Thursday, May 06, 2010

Serious question

We are thinking of having an 18 year old girl live in our basement for the summer.

She's had some hard knocks the last few years and where she is at now is just...well...NOT acceptable. She needs stability and reassurance that she's making the right choice to get a job, grow up and go to college. She needs someone who tells her she is valuable, smart, funny and pretty. She needs someone to help her figure out pell grants and student loans. She needs someone to care whether she comes home at night. She needs someone who will feed her vegetables once in a while. She needs a home where she feels comfortable enough to unpack her clothes and sit on the couch to watch a TV show that SHE picked.

She needs family.

But I'm worried that between the ear doctor and I, we may not be ready to be that for her. I'm worried that I don't know how to be anything than someone's roommate...I've never helped raise a teenager before. I'm worried that living together might ruin the otherwise great mentoring relationship we've created. I'm worried that I haven't developed that unconditional love that I might need to make this work. I'm worried I'm not enough for her.

I'm also worried that she may have no one else who is willing to help.

Is letting her live with us a bad idea?


TRS said...

Sounds like a great idea. It could be overwhelming. .. but I guarantee all three of you will be remarkably blessed.
And I can't wait to see how this goes.
I wish I could do something like that.

Goldilocks said...

If its just for a summer...might not be an awesome experience for all of yall...esp considering there is an expiration date. We can all do something for a couple months, right??

If yall do decide to do it, I know yall will be AMAZING. And wonderful. And fabulous to her and for her. How rewarding for everyone involved!!

But yes, definitely a big, serious question to consider very carefully.

Goldilocks said...

That was supposed to say "might be an awesome experience". That "NOT" was NOT supposed to be in here. Dang my fingers and thoughts all moving too fast and clicking "post" without re-reading! Doh!

SeƱora H-B said...

If anyone can do it, I'd think it would be the two of you. That girl would be lucky to have you in her life.

Jethro said...

As someone who was in that girl's situation, you don't know how much help you could be. I am so grateful that Andrea took me in when she did. My life would be much different.

The way I see it, if you trust her and she trusts you, and neither of you break that trust, what all of you will learn is totally worth any difficulties or trials that may arise form her living with you.

Living with Andrea and Jason helped me find out the kind of person I wanted to be. I learned from their strengths and weknesses, and if you and the Ear Doctor are as in love as it seems, it will be great to be such a good role model of what happiness is.

What really helped me was that Andrea and Jason set ground rules that were open and up front. There weren't surprises. I knew what I had to do to stay there, and I never worried about them kicking me out because I knew I could handle the commitment I made.

CageQueen said...

i feel i am expert on this. when my parents lost their home, i inherited one of my brothers. he was barely 18 at the time. my entire family jokes that i am raising kids in reverse, but that the needs are the same: food, clothing, shelter, mentoring, etc.

It has been hard. damn hard. and my situation is not quite as temporary. and obviously this girl is not your family.

but you should do it. no, you need to do it. you will likely get more from it than even she will. you never know how much you are capable and how much you can love till you're in the thick of it all.

god brings people to you for a reason. pray on it and accept what it is he needs you to be doing right now.

Raven said...

How could you not?

Seriously. No matter how hard this is going to be (and trust me it's going to be hard) for someone who has been in that girl's situation (obvs probably not exactly since I don't know what it is, but mine was super bad and I was on my own at 17)? I forever remember ANY kindness paid to me and it was never so huge as that.

Ground rules will help, open discussions will help, separate spaces will help...but doing this is going to be an incredible thing for all of you.

Kari said...

I can't think of better people than you and the Ear Doctor for someone like her to stay with. You are amazing people and will be amazing mentors. Part of what makes you amazing is you have already thought of the what-ifs. You know it isn't going to be easy, you are aware of how things could go bad -- and resultantly you will have your eyes open and deal with things before or as they happen.
You can totally do this and excel at it!

denise said...

In my experience the idea of setting expectations, and treating the other person as an emerging adult (at 18 that is who she is) will make the difference. At this point you don't need to worry about raising her. She needs a safe, consistent home. She will need a place that will support her goals and ideas. If that is your home this is a match. If her goals and ideas are not in line with your home then it isn't a match. It takes love, support and acceptance. I've never been particular about the timeline thing but it always seems to work out.


Anonymous said...

Only time will tell how things will play out. You have to make the best decision with the facts you have to hand. Those facts seem to be that she needs a lot of help, you are not sure you'll be able to offer all the help she needs, but you can do a lot for her she may not get anywhere else.

The ultimate test would be when you look back at this decision 10 years from now which would you regret more? Helping her out and it not working out for you as you'd hoped or not helping her and wondering how things could have been for her if you had?

Besides, you know first hand what a huge difference it can make in someone's life. Not to mention you have the 2 best role models on the planet you can go to for help as you try to work out how best to provide that mentoring you described.

Just try not to think about the fact that she could end up staying for years and run up a huge electricity bill heating your garage to 80 degrees. :)


dad said...

Sometimes you need to listen to your heart and forget your head. I suggest you write down your expectations so everyone knows what to expect. No assuming.

Just remember, you will establish a bond that is going to last for eternity, even if she does run up a hugh electricity bill by heating your garage.

Hannah said...

I only know you via stalking your blog for like a year (: but I think you and the Ear Doctor are an awesome family, and even thinking about not being sufficient for her is a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Bad idea. It is noble you want to help, but trust it will put stress on your relationship with the ear doctor. DON'T DO IT.

Reb said...

Not a good idea. I would feel compelled to help as well. But not a good idea.

Greeneyes said...

I admire your openness to even consider such a selfless thing. That said, this situation could get sticky awfully quick. I would only take on something like this if I knew I could live with the worst case scenario...just in case.

The most important question of all: What kind of toll could it exact on your marriage if the tenant situation went south?

Anonymous said...

How much older are you than her?
Boys are usually easier than girls at that age.
You haven't been through and 24/7 parenting.
What happens when you get home, tired, and out of sorts and the girls is tired and out of sorts?
Where does eay doc fit in to the schedule?
Lots of things to think about. Take the rose colored glass off and do some deep searching.
Love you both.
Grandma Jane

Marcey Moreno said...

I'm an avid reader but I've never left a comment until today. I think it's potentially a great idea, but I think it should be approached with clear expectations and boundaries. When I was first on my own I "took in" a young friend and our relationship has never been the same since then. It was a stressful time for both of us and I don't think that either of us were prepared for the situation. But I was on my own and hardly ate my own veggies much less knew to feed them to someone else too. You on the other hand have got a great support system and would probably be just fine.

But I also think it will be a key thing to make sure that everyone is on the same page about what is happening here.

Either way I'm going to keep on reading and see what happens next.

TRS said...

Only just now was I reminded that my parents took in my much older cousin when he was about that age. There was just too much crud going on at home for him, and my parents were a great influence.

I was so small at the time (toddler) that I didn't even know about it until about 10 years ago when my cousin expressed his lifelong appreciation for what my parents did for him.

So one of your other commenters is right - the effects of this will be forever - and you will be in each other's lives forever too.

themisadventuresofk said...

I don't know that the correct answer is to this, but I trust that you will make the right decision, as I think you have a good head on your shoulders.

Robyn said...

One phrase pops into my head and that is "ground rules!" Others have said it and I agree. I think you have much to offer and should go for it. Even if/when all does not go as expected, you will still have followed your heart and will not have regrets.