How much legal resposibility do teen minors have?

Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 12:22 am
I work full time, second shift. I have to in order to get the bills paid. My kids 13 daughter and 17 son, do not help at all.

Just how much is a single parent expected to do and how much is a teen, minor child, expected to do? What is negligent? Is is the parent's fault, if teen children do not perform simple tasks? Is a single parent responsible for everything?

What and who is responsible for what? I am talking teen kids, with this one. What can I legally expect, without being a negligent parent? I work second shift, full time.
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Debra Law
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 12:53 am
Hi there!
Can you be more specific? I'm not sure what you are referring to exactly. Are you referring to housework? laundry? joy riding and getting into automobile accidents while you're at work?

The four essential elements of negligence are 1) duty; 2) breach; 3) cause; and 4) damages. Certainly, as a parent, you have a duty to reasonably supervise your children and perhaps your state may have parental responsibility laws defining your liability if your child damages someone else's property, etc. Again, you need to be more specific!
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Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 05:04 am
I don't know anything about the law regarding minor kids and single parent.

But I have lived in this situation, but I was one of three kids, not the parent. Perhaps my story will give you some ideas. Maybe not, but I hope so.

I was 11 when my dad died unexpectedly. Sis was 14, brother was 7. Mom was a housewife.

Naturally, our lives were turned upside down March 12, 1979. I do not know why, but after a few days of being in a daze, I kind-of just took over a lot of responsibilities at home.

Mom never asked me to--it was something I just did. I guess I saw needs and did my best to fill them--as best as an 11-year-old kid can.

My little brother couldn't do a lot, of course, and my older sister helped out in her way I suppose, though I don't really know what responsibilities she might have taken on since I basically hated my her (I mean that in the sibling sense--we never really got along til she left for college Smile).

Mom had to find work wherever she could til a teaching job became available, so she sold Mary Kay for a few years. Even so, it was very difficult to keep the bills paid (thank goodness Dad didn't leave us with a lot of debt--just the house payment).

Well, over the next four or five years, whenever the old car broke down I didn't feel we had the money to fix it, so I read auto repair manuals and tinkered til I got it running.

There's a great deal of satisfaction in fixing something that's broken, and helping the family, to boot. Mom never paid me for fixing the cars or anything else around the house. I also never expected it. I always felt it was my duty to help out.

This being said, I don't know what's going through your kids' minds, and I don't know the reason you're a single mom (widowed, divorced, etc.). I don't know if the dad is anywhere in the picture.

Let me continue this story of my life, because I was not always such a good kid.

After Dad died, my grades in school fell dramatically. In hindsight, I think it was mostly because I was unhappy. I didn't have many, if any, friends, no social life, and I disliked being at home.

Mom was without a clue as to the emotional needs of a preteen, then teen, boy and I felt I was contributing to the family's welfare, but felt unappreciated and untrusted.

I felt I had three "moms" in my life: my mom; my older sister, who was bossy and selfish; and my younger brother who was obstinate and irresponsible.

Then, too, my body and my emotions were going through changes that only a man can understand, and there was no man in my life who could explain or help me understand my rapidly-changing world.

I mean, you know the obvious things--how can a 15-year-old boy ask his mom about certain male bodily occurances--but there were also the little things.

For instance, whenever I needed to go to someplace dressed up, no one in my house knew how to tie a necktie. That's a guy thing. Mom didn't know. My sister didn't know. And of course my little brother didn't know.

And when an adolescent boy needs to shave, I had no one to teach me. Shaving sounds really basic, but even to this day I wonder sometimes if I do it right. Not because I'm unsuccessful at it, but because I've never been shown exactly what is right.

All these little things add up to great big emotional problems, Wildflower. I already mentioned my grades--they went from As to Cs and Ds.

I began oversleeping for school every single day--basically, I think, because I hated school. I was teased every day and was never taught to fight back, or even stand my ground. Maybe if I'd had a male model I'd have handled things differently.

Every year, I just turned more and more inward, and still unhappier. Suicide was a daily consideration.

I think I should mention that Mom had no idea of all this stuff I went through. Most of it she still does not know (I'm 37, now).

Then, there's girls. I liked girls. But a boy needs a good male role model to teach him how to talk to girls, how to ask them out, how to handle rejection--especially when one laughs out loud at him, etc.

My mom simply taught me to be respectful of girls, and that men were only after "one thing" and that I should never, ever, do anything to make a girl feel uncomfortable.

So for the next few years I went on rare dates, and even more rarely a second date. Even up to about age 30, I only got first dates.

Why? I found out through a friend of a girl I really liked but couldn't get a second date with (even though our first date was great) that my date had fun and all, but thought I didn't like her.

I said, "how could she think that? We had a great time, and we even agreed that we'd like to see each other again--but now she won't even return my calls. I don't get it."

Her friend told me that she thought I was just being patronizing--not wanting to hurt her feelings.

"Patronizing? No! I'm honest. I simply don't lie to people. I really like her; otherwise I wouldn't have said I wanted to go with her again!"

Her friend said that I left the clue by not trying anything--I didn't try to hold her hand, I didn't try to put my arm around her, I didn't try for a good-night kiss or anything. She felt rejected.

Wow. That just clarified the prior ten years of my life.

So, while this prose is long, I'm thinking that it would be important to find a strong male role model for your son. Find a guy he likes--more importantly, respects.

This man will be able to teach a lot of what you are not able to. Plus perhaps (if it's not too late) instill a sense of responsibility in him. He may also be able to identify and understand the emotions your son may be dealing with right now.

Anyway, that's all. I don't know how well this applies because I know nothing of you and your family. Please accept with a shaker of salt.

Best of luck to you and your family.

General Tsao
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Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 05:19 am
Just how much is a single parent expected to do and how much is a teen, minor child, expected to do? What is negligent? Is is the parent's fault, if teen children do not perform simple tasks? Is a single parent responsible for everything?

Wildflower63- It sounds like you have a parent-child problem, not a legal one. Legally, you cannot force a child to do chores, or pick up the slack, when you can't accomplish all the household duties. Responsibility needs to be taught to the children, and hopefully, if the training has stuck, the kids will pitch in and help.

Yes, a single parent IS responsible for everything. I looks like some of the things that your children need are some lessons on empathy, consideration, and sharing responsibilities.

If you cannot handle this yourself, a family counselor might help get your children on the right track, and teach you skills that you may use in dealing with them. There are many mental health clinics, that will see families on a sliding rate scale, according to the family's income.
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the reincarnation of suzy
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 06:23 am
The way I see it, Wildflower, until they are over 18 their lives are your responsibility.
I can't imagine how a single parent can work second shift. That's the time they are getting out of school, through suppertime and even bedtime. I think a parent needs to be there during most of those hours. If they have that much time to themselves, they won't eat right and they will get into trouble. They have ample opportunity to do so!
In that situation, that is neglect, because basically the kids have no parent around at all during the day. Your kids need you, Wildflower! I mean you no offense, but that's the way I see it. Yes, you have to work, but you also have to parent. If I were you I would switch shifts. Aren't you a nurse?
general, I would like to address your story at a later time. Fascinating!
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Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 07:54 am
I was also going to ask you if working days was an option.
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Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 09:19 pm

You're an adult emerging from confusion.

Your kids are kids who were born into confusion and who are trying to survive in a new world where they don't know the rules.

Believe me, all nice, normal kids hate chores and do their damnedest to get out of doing chores. Your son and daughter are not depraved and heartless. They are just acting like normal brats.

Take several deep breaths and remind yourself that you love them. Then sit down and make a list of all household chores: Tidying bedrooms. Tidying common rooms. Keeping a sanitary kitchen. Yard work. Laundry. Bill paying. Grocery shopping. Menu planning. Cooking Pooper scooping. Put down every time consuming chore you can think of on that list.

This weekend, stretch the budget for everyone's favorite takeout and call a family conference. Explain that you must work to make ends meet and the only job you could find was second shift. Tell them that you're tired of being the Maid of the House and you need some cooperation.

Give each of them a copy of the list and have them rank each chore on a three point scale: Zero is the pits. Three is highly desirable.

Then work out a job chart. Teenagers need money. Somehow find the cash for allowances--pay for work accomplished. No work. No money.

Then enjoy the takeout.

I gather that your kids are not used to helping out around the house. Getting them accustomed to the idea that Mama is not their personal slave is going to take considerable effort at a time when you don't have considerable energy.

Still, the results will be worth it.

Good luck. Hold your dominion.
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Mr Stillwater
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 09:32 pm
You will just have to run with the "responsibilities = priviliges". You can expect X level of care, but if you want to take on duties and responsibility for household tasks, then you get moved to Y level.

Expect some complaints. Expect a LOT of complaints. Bottom line is, you have to keep it together - you drop the ball on your own and there is more to lose than in a two-parent family.

Start smallish. Make the tasks pratical and the rewards commensurate. Initially, work with them, but inject trust into their abilities to finish tasks and make decisions.

In all truth, space isn't the final frontier, parenting is.
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Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2004 09:39 pm
Mr. Stillwater--

Very wise thoughts. Very provocative metaphor.
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Reply Fri 25 Jun, 2004 07:52 am
Very good comments above. I have questions/doubts/fears on the paying money for chores, though.

While it is a true fact that work=money in this world, it is also true that people have a responsibility to others, even without pay.

When growing up, Dad would have us shovel snow in the winter. We all would shovel our own driveway, plus the driveway of the next-door neighbor.

There are chores around the house that simply must be done. A kid is receiving food, shelter, clothing, and probably entertainment and vacation all for free. Seems that doing the basic chores don't deserve extra compensation.

Now, if the bedroom needed painting, I might add a dollar figure to that unusual chore (but as a kid, I would have done the painting just for the fun of it).

My other issue is that the son is 17, daughter 13. Both are old enough to earn money on their own. He can get a job most anyplace, she can do babysitting or housekeeping, or whatever.

What would be the childrens' motivation in working for an "allowance" when they could make more money elsewhere?

Perhaps this family meeting needs to be a budget meeting, too. In just a few years, they will each be on their own, and need to understand budgeting, anyway.

Why not lay all the bills out on the table and have each person write down the monthly, quarterly, annual totals on blank paper, so they can see how much they add up to.

Generally speaking, seeing annualized totals will blow a kid's mind. They do not see the big picture, and what it really costs to manage a family.

Then, show them what you earn at your job, and have them do the math and see how very tight things really are. Maybe this would present them with a new appreciation of what Mom is having to accomplish.

General Tsao
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the reincarnation of suzy
Reply Fri 25 Jun, 2004 11:56 am
Am I correct that this is not strictly about chores?
I'm trying to put myself in your place, Wildflower, and in your kid's place. Is this what's going on?:
"You come home from work and maybe the house is a disaster area and one or both of them are not even home? You call them to task and they tell you "Well, you're not even here! You don't cook us dinner or do anything else for us, so why should we do chores for you?" Because that's probably what my kids would have said. They see household chores as your job, not "family jobs", and consider it a favor if they do anything around the house, a favor you're supposed to appreciate, in their eyes! and you complain and they accuse you of not being there for them, so why should they do stuff for you?"
If it's only about chores, you're pretty lucky. If it's more than that, you need to address the issue of what kind of family you're going to be, without your husband around. I don't mean to be judgemental but I think it's a mistake for you to work second shift at this time in their lives. They've gone through tumultuos changes just like you have and they need some TLC. Now they have neither dad nor mom around much of the time. That you are having problems is not a surprise. I think it's very important for you all that you be around for them and help them get used to the new order. Try to get them to sit down and work out a family plan where you all can benefit and grow. If I were you, I would switch shifts for the time being.
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Reply Sat 26 Jun, 2004 08:02 pm
I would like to know what other single parents do about this problem. It doesn't matter what shift you work. High school kids are on summer vacation. I am dealing with teens who take no responsibility for anything, to the most simple task.

I resent this and expect better out of them than slavery to wait on them hand and foot, when they are plenty old enough to do as I ask, simple chores, nothing grand or outstanding. I cook food for them to microwave, so they have something to eat, while the contribute nothing to the household and take complete advantage.

Am I being unreasonable or should I demand better out of my teen children?
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Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2004 04:26 pm
Some ideas:

Quit making food for them. You are NOT their servant, so stop acting like you are.

You have food in the house, so let them fix it themselves. It's not hard. If they don't know a thing about cooking, you need to teach at least the basics.

You own the house, or at least pay the rent, right? It's yours. You are responsible for providing food, shelter, clothing, education for your kids.

You are not responsible for providing them with gourmet meals, turndown service, and cookies on the pillows, right?

Have your meeting. Set the ground house rules. You've received a ton of great advice here. Re-read this whole thread, then come up with a plan. It may help to encourage your childrens' maturity and expected responsibility rather than focus on their IR-responsibility.

Back to the house: Your house. You get to decide who stays where. Who ever said that each child gets his/her own bedroom? You can make those rooms off limits. If they're obstinate and won't keep out, then remove the doors (that's a five-minute task).

You bought the furniture. Maybe it's time the lazy children sleep on a pad of blankets on the floor til they earn their keep.

Do they have telephone service? Cut it off. Cable TV? Cut it off. Internet? Cut it off.

All these things will both save you money, and bring a sense of reality of the seriousness of your situation to them.

Finally, keep in mind that every person and personality is different. No one here knows your kids like you do (and you don't know them as well as you need to, I fear). There is no way that anyone here can predict how your kids will react to your new, firm stance.

In other words, you have to choose how to stage your battles. Neither child will like it, I assure you. But their reactions may be ones of cooperativeness, or rebellion.

Expect them to yell at you. Don't yell back. You are the leader, and must be strong--keep on an even keel, and don't let the children dictate how you need to run your house.

After all, they have proven themselves incapable of responsibility on their own, so don't let them manipulate or negotiate their terms. This will be hard to do!

It's one of those, "this will hurt me more than it hurts you" scenarios.

And don't be surprised if the male runs away from home (I ran away at least three times in my childhood). Running away is a real eye-opener as to the realities of the real world.

Oh, another thing, encourage LOTS of communication. Let them know you're listening and willing to weigh all their opinions and ideas with an open mind. However, let them know also, that you and you alone are ultimately responsible, and must make the decisions which are best for your family.

Your kids are both physically old enough to understand reason. The trick will be discovering whether they are mature enough to understand it.

All my best,
General Tsao
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Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 01:21 am
join a support group near your area to have a detail understanding.....
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 01:34 am
We had to wait nine years for that?
Reply Tue 4 Feb, 2014 02:40 pm
It was worth it, wasn't it?
Reply Tue 4 Feb, 2014 04:37 pm
Suuure it was.
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2014 04:23 am
I understand your situation. Why dont you talk to a lawyer to know whether your case falls into the category of parent negligent.
Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2014 08:59 pm
0 Replies

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