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Thread: Teens - Responsibilities and freedoms

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    North Carolina

    Default Teens - Responsibilities and freedoms

    Hi friends,

    Can you share with me some of the things that you have done in your family in terms of teens and adding in new responsibilities and earning new freedoms?

    Ex electronics
    financial responsibilities

    I would love to hear some of what you have done - or good ideas you have heard about.

    Leslie Nelsen, Family Room Moderator
    Wife to Roger, Mom to Christopher (25) married to Emily, Rebecca (22), Joshua (19), Isaiah (17), Daniel (14), and Eliana Joy (11).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    I'll share - keep in mind that my 16yo is in public school. Also, he is 16 going on 35 (but very much with the mind of a 16yo). For better and for worse.

    Electronics - on weeknights his electronics (all four of them) are upstairs where we can see them by 10:00. On weekends it's 11:00. Otherwise he has free access to them.
    Driving - we have a 3rd car (thank you, God) and he drives it to work 5 days a week. He drives himself and often a friend to church events, the gym, etc. His goal is to buy a car when he turns 17. If we take away privileges due to behavior issues, it's either the car or electronics. Electronics are hard to take away because he does use them a lot for school and in school.
    Bedtime - 10:00 on weeknights (he gets up very early). Sometimes 11 on weekends, sometimes later - that's more flexible.
    Chores - he takes care of his own stuff (room, laundry) and occasionally helps with trash, yard work, etc. He has very little time, being in public school and working 20+ hours/week. He did more chores when he was younger, actually.
    Financial - he pays for most of his clothes, any "extra" food he wants (which is a LOT), gas, and most of his car insurance. Also for his pricey phone (we pay for the data on a family plan but he pays for the phone monthly). He has a savings account and will get a checking account and debit card when he's 17 because that's the family rule.
    Job - this is a very big part of his life and he works quite a bit at CFA. He loves it and loves making money.

    All of this sounds very smooth and simple but it's not. We argue over many of these things frequently but they are house rules and he knows we won't back down. I think the arguments are getting less frequent as he gets older (I hope!).

    He does more than my oldest two did at his age, and he's been this way for a while now. He's just itching to grow up and be an adult, which has caused many conflicts as we try to let him have more responsibilities and freedoms even though he still has a teenage brain (forgetful, not seeing consequences, time management issues, etc.).
    "Ree-bee," Mom to former United States Marine ds and math teacher DIL * artist dd 20 * motion-loving ds 17 * piano-playing ds 12
    "For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other." from "A Consent," by Wendell Berry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    I currently have 2 teens and am about to have a 3rd. I guess we're strict about some things and lax about others. Here's a huge caveat .... we live in the country on a mini-farm, but Tuscaloosa is about 20 minutes away (not a big city at all, but "city/college town" nonetheless. There's always lots of chores associated with the land -- feeding pigs, feeding dogs, taking care of chickens, weeding, gardening, putting up vegetables in the summer, cutting firewood (jim cuts, but the boys cut and gather fat lighter and kindling), stacking and moving firewood, etc. Winter is much "slower" than summer. The boys (not yet teens) do more outside stuff than the girls, but they'd rather do outside stuff, and the girls would rather do inside stuff They ALL weed, work on gardening, shift chicken duties. Both work on firewood, but the boys do more. They all help with housekeeping and laundry, but the girls do more. All 3 older kids take a month doing dishwasher/dish duty, and then other chores (outside and kitchen rotate based on dish duty --their choice. They set up the chore chart, knowing what has to get accomplished -- we left this in their hands to determine what they think is fair .) My kids do A LOT, but we have a lot to do; life is very different than sub-division life (not critical here, just setting the stage .....).

    Based on that, here's how we've addressed certain things:

    electronics -- This looks VERY different in our house because we have girls as the oldest, and, as they've been given more freedoms with this, they've given us no reason not to trust them. Privileges would immediately be taken away if trust was broken!
    -- we have a wii == the girls rarely play. The boys I have to limit -- they are allowed daily privileges, and some weeks have more playing than others.
    -- the girls have gotten laptops in 7th grade for school. Wifi is strictly monitored. As they've gotten older, we've given them more freedoms with this (looking up specific things on pintrest, googling things for school, looking at clothing websites to buy something). The boys are still strictly monitored if they get on the internet (Ben doesn't, Cale does for school at times, and the main computer is downstairs where everyone can see). Cale's about to be 13 and will be in 8th grade next year, and I'm not sure what we'll do about a laptop for him or if he'll even get one???? Eventually he will, but I'm not afraid to admit that there are very different rules for boys than there are for the girls in my house regarding easy access to the internet. Yes, girls can get into bad stuff, but we monitor, and I've seen nothing and have no reason to think that they're being deceptive. I think it's more tempting for boys. I'm waiting on dh to lead as to how we'll deal with teen boys and this.
    -- oh, another thing with electronics -- both girls were allowed to get Instagram about a year ago (at 16 and 15 or 15 and 14????). I have an account also and monitor their friends and them. They are not allowed snapchat. Katie just got a Facebook because she needed it for work -- again, I monitor it closely.
    -- A HUGE rule at our house is that I know all passwords (they typically use one standard one). The moment I am denied access to ANY of their accounts, they lose all privileges. I can check email, texts, FB, Instagram, computers, etc. any time I want. Period.
    -- PHONES -- both girls have iphones. I pay to have them on my plan. They're not allowed to get phones until I'm ready for them to get phones (and this will look different for each child). Both girls were 15 when they got phones. If they want an iPhone, THEY buy the iPhone. I'd buy them a dollar store phone if it were up to me, but they've wanted the iPhone. I won't pay for it. I'll pay for the plan. I have no clue when Cale will get one. Right now he could care less. Dh isn't keen on him having internet access on a phone. Again, we're not there yet, so I honestly can't say what we'll do. I know we'll pay VERY close attention . I know my sister has net nanny on her boy's phones, and she has something where all of her boys texts come to her phone (and websites visited???) -- she doesn't snoop, but she can if she feels it's necessary. Again, I have access to EVERYTHING on their phone at any time I want to look or they lose their phone. Period. There's never been an issue.

    driving -- ours are allowed (by law -- it's different in each state) to get their learner's permit at 15. Both have. They're allowed to get a license at 16 WITH me signing off on them having had X number of supervised driving hours. I've told mine I won't sign if I don't think they're ready or haven't practiced enough. This wasn't an issue with the oldest. I had to encourage this with the 2nd, but she knows I'm serious about not allowing a license if I don't think she's ready, so she's been very willing to drive more.

    -- we did buy a 3rd car when Katie was 16. We truly intended to wait and get one "sometime," but dh was offered a fabulous (1/2 price deal) on a "newer" corporate car from his company, so we bought it. It's not "HER" car, per se, but that's what she's driving. She and Mattie may share when M. turns 16 (this is probably what will happen). We have a friend who eventually wants to get rid of her Honda Civic (older with low mileage), so we've told her we might be interested, but I'm hoping it'll be later rather than sooner We'll see. This is questionable.
    -- if they have a car (personal), we expect them to have a JOB!!! and they're required to pay a portion of their insurance. For Katie, this is $50/month -- about 1/4 of what it costs per month. This is just to make her have a stake in the game. She also has to keep gas in the car.
    -- not sure what this will look like for M., as she's a year behind in school (she'll turn 16 at the beginning of 10th grade -- not "behind," but old for her grade). She doesn't NEED a job with her workload. I figure she just won't have a car for awhile and will share the other as she needs it. If she doesn't have a job, she doesn't need to drive many places alone

    bedtimes -- mine don't really have bedtimes All the kids go upstairs around 8:30 -- sometimes it's earlier, sometimes it's later. The boys go to bed right after that. The girls stay up until they turn off their lights -- sometimes they work on school work, sometimes they read, sometimes they go to bed. The deal is that they have to get up in the morning HAPPILY when woken Katie often has to get up at 5:30-6 to go to work (she works at CFA 2 days a week). Believe you me, she's learned that she wants to go to bed by 9 on the mornings she has to get up that early I wake Mattie up about 7:30 every morning.

    chores -- again, mine have LOTS. They contribute mightily to the overall running of the house and the land/animals. But, that's one reason why we wanted to live on land in the country -- we wanted them to have hard work responsibilities.

    financial responsibilities -- As I've already mentioned. They buy their phones when we want/need them to have one. If they have a car (that we purchase), they pay part of the insurance and all of the gas. We do maintenance. If they have a job, they give a percentage of the money they earn to church.

    jobs -- As mentioned, this is going to vary by child ... We DEFINITELY want all the kids to have had a job before they graduate. K. started a CFA not long after she turned 16 (last March, actually). But, her school load is lighter this year because she's finished with her sciences and only has math 3 days a week (1/2 of Saxon Advanced Math). M. WANTS a job (she'll be 16 in September), but her school load will be much greater in 10th grade than K's has been in 11th when she was 16. She does babysit whenever possible. We'll have to see what pans out. Cale is chomping at the bit to work for a landscaper friend in the summer to make lots of money We've said maybe at 14 ..... They'll definitely work, but it'll vary .......

    OTHER PRIVILEDGES -- As K. has been working, making money, giving money, paying for certain things, she has also gained a bit more freedom, and over the past year, she's gained a bit more and a bit more and a bit more -- it's all incremental based on trust and proving that she can manage her time and money. She's been allowed to drive and meet friends for lunch at times. She will sometimes take M. for lunch, sometimes they'll go to the movies with friends (and drive themselves), a few times they've been shopping with friends. She's been allowed to drive other places for teen activities with church or coop. There are still things we say no to -- a few weeks ago, she was invited to go to the University gymnastics meet with friends -- that involved driving somewhere on campus that she wasn't familiar, finding unfamiliar parking, and leaving with masses of people at 10 at night, and there was a potential for snow. We said NO. We're trying to gradually let out the "reins," but still closely supervise activities and friendships.

    OF course, if you give an inch, they're willing to fight for a mile
    Wife to Jim and Mama to Katie (1/01), Mattie (9/02), Cale (4/05), and Ben (8/08)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    I’m on my 8th and 9th teens. So here are our family rules:

    Electronics - They have to buy their own and pay their bills. Currently Thomas has just signed up for phone service. Abby has an iPod. We haven’t needed rules about usage but sometimes I have had to put them up so schoolwork can get done. I’ve let Abby get on FB but I don’t want an Instagram so I haven’t let her get one because I would need to monitor.
    I have had one child who got into some bad stuff but everyone else has been fine. Honestly, if I could do away with all electronics, it would be a happy day. I wish we’d never started it. But there you are.

    Cars - They must pay their own car insurance. I will take them to work until they can begin paying it. We let them get a permit, but no license until they can pay their insurance. They have to buy their own car (we want them to save up and pay cash or borrow from gparents, which is a standing offer) but we have an extra car they can drive or they share mine until they can buy one.

    Bedtimes - we don’t have a rule but we all go to our rooms around 9. However, we do have a time to get up, so the bedtime pretty much takes care of itself.

    Chores - Everyone is expected to help in the house and has assigned work plus must have a good attitude about doing extra.

    Jobs - As far as working outside home, they are expected to buy their own clothes (except big things like coats and suits) when they turn 16 and pay their own phones, car insurance, and spending money. Brag moment: my kids are sought after for outside work and offered jobs quite often. Currently Th is at a grocery store within walking distance. He worked for a farmer for a couple of years and at a thrift store for a year or two and does yard work.

    We’ve helped out the kids who have heavy school loads. And with responsibility comes freedom.
    Wife to David for 42 years, mom of 9, homeschooling Abby (16). Grammy to 6 granddaughters and 2 grandsons and 2 new babies due in the spring of 19! Homeschooling since 1986, Loving FIAR since 2000.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    Electronics When the kids were younger they had to use a timer at all times. Now that they are older we don't require that, but we also trust the privileges not to be abused. If one is caught playing games vs doing school the right is removed. The only real issue we've had in that field is when a US relative was trying to chat up a child who was doing school. My child finally said, "I really am trying to do school.." which cracked me up because we didn't tell him he couldn't chat.

    driving is a privilege not a right. However, it works very very differently here than in the states with many phase one must accomplish in order to be a fully licensed driver. At this state my eligible child is not interested in climbing the hoops to get there & we're fine with that for now.

    bedtimes is their problem. When our youngest was a new teen we did state he had a deadline in which he had to be in bed by, mostly because he's a night owl & would stay up all night & sleep all day. That's a no-no in our home. My eldest is an early riser so he's not usually keen on being up late which inspires the younger to go to bed because he doesn't like being up alone. Having said that hubby & I are in bed before the kids every night. We told our youngest when he was up later than us that it was in bed by 11pm. But in fairness, they are in bed by 1030 expect during the summer.. Actually no one's in bed by that time right now because the olympics start shutting down around 11pm our time.

    chores my kids are responsible for feeding/watering their own pets, maintain the cleanliness of the bathroom they most often use, doing their own laundry, & helping around the house. Lately this means they are either cooking dinner or pitching in with it.. Life is chaotic so they are very good {generally} about jumping up when it's chore time. Pets are fed in the AM, but we've always had the "cleaning Hour" which is after school & after people have had at least 30 minutes of "down" time. Then everyone jumps up & we do a quick tidy up, & get dinner rolling.

    financial responsibilities my children have none at this stage, although app purchases are done out of their own funds.

    jobs again, my children don't have any at this time. US Expats are double taxed if they work overseas, which makes things complicated. Having said that if they want a job they are welcome to find one. My eldest nearly landed a job at a local supermarket while trying to get help finding beef ribs recently. The clerk who was helping him said, "Oh, you're the guy who's here for the deli interview, but the thing is no one is available to interview you, can you come back tomorrow? And he looked at her & said, "Actually no. I dont' live in town, I've come to town today. I'd like to speak to someone today, that's why I'm here." She said, "Fair enough, come on." & took him around to find someone to interview him. The funny part was it took my kid a few minutes to realise that she wasn't looking for help for finding beef ribs she was looking for someone to actually interview him. He finally said, "I'm actually only here for the beef ribs." and she said, "Ribs?" "Yes, I'm suppose to be getting beef short ribs, do you have any in stock?" Ahh, anyway, no jobs at this stage. We have told him he's welcome to get one but school still has to be accomplished so he'd need to choose wisely.
    Kendra, wife of Lawrence, mother of three.

    I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Before I tell how we handle things I need to explain that we live in no man's land--45 min from the city in which we do most of our activities (church, shopping). Where we live is the reason for some of our decisions.

    Electronics--we don't have wifi. The only way the kids can get online is through my hotspot and that sucks up a lot of my data so they don't get online very often. My son plays on x-box but he is good at limiting g his time o. It so it isn't an issue. Each child gets a phone for their 16th birthday. They use monthly phone cards for service.

    Bedtimes: they don't have a bed time. Whenever they are tired they go to bed. But they have to wake up at 8:00 for school. That is non-negotiable. I have 't had problems implementing this.

    Driving: we pay for gas and insurance but they are required to be chauffeur for the non-drivers in the family. This has freed up a lot of time for me. We have an extra vehicle which the two older ones share but my son is saving up his money to buy his own truck.

    Jobs: this is where we live plays a part in our decision. Our son works full-time on the farm so he gets paid and is saving for a truck. My daughters don't have jobs because the price of gas negates the income they would get from working so it is an intentional decision that the girls don't work. It's not a good thing, I'm not happy about it but it would be a waste if they did have a job.

    Chores: I do the breakfast and lunch dishes and they take turns doing the supper dishes. They take turns feeding the animals. They do their own laundry. They help with making the meals and cleaning the house.
    mom of 3 -- dd (19), ds (17) and dd (15)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    North Carolina


    Thank you all so very much. We need to buckle down more on our current teens. Dealing with laziness, too much electronics and just bad attitudes at times. I'm very frustrated and overwhelmed by this (and a lot of other things our family is dealing with too). Sadly, I can't get my dh to really agree to get involved in this discussion. I feel very alone in this and with 3 teen boys, I need him to step in. I thought perhaps sharing what others are doing might be helpful.
    Leslie Nelsen, Family Room Moderator
    Wife to Roger, Mom to Christopher (25) married to Emily, Rebecca (22), Joshua (19), Isaiah (17), Daniel (14), and Eliana Joy (11).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Set Free Academy


    This is disjointed, but here goes.

    The oldest have phones, but the younger two don't. There was no fb, instawhatever, etc., until the 18th birthday. No devices are allowed in the bedroom. Youngers are not allowed on the internet until 14, and then only with supervision.

    They all have chores. They don't get paid for them. The chores include laundry, housework, yardwork, etc.

    We have one teen driver. We own the cars, we pay the insurance, and our teen driver takes people places, runs errands for me, etc.

    As for jobs, when the oldest was in high school, she worked summers mowing two lawns, and she babysat and dog-walked. The second currently babysits and does interior painting; she has been a soccer referee in the past. She is motivated to have a good income because she has a Compassion child. The youngers shovel snow in the winter. I don't allow them to work other than things like that because it would interfere with the family schedule and we're just not going there. They tithe on their money, keep a bit out, and save the rest in the bank.

    The oldest two began to volunteer at age 14. That was a huge responsibility and a huge grower. It was something I required. They coached soccer, eventually being the head coach of the teams and being FULLY responsible for everything an adult coach was responsible for.

    The kids all have pets and are responsible for animal care.

    Everyone is capable of preparing meals. They are called upon to do so fairly regularly. Like right now, so I can type this.

    As for clothing and music and what they watch, it must be approved by the parents. However, by now the oldest two have decent judgement. Just decent, though. We don't watch regular tv, but we do watch football, and special events like the Olympics, or some Netflix series, but we watch these as a family. The olders do have some things they watch from Netflix, but again, they are approved because they are coming into my house.

    As for bedtimes, all the girls share a room. They must be respectful and not keep each other awake. Also, once dh goes to bed, everyone is required to be in their rooms because he is a light sleeper and gets up early. Except for things like tonight; Belle is working at the hospital and won't be home until after he is in bed.

    I wish I had not gotten the olders phones so early. We did it because they were beginning to travel across the state for soccer and I couldn't always go. The oldest and I both struggle with spending too much time on the phone; the second doesn't.

    Right now we have three teens, and the oldest is in the "young adult" phase. So far, it's been ok. Some things have worked out, some have not.

    I tell you, that whole boy thing - it's hard to get the dad to see the mom's perspective. And it's hard for this mom to remember that he is a boy in a houseful of girls. Boys are different and the sisters around here do. not. get. that. It causes a lot of struggles and I can't see it getting much easier. Also, I don't know how to burn his energy and help him feel like he's growing.

    I have some Norm Wakefield audios to listen to on this; I just dug them out tonight. "Mothers of Boys" and that sort of thing.

    This parent gig ain't easy, friend.

    - - - Updated - - -

    ETA: What Paige said about K. As they show more responsibility, they earn more freedom. And when things make us uncomfortable, like bad weather driving or other things, we say no.

    Right now when Belle works late at the hospital, she is uncomfortable walking to her car in the dark parking lot in that neighborhood, and asks me to take her and pick her up. I am glad she asks, because that's what would happen even if she didn't like it.
    Robin, wife for 22 years to a wonderful man, and mama to 20yo Belle; 18yo Kitty; 14yo Princess, and 12yo Boyo.
    Words for 2015 and 2016 and probably forever: Be her.

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