15 going on 16 "daughter" - Help!!

Hi all... I am in a unique situation and am totally going through very similar emotions as others I've read on here, as a result of a soon to be 16-year old girl.

When this girl was 8-years old, she was in my intervention class, although she was brilliant. At the time, we were on year-round calendar - so the kids would go to school for 3 months and have one month off. This one month off was like having a summer/spring/winter break; the kids who were not performing at grade level would come see me during this time (like a summer school class) for 2 weeks. This little girl would come to my class because her mother also has another daughter that is younger who was a mute autistic, and a very difficult toddler (the little sister is beginning to speak fragmented phrases, now).

They are Vietnamese and the parents have limited English skills. The parents have done the best they can with only the dad working 12 hours a day - 6 days a week, making minimum wage at best, while mom takes care of the girls. They live in a mobile home park in a 1 bedroom/1 bath, maybe 700 sf unit.

Anyway, let me call this smart 8-year old (3rd grader), "Elsa." I then went on to teach an after school reading club which Elsa also joined... and when I began teaching Sunday School, even though she was not of the same religion at the time, she came every Sunday for the 5 years I taught at the Christian Church I belonged to... now taking her to 8th grade.

I am single, not yet married, no previous kids of my own and live in the home I grew up in with (sometimes) my parents, who are in their 70's, married 56 yrs., coming back to the main house to check on other rental properties they own, me, collect mail, etc. They live in a water front property on an island connected by a bridge to the main land.
I have grown up privileged.

When "Elsa" was in 8th grade, I learned about a mother/daughter philanthropic group, and since Elsa was an outstanding student 4.0+ GPA, and over the years we had become much closer, I asked her mother if I could take guardianship over her to participate in this group even though we were coming into it a little late (her parents don't have the means, or the time commitment because of the autistic daughter). I would pay all financial costs and do the community service with Elsa.

Because Elsa is so bright, I wanted to open up a bit of the world to her and allow her experiences & travel she would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise. She has been a wonderful kid-- kind, helpful, a joyful sense of willingness, a spirit of cooperation and learning most importantly, how to give back -- which I am so very proud of even though she has grown up with very little.

Two summers ago, prior to her turning 15, we began having some issues.
Some of her friends were bad-mouthing me, which I pay no heed to as I felt they were envious of Elsa's situation and were trying to test her loyalties. Elsa made some stupid choices listening to her friends... and I call it like I see it. Months later, Elsa, got her first dose of reality that her so-called best friend, was not really a friend at all. Certain people would like to see Elsa fall, pull her down, keeping her at the level where in most cases she actually would belong in. Eventually she realized this and brought loyalty back to me, telling me that I was right all along and how betrayed she felt from this bff.
Anyway... (I'm sorry this is so long...) there was a boy in this group (those darn boys), who came from a broken home. Mom has some adiction issues and is on her 4th or 5th relationship. The kids don't have adequate food in the house, and rarely get new shoes or clothes. One of the local High Schools has a thrift store on campus where kids who qualify can come shopping for free & get whatever they need: new underwear, new shoes, new & gently used school clothes, prom dresses, suits, accessories, etc. Elsa has taken this boy there. Mind you, Elsa also qualifies for this service (even though it is one of our charities we assist with). Because she and this boy were becoming more entrenched, we of course... had "the talk."

Elsa's own parents aren't that strong discipline-wise & Elsa is much louder in voice & smart in reasoning (they think they know it all at '15'), and has had some altercations with her mom pushing her & locking her out of the mobile home; shouting at her mom where the mom has called the police as she didn't know how to solve the problem. Mom was an orphan growing up, and then a refugee coming to America in the 1990's. She doesn't have a knowledgeable base of family life since she herself never properly had this experience growing up; and there is no manual on raising kids, esp. teenagers.
However, this mother gives 150% of herself to her kids everyday showing her love by doing so they can be happy.

Anyway... back to "the talk."
Since Elsa was such a good student & deemed trustworthy, she promised she would make sure the boy would respect her "no," if the subject of sex or fondling ever came up... but with these teenage movies, sex is sensationalized, & promises were not kept.
The boy was supposed to move away this past March & I was so excited that he would be somewhat out of the picture as I felt he was not a good influence on her. He's a sweet boy, weak student, but polite.... and then!! the mother of Elsa caught them having sex in their one bedroom home with the door open while the tutor was over for the autistic sister. What a big Bru Ha Ha this was!!
I didn't believe the mom when she told me, me defending Elsa's honor once again, but when I confronted Elsa, she was honest and told me the truth but wouldn't answer how many times they had done this or when was the first time. I was devastated. My only consolation was the boy was going to be moving away during spring break. Sadly the the boy's mother decided not to move in with the new boyfriend.
I shared my disappointment with Elsa, deemed her untrustworthy, not so much for having sex, yes, I am sad her innocence is gone, but more for the lying & justifying that it's okay. I told her it is not ok. I am a benefactor to this girl by choice. I have no obligation to her or her family. I was instrumental in getting the proper services for the younger child which I am happy about, because it has made the mother's life so much easier... and then roles reverse... Elsa is being a difficult teenager!

I shared my disappointment with my own mother, who still 5 months later has not forgiven Elsa, and has told me that Elsa is no longer welcome at our home down at the beach or in this house here (esp. when they are in town).

Her dishonesty brought up the discussion whether we should continue doing our service league, as it is expensive. Elsa donated 210 hours to different charities this past 10th grade year and maintained being in the top 30 of her 524 student body high school class.
The boy & she both promised they would not fool around any longer. She has already received an Urinary Tract Infection earlier this year, much to my naivety.
Promises again were made (although unrealistic) & I agreed to continue doing our charitable organization work, even agreeing to allow the boy to come and help assist in the month long Haunted House fundraiser event in October that we do. That is now out of the question. He is welcome to come, but will need to find his own transportation.

Elsa is taking 3 AP classes, Spanish 3, PE, and piano and had lots of HW to complete over the summer. The boy was away at his grandparents most of the summer & things were calm. School started this past Wednesday. 11th grade.

I never have asked anything in return for myself from Elsa. What I do expect is that she keep up her grades putting excellence in her work, and being nice to her mom --honoring her parents. And hopefully making good choices.
I feel blessed having her in my life & her energy/spirit/personality meld so well with mine. Elsa has many of the traits I could only hope for and imagine in a daughter of my own. Instead, I am like Elsa'a God mommy for I feel that it was God putting Elsa in my life. She pursued me, which is where my delimma comes in.

Yesterday, her mother texted me & asked if she could come up to the house - alone.
I shared with her mom, that Elsa was curious about tasting alcohol - the kid is still 15. My father was a wholesale wine & spirits distributor and although we are only social drinkers - I barely drink, we have lots of liquor in the house.
I wouldn't mind giving her a taste test of different spirits - make it really yucky so she won't be interested in drinking, but as a teacher and me not being her mother & how kids talk... I'm not willing to forfeit my job for her. She's already told me she's had a rum drink (daiquiri?) over at a friend's house. I like the girl, but the dad is too friendly & since Elsa rarely sees her dad, I think she craves/loves that male attention... which brings us back to the boy.

Elsa mom keeps a very tidy house. On Tuesday when she was changing the bed linens, she found a used condom & its packaging behind the bed... the condom was stuck to the wall. Elsa's mom took a picture and sent it both to the boy & to Elsa, asking what this was. Told the boy he is no longer welcome in her home - he was banned from the house for many months, but this past July the mom allowed him to come over again... just to break trust once more. He apoligized again & knows he blew it. Elsa texted back to her mom that that was a condom and yes they had sex on Monday. No fights this time around. Elsa's mom and dad are broken-hearted. No loud words, just Elsa's mom being very quiet. Elsa wants her mom to talk to her, but there are no words to express the sadness or dissapointment one feels.

Elsa's mom just bought her an iPhone 6+ as an early 16th birthday present, which I think I will need to confiscate since her parents won't do it & I'll replace it with one of those limited calling throw away phones... we have a month before the 16th birthday.

I feel like smashing Elsa in the face, shaking her to wake up. I have such apathy for her once again... here I am trying to raise her up and she continues to keep herself in the world of the low lifes.
I was spanked as a child when we did really naughty things... put on restriction, privileges taken away. Elsa has never been disciplined for bad behavior. She has been such a good kid until these past 2 years.
I have asked Elsa what some of her nice friends' parents would think if they knew Elsa was already having sex... I think she thinks this is considered acceptable.
Shall we find out? Will there be consequences there?

I feel like completely cutting all ties off with this girl - but then I think, here I am trying to teach her charity, how to have honorable conduct, and since I am a Christian - Jesus didn't walk away & abandon me (us) even though I am far from perfect. Instead He chose to love & by his grace show kindness, forgiveness & redemption... unconditionally loving me.
That is what I chose for this first go-round. I took a deep breath, shed many tears and chose to continue to love... but now this second time, I'm once again at such a loss.

The other evening when she was here, a thought popped into my head -- that I have to be very cautious about our alcohol, esp. since she is asking questions about it lately... how easy it is to hide a bottle in a school backpack. Her no longer being trustworthy by me. Where would that thought even come from? I have never thought this way around her, ever.

One of the mom's in our organization reads all the instagram posts of the different girls (which I don't - I have just warned Elsa to be mindful of stuff she posts... as stupid things/pictures/bad words/comments can haunt her for future scholarships/jobs) and had the audacity to tell me that Elsa will get pregnant in High School (this was prior to Christmas 2015). I defended Elsa's honor & to this day my relationship with that mom is still altered, and it's being felt by the other moms in our group making our meetings uncomfortable.

I can't believe my beautiful, empathetic, book-smart Asian daughter can be that stupid to willingly want to throw away her very promising future. I shouldn't care... she'll still have a future, just different; one without me.
In the end, it is her choice.
Life goes on... a little lonelier, but life goes on.

Any advice/thoughts as how to proceed??
Like many other parents, I'm at a loss, confused, can't sleep & truly distraught.
Thank you. all.


Well-Known Member
Do you have any legal obligations to this child? What did you mean by guardianship? It sounds like she has parents who parent and provide for her. If they gave her a phone, how could you take it away?

I think maybe you should talk to the girl, take a step back, and see how involved this teen (and parents) wants you to be in her life. Just like our own kids can disappoint us with their choices...she is of the age to make those choices, too. Maybe the influence you have been will help her in the future. But at some point, you will need to step back and let go.

At least, that's how I see it... KSM


Well-Known Member
I will be honest with you. In many ways you are overstepping your place. You are not the girls parent. You need to step back before this becomes a very ugly situation and you wind up in possible legal trouble.


Well-Known Member
Were legal papers executed where the parents disavowed their rights to this child, and transferred them over to you? If not then I would consult an attorney to see where you stand. This is a very dysfunctional situation, the parents could turn on you and sue you for any number of things. I would guess this must be an informal arrangement you have with the girl's parents because such a situation would be highly irregular. Courts are loathe to remove children from their biological parents.

You are in way over your head and it has nothing to do with Elsa - rather, it has everything to do with your need to fix, manage, and control this young lady. Caring is one thing. Obsession is another. It seems at a certain point you became obsessed with saving this girl a la Eliza Doolittle.

Plenty of academically talented individuals languish with unfulfilled lives, end up dead or in jail, etc.

I am a teacher and there is no way in heaven I would ever allow a student access to my personal life, period, let alone quasi-adopt them.

I am curious why you single this girl out as being Asian. That strikes me as being possibly stereotypical. Ethnicity has nothing to do with someone's choices in life. Neither does academic intelligence.

I did have a friend who was a teacher years ago and she took in 'foundling' youth like you. She ended up losing her career and being sued by a parent.

Before doing anything, I would lawyer up and follow their advice.


Well-Known Member
This is possible legal trouble for you. She is a disturbed girl and no relation to you. There is no reason for your involvement in her affairs. It's time to let go of this situation before you and your family suffer from possible legAL consequences.

If you like to help chilglden legally, maybe do foster care. There is a need. A big need.

Many a bright child does not realize his potential. Being Asian doesn't make one bright. by the way. I adopted an Asian girl and she's a woman now and nothing like the false stereotype of asians.
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Well-Known Member
Ok. Reading it slower, your motivation is religious. I don't have to tell any teacher how many fifteen, almost sixteen year olds have sex. You would have been more helpful directing mother to birth control. Why did you share this girls business with your mother and why does your mother care and you have no legal right to take her phone. This is your problem...you need therapy to let this family go on without you. You mat my think you are foing.them a favor but you arent...you are trying to control them.

Please get help. You are not this girls mother. It is unhealthy for all for you.to keep trying to micro manage this family. Their religion is their religion and they can apply it the way they want, even if it's the same religion as yours. You are hurting yourself and the family.
Let.Them.Go and move on with your life.
Elsa's mother has been very grateful for my assistance & help the past 8 years. The parents as I said earlier are not strong disciplinarians.
There are no legal issues - and the mother has been appreciative for all I have done for Elsa...
This is why I wrote for advice.
Me taking the the cell phone away (which we have discussed as a consequence of disrespectful behavior) is because the parents are not assertive enough to do so...
You can't spank a child in today's society, and especially at Elsa's age. Elsa's mom gets very afraid. She just wants peace in the house.

I can step aside, and exit this picture. I don't care about losing the money for the charitable group... it goes to charity... but my parents have lasted 56 years -- not because life is a bowl of cherries, but because they were committed to the relationship. People will always let you down... part of being human - but because someone made a mistake is that cause to walk away disregarding the past years of history together?
At my home it's been war & peace... but the good has outweighed the bad. Recently, my father had a right brain stroke during a knee replacement (3 yrs now). How life changes... and although my father's moods and frustration have elevated his anxiety & he has literal outbursts of temper - we don't give up on him. We love him through these struggles he's dealing with as hard sometimes as it is. We don't throw him away. We keep looking for the right medicine, talking with different doctors. Always keeping hope... believing in the end that Love cures all things.

I hate discarding Elsa, walking away, even though her mother understands and has told me it is okay to pull my love & being there, not only for Elsa, but for the whole family.
Am I richer in my spirit for knowing this young woman, indeed I am. Will I miss doing good within the community with her, yes, I will. I have never believed in divorce unless the other person's life is at risk as in an abusive relationship.
Maybe I come from a different world.
But if she wants to be grown up making life altering choices for better or for worse because at 15, she knows it all... and as Taylor Swift said in her song called "15" ... 'when someone tells you they love you, you're going to believe them... you are '15.'
I guess it is better for me to withdraw.

Thank you to those who replied.
It's a death (figuratively speaking metarphorically). I'll grieve.
Life goes on.


Well-Known Member
If volunteering together was all this involved,then it could be a positive thing. Maybe the parents were overwhelmed when you got involved, but they are still the parents. It just seems like it has crossed the line of a typical mentor/mentee relationship.

Good luck. KSM.


Well-Known Member
I do not think you need to stop caring about this young lady. I just think that for your protection you need to put it in a more appropriate context. I taught for many years, and I can honestly say that there were a handful of kids that really tugged at my heartstrings. I would have loved to have been involved in their lives outside of the classroom, but that could have caused a lot of issues for everyone involved.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
You are way, way overstepping your bounds. None of what this child has done are atypical things for a 15 nearly 16 year old girl.

You are using your money to impose your religious beliefs on this child, who is not even yours.

15 year old girls have sex, and, hey, she is being responsible, using condoms. 15 year old girls are curious about alcohol. All of this is not, terribly abnormal behavior.

If you want to support and sponsor this girl then do so out of the goodness of your heart, not out of a need to control her force your own view on her. Girls this age are coming into adulthood and may have beliefs or feelings that differ from older people's.

It isn't your place to discipline this child, it is her parents. You have no right even touching a phone that was given to her by her parents.

If you are operating as a mentor then how about sitting down and discussing with her how she feels and what her beliefs are instead of judging and enforcing your own beliefs upon her.

If you feel you are too far apart in your beliefs then withdraw your financial support.

I, too, think you need counseling to figure out why you are so over involved with this girl. There are a lot of charities where people of means can help children, but you need to respect boundaries.


Roll With It
You cannot control another person's sexuality, regardless of their age. You just can't. It is totally impossible. People have been trying since the dawn of society and it has not ever worked outside of truly cruel and draconian methods. The reality is that many 15-16 yo teens have sex. This girl needs birth control and to be taught to throw the condoms and wrappers in the trash and not leave them laying around. That would likely upset me more than the girl having sex. She isn't seemingly promiscuous, having only the one boyfriend. I would be worried if there were more partners rather than just her boyfriend.

I would talk with her parents about setting some ground rules for their home and yours. Just discarding her because she had sex and didn't tell you about it isn't fair in our culture. With the way people are given such intense exposure to sexualized images from a very young age, it isn't exactly rational to expect this girl to conform to your rules about her sexuality. I would likely specify that she and the boy are not to be in her bedroom, or any other bedroom in your home. They are to make sure their condoms are NOT left stuck to walls or anywhere else other than in a trash can that THEY empty after each time. They also need to clean up any mess they make and not leave it for others. PDA around the younger siblings and the parents should be kept to a minimum that the parents are comfortable with (and you are in your home).

Your expectations are highly irrational. When did religion become the sex police? I realize that waiting until she was older would have been ideal, but we live in reality. Reality is that she didn't wait. So you have to deal with reality and your energy would be FAR better spent making sure she has the tools to keep from getting pregnant. A baby will do FAR worse things to her future than just having sex would. I would make her pay for all costs related to STDs but I would happily pay for birth control.

As far as alcohol, I would encourage her parents to set strong limits about this. If she ever comes home drunk, she should have to spend some time seeing what alcohol use can do to her body, her brain, and to her community. I am sure there are organizations out there that can help with alcohol abuse classes. I would tie some of her community service to working around alcoholics. My own children have little desire to drink, much less drink to excess. I have a brother who is an alcoholic. We never hid the problems that he had due to his alcohol abuse from them (making it age appropriate when they were younger). They once were allowed (by my parents who were blind to his problem at that point, NOT by me) to spend a day at the lake with my brother and he got very drunk and it ended incredibly badly, with consequences that disrupted their lives for 2 entire years. My oldest two are 21 and 25 and really have no interest in drinking to excess. My oldest is the designated driver for his friends even when he doesn't go to events that they are attending. He still drives them because he would rather they not take risks. My daughter just turned 21 and only buys alcohol to cook with.

I would keep close tabs on the alcohol in your home. That is simply the responsible thing to do when you have teens. I keep ours in a closet in our bedroom and insist that it not be left out in the kitchen after cooking.

This girl is in the top 30 in her class AND does 210 hours of community service??? Do you have any idea how rare that it? As long as the things she does with her boyfriend don't impact her grades or her work with the group you are involved in, let the girl manage her life.

Cutting Elsa out of your life just because she had sex is overstepping your boundaries in a MAJOR way. Letting her know that if it happens in your house then she is in huge trouble because that is disrespectful is a different thing. Stop being the sex police and concentrate on helping her grow into a responsible young woman. Take precautions, including talking to her, with regards to alcohol. But don't be uncharitable and turn your back on her. Losing this relationship will take a huge chunk out of your life and it would be a shame for both of you and for her family. Focus on repairing the relationship and not trying to put the genie back into the box.

Go slow mama

I have to say I agree with a lot of what folks here are saying. From what you've described she is in fact flourishing but demonstrating some pretty normal teenaged behaviours, exploring sex and alchohol. My questions and concerns are not for the girl, but for YOU. The fact that you are single and without your own kids is not irrelevant here. There is a concept called 'wounded healer' that is premised in the notion that someone feels compelled to *help* others because of their own psychological damage/needs. I think you ought to step back, analyze what your motivation is and consider the possibility that you are over-stepping, crossing lines and over-involved, is this purely altruistic?


Well-Known Member
I am a teacher as well. You state you are willing to give this girl alcohol, but you will make it "really yucky". ARE YOU CRAZY?
The parents gave her an I-phone, do you have any jurisdiction over that? To me it seems like you are overstepping your boundaries, you should check yourself before you get in a whole lot of trouble.

She is a kid! Teenagers do have sex, regardless of whether you or your mother approves. Once the hormones kick in, good luck controlling it. You're not her mother though. You don't own a piece of her, she doesn't owe you because you do nice things for her. You did those things out of the kindness of your heart. In the spirit of being a kind person...keep being kind, or back away. Try not to feel so personally affronted, she a kid!

If her dad works 12 hours a day, making minimum wage, how can they afford to give her an I-phone and not be mad when you take it?

Ladies, I think this story is a bunch of BS, by an internet troll.