Learning From Mistakes?
January 22, 2011 17 Comments
I’ve mentioned my sister living with me before. She’s supposedly here to go to college for two years before she transfers to a 4-year school.
Since she’s arrived I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that the only reason she wanted to move in with me is because she thought that it would be easier for her to move in with her boyfriend.
When she moved in with me she was 4 days shy of turning 17. She’s now 17. Her boyfriend is turning 21 next month. He lives in Arizona.
She went and visited him for a week before the semester started and came back saying she wanted to drop out of school (after I had paid tuition and bought books) and move in with him. That way she could work and save money and be “more financially responsible.”
The problem is that my 17 year old sister is in WAY over her head.
(Side note: my 17 year old sister thinks she’s mature enough to move in with her BF and I’m 30 and I’ve never lived with a boy, even though I dated one for 5 years and another for 2 years. Do I just have too much expectation when it comes to living with someone or does she just have too little? Or do I have the voice of the past telling me “Most relationships end, so don’t financially entangle yourself until the relationship is fully committed”? I’m afraid that I may be out of touch on this one..)
The purpose of her living with me is to learn how much things costs. To learn to live independently with a safety net. The idea was that she would get a job, pay a minimal rent, pay for her own food, toiletries, clothes, and a portion of her education costs.
Since she’s been here we’ve been waiting for her mom to send out her work stuff (passport, social security card) – which her mom hasn’t done yet because she’s mad at my sister (for not calling her enough). This is a whole other issue that I don’t even want to deal with. I keep telling my sister to just kiss her mom’s ass until she gets what she needs from her – apparently at 17 the idea of “give it to me now” is more ingrained than “do what you need to do to get what you need.”
Every moment she spends is talking to her BF, about him. Everything else is misery and it is clear that my sister won’t be happy unless she is with him.
She is posting statuses on Facebook claiming that being here “will pass” and that soon she’ll be with “her love”.
Quite honestly, I am offering myself, my money and my house to her as a gift. She’s paid not a single red cent to me the time she’s been here. I’m so broke right now from having to buy more food it is insane. I’d love to have that extra room available for an office and craft room or to rent it out to someone who would be a decent roommate and pay their half of the bills.
If she is bound and determined to move in with him – I don’t see why the heck I shouldn’t just give her what she wants.
She wants financial responsibility, she can have it. She wants to be responsible for her rent, her food, her clothes, her transportation, her tuition, her EVERYTHING. Go for it. It has only been a little over a month that she’s been with me and quite honestly I don’t have the patience or the gumption to convince a 17 year old girl that she should stay in school and finish her two years of lower division classes before she moves in with her boyfriend, accidentally gets pregnant and spends the rest of her life as an uneducated mother. Okay – that last part is more fiction than reality – but not an unlikely scenario. Who will pay for her health care costs? Insurance? Well, if she lives with him – she will be.
I have put so much in to making sure I had an apartment that would suit both of us, planning out her classes that she’ll need for the major she wants, finding out about bus lines for her, helping her register for classes, getting her information on scholarships and financial aid. And all she wants to do is complain at me that “I’m not letting her” be with her boyfriend.
If she wants to live with him so be it. I’ll be around when it eventually ends. Because it will – really – how many of us ended up with the person we dated when WE were 16/17?
Am I wrong?
If a 17 year old is bound and determined to do something – it is pretty hard to make them not want it anymore. At some point you have to let them make their own mistakes or they’ll never figure it out. At what point do you stop protecting someone from potential mistakes and let them make them so that they can learn from what they’ve done?