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Homeless teen


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Over the holidays, my 18-year-old son (who is still in high school) brought another young man home, saying he had just been kicked out by his roommate.  My son really doesn't know the kid very well and just knew that he had been "couch surfing" since he turned 18 back in March.  OK, so I allow this kid to sleep in a sleeping bag in my son's room, feed him, find old clothes in the garage he can wear, etc. I find out that he's been in foster care his whole life, has never stayed in one place long, etc.  I do some research and discover a local program for young adults like him who "age out" of foster care.  The program houses the kids, provides schooling, healthcare, and job training, etc.  Perfect, I think.  I call the place and discover this kid already was there and didn't last a week because he brought in mushrooms.  I am pretty sure the kid hasn't brought any drugs into my house (my son is very against it because we've had first-hand experience with my ex. . .a different tale for different time).  I convince a counselor there to consider taking this kid back.  He says if I can convince the kid to come in and reapply, they'll see what they can do and could probably get him back into the program in about a week.  I tell the kid this and he tells me he's not interested.  So after a little more research I find info on local homeless shelters.  I tell the kid that he needs to make a choice as to which place he wants to go, and he says one of the homeless programs.  So I give him a backpack with the few clothing articles, shampoo, soap and I drive him 30 minutes to the place he says he wants to go to.  The program director tells us that he is full for the night, to come back tomorrow.  In the meantime, since we were receiving freezing temperatures (not too common here in Florida), that a cold weather shelter would open up in 2 hours about a block away.  I take the kid to a nearby Burger King (gross, I know) and feed him.  I again try to convince him to return to the youth transitional program and he again declines.  I ask if he's ever been to a homeless shelter, and he tells me no.  I get up the courage and I take him to the cold weather shelter.  And after talking to the volunteers running it, feel that it would be safe enough.  As I drove away, I felt terrible, but I know that I cannot afford to keep him in my house, I do not trust him (he lied to me why he was kicked out of the youth program), my son doesn't really know him, nor do his friends.    But, here it is more than 24 hours later and I feel crummy. I've never had to do something like this before.  What if my "rejection" is the last straw for him and something horrible happens?  Should I have tried harder?  I do have to say that not once while staying in my home did he ever say "thank you," or offer to help with dishes, take out trash, etc.  He just stayed on my son's computer, ate, slept.  (Depressed?)   So sorry for the rambling, but I keep wondering if I could have done more.

82 Replies (last)
Original Post by pgeorgian:

before you can have motivation or ambition, you have to have hope. i'm not saying that the OP should have taken the kid in, just that this is a child who has likely been let down over and over and over. he probably has a sub-standard education. he may have never felt safe in his life. it's a little much to expect that he just pick himself up by his bootstraps and get on with it.

a little compassion is in order, given that we all benefit from the systems that failed him.

Agreed, compassion is in order and it breaks me up inside to see these kids fall through the cracks. Can we also agree that it's not always the system that fails the people but sometimes the people actually fail the system?

*waits to be annointed King of Semantics*

Original Post by pgeorgian:

 

oh, okay. so the real issue isn't that the most affluent countries in the world are producing homeless children; it's that people sometimes feel guilty about it :/

I presume the real issue to be what it appears to be at face value.

eta: Affluent countries are not capable of procreating.

How would you propose that the entire country prevent people from procreating and dropping their kids into the lap of the system to care for, almost inevitably setting them up for failure and hardship?

I don't think the pruduction itself can be prevented.  Not unless you think we can dictate who can and can't give birth...which I think we've discussed...

Original Post by nicepumpkins:

How would you propose that the entire country prevent people from procreating and dropping their kids into the lap of the system to care for, almost inevitably setting them up for failure and hardship?

I don't think the pruduction itself can be prevented.  Not unless you think we can dictate who can and can't give birth...which I think we've discussed...

NP, To whom are you addressing your question? I don't think you and I have ever discussed procreation, I'd remember that.

I think PG is correct that the kid was failed by a crappy system. I can't imagine an 18 year old kid, raised by that system, believing in anything, let alone himself. Especially here in Florida.

I absolutely understand all the OP did and applaud her for it.

I think that if it were me, I'd have laid down the same ground rules for that kid as my own: 'if you want to crash here, no problem, but everyone in this family contributes. Get yourself a job, and kick in, honey, and I'll cook you dinner. And absolutely no drugs. First sign of them and you are out the door, whether you've got a shelter to go to or not.'

PG.

Because unless we can dictate who can and cannot procreate, we will always have children in foster care or on the streets.

OP,

You've done enough. Move on. There are people who need help far more than the young man.

Tell your son to think more than twice before bringing such people to your house. I've seen, and have experienced some myself, many bad endings to such kind acts.

Original Post by kathygator:

I think PG is correct that the kid was failed by a crappy system. I can't imagine an 18 year old kid, raised by that system, believing in anything, let alone himself. Especially here in Florida.

I absolutely understand all the OP did and applaud her for it.

I think that if it were me, I'd have laid down the same ground rules for that kid as my own: 'if you want to crash here, no problem, but everyone in this family contributes. Get yourself a job, and kick in, honey, and I'll cook you dinner. And absolutely no drugs. First sign of them and you are out the door, whether you've got a shelter to go to or not.'

I'd be interested if this conversation did take place. The OP implied that no "contribution" was offered but not that any was requested.

Original Post by nicepumpkins:

PG.

Because unless we can dictate who can and cannot procreate, we will always have children in foster care or on the streets.

we could do a hell of a lot more to make sure those kids have a decent shot.

Original Post by cajunrider:

OP,

You've done enough. Move on. There are people who need help far more than the young man.

Tell your son to think more than twice before bringing such people to your house. I've seen, and have experienced some myself, many bad endings to such kind acts.

"such people," cajun? really?

i think the OP should be proud of her son for wanting to help, not chastising him for not being more cynical, suspicious, and judgemental.

Original Post by kevinatthebrook:

Original Post by kathygator:

I think PG is correct that the kid was failed by a crappy system. I can't imagine an 18 year old kid, raised by that system, believing in anything, let alone himself. Especially here in Florida.

I absolutely understand all the OP did and applaud her for it.

I think that if it were me, I'd have laid down the same ground rules for that kid as my own: 'if you want to crash here, no problem, but everyone in this family contributes. Get yourself a job, and kick in, honey, and I'll cook you dinner. And absolutely no drugs. First sign of them and you are out the door, whether you've got a shelter to go to or not.'

I'd be interested if this conversation did take place. The OP implied that no "contribution" was offered but not that any was requested.

Only speaking from my own perspective, of course, and in no way suggesting the OP should have done anything differently.

I just know that if one of my boys brought home a kid, I'd trust their judgment and give the kid an address for job applications.

I would also be certain to secure my valuables, though. I may be dumb but I ain't stupid.

Original Post by pgeorgian:

i think the OP should be proud of her son for wanting to help, not chastising him for not being more cynical, suspicious, and judgemental.

Indeed.

Original Post by kathygator:

Original Post by pgeorgian:

i think the OP should be proud of her son for wanting to help, not chastising him for not being more cynical, suspicious, and judgemental.

Indeed.

Really?

You don't think it's...foolish and probably dangerous for this kid to be bringing home homeless people he barely knows who dabble in drugs and get kicked out of different facilities for failure to comply?

That's scares the crap out of me.

Original Post by pgeorgian:

Original Post by nicepumpkins:

PG.

Because unless we can dictate who can and cannot procreate, we will always have children in foster care or on the streets.

we could do a hell of a lot more to make sure those kids have a decent shot.

But...we can't necessarily stopped them from being produced.  You said that the most affluent countries are "producing" homeless kids.

I don't know about you, but I can't afford to raise even one of the children who were born and thrown into foster care.  And there's a lot more than one.

Original Post by kathygator:

Original Post by pgeorgian:

i think the OP should be proud of her son for wanting to help, not chastising him for not being more cynical, suspicious, and judgemental.

Indeed.

Agreed, He's got plenty of time to become bitter and jaded when he gets to be my age.

@#33: Pumpkins: Neither of my sons would bring home a kid unless they believed he or she needed us. I'd trust in that. A history of dabbling in drugs would be dealt with swiftly. I'm not worth the title 'mamma' if I can't deal with something as simple as that.

Original Post by kathygator:

@#33: Pumpkins: Neither of my sons would bring home a kid unless they believed he or she needed us. I'd trust in that. A history of dabbling in drugs would be dealt with swiftly. I'm not worth the title 'mamma' if I can't deal with something as simple as that.

How would his need for you eliminate the threat of violence, theft, negative influence, etc, etc?

Going back to the first page, I interpreted what countryboy to be saying as being more about the usual trajectory of people who get dealt these crappy cards.

But we know so little about the boy, it's hard to say much about the situation.

He brought mushrooms to the shelter - we've heard that. But is he an addict? We don't know that. I didn't think mushrooms were addictive, but I don't really know.

But if he had gotten addicted to a drug (that allowed him to not think about his crappy life for a little while, which would be understandable) then the usual trajectory for someone in that situation is that they have to hit bottom before they become willing to seek help, accept help, and feel grateful for help.

Also, I think it would be understandable if he did think of himself as a victim and with a lot of self-pity. Something would need to happen in his life for him to see things differently - he has to be ready to see things differently.

Bottom line - it is a shame he's been failed by the people who were supposed to take care of him and love him. He deserved better than that. At some point, if he's lucky, he'll find his own way out, probably with some strands of the safety net, such as it is.  I think it's way way way out of line to characterize this boy as a loser-moocher or whatever because of the way he behaved for a few days after he aged out of foster care. Cheesus I hope some of you are never on my jury*.

*if I ever have a jury

ETA - OP, I think your actions were admirable and appropriate. I think you can let yourself off the hook. You are taking care of your responsibilities.  If you feel motivated to do something, and if you have the time, you could always find out if those organizations in your community who serve this population could use volunteers or donations or something.  Hugs to you...

 

re 37: The point is, those wouldn't be a threat. If my boys haven't been influenced by a 'problem' kid by now, there's no possibility of it occurring in this scenario.

Original Post by kathygator:

The point is, those wouldn't be a threat. If my boys haven't been influenced by a 'problem' kid by now, there's no possibility of it occurring in this scenario.


There are probably a lot of terrible things that haven't happened...but could.

I just think it's important to teach your kids to use good, cautious judgement, especially when inviting people into your life.  I feel like in this scenario, the potential to be burned by this person is high.

82 Replies (last)
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