Your kid's friend with crappy parents; How do you handle this?

I guess we’re in round 3 (4?) of dealing with our youngster’s friends who seem to have crappy, uninvolved parents. Last time it was a teenager who was thrown out of the house on December 23rd by her parents over some ridiculous argument (religion, I think). After frantically making room (and Miz pullin’s high speed shopping trip to get some presents and another stocking), we invited the youngster to move in with us until leaving for college six months later.

I’ve honestly lost count of the our kids’ friends who accompany us to restaurants, movies, and even occasionally vacations because their parents WON’T TAKE THEM ANYWHERE. (sorry, I had to shout) It’s always been our policy to invite whoever’s in the house when we head out to do something, on the assumption that meals and tickets and gas will all even out in the end. If we end up losing a little on the deal, so what? It’s not really the youngster’s fault since they don’t have any control over the situation, and if nothing else, it’s good karma.

But now, we’ve acquired another pseudo-orphan, who literally must depend on us for all transportation, except for school (there’s a bus). If we don’t take him, he sits at home. Period. He’s trying diligently to be in the band and other extra-curricular stuff, but would lose all this if we stop letting him ride with us everywhere. Homelife (apparently) is pretty nasty, and goading his “parents” to participate only results in heartache for him.

I guess I’m just getting tired of this, since I have my own kids to raise (and chauffer). I know we’re being taken advantage of, but if we stop, this kid loses a lot. And frankly, I think that kids who are effectively abandoned like this end up in trouble (which this kid seems to be actively avoiding - going against the grain of his household).

So, to other parents; How do you handle situations like this? Hassling the disinterested, ex-con parent(s) is not an option here. But we need to draw the line somehow.

I have never been in a situation as extreme as this! Bless you for being so kind to troubled teens. My only advice is to try and swallow the fact that the parents are taking advantage of you, and realize that you are making an enormous difference in this life of this child. Perhaps the kid could get a part-time job to help defray expenses, but then I guess you’d have to drive him to and fro for that too.

Wishing you the best. Hope others chime in with more practical advice than I have.

We’ve done the same before - taken in a kid for a few weeks before bootcamp started, for example.

I draw the line at having the room for them in the house. One extra teen is enough, when you already have 3 others.

I found that in a few years your kids will have graduated high school and this problem seems to resolve itself.

In HS my house was the house where kids ended up when they had crappy parents. They just kind of came and went as their home life permitted. Sometimes it was a very appreciative mom that was fully involved and just needed a place for her kid to crash during a divorce/move, and another time it was a girl that stayed at our house from Thanksgiving to Christmas eve and I am not sure her mother realized she was gone. My mom called the grandmother and asked if the girl would have anything for Christmas or did my mom need to start shopping. About an hour later her mother pulled into the driveway and honked for her to come out.

It’s annoying and it isn’t right, but when you have a kid that is close to graduation age and isn’t being beaten at home (and I’m not arguing that neglect is not a type of abuse), the best you can do is keep being that house where the kids go and, like **NinetyWt **said, it resolves itself. I remember those times and being so appreciative of my parents. I look back on it and am happy and proud of them for it because I didn’t realize what a burden it could be at the time.

I don’t have any advice at all. Just wanted to say that I was once that kid with the crappy parents and I would have loved to have a soft place to land where I could feel safe and supported, just for a minute.

*Please *keep doing what you’re doing. Good on ya.

Echoing Dogzilla.

I don’t think its an exaggeration to say you may very well be saving this kid’s life, every time you help out. The impact of what you are doing is so much larger than the cost to you; not to say the cost to you isn’t huge! It is!! I sincerely hope you keep helping, but if the burden becomes more then you can handle and you start to seriously resent this kid, please talk with him/her about it like an adult. Don’t just act catty and passive aggressive about helping.

What I mean is, the kid will pick up on that, and sometimes the second blow of being unloved at home and then un-liked by your “adopted” family is more than a kid can bear. He will think you dislike him because he is so obviously messed up and awful. It will not occur to him that you are stressed out. So, if you come to a point where you can no longer help, be honest about the stresses of adult life and try to end it on a semi-positive note.

By doing what you are doing.

Yes, you are being taken advantage of, and it is totally unfair. These loser parents need to be involved in their kids’ lives. But they are not.

What you are doing is communicating with the kids you take in, “you are good enough that someone treats you decently.” It is entirely possible that this is a message they don’t get anywhere else.

I have been in that situation, where I came down in the morning and found my son sleeping on the couch because he gave his bed to a friend, or driving out in the middle of the night to pick my daughter’s friend because her parents were getting divorced and screaming at her and each other. And both my son and my daughter said exactly the same thing - “I knew you and mom wouldn’t mind”. Which is not quite true - we did mind. But it appears that when my wife and I talked about how Christ wants us to love our neighbor, my kids were listening.

No, you don’t have to do this, and you may never be repaid. But if you are able to do them, unforced acts of charity done with no expectation of reward are the highest and purest form of morality.

And as NinetyWt says, it comes to a natural end in time.

My $.02 worth.


If the kid is in band, can you talk to the band director about getting him a ride? Band is one of those special extra curriculars where people really look out for each other. If it were my high school band there would be a senior with a car sent to pick him up, or the band director himself would come.

You’re doing a really good thing. Sorry it’s getting more complicated :frowning:

As someone who also grew up in a hell but without a place to escape, I can only thank you for what you have done for the others.

However, any one person can’t save the world, and I know it can get tiring.

Is there anyone who you can get to help you so that’s not a question of just you?

If the kid’s a senior then he should have friends with cars. It shouldn’t be up to you to give him rides everywhere. If you aren’t already going that way, he can walk or find his own transportation. Sorry, but that’s life.

I understand you might feel bad about going and doing stuff without him, but shit isn’t free. We all have lines so don’t feel bad about drawing one.

He also needs a job, like, yesterday. Is there nothing within walking distance of your house?

Right, but this kid has probably not had a lot of guidance on how to independently solve these problems for himself. I don’t think it would be to cool (in terms of establishing the kid’s trust that he’s in a safe place) to just say, “Oh, we don’t mind you sleeping here, but find your own rides.”

No. The kid needs help. Someone needs to show him how: “Here’s the bus schedule. Here is where the bus stop is. This is how you make a transfer and get yourself around on on the bus. Now, which of your friends has a car? Can you ride with them and on which days?” Teach the kid how to set up carpools and how to solve these problems and presto! They won’t be your problems anymore.

But you can’t just literally throw the kid under the bus because driving him around is too much a pain in your ass. Teach him skills and coping tools – yes, that is doing his parents’ job, which is clearly a big fat FAIL. But the OP has already taken this kid in, and IMO, by virtue of that commitment now has a responsibility to see it through. either figure out a way to fix the parents and get the kid back home, or keep doing what you’re doing for however long it’s gonna be.

If the kid wants to be in the band, I can’t understand why nobody’s asking if the kid can ride with other bandies back and forth to practices or whatever. Nobody’s heard of carpooling where you live?

When I was in high school, my parents wouldn’t drive me around either. If I couldn’t walk, take the bus, or ride my bike, then I knew enough to ask a friend or a friend’s parent for a ride. My dad might even call me and say “Hey, I can’t pick you up; can you get a ride from [Friend]?” But my dad did take the time to show me where the bus stop was and to make sure I had fares and knew how to transfer, and he also gave me a really good chain and lock for my bike. Once my friends and I started turning 16 and getting licenses, then his chauffering dropped to almost never. I would so much rather ride with a friend than a parent.

Is this really so unreasonable or difficult to figure out?

Sorry, I disagree. By virtue of how far above and beyond they’ve gone for this kid, they’re totally absolved of doing more.

Yeah, it totally sucks that his parents are shit-for-brains. But that doesn’t mean that OP is “obligated” to do ANYTHING at all other than call the cops if the negligence turns criminal. The fact that they let the kid sleep over is already huge.

pullin, we do the same thing here.

Although I have not had any kid actually move in, I would not be surprised it that happened here one day. I do have one regular that shows up every Friday afternoon and leaves Sunday night. He prefers to sleep on the floor as opposed to the couch or camp cots, which I find odd, but he prefers.

I joke that we suffer the weekend teenage horde invasion every weekend (and often during the week).

Yes, you do get taken advantage of. Yes, it is more expensive. Yes, it is a a kindness that will most likely never be repaid.

And, yes, you do get to provide influence and direction to kids who need it and whose parents can’t or won’t do the job themselves. I treat them like my own.

I don’t often deal with the parents of my stray and extra kids. Not because either of us are rude, mean, or unfriendly, though. I call them more than they call me (usually to ask for permission for road trip or something or hit them up for pizza or money, which I do on occasion), but even that is not very much. If they have complaints or requests, they can call me or stop letting their kids live at my house.

I recently took a car load of boys over to an armed services day at our local military base. I took them primarily to let one kid know there were options to getting out of his parents home that didn’t involve living on the street or going to college, since college would be unlikely in this kid’s case. If his parents were upset by this, they didn’t mention it to me.

I take whatever strays I have on my floor on Sunday morning to church, too (Unitarian). If their parents object to this, they have not brought it up.

I talk to all the kids about sex, drugs, alcohol, politics, religion, money, parenting and striving for a college education. If their parents object, they have never once said so.

I do require they be clean and polite and that when arguments break out that they all argue fairly. This one is important because kids with crappy parents are too familiar with unfair fighting, yelling, threats and intimidation.

And I put them to work on Sundays cleaning the house and yard. If everyone pitches in, the jobs get completed very quickly, they can get back to having fun again real soon, and I don’t spend all week recovering from the teenager horde invasion. The regulars are totally cool with this and the new ones learn to get with the program or else they move on.

The best part about having a house full is that I always know where everyone is and what they are doing. Teens can have a secret culture, but I always know what is up because there is always someone in the crowd who will clue you in if you just talk to them. `

Hassle? Yes.

Worth it? Yes.

My parents hosted a friend of mine in HS during senior year as well. How are your relationships with parents of your kid’s other, mutual friends? Can some of them help out with rides to activities and such?

That’s very much a possiblity. I grew up in a rural area. There was no public transportation of any kind (other than the school bus, some van thing for the elderly/disabled). There was a late bus in high school for students who had after school activities/dentention, but it didn’t stop at nearly as many places as the regular bus. For example the regular school bus stopped at my next door neighbors, the night bus stopped at a gas station about 20 minutes on foot from my house. Half of which was on a dirt rode, no sidewalks anywhere, and would’ve been after dark for most of the school year.

My first real job was about 20-30 minutes by car from my house, in another town and school district, and on the other side of a small mountain. On a good day it would’ve taken me over two hours to walk there (& another 2 hours to get back), most of that walking on the road and jumping into a ditch whenever I saw a car. This small town felt like a “real city” because it had sidewalks, a main street, and a shopping plaza. I didn’t have much of a social life until I could drive. Until then I did what I could with carpooling and hitchhiking (by which I mean literely walking down the road with my thumb out). This onetime in middle school my principal caught me doing that 'cause I missed the bus and looked like he was about to have a heart attack. He literely pleaded with me never to do that again, to just call the school, and he’d send a teacher or somebody.

If you have reason to believe a child is being neglected or abused, the legally appropriate thing to do is report it to whatever your state calls their equivalent of Child Protective Services. It’s probably part of, or at least near, the office that handles food stamps and/or child support.

Practically speaking, that is sometimes…not the best solution for the child. Living in state custody/foster care is no picnic. However, particularly in cases where the child needs medical attention, it may be the thing to do.

As an unofficial person, at least in my state, you do not have the capacity to consent to medical treatment on behalf of the child, or enroll the child in school. Such could perhaps be obtained via a guardianship or even a temporary custody order.

Kudos to you for doing what you’ve already done. You’re making a difference for the kids you’ve helped.

FWIW, I call this sort of thing a “Cousin Oliver” situation. As in, The Brady Bunch.

My family and extended family have always just sort of been plodding along. Now all us kids are grown and out of the house, except the one cousin who was about to turn 18 when Ryan showed up. He is my cousin’s friend from school, who apparently has a horrible home life, and just sort of adopted my aunts and cousins as his family.

It was just surreal to see this kid show up at every single family event. It was a little off-putting to my parents at first but once I explained that the kid probably came from a bad home, he became more tolerable.

Anyway, it just seems hilarious to me that my family now has a Cousin Oliver - a kid who joined “the cast” of our lives once all the rest of us got old and boring.

I understand the strain, but I have to disagree with this.

The closest similar situation I can think of is the Good Samaritan Law as it pertains to healthcare providers. That’s the law that protects doctors and nurses from lawsuits should they choose to help out in an emergency that they witness outside of their workplace. They are not required to help out if they observe an emergency, but - and here’s the comparison - if they *do *choose to help, they are required to continue to provide care until someone else who is qualified (EMS, another doctor, etc.) shows up to relieve them. To begin to care for someone voluntarily and then to abandon them is Breach of Duty, and you *can *be successfully sued for that.

I think, ethically if not legally, the same situation applies to people who chose to help out in situations like the OP’s. He had no ethical or legal mandate to help in the first place, but he chose to, and to abandon this kid without ensuring that another person or the kid himself can take over that role is ethically wrong.

So, if it really is too much to handle, how can he ethically extricate himself from this situation? As has already been said, he can teach the kid to take care of himself, or he can ask other adults (the band teacher, a counselor at school, a local member of the clergy, a relative of the child, etc.) to step in and take over. Or, of course, he can confront the parents and try to get them to do their parental duty, but that’s probably the least likely to work.

And I’ll add a heartfelt “thank you” to the OP from another perspective: my son’s got great difficulty coming to me and asking for help. I don’t know why, exaclty - his therapist tells me it’s because he’s the only son and oldest child of a single mother whom he witnessed through an abusive marriage, and he feels guilty making “demands” and thinks that *he *needs to take care of me. Believe me, we’re trying to work on that as a family, but in the meantime, I’m profoundly grateful to the parents of his friends who invite him along with them. He very often never even *tells *me there’s an outing he’d like to go on, much less ask me for a ride or money. It’s frustrating for me, but at least they help *him *to actually join in.

This is an extremely important part of treating the kids “as part of the family”. It shows kids (who may never have seen it before) how a functional family functions. With fairness, cleanliness, politeness, and responsibility.


They are teenagers and they are complaining that there parents don’t take them to do anything? This raises my quizzical eyebrow a little.

Honestly, it is a great thing you are doing but I really hope that you have spoken to their actual parents about what you are doing. Not from a ‘you guys suck for not doing this for your kid’ perspective but a ‘BTW, we are doing these things for your kid.’

Their answer might surprise you. Teenage angst can sometimes take a kid in strange directions (typically, away from their parents). The parents may be more than willing to step up but the kid won’t talk to them.