|Help! My Adopted Teen Wants to Date!|
with Ku Wonna Ingram, MA
Tuesday, the 24th of March 2009
Cindy: Hello Ms. Ingram
kingram: Thanks for joining. Tonight we are talking about Help! My adoptive Teen Wants to Date!
Cindy: can you tell us a little about yourself?
kingram: On a professionla note, I am a certified counselor and and ABD: All But Dissertation in Counseling Psychology. More personally, My husband and I are the adoptive parents of a 4 relative adoptive group. I have been in this field working with children and adults in various cummunity and institutional settings.
kingram: Please forgive my typing errors, never mastered that skill.
Cindy: what is one of the first thing that parents should do when their teen approaches them about dating?
Shannon H: - has joined the chat -
kingram: I recommend that all of the family rules and expectations are presented via family meetings to prepare the child of the expectatons. It is important for the parents to already know what the adoptive children have already been exposed to due to multpile placements and their definiton of a healthy relationship. We often find that these things are not established or discussed until an issue arises.
Cathy: - has joined the chat -
dapper36: What is a good age for single dates. Should we start off with group dates first to see how they do? ?
lorraine: - has joined the chat -
kingram: Actually that depends on the teen's level of responsiblity, your trust, level and their ability to form healthy and safe relationships. Because each teen is different and depending on their defintiion of a healthy relationship will drive that. It also depends on your level of comfort as a parent or custodian. You must als consider your values and what you as a team feel is comfortable. If that makes sense?
Shannon H: The parents' experiences are also key to what their expectations are, I would imagine, How often does it come up that the children are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum from the parents?
KimW: - has joined the chat -
KimW: What do you do when your children are drawn to a certain bad crowd probably because of their past history
kingram: All the time. Noticed I said team. It is extremely vital that as parents or as a single parent that your expectations are very clear and specfic. Not only are you working with a child who may have had abandonment, or neglect, not to mention attachment issues as teens are already struggling to "find" themselves. The parents or parent have to set clear boundaries and very specific about what you want. For example, Curfew at 9:30 pm. No exceptions, or calling to check in, not getting in cars with others and stand firm
Cindy: taking those things into consideration, in your experiences what are some good guide lines that you could recommend to the parents, on how to talk with their teens, without the frustrations, that accompany teens
Shannon H: With a child who has seen nothing but physical or emotional/verbal abuse between their birth parents, what tactics can be used to help them identify the signs of a potentially abusive partner for their own situation?
kingram: Teens automatically mean rebellion in most of the adoptive children history. So expect that resistance. Tell the teen exactly what you want. I think sometimes as parents we talk too much. We lecture and give explanations. (Things that were done or not done to us). But the teens must know that the parents are in charge and they have the final say. If you want them to clean their room. Then tell straight: "I want you to clean your room" and walk away. I got this from Healthy families form the Georgia Family Council. It is very powerfurl cause theya re expectign a struggle, and you are not giving it to them.
kingram: Ask the teen about their knowledge of the type of relationship they want. They will have to be trained and the parents will have to model how to have a healthy relationship. This can be done by simply going on a date with them, or discussing it or getting someone that you trust to do this. The Peer Pressure is als very influential so you must discuss YOUR values with the teen. Alot of times it is believed that teen knows our valuse & beliefs cause we go to church but if you ask half of the teens how many of parents talk about sexuality issues you will find that they will say no.
Cathy: Should the level of the teen’s maturity be a consideration for dating? Most teen think just because their friend are dating they should be dating also.
kingram: Again tell them your expectations and disregard the power struggles. This is what you want as a parent
dapper36: When you say parents go on the date with the teens how much in the date should we be? At a distance or right there with them.
kingram: If this has not been modeled then right there. If so, then you can spearate
dapper36: What if they are very mad about the parents being on the date with them and will not listen? ?
Shannon H: For the child with sexual abuse in their past, how should you talk to them about the possibility that they might be pressured for a relationship of that nature? What tools do you give them to gain control of the situation, certainly something they never had before?
waynesworld: - has joined the chat -
Cindy: in some cases the teens have already dated with or without permission how do you deal with that especially if you are uncomfortable with who they date
kingram: If that is your rule then stick to it. I was speaking of a teen who has never been a date or does not have the skills to date and a parent wants to provide guidance. Some teens may require close supervision. It depends on the child.
Cathy: Should you have the sex talk with them only once before they start to date, or should you revisit it occasionally?
kingram: Sexual abused teens may go to become highly sexualized and may need this to be addressed in counseling. Give the teens an escape route. They want your involvement as they may have not ever had this. Talk & discuss as age appropriate
kingram: Teens that disobey the rules must have consequences. You as the parent must take charge. You set the ground rules & go from there
kingram: The sex talk should be done very often as age appropriate because teh coversation will be different as the age increases and they have to deal with more issues.
Shannon H: If they never had a cell phone before, maybe when they start dating is a good time to get them one, in case they need to call home for a rescue!
kingram: Absolutely if that is your preference. I say that becuase all families are different and the rules are different so whatever you are comfortable with doing as a parent
waynesworld: what do you do with a teen who has been sexually abused and youknow the first chance she gets she is going ti let the boy have their way
Cindy: at what point should birth control prevention be discussed and considered?
kingram: This teen may need close supervision. They will probably hvae logical consequences for their actions but communication and structure is the key. Please consider counseling to build self-esteem and empower decision making skills
kingram: Birth control should be discussed as the family determines is right for their family and as it aligns with your values in your home
Shannon H: It's considered old fashioned, but I think in these situations, meeting the date's family is critical and should not be out of the question. Do you think this is a good idea? Not to give them any insight into your child's past, but to see what their values seem to be, is what I mean.
kingram: Absolutely. I highly recommend that. It is not old fashioned but it shows you care.
kingram: As you can see trust is so important and if you dont have that then this process wont be successful for all parties.
Shannon H: It's hardest for the older children, but the younger ones coming up learn what will be expected for them. At least it lays the groundwork to have family meetings where everyone knows the deal. Or do you think the family meeting should just entail the parents and the particular child who wants to date?
Shannon H: I think what I'm asking is, should it be a big family meeting or more private for the "dating" child?
kingram: I would include the entire family. This makes the adoptive teen feel included and valued. However, there maybe times when you will need to meet alone without the other family members.
kingram: Take the mystery out of it all...Think about when you were a teen ...what did you do that parents told you not to...
Shannon H: Thanks. Sorry, my last question came in after you answered it.
Cindy: we have about 5 minutes left, are there any last questions?
Cindy: Ms. Ingram do you have any thing that you would like to add, to this very scary time in a parents life
waynesworld: - has left the chat -
KimW: Thank You , Have a good night
Shannon H: Thank you for the information.
Cindy: thank you so much for this information, it will help,
Cindy: many parents get through this,
Cindy: any last questions?
Shannon H: Ms. Ingram, which part of Georgia are you located in?
Shannon H: Thank you.
Cathy: great information, thanks and good night!
Cindy: thank you Ms. Ingram
Cindy: Please have a great evening, and feel free to join us again