Desperate for advice regarding toxic teen

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    Hey all. I’m new here and am simply seeking advice as my husband and I are out of options (as far as we know, anyway).

    So, the names I use here are not their names, okay? I’m just making them up to keep the innocence.

    The child in question, let’s call her Tianna. She is 15-years old and, before she came to live with us 5 years ago, she had a bad life. Her mother, Sara, is a drug addict and is very promiscuous, having had 5 children by all different men. The man Tianna calls father, Lance, isn’t really her father because Sara cheated on him to produce Tianna. He is also a drug addict and schizophrenic.

    Tianna had a ton of exposure to drugs and was sexually molested at a young age.

    Lance’s sister, Rebecca, is my husband’s ex-wife. Tianna and her brother, Luke, were about to be sent off to foster care until my husband, Steve, encouraged Rebecca to bring them in so they could live when them and Steve/Rebecca’s daughter, Keri. She finally agreed.

    A couple years later, Rebecca left Steve, taking the kids with her to a town 6-hours away. Rebecca took a turn for the worse and she started job-hopping, sleeping with a ton of guys, and moving a lot with the kids. She eventually landed the 4 of them in a shack without a working toilet because she couldn’t pay her bills.

    Anway, to wrap up that history, my husband took Rebecca to court and got custody of Keri and Tianna with Rebecca getting visitation rights. Luke had already been stripped from Rebecca’s custody and put into a relative’s care. (So I’m not sure why the judge ruled that she could see the girls.)

    While in Rebecca’s custody every other weekend and during summer break, the girls were allowed to do whatever, whenever. Tianna picked up smoking weed the summer of 2021 and Rebecca let her do it on her porch. (We had NO idea this was going on.)

    When school started, Tianna swore up and down that she was going to do good this year, the first year of HS. A month into school, she’s slipping. We attempted positive reinforcement by telling her that if she did well, we’d get her a brand new top-of-the-line phone. She was excited, but we saw no change. Then, we are called to the school because she was caught trying to sell a THC cartridge. At this point, she’s failing everything with 30s or lower. We ground her for her behavior. She tells us that Rebecca told her that she’d let Tianna get a job over the summer so that they could save up and win custody back so Tianna wouldn’t have to go to school anymore. We get Rebecca on the phone and she denies it on speaker. Tianna cries and then tells us that we are the only people that have ever cared for her. She promises to change.

    When Tianna takes a phone from Rebecca, this is when we really find out what’s been going on behind our backs. Rebecca has been sending Tianna home with a phone, telling her not to tell us. Rebecca has allowed Tianna to go out with boys she likes, go to boys’ homes and stay the night. Tianna is allowed to wear revealing clothing, fake eyelashes, 2 inch long dipped nails as well as turn the storage closet at Rebecca’s apartment into a ‘weed den’. Tianna admitted to being in cars with guys that have guns and sell drugs. Also, Tianna manipulated the neighbor girl to give her their wifi password so she could access social media on Rebecca’s phone.

    Rebecca is mad at Tianna for outing her and started insisting that we send Tianna to a boarding school for troubled teens, which was unknown to Tianna until Keri told her. Again, Tianna insists that she’s going to change and that we are the only people that have ever cared for her. We told her we would help her any way we can and that we would help her stay off of drugs, but that would require a drug test at random. She agrees.

    A month later, she’s suspended for fighting. A girl mouthed off to her on the bus and Tianna attacked her. When I asked her why didn’t she just let it go, she said she wasn’t going to allow people to disrespect her. Later, we heard her bragging to Rebecca on the phone about the fight.

    We attempted to get the kids in private school for the 22-23 school year but when Tianna’s academic and discipline records came back, they denied us as a family.

    Now, our 5-year old son, Jacob, is starting to pick up behavior from Tianna… came home telling us, “I almost got in a fight today,” (at a Christian daycare) and using the word ‘coochie’.

    When we went to drug test Tianna last night, she said it would be a waste of time. We later found out she used drugs IN OUR HOUSE. She then stated that the neighbor’s mom said she could come live with them because she didn’t want to live with us anymore. “Y’all are trying to change me.”

    Guys… we have no idea what to do at this point. We’ve tried both positive and negative reward system. Didn’t work. We tried 4 different counselors who all say that she’s well adjusted!

    Would LOVE advice here. We want her to straighten out so she can have a good life but we also don’t want this negative influence to keep harming the other children and their futures.



    Dear Lily:

    “We want (Tianna) to straighten out so she can have a good life but we also don”t want this negative influence to keep harming the other children and their futures” –

    – From what you shared, it will take a lot of time and work to straighten up the complex nature and circumstanes of Tianna’s troubles. And during this time, your five year old, for one, is being harmed. Therefore, I suggest that your first priority becomes not saving 15-year old Tianna, but saving the younger kids.



    Dear Lily:

    How are you, Tianna and your younger kids, better I hope?


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