boy did life ever change for that boy!

I may have been his great aunt, gray and old but the lights hadn’t gone out yet. Plus I had a lot experience with challenging and unruly kids.

The first decision

The first thing I did was to have him come and stay with me for two weeks. I told him at the end of two weeks he could let me know if he had decided to live in my home. I also let him know that if he did decided to stay there would be boundaries or conditions. I knew the word “rules” wouldn’t work for him. They would only be a challenge to overcome.

If he were going to be part of my family, then he had to change some habits. It had to be his choice to stay with me.

  • He had been suspended from school. He had skipped 40 days of school and it was only January.
  • He was in trouble with the police. He had broken into a vacant house and him and his friends had more or less lived there on the days they skipped school – which was most days.
  • He was in trouble with his mother and his step dad. He had stolen his mom’s car and wrecked it when he was fourteen years of age. Not only did he wreck it but also he snuck the car back into the garage, then walked back to school and caught the school bus home. Pretty smart kid.

The second decision

The next thing to happen was for me to go for legal guardianship. I wanted to make sure if I were going to allow this snot-nosed kid to live with me that I would be the one in control of the situation. I didn’t want to pour into him heart and soul only to have someone whisk him away in the middle of the night.

I had a good reputation with the court system and the judge signed off right away.

The ten conditions of living with me

At the end of the two-week period my nephew came to me and said, “Aunt Linda I think I want to live here but you keep talking about choices and making decisions. You need to understand that I don’t know how to make decisions. I’ve never been allowed to make my own decisions and I want to learn how to do it.” I assured him I would teach him how to make good choices.

I reminded him that I had said there would be some boundaries and I would like to go over what those boundaries and conditions looked like.

The following conditions were put in writing. This way everything would be upfront with no surprises.

  1. If he were going to live in my family (He argued there were only two of us so how could that be a family? Silly kid, he had a lot to learn) he would have to attend church with me. He had to be up and ready to go when I was.He argued again saying he wasn’t going to the teen group. I explained that he would be welcomed to go to my single parent class with me. I told him that my life included learning more about the Lord and worshiping Him. He didn’t have to attend any other time just on Sunday. Going on Sunday was pretty much a shock to his system.
  2. He would need to see a counselor of my choice each week. I explained that he had a lot of problems and a counselor could help him understand the poor choices he had made and how to overcome some of his behaviors.
  3. He would be required to help around the house with chores and he would need to do them willingly.
  4. He would need to help me make up menus, clip coupons, check out the items needed for the meals, grocery shop and cook some of the meals. His comment, “I don’t know how to cook!” My comment, “Well that’s why I’m going to teach you how to cook. It will be fun.”
  5. I would give him a job at my childcare facility, but I would not be his boss. My director would oversee him. I explained he would get a paycheck every two weeks.His eyes got real big; I know he was thinking about the drugs and cigs he could buy. I explained that when he got his check the first 10 percent would go to the church. It was called a tithe. He would also put $50.00 into the mail to pay back his mother for wrecking her car. He said, “You know about that?” I said, “I know everything!”
  6. Next, he would be required to purchase all of his school supplies, his own clothes and he would have to buy his lunches each week. He said, “Gee there won’t be much left after all that.” Me: “Bummer.”
  7. There would be no smoking in our home nor could he use drugs or drink alcohol at any time.
  8. He was not to have any company in the house when I wasn’t home.
  9. If he wanted to spend the night someplace or be out late he would need to ask me 24 hours in advance. If he didn’t ask at least 24 hours in advance the answer would be an automatic “no.”
  10. If he wanted someone to spend the night or he wanted to spend the night with a friend, then I had to meet the friend’s parents. He thought that would too embarrassing. Me, “Then I guess you won’t be having any friends over to spend the night then. It’s your choice.”
  11. He would be required to attend school each day unless running a temperature or he had to go to court. I would go with him to talk to the school counselor and let her know to call me if he was even late for any of his classes. I would also attend the parent teacher conferences each semester.

After we had gone over all the points in the agreement, I explained he would need to sign the agreement. I explained that by signing and dating it, he was agreeing to everything. He readily signed the agreement. More than once I brought out or referred to the “agreement” over the next few months.

If you are a grandparent parenting again or like me parenting a relative, think about instigating some conditions or boundaries in your home. It’s important for many of these kids to see things in writing. It’s also not fair to them to change the conditions without explaining the reasons why you are changing things.

If you are children’s church leader, hold onto these conditions and pass them on to struggling single parents or grandparents parenting again.

Next up, how my nephew handled life in my home.


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7 thoughts on “Yikes! The day a 15 year old came to live with me

  1. Wow! A great example on teaching responsibility and how to make right choices. This is also a great path for teaching life skills (i.e., cooking, chores, handling money, etc.). I agree a contract (memorandum of understanding) is very important. Thanks for sharing this personal experience.

    • Appreciate the comment Joseph and the verification of how to handle one tough teen. You are right in that he learned a lot of life skills just as an teen can do.

  2. I remember those rules, plus some! They were posted on the refrigerator even after I moved out of the house. My mom always used them as an example when people came over.
    Now my kids have some of those same rules. People are amazed that my kids know, how to cook, do their own laundry, clean the house (including the kitchen). Even as I’m typing this the 7 yr old is cooking dinner, the other 2 (12 & 16) are doing yard work.

    • A big thank you to my lovely daughter. Yep, my grandkids have learned those life skills early in life. It is generational. What you teach this generation can be carried to the next and the next.

  3. Pingback: DC4K » How a 15 year survives his great aunt! (Now he’s saying “yikes”)

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