Shouldn't there be some punishment?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-28-2003
Shouldn't there be some punishment?
Sun, 06-08-2003 - 8:03pm
Hi everyone - I posted on this board (and TT) a few months ago and got some great advice, so I'm hoping my second time around will be helpful too.

To keep from being too long, I'm going to dive right in. :) Thanks in advance for listening and any advice. A few months ago (around 3rd quarter report card time), I (and I swear - completely by accident) came across an online journal my sister kept. In it, I read about how she had made up a fake report card, failed two classes, been drinking, and going to co-ed slumber parties, among other things. She's 14, by the by, and just finished her freshman year in high school.

Anyway, I told my mom about the report card - nothing else - and not how I had found out, just that it may be a good idea to call the school and have another one sent - and sure enough, 2 Fs, and just barely passed her other classes. She was grounded for the rest of the school year (no phone, computer, or going out and had to do chores around the house) and the extension of her grounding would depend on her report card at the end of the year. (Keep in mind by time they actually found out about the report card, there was only about 3 weeks left of school.) So she got her final report card two weeks ago - still failed two classes, technically didn't get promoted to 10th grade, and just barely raised some of her other grades. She's a very smart girl - and the fact that one of the classes she failed was GYM says a lot (she won't change for class, pure laziness, nothing else).

Which brings me up to present (sorry this is so long, there's just a lot that needs to be added). Since there is no summer school program down here, she can't make up the classes and has to do it at some point over the next 3 years, but the thing I don't understand is - my parents don't care. They've made no attempt to continue her punishment, she gets on the computer and phone whenever she wants. Now, my father thinks she's still punished (but he works 60+ hours a week and we really only see him for late dinners and a few hours on his days off). But my mother has been letting her go out all day, every day, with her boyfriend and other friends, and is keeping that information from my dad.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not "jealous" of this (my parents were beyond strict with me - no dating until 16 (and even then I think I only ever went on ONE date until I was a senior), if I got lower than a B on any report card, I was grounded for weeks, etc, etc. I have TONS of resentment - I'm the first to admit that - and because of the way I was raised have serious emotional, mental, and relationship issues (most of which they have no clue about). Yes I am the oldest, and she is the youngest and I know that works much differently.

So I guess my question is really this - aren't they just teaching her that it really doesn't matter what she does because obviously they aren't going to enforce anything? They don't know she's been drinking, out all night with boys unsupervised, and probably having sex. I am currently living with them and I see all that is going on, and anytime I comment, my mom basically just tells me to shut up and mind my own business. I don't really have a good relationship with any of them, so I'm kind of stuck in the middle - I know that being as strict as they were with me was a mistake - but I'm thinking this looseness is even worse. Any help or suggestions? Thanks!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 06-08-2003 - 10:22pm
Unforunately you aren't in a position to do anything TO change what your parents choose to do. And for some reason, your mom isn't willing to hear anything you have to say, either. That could be due to whatever the reason is that you don't have a close relationship with them but chances are it has more to do with her resentment of someone - esp a daughter of hers - thinking she knows more or know what to do more than she does, as the mother. Parenting is a highly touchy subject; there is little else I know of that can set off a parent more than having someone else tell them how to parent or what they're doing wrong, even if it is done tactfully. And IF your mom IS abdicating responsibility regarding her youngest, which in a lot of ways it sounds like she might be (altho like you said, she does NOT know what all your sister is into doing. If she's operating strictly on the grades thing, then she *could* be thinking that if she gives her some freedom over the summer she might work it out of her system by the time school is in, in the fall again?)

What kind of relationship do you have with your sister? Does she look up to you at all? Can you spend time with her and talk to her, sharing what kinds of experiences you've had and how they've affected you and other teens you know? Can you relate to her more on her level, within *her* frames of reference, taking examples of what's happening with her friends' lives without sounding like a know-it-all, but more just like you care and that you think she has way more going for her than she's allowing herself TO have?

It's incredibly frustrating, I'm sure. The most you can do probably is try to gain your sister's respect and HER desire to not want to disappoint YOU. Work *with* her. Perhaps over time you will gain a new relationship in the process that is good for both of you.

I know my 11 yo looks up to her almost 19 yo sister but she has long since stopped trying to be *like* her and she's very into 'that's her, this is me' from clothes to taste in music to senses of humor and takes pride in it. HOWEVER ... when she wanted to get a 2nd piercing in her earlobes, but only one hole (not in the cartilege, just above the other earlobe piercing, just to be different), her initial response to her sister's comment that that would look weird was 'good, I like to be weird'; but when her sister then pointed out that she'd have to pay the same price for two and that if she just got both done she could always take one out and let it grow over appealed and my dd opted for double piercing which she now loves. Another time she wanted to wear a tie and her sis said people would call her an Avril wannabe. My 11 yo didn't care; she did it anyway. She DID go thru having total strangers mock her for being an Avril wannabe and at one point, she said grudgingly that her sister was right, and then what bugged her most was realizing that this wasn't being an individual after all. Through this all, my 19 yo has become much more actually interested - ANd that includes "accepting" - of her younger sister, which is what I think is most communicating itself to the 11 yo. The more someone feels "accepted" faults & all and loved anyway, the more that person is likely to listen to the person making them feel that way. It takes time and patience and committment, but it does work more than not.

Kudos to you for caring and wanting your sister to do well, be motivated and on track. Even if you aren't the parent, with the right combination of love, caring, consistency and basic acceptance of *HER* - as a PERSON, not 'actions' necessarily - you can have as great as - or greater than - impact on her than your parents, esp if they are unaware and your sister comes to understand that you DO know what she's doing. There's an incredible comfort on many levels when someone 'knows everything there is to know about you and likes you anyway' :-)

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-20-2003
Sun, 06-08-2003 - 10:25pm
Wow - she's luck to have you as a sister I think. I'd talk to her if I were you - I know you say you don't have a great relationship but just talk to her anyway so she knows someone cares.

Part of me thinks your parents need to know the full extent of your sister's behavior and then see if they still don't punish her. I think she does need some intervention. You know, kids have to sometimes make mistakes and just because she's behaving like this doesn't mean she's lost forever as long as she knows someone cares about her.

Does that make sense?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2003
Mon, 06-09-2003 - 1:22am
Just like the last two posts, I think your little sis is lucky to have you in her life. One day she will realise it too.

I agree that your dad should know about how your mum is letting little sis get away with everything, but perhaps only as a last resort. Follow all of kkiana's suggestions - let her know that you just want to see her happy and safe and if you can make no headway over the summer tell your dad how worried you are.

Best of luck with it


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-28-2003
Mon, 06-09-2003 - 1:31pm
Thank you all for your replies - they have been helpful. I describe my family as 'emotionally vacant' if that makes any sense - i.e. they don't want to talk about anything that is not weather, gossip, or upcoming plans - nothing deep, nothing emotional, none of those 'girly' talks, so to speak (including my mom, my sister, my grandmother). Which really makes me wonder if I was adopted (don't mean to offend anyone, it's just an expression) because I am the complete opposite. I'll talk about ANYthing in depth when I can. :) (Which is probably why I love these boards so much.) Basically, nobody wants to talk about anything - and naturally (I swear it's inherited) as soon you start talking about a 'no-no' topic, jokes are made and feelings are hurt.

I might just have to break down and talk to someone in my family - who, I have no clue. Everyone seems to have that 'nothing bad will happen to us' complex that makes them unwilling to be concerned. My mom's philosophy is "What Dad doesn't know can't hurt him"; my sister's philosophy is "They don't care what I do (and I won't get punished), so I'll do whatever I want"; and Dad's is "Work, work, work." :) I hate to see something happen to her, but when no one is willing to do anything (except the people who CAN'T do anything), it's a tough situation.

And Kkiana, you're right about her thinking she's the parent, she knows what to do, and doesn't need anyone (especially her own daugter) telling her what she should do. My parents were teenager parents when I was born, and, yes I know, were the one in a million who stayed together against the odds. I found out later in life that my mom had gotten pregnant on purpose (I'm assuming she was expecting my dad not to stick around, as her father hadn't) to get away from her mother and many other things that will most certainly keep me in therapy for the rest of my life. Because they stayed together, they have this mentality that they are the greatest parents in the world, which happens to be one of my main beefs with them, because they are certainly not. All of their children are screw-ups (myself included) and they've made lots of bad choices. I'm not even sure I want to have kids because I'm scared to death I'll raise them like my parents. Again, don't get me wrong, they certainly weren't the worst parents but just because they stayed together doesn't make them good ones either. And because they were so young, they were terrified I'd make the same mistake - and made a lot of choices for me based solely on the fact that I was a teenage girl who wanted to have sex and get pregnant, NOT at all considering I may not want to have the crappy life they did and be smart about it.

Anyway, I'm just venting now. I just got done posting over on TT to someone about the 'rents and it always gets me all hot and bothered. :) Thanks again for the advice!