Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Want Some Peace In Your House Again?

If you would finally like to:

1. Have some peace in your house again (remember what that was like?)

2. Not argue every minute of every day with your kid

3. Feel that what you do for him/her is actually appreciated

4. Stop the disrespect and verbal abuse

5. Know how to deal with problems such as disrespect, lying, stealing, truancy, and drug abuse without having to call the police to have your kid locked-up (if this hasn’t happened already!)

...then this might be the most important website you’ll ever visit:

Teenage Son is a Trouble Maker

"The main problem I have with my son Ryan is his behaviour in school, from all accounts, is disruptive in class, has got into fights in school, has been suspended on a number of occasions for smoking, being very argumentative with teachers, skipping off school, porn mags …turns up to school with no books, no homework.

When we sit down to talk about these things, he sits in front of me and either cry's or just says "I don't know" or there's a big story that the teacher was all wrong or it was some one else and no one believes him. I have punished him e.g.: grounded him, taken his cell for weeks on end, Ryan has always been giddy and is very easily detracted, I feel at times he just doesn't know how to change things around at school and they are so sick of him they have given up.

At 15 he is 6 f 6". Lets on he is full of confidence, but at home he is kind, affectionate, very witty and would do anything for you, he has a part time job working on a farm, driving all sorts of machinery, and his boss cant speak highly enough of him, finds him hard working, responsible and can use his own initiative, so why is he doing these things in school. Ryan has good grades in tech drawing, woodwork and history but all his other subjects are below average, his teachers all feel he is capable of a lot more and Ryan talks about being an architect. I hope you can point me in the right direction in helping Ryan reach his potential and become an all rounded happy kid."

For some children, behavior in school requires a positive behavior intervention plan to address the behavior. If your child's behavior is significant enough that it interferes with your child's or another child's ability to learn, you should ask your school to hold an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting to develop a plan to address the behavior.

To request an IEP meeting call your special education coordinator to schedule the meeting. Send a follow-up letter to confirm your discussion. At the meeting, the IEP team, including you, should address how to assess your child's behavioral needs and what services are needed. The following is a sample letter:

Date (include month, day, and year)

Name of Your Child's Special Education Coordinator

Name of School District

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Dear (name of Special Education Coordinator),

I am writing to request an IEP meeting for my child (child's name). I am requesting this meeting because my child is having behaviors in school (describe the behaviors). At this meeting I would like to discuss how to address my child's behavior and development of a behavior plan for (child's name).

In addition to the regular IEP team, I am requesting that a person able to assist the IEP team in developing a plan to address (child's name)'s behavior be present at the meeting.

I can arrange to meet with you and the other members of the IEP team on (list days you are available) between (give a range of time, such as between 2:00 and 4:00). Please let me know what time would be best for you.

I look forward to hearing from you within five school days of the date you receive this letter. My daytime telephone number is (give your phone number). Thank you for your help.


Your Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number

Ask the school to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). Document the behavior and interventions. In order to decide how to address your child's behavior, the school must document the behavior. The school should document the type of behavior, where the behavior is occurring, what and how responses to the behavior have worked, and why the behavior is occurring. With this information, your child's IEP team can determine ways to address the behavior.

Determine how to assess the behavior. Your child's IEP team should determine how best to assess your child's behavior. Behaviors can be assessed by observation and by formal evaluation tools. Observation can confirm the accuracy of the information collected through documentation and can provide insight into why the behaviors are happening. It is important for your child's behavior to be observed and assessed in the environment where the behavior happens. Your child can be assessed by a variety of people, including teachers, special education personnel, and behavior specialists.

Determine who is qualified to assess the behavior. The IEP team should determine who is qualified to assess your child's behavior. It is simple to document where and when behavior happens, but more difficult to assess the reasons for behavior. Your child's IEP team may be capable of determining why your child is having behaviors or the team may require the assistance of a specialist in behavior. Your child's IEP team should discuss what qualifications are required to assess your child. This discussion should include the required level of behavioral expertise and knowledge about your child's disability. A person capable of assessing your child's behavior might be a "behavior specialist," a psychologist, or a Ph.D. in education or a related field.

Determine if independent assessments are available. Information on your child's behavior from sources independent of the school can help your child's IEP team determine how to address the behavior. This information can include psychological or psychiatric evaluations, information about medications, and information from your child's physician. You should decide whether to share this information with your child's IEP team. Generally, the IEP team will be able to better address your child's behaviors if the team has more information about your child and the behaviors.

If your school has conducted an evaluation of your child's behavior and you disagree with the evaluation, you may be able to pursue an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at the school's expense.

Once your child's behavior has been assessed, the IEP team should consider the results of the assessment. The individual(s) who collected data about your child's behavior should attend the meeting. You should request that the individual(s) who conducted assessment or evaluation of your child's behavior also attend the meeting. The data collector and assessor should explain the results of their assessment and their recommendations to address the behavior. From this discussion, the team should determine if a positive behavior intervention plan is needed.

If needed, a positive behavior intervention plan (BIP) should be written to address your child's behaviors. This plan can be written as goals and objectives on your child's IEP, or can be a separate plan that is attached to your child's IEP. The BIP should include positive ways to reduce your child's behaviors. This can include goals that teach your child more appropriate behaviors or modifications to your child's environment, which decrease the likelihood that behaviors will occur. In addition, the plan should include recommendations to school staff about appropriate ways to respond to your child's behaviors.

Training or inservice opportunities for staff may be included in your child's BIP. The IEP team should determine whether staff working with your child have the necessary information and training to effectively implement your child's BIP. Your special education regional resource center (SERRC) can provide information about training opportunities.

It can be helpful to have the on-going support of a behavior specialist, especially from the behavior specialist who assessed your child. This on-going support is helpful to determine if the BIP is working, and if not, to help your child's IEP team to modify the BIP. You should ask your child's school to agree to on-going involvement from the behavior specialist until your child's BIP is successfully implemented.

The goal of your child's BIP should be to reduce or eliminate the behavior so that your child can learn in school. Another goal should be to reduce or eliminate any discipline of your child. However, even with a BIP, your child may be suspended from school for behavior for short periods of time. Your school is required to follow specific procedures in disciplining a child with an IEP for more than short periods of time. If school discipline is a problem for your child, you should learn the discipline procedures.

Your child is entitled to receive an education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This usually means in the school setting with the most opportunity possible to be with students who do not have a disability. Your child's IEP is required to address your child's behavior so that your child can receive an education in the LRE with access to and progress in the general education curriculum. Your school should not change your child's LRE because of behavior if your school has not appropriately addressed your child's behavioral needs. If your school wants to place your child in a more restrictive environment you should request an IEP meeting and ask the school to follow the steps outlined in this section.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

She doesn't seem too worried about her future...

Dear Mr. Hutten,

I am writing to ask for some advise. I should also mention that i visit your site regularly and think it is great. My daughter is 14 and has ADD, which encompasses a lot of challenges in itself. My biggest problem with her is her lack of interest in school work, goals or motivation. It's a struggle just to get her up and going every day, and even though i succeed most times, she doesn't do anything in school except socialize and roam around. She will not study, always says she doesn't have any homework until the last minute sometimes and then expects me to race around getting her supplies or letting her use the computer to throw her project together.

I have tried grounding her but she doesn’t seem to care...we live a few miles out of town so she doesn't get to go many places anyway. I don’t let her use the computer very much to try and make her earn its use, and i don’t give her an allowance because she rarely does what's expected of her in the way of respect, chores and schoolwork in order to get it. She just generally has this "i don't care" attitude about however you try and motivate her.

Please help...she is a bright girl with a loving heart but whatever anybody does for her its never enough, things are always everyone else's fault and she doesn't seem too worried about her future. I appreciate your taking the time to read this.




Hi P.,

I'm about to give you the #1 most difficult recommendation for parents to hear. When I tell them what I'm about to tell you, they look at me in disbelief. But here's the deal:

Those parents who follow this advice find a slight improvement in their child's academic performance. Those who don't continue to waste a lot time and energy trying to get their child to bring the grades up -- and they continue to drive a wedge between themselves and their child. Having said that, here's what I STRONGLY recommend:


He is on concerta, strattera, celexa, trazadone...

I purchased your online book: My out of control teen. My 14 yr old son has ADHD, ODD, has terrible tantrums, but mostly with his stepfather. He physically hits him. It doesn't hurt him as he is 300 lbs & my son is 105 lbs but we are becoming concerned with the violence.

When his stepdad tries to restrain him he yells quite loudly "ow, you're hurting me" so everyone in public will hear. He has yet to physically harm me, but his stepdad has told him bad things will happen if he hurts me. His father also has an anger problem (verbal), but he seldom seem\s him, but that doesn’t mean the past hasn’t rubbed off on him.

I have been divorced from his father for 7 yrs. We do have him in counseling right now for his anger, but it doesn't seem to be helping. He is also adopted so I don’t know much about his past, but his Dr’s all seem to think he was probably a drug or alcohol baby. He is getting into a lot of trouble at school, but mostly for acting out verbally. His grades are slipping. He has a special medication Dr that has monitored him since he was 5. He said he has never seen him this depressed but the behavior is still the same behavior he had at 5. His depression seems to be caused from his older sister (his only sibling) going away to college this year (or so he told the Dr).

He is on concerta, strattera, & celexa in the am & trazadone to sleep. Anyway, I am at my wits end with him. He physically exhausts me with his constant barrage of tantrums. If we say no, we pay the price. He tries to beat us down to giving in to him & if we don’t, then the barrage continues. We don’t give in to him, which is why we are so exhausted, but he just is relentless!! Any suggestions on how to deal with him?



Hi K.,

I’m not trying to take a shortcut with you here, but I have already addressed this in the ebook. Please refer to the Anger Management chapter of the ONLINE version of the ebook. Listen to the audio as well. If you still need clarification, we should probably schedule a phone consultation. If I answered this email in depth, I would just be repeating what I have already discussed in the Anger Management chapter.

If you’re still at a lose after reviewing the ebook, call 856-457-4883. Leave a message re: when I can return your call (include your time-zone).


We are facing some challenging times ahead...


We are facing some challenging times ahead and I would like some advice on how to handle this with our 16 year old son. We moved to the town we are in now in the U.S. about 2.5 years ago from Canada. At the time our son had just started Grade 9. We had some rough times with him refusing to do school work, not caring about school and just being very angry. Things had just turned around with him recently when his Dad's company decided to close down without much warning. His Dad won't have any trouble finding a new job but we likely will need to move again.

As you can imagine, this prospect is not going over well with our son. He is saying he wants to stay here to finish high school. Unfortunately with his past academic efforts or lack of them, he isn't doing great at school. He is in his Junior year but he is a few credits shy of graduating on schedule as he has failed a couple of semesters in 2 courses.

Also, he does not have a job and he isn't driving. How do we handle this?? Do we just insist that he come with us as he is not ready to live on his own? Do I stay behind with him until he graduates and have his Dad commute on weekends for this time?

The issue I have with this is that if our son decides to not make a real effort to pass at school he could drag out the moving indefinitely.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this???

Thanks in advance,



Hi C.,

Re: “…he does not have a job and he isn't driving. How do we handle this??”

>>>>>>>>>>> If he doesn’t want to work or drive, whose problem is it? Yours or his? We know the answer: ‘his’. So if he doesn’t want to make money and be able to drive, this is his choice.

Re: “Do we just insist that he come with us as he is not ready to live on his own?”

>>>>>>>>>>> I would think so, unless he can stay with another family member or friend.

Re: “Do I stay behind with him until he graduates and have his Dad commute on weekends for this time?”

>>>>>>>>>> If you did, it would be just another form of over-indulgence. I’m getting the impression that you may be ‘feeling sorry for him’ due to the moves. This WILL make a bad problem worse – I promise.

Re: “Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this???”

>>>>>>>>>>It's common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your son has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and may be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that he will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom.

>>>>>>>>>>>It's particularly important to let you son know that you want to hear about his or her concerns and that you respect them. While blanket assurances may sound flippant, it's legitimate to suggest that the move can serve as rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job. After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood periodically -- if it's feasible.

>>>>>>>>>>>If he is strongly resistant to the move, you might want to consider letting him remain with a friend or relative -- if that's an option. This may be particularly helpful if you're moving midway through the school year.

>>>>>>>>>>>After the move, try to get his room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and family activities to give him a sense of familiarity.

>>>>>>>>>>When he starts school, you may want to go along to meet as many teachers as possible or to introduce him to the principal, dean, etc.

>>>>>>>>>Set realistic expectations about his transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids may take less time; some may need more.

>>>>>>>>>Keep me posted,


Yes ...there actually is audio on the Online Version of the ebook.

Hi Mark,

We're working hard on improving things with our son.
Success is in small steps but there is definitely
improvement. Thanks for your help and for talking with
us on the phone several weeks ago.

I see from some of your comments on the blog that I
have just had access to the written book, not to the
audio book, which seems to have more information in

How do I access it? I've downloaded the link that says
online book and audio book, but still don't see the
audio. Do I have to pay something extra for this?




No don't have to pay extra.

1. Go to
2. Click on "Online Version"
3. Save to desktop
4. Open the ebook using your password

…then on each page of the Online Version you should see 3 buttons (one is a play button, one is a stop button, and one is a pause button).

The "live"audio recording of the parenting-workshop (195 minutes total time) is divided into 2 - 5 minute sections throughout the eBook. Each audio section, Power Point Presentation, and video corresponds to the accompanying text.


Stealing all the money on the debit card...


Thank you for your time.

I very much appreciate your offer of a phone call. I'm actually in England so I'd have to check the charges to phone you in the States. It might be better to have an online chat.

I feel a bit talked out today as we've spent the last week talking very intensely- myself and my wife- a couple of very difficult sessions with my daughter in the aftermath of her stealing all the money on the debit card. I've also talked to a few people on helplines and even a clinician from an organisation called Youngminds. It starts to get very tangled up when you go over and over the same things.

I was beginning to think that things had calmed down -less arguments-she is either up in her room or out with her friends. She was disturbing our sleep every night by coming in late and of course then she'd stay in bed very late or be at work so we wouldn't see her but at least the rows had largely stopped but largely because we had stopped talking. And then she stole all this money making us feel desperate all over again.

If you let me know when is a good time to contact you I would like to do so.




Hi P.,

“Talking to” and “trying to reason with” the daughter-unit are just more traditional parenting strategies that will have little (if any) positive effect. Also, allowing her to stay out late ...and allowing her to stay in her room and sleep late are just other forms of over-indulgence. I understand that it makes things easier in the short run (to have her 'out of the way' so to speak in her room), but as you will find out (or maybe you already have found out), it makes things much more difficult in the long run.


Are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?


If we put my daughter who will be 19, on her own separate auto insurance and put the title of the car in her name, are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?

She will be going to college, living at home, so we are completely supporting her financially and claiming her as a dependent.

We live in Ohio. She has had a few incidents with the car and we don't want to be liable for anything that may happen in the future. We don't want our insurance to be dropped as well as our umbrella policy.

Any help?



Re: "...are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?"

Generally no. In case of an accident, the owner of a car can normally be held liable up to the statutory maximum for damages caused by the car. You, as a third party, would not be liable unless the other party (i.e., whoever suffered damage due to your daughter's accident) could prove some sort of negligence on your part (e.g., if you gave your daughter alcoholic drinks and knew she was going to drive, then you could be potentially responsible). But, the general rule is that you cannot be liable just because she lives at home with you. I'm sure a good attorney could find a loophole if he needed to though.


School Refusal

My son is 16 in his final year at school but will not go. Has no confidence but is aggressive at home. Will not get a part time job even though we give him no money. GP says all we can do is weather the storm and hope he comes to his senses! We do keep talking to him and keeping calm.

Any ideas?



Hi E.,

Here's some info on school refusal: CLICK HERE

"Talking to him" is a traditional parenting strategy that is having little effect (as you are finding out).

This is what I do with my adolescent clients who refuse to go to school: I either get them enrolled in Options (which is a small alternative school; they get a lot of one-on-one attention; lessons are mostly done on the computer; the class room is much smaller than those in regular school), or they start on their GED (General Education Degree; the equivalent of a high school diploma).

My adolescent clients do absolutely terrible in regular school, but do remarkably well in an alternative setting.


Is she psychotic?

My teenager cuts herself. Is she psychotic? Is this a suicide attempt?

NO. Self-injury is just a weird coping strategy, a way to stay alive.
Teenagers who inflict physical harm on themselves are often doing it in an attempt to reduce emotional stress -- it's a way to keep from killing themselves. They release unbearable feelings and pressures through self-harm, and that relieves their urge toward suicide. And, although some teenagers who self-injure do later attempt suicide, they almost always use a method different from their preferred method of self-harm.


Ranting & Raving


I finally found my poker face but now my husband is having a hard time. We are having a hard time remembering the program when we are mad. It seems that once we have been pushed to the breaking point we resort back to old habits. I was not able to get my sons other 2 parents on board, so we are doing this on our own, which means every other weekend and every Tuesday for 3 hours my son is not following the program.

The hard part is if he gets him self grounded for 3 days and it falls in some of his fathers visitation the grounding ends up lasting longer than 3 days. But we are managing, I think. So, my new question to you is: I know that the discipline does not start until the ranting and raving is over, but what do you do when it starts back up in the middle of the 3 days? Do you start the discipline over again?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes. When he stops ranting, look at your watch and start the clock again (write the day/time down somewhere so you don’t forget).

I think ‘no’ but I also don't think it's OK to let him get away with it? My husband I thought maybe a ‘yucky chore jar’ might be the trick to this? So, this idea is that we make up a bunch of yucky chores such as washing the toilet with a tooth brush or cleaning up dog poop or dusting the hole house, put them in a jar, and every time he mouths off about the grounding after it has started or mouths off in general he picks a chore for him to do. If he continues or complains about the chore he gets another one.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> This sounded good until the part where ‘he gets another one.” You don’t want to set up a situation where he keeps digging himself in a hole. He’ll never get out. If restrictions pile up, the kid will see no light at the end of the tunnel and will say, “Screw it.”

We love your program and think it works, but are finding some gray areas and we are trying to keep in mind that our son is only 10. Or is this just us feeling sorry for him?

>>>>>>>>>> There is a lot of gray area, and it’s good that you are differentiating between gray areas versus ‘black & white’ areas. You are only human, so of course you feel sorry for him from time to time. But catch yourself “feeling sorry for him,” and then get back on track with both nurturing and discipline.

Also, we know that when he is being disciplined he is to loose everything including wrestling practice. We are not sure that is good for our son because of his ADHD? PLEASE help us. Any answers you give are appreciated.

>>>>>>>>>>> I think we’re in one of those gray areas now. If you feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages when you do NOT incorporate “wrestling practice” into the bag of “privileges withheld” during discipline times, then go ahead and allow him to do practice even when he’s on discipline.

Thank you so much,


My Out-of-Control Child

Resentment Flu


I really appreciate your help. I do want to ask you though about "resentment flu". Unfortunately, I have it myself. It is hard when I love my kids, but I also feel so angry and so terribly hurt by what has been happening. I pray to my higher power for guidance very often - it does help. Do you have any suggestions for my "resentment flu"? My feelings tend to show too well on my face, and because my children know me so well, I am sure they can tell. My hurt feelings are probably the reason my children continue to do some acting up - they probably want to hurt me. Any suggestions on how I can assume a better "poker face"?

Thanks again!



Hi L.,

To resolve “resentment flu,” we must forgive. This is discussed in the ebook (in the chapter “How To Let Go” – online version).

It’s going to be very hard to maintain your good poker face if you have ‘unresolved anger’ (i.e., resentment) toward your kids. Please review -- and practice -- the material in the chapter “How To Let Go.”


Small problems get small consequences.

Hi Mark,

I have a few quick ones for you.

1.I asked my 15 year old to pass me an empty cup and plate that is on the other side of the room. He ignored me so I asked him again. Then he grunted that it was not his but his brother's (which could be true) and kept playing his game.

I am trying not to escalate things and become aggressive. Also trying to pick my I ignored him but did stay calm and walked away. Let me know if this is right?

>>>>>>>>>> Small problems get small consequences. The next time you request that your son do something, but he refuses, say, “If you choose not to do what I asked, you’ll choose the consequence, which is __________” (pick something small and relevant).

>>>>>>> In the case of not helping with a small chore related to eating, maybe take away all snacks for one evening (i.e., no chips, cookies, etc.).

2. We loved your idea of a chore a week. Our kids right now has virtually no chores! So we wanted to start really slow...and said...2 times a day you have to put your clothes, towels, dirty sports thing in your hamper if you want to go out or have friends come over on the weekend. His siblings did EXCELLENT with this but Ryan the 15 year old did OK not great. He usually did better with gentle coaxing. One day I noticed that he did not do I left him a reminder note. I came home 2 hours later and saw the note gone but he still had not complied? What should I do?

>>>>>>>>>>> Put on your poker face and follow through with the consequence: he doesn’t go anywhere that evening.

>>>>>>>>>>>Allow him to make mistakes (i.e., poor choices) – it’s how he will learn to make better choices. Don’t attempt save him from “non-compliance.” (The ‘reminder note’ is a good idea, but it doesn’t matter what he does with the note, after all, it’s his note).



My daughter doesn't respond to what we do and rarely speaks to me...

Hi P.,

I've responded in several places below. Please look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>

I've read through [the ebook] and need to make these comments. In the contents to the online version it mentions different assignments, but these don't seem to be in the printable version.

>>>>>>>>>> Actually, the assignments ARE in both the printable version and online version. On my printable copy, I see the following:

Assignment #1 - page 23
Assignment #2 - page 29
Assignment #3 - page 36
Assignment #4 - page 41

...this could be slightly different on your copy, but only by a page or two.

I have attempted to use assertive parenting as much as possible in the way that you describe. I am a teacher working with disturbed and damaged children and we use many of the strategies you mention, so I am familiar with the ideas. However, my daughter doesn't respond to what we do and rarely speaks to me, usually walking out of the room as soon as I walk in.

>>>>>>>>>> This indicates that you are in a power struggle with you daughter. Also, she has 'resentment flu'. You must - absolutely must - get into the online version of the ebook and listen to all the audio. You have only digested 50% of the material so far since you have only read the printable version. I can see why you're still struggling.

I have withdrawn privileges and possessions and she either hides away in her room for days on end or goes out and stays away all night.

>>>>>>>>>> O.K. Then you can ground her FROM her room. But you need to get out of the power-struggle first.

The only time she really makes any contact with us is if she is feeling poorly and then turns into a baby lying across her mother like a very young child.

>>>>>>>>>>> This is an indication that she is emotionally under-developed (which as you may have read, is a result of over-indulgent parenting).

She is very awkward about taking any medicine when she is unwell and will often refuse totally because she doesn't like the taste or consistency. This contrasts with drinking large amounts of vodka when she goes out with friends. I can't really see how the very good advice in the ebook can help us in this situation.

>>>>>>>>>> I have to be honest here. I don't think you "got it" with your first "read through" of my ebook. I clearly stipulate a method for dealing with teenage drinking. We should probably schedule a phone consultation. If you're available tomorrow, I'll be glad to spend some time with you on the phone (my dime).

Also to go back to the online support, in the advertising it says that the course is available in audio form but I can't see it anywhere on the website.

>>>>>>>>>> The audio is in the online version of the ebook, which you have not accessed yet.

>>>>>>>>>> Let's do a phone call!


Cell: 765.635.9037
Toll Free: 856.457.4883

I feel like no matter what I do, it will be wrong in their eyes.


Right now you are the only one who might have any idea of what I am going through. I wish I knew what to ask you. I guess one of my first questions to you would be: How much contact should I have with my kids?

Their grandmother said I could call or stop over whenever I wanted. I told her I would rather let my children call me when they wanted, and I would like to come see them if they asked her if I could come over.

She said that they do not usually tell her what they want, so I should probably make the first move towards contacting them. I have been emailing them, but that is it so far except for calling their grandmother twice to see how they were doing.

If I contact them first, will it make the situation worse? If I wait for them, will they think that I don't miss them? I might be their Mom, but I feel like no matter what I do, it will be wrong in their eyes.

Do you have any suggestions?



Hi Laura,

I agree with their grandmother. You will have to be the one to initiate contact – at first. After everyone has recovered from “resentment flu,” your kids will start to initiate contact as well.

Don’t make a big production out of the visits, and keep them short initially. Simply pop-in unannounced, ask how things are going, tell them you love them (don’t wait for a response; it doesn’t matter how they respond), then go on about your day.

Make visits a habit – a weekly event that is never missed. But, again, keep them short at first. And don’t expect anything from your kids (e.g., kind statements, hugs, kisses, eye-to-eye contact, etc.). Don’t require them to respond to you in any particular way.

Ask your higher power -- whoever that is -- to give you guidance. Trust that you will receive the guidance you need. Be patient with the process. Detach from the outcome. And never, never give up!


Adolescent Sex Offenders

Hello Mr. Hutten,

I found your statement about going with the flow when writing these newsletters interesting in light of the previous topic on Adolescent Sex Offenders. I have to ask, are the parents coming to you with questions because their children are the offender or questions because their child has been a victim??

I have a little experience with this and am curious what percentage of parents are out there who's children have sexually offended and they feel paralyzed by their inability to talk to anyone about their experience because this topic is just not socially acceptable. I think the parents are often viewed to be just as bad as the child who offended. I feel that not all cases are worthy of litigation but certainly all offenses are worthy of mandatory counseling for the offender.

What are your thoughts and would you consider this parent support group a safe place for those parents to share their experiences, to learn from, and also to help others?




Hello J.,

Parents who email with questions about sex offenders usually have some suspicion that their child is engaging in this activity …they just don’t have any solid evidence yet. They’re trying to educate themselves on ‘what to look for’ because some red flags have shown up.

In the U.S., 15 to 33 percent of all sex offenses are committed by persons under 21 years of age. Males represent approximately 90% of adult and adolescent sex offenders reported to authorities.

Many victims do not report their abuse out of fear of revenge. Victims of sexual dating violence or acquaintance rape, or male victims of female offenders often do not define their experience as sexual assault or abuse, therefore do not report it. Other victims are afraid of parental reactions, or are too embarrassed to report because they mistakenly believe that what happened to them is their fault. Some are sometimes reluctant to involve the police or other "officials" because they think they will bring shame or stigma to themselves or their family. Some victims are just too young, developmentally delayed, or immature to realize they were sexually assaulted or sexually abused. Sexual acts by teens are still often dismissed or minimized as being just experimentation or harmless curiosity. Adolescent sex offenders rarely disclose their abusing behavior or refer themselves to treatment. Many parents also do not report incidents of incest between siblings or other members of the family.

Re: “…would you consider this parent support group a safe place for those parents to share their experiences, to learn from, and also to help others?”

Answer: Absolutely. Parents remain anonymous. In many cases, the parent simply states she does not want her email posted to this blog, in which case, it is NOT posted for others to read.

It's All About Money ...right?

Being a single mother (of 3 all together) with a part-time income and struggling with my work-schedule and counseling appointments, behavior specialists, case workers, COURT (14-yr old gets into legal trouble), everyday household tasks/duties, a 10 yr old daughter who is active in Girl Scouts and school activities, AND dealing with major disrespect from BOTH boys....has driven me to do some research online. And pretty much it's all the same BS. Don't get me wrong; the info I am finding is (somewhat) helpful and websites are always chock full of great information; but so were my therapists/counselors- however, VERY VERY discouraging for single parents like myself, because I DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY FOR THE 'HELP' I NEED. I am lucky to even have 20 bucks for gas in my car a week!

And people dangle the fact that THEY have the ANSWER to these kinds of PROBLEMS and put on flashy lights and great advertisements...but overall, it is to make a quick buck with no regards to individual situations. How unfair this is for other families like mine.

May your 'business' bring you more prosperity....


Hi "heated" ..I mean C.,

First of all, here's free access to Online Parent Support "mini-reports" site:

My full-time job consists of going to the homes of parents who are at a loss on what to do or how to help. I work with both the parent and the defiant child over a period of about 4 to 6 weeks. During our time together, I show the parent how to use some highly effective “unconventional” parenting strategies to use with their out-of-control, “unconventional” child.

These parents have tried very hard to address their child’s emotional & behavioral problems on their own, but with little or no success. And it seems the harder they try, the worse it gets.

Here’s the good news. These “out-of-control” kids I see on a daily basis are the most enjoyable bunch I could ever work with. I get nothing but respect and cooperation from all of them. Why? Because I’ve learned how to approach them. And believe me, it’s taken many years to get it right.

I show the parent how to be the “therapist” and how to approach their child -- in spite of all the emotional and behavioral problems. There is no need for them to continue living as a frustrated, stressed-out parent. I help them resolve most of the behavioral problems, but I can’t do it for them!

When they read my eBook, listen to my talks, view my videos and power point presentations, and email me with specific questions as they go along – they get the problems turned around. They take a step of faith by joining Online Parent Suport, and then they experience the same success that hundreds of other parents are now enjoying.

After years of dealing with strong-willed, defiant children, many parents feel so defeated that they believe nothing or nobody will be able to help them – they think it’s simply “too late.” But it is NOT too late!!

Most parents are tired of the disrespect, dishonesty and arguments …tired of trying to deal with the problems “on your own,” so they get started with these parenting strategies. And they find out that Online Parent Support is not some "scam" or whatever.

I'm not a “miracle worker,” but they don't need a miracle to get their kid on a good track behaviorally and emotionally -- they just need the right combination of “unconventional” parenting strategies.

I’m always here for parents whenever they are ready to stop feeling sorry for themselves ...when they are ready to stop portraying themselves as the victim …and when they are ready to get serious about correcting the problems at home.

Mark Hutten, M.A.
Online Parent Support
Madison County Juvenile Probation
Madison Superior Court, Division 2
3420 Mounds Road
Anderson, Indiana
Cell: (765) 635-9037
Toll Free: (856) 457-4883

The education of the kids is seriously hampered...

I am highly delighted over my admission as a member of online parent support. I truly pledge to utilize this admission to the fullest advantage. I shall always bring to your knowledge issue, questions and matters bordering my family.

Presently, I have a family of seven comprising wife, four boys, a girl, and myself. The five kids are all in school.

The family runs a small sized paint-processing factory, the proceeds of which sustained the family and catered for the education of the kids. Unfortunately, due to the absence of public power supply in our area since January 2006, the business has grounded. Due to the high cost of generating sets, it has not been possible to resuscitate the factory. Equally, there is a great lull in other ventures as a result of this energy problem.

Consequently, the education of the kids is seriously hampered, as the family now finds it difficult to cope with the high cost of education in Nigeria.

Because of this precarious development, my first son, Chinomso, who was doing second year in the university, withdrew. He now wonders about and constitutes a big problem to the family. The family is seriously disturbed. Efforts made to send him back to school have not yielded any positive dividend as a result of the poor financial state of the family.

What shall we do please? I shall spread the word about online parent support to friends and colleagues.

Thank you, and best regards.

In addition:

I am writing about one Mum in my area with five kids, whose husband died some years ago and has no other extended family to assist her for the upbringing of her kids.

As a result of this predicament the kids resulted to scandalous behaviours of wondering about and appear uncontrollable. Their state has affected their mum’s health adversely and her condition is deteriorating.

Please advice in this regard.



Here's free access to Online Parent Support GRANT WRITING PACKAGE: CLICK HERE


It would be nice to find a solution...

I can't afford to get your E-Book right now but I know that it will really help me communicate with my youngest daughter a lot better. My youngest daughter has ADHD (Since February of 2000 (Kindergarten). She is now in 6th grade. She has a little bit of anxiety, a little bit of depression, ODD and Disruptive Behavior. Since the beginning of last year, my daughter has accumulated teacher detentions, main detentions, ISC = In School Suspension (3 days) and finally three days of Guidance Center. She has already finished out her three days of Guidance Center and She is back at her school. I wish that I could get your book but I can't afford to buy your E-Book until sometime at the end of next week.

Thank you for having your website. I wish that I could be reading this E-Book right now. It would be nice to find a solution because I want my daughter's behavior to improve.





Here's free access to Online Parent Support "mini-reports" site: CLICK HERE

Hope this helps,


He calls us losers and that we suck...

Mark, ok thank you,

If you recall I was the parent that sent in a blog about breaking up a party that my son was at (Saint Patrick’s night). The parents that were away are friends of mine thru little league coaching.

Their daughter had some kids over for a get together after DECA practice. Her parents were at their ski lodge in Maine. According to their daughter the kids just started showing up. Today’s technology with phones and text messages is to blame for that nowadays.

Anyway I broke the party up with the owner of the house on the phone. My main concern was that the drinking did not mix with the driving. Once I announced myself all the kids scattered. To make a long story short my kid is very mad at me and totally disrespects our authority and hates what I did.

After the weekend and one school day my son started talking w/ my wife and said I did this and that at the party broke up making my wife drift towards believing my son which was totally out of context.

I had such a responsibility that night and most likely prevented what could have been some serious problems that the kids could have gotten into.
He calls us losers and that we suck.

Now the consequences: This is what my wife and I have planned to present to my son

1) No more sleep-overs for the rest of the school year
2) He must get a weekend job
3) Grounded for 2 weeks
4) Must call the house owners and sincerely apologize
5) If these items are not taken seriously I am taking his laptop and phone away.

This kid is 19 years old senior in H.S. Mostly a great kid but hates to be around us and his 3 other brothers. He said that we cannot prevent him from drinking and that he would be a looser if he did not drink. Everyone drinks he says. Every time we give him reins he gets in trouble again. He has had 4 instances with the police ever since he turned 16.

College next year!!!

What do you think?




All sounds good except consequence #3 (I’d make the grounding for only 1 week). Also, in consequence #5 you stated, “if these items are not taken seriously” you will take his laptop and phone away. If I were to video tape your son “taking these items seriously” what would I see. Make it very clear to him what you expect – be specific.


Kid Has Parents Arrested


I have a question.

My out of control teen, assaulted me, ran to the neighbor's house and then had me and my husband arrested for assaulting her (she lied). She moved in with the neighbors and seems to be content. She does not want to move back or even speak to us. It's like she replaced us with them.

My husband said we should rattle her cage, talk to her friends, get people arrested for their behavior etc. And basically have questions thrown in her face.

I don't know what to do. I miss her, I'm upset that she is gone, but I was told to let her fall all by herself in life and she will contact me. I really don't know if that's true, other people can help her, and I really don't want her to fall that much. I don't want her to go to jail. I don't want her to get a drug habit or become a pregnant teen mom. And I don't want to wait 6 years, for her to grow up a little bit, and then maybe contact me. But then, if I contact her, she will see she has the upper hand and only contact me to use me for money or whatever.

What is the best thing to do? Shake things up, leave her alone (and for how long?), or contact her (what do you say?)?



Hi S.,

Assuming you have read my ebook, the parents’ job is to ‘foster the development of self-reliance’ in their child – this is paramount. Thus, we can ask, will “shaking things up” achieve this goal? I don’t believe it will.

I don’t know how old she is, but if she’s at least 17, then she should be allowed to see the world for what it is. She should be allowed to make mistakes and experience painful emotions associated with any poor choices she makes …this is how she learns …this will promote self-reliance.

Do not attempt to save her from herself -- you won't be able to. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the more you attempt to reconcile in the hopes she will return home, the more you will drive her away. If she returns home on her own accord however, she must abide by your house rules.

If you are being falsely accused of child abuse, please refer to this page:


Do I let him continue to suffer...

Ryan has suffered with bad acne. We have taken him to 2 different doctors. He has yet to truly follow the regime of either so needless to say he has not seen improvements. I KNOW this impacts his mood. We have a follow up scheduled for May 4th.

>>>>>>>>>>Here's some info for you on the subject: ACNE

1. Do I let him continue to suffer the "natural consequences" of not following docs orders?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes

2. Do I take him for his follow up visit and let the doctor tell him? This seems like the typical over indulgent. I keep paying for docs and medicine and he does not take it and then blames the doctor?

>>>>>>>>>> No

3. Continue to remind him (although as gently as I try to do it he perceives it to be nagging?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> No

>>>>>> Whose problem is it ...yours or your son's? The more responsibility you take for his acne, the less he will take.

>>>>>> In general, when you are undecided about what to do, ask yourself the question: "Is what I'm about to say or do going to foster the development of self-reliance in my child -- or is it going to inhibit the development of self-reliance?

>>>>>> If it's going to promote self-reliance (directly or indirectly), then do it -- if not, then don't.


Online Parent Support


You rock! This is EXACTLY the type of help I was looking for.

Now let me know how this all works!

1. This is what we can get as part of the online parent support?

>>>>>>>>>> Yes

2. Is there a limit to how much/how often?

>>>>>>>>>>> No

If I have questions every few days in the beginning would this be included?

>>>>>>>>>> Yes

3. IF we wanted to do weekly or bi-weekly personal coaching via the phone, do you offer this?

>>>>>>>>>>> I’m willing to do periodic phone-consults (i.e., once every month or two). I have to set some limits on my time due to the sheer volume of Online Parent Support members that email and/or call.

How much?

>>>>>>>>> Free for members of Online Parent Support.

How can we get started?

>>>>>>>>>>> The best way to do a phone consult would be to call the Toll Free number [856-457-4883] and leave a message re: your time zone and an approximate day/time that I could return your call.

Email is GREAT …but I think hearing you and having you HEAR my husband and I would work wonders! Let me know.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>>>>>>>> You are very welcome. Thank you for being willing to work a program [for your kid’s sake].

Join Online Parent Support

I'm so worried that she's driving off to Las Vegas...

Please look for my arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hi Mark (this is S. from El Paso),

I think I told you about K____'s friend, J____, who is the mother of a 1 yr old child. J_____ is somehow influencing K____ and if I say anything negative about J_____, K____ becomes a yelling maniac!

K____ asked me a couple of weeks ago if her attitude changes when she's around J_____ and I told her, Yes - I DID notice a change in her and even K____ admits to it, too!

It seems that if I don't let J_____ spend the night with us, then she and K____ both leave the house in K____'s car and I have no idea where they run off too. Is there anyway (besides hiring an investigator to follow them) that I can somehow keep track of where she goes?

>>>>>>>>>>> Wait a minute …whose supposed to be in charge here – you or your daughter!? If your daughter is under 18, and if this is an on-going problem, you should call the police and file a runaway charge. If your daughter is 18, but does not want to abide by your rules, she can live somewhere else. It sounds like the hens are in charge of the hen house rather than the farmer.

She always tells me she's going to a "friend's house" but she never tells me where her "friend" lives. Also, she and J_____ communicate with a young man who's in and out of jail and who's involved with a gang (he's supposedly J_____'s boyfriend - but J_____ has "several" boyfriends).

How can I find out what his real name is and where he lives without letting K____ know this?????

>>>>>>>>>> It’s not your job to track your daughter or to investigate her friends. It’s your daughter’s job to abide by your house rules. You are taking on too much responsibility – and the more responsibility you take on, the less your daughter will take on.

I feel that if I don't keep tabs on my daughter, I'm so afraid that something bad will happen to her. Also, how can I keep J_____ away from my daughter? Should I take a bench warrant out on her?? I don't want my daughter to be around this awful girl.

>>>>>>>>> Get a restraining order.

I also need to tell you that K____ and I had another argument but it was over something stupid, however, I DID NOT RAISE MY VOICE but K____ was yelling and cursing at me (using the "F"word and other vulgar cuss words). I hope she's not doing drugs because when my brother was using Cocaine, he would yell just like her!!!

Mark, what can I do at this point??

I know I must take away her car - first thing. But then what?

>>>>>>>>> Yes …take it away, but do so in the fashion described in my ebook.

Can I send her to a juvenile center (she's 17 now but she'll be 18 this July)?

>>>>>>>> Yes, but you have to be willing to file charges first.

I also feel that I must tell her father about her behavior and his parents (who also care lot about her). If I can get her away from these other "bad" kids, maybe she'll "see the light".

>>>>>>>>> She’s not going to be interested in seeing ‘the light.’ She’s only going to be interested in getting her freedom and stuff back once it has been taken away.

J_____ told K____ that her parents were locking her out of their house but I found out after talking with her parents that if they lock the doors at night (for safety, obviously!) then they always provide her with a key to the house. But you can't convince K____ that J_____'s lying. K____ says, "You only believe her parents because you're a parent and you never believe me!"

Since our "argument" tonight, I haven't heard from K____. I'm so worried that she's driving off to Las Vegas because this J_____ wants to go there! It's now 10:30pm (Friday) and I haven't heard from K____ at all. She also won't answer her cell phone.

Please tell me what to do!!! I'm so lost,


>>>>>>>>> Please don’t be upset with me when I say this: This is exactly what happens with over-indulgent parenting. The tail has wagged the dog for so long that it thinks it is the head. You, dear parent, are going to have to muster up some tuff love, or your daughter may end up ‘God only knows where.’

>>>>>>>>>Please …please …please … no more half measures! Please re-read the ebook and listen to all the audio files. You’ll pick up on so much more the second time around.

Keep me posted,


She says I am overprotective and do not trust her...

Hi Mark

I was just looking at the safe internet use email and safe surfing guide. I am very concerned about my 15 year old daughter: she is fiercely secretive about her use of the internet - I think mostly instant messenger, Bebo and My space. She refuses to let me see her profile and the type of messages she receives and sends. I have been able to see her provocative pictures and language without her knowing. Her contacts are boasting about trying pot. I want to talk about the dangers of her image openly but I will loose trust if she finds out I have been snooping. She always flicks off if I open the door. She says she understands the dangers and is using the internet safely. She says I am overprotective and do not trust her. This has coincided with her change of attitude to authority - teachers etc and caring less about the quality of her homework, keeping appointments and handing work in on time. She wants more freedom, fun and social time and has a closed, secretive, rebellious attitude. She is not open to any advice/suggestions from us. I want to enforce the safety rules described, but I know she will see this as distrust and an infringement of her freedom which I fear will make her rebel more. I would like help on how to balance the need for her to understand the risks she is taking with building a trusting relationship where we can talk openly.

Help please,



Hi Linda,

I’m going to be a bit tough on you. Ready?

You are not a buddy! You should get the software mentioned here: Internet Predators

And yes …she IS going to rebel more. It probably WILL get worse before it gets better. Do not try to “advise” her or “suggest” things to her – this is a traditional parenting strategy that does not – and has not – worked. You are being too lenient, which is a huge contributor to the existing problems. Computer use is a privilege – not a right.

Please re-read the ebook and listen to all the audio-files. Please don’t get upset with me, but I’m concerned you didn’t ‘get it’ the first time around.

Your concerned parent-coach,


Ryan has always been different...

Hi A. …I’ve responded below. Look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I just found your website and ordered your e-materials and have just read some of your great stuff. It makes sense. We have struggled with my oldest who is now 15 ...almost 16 his entire life! We have 3 children. We both work full time. I own my own business and work from home but travel often. I would guess that all 5 of us are ADD structure and consistency have always been and continues to be a real struggle.

We both grew up with nothing and have very obviously been the over indulging parents.

As I read this I feel good that we have done some things right. We try (despite incredibly busy schedules) to have dinner as a family of 5 at LEAST 5-6 nights a week. We try to attend Church together at least 2 times/month. They are all doing ok in school. My youngest does GREAT! They are all involved in organized sports and school sports and have all done fairly well.

We have really tried to get better over last 6 months. Overall despite all of our imperfections the other 2 kids are warm, happy affectionate and more or less compliant. Yes, they are a bit whiney and lazy as a result of our mistakes but overall when we try all of the good solid tips you recommend they definitely respond and respond well!! So I know this can work.

For some reason our Ryan has always been different. He is very moody. He is very manipulative. He can seem very troubled and depressed which gets us into a horrible cycle of feeling badly for him...etc. He makes ok choices but lately has been faced with a TON of peer pressure. We live in an affluent, highly permissive area where things happen as you mentioned …adult-sanctioned under age drinking, etc.

We have tried to crack down of late but this has led to a HUGE, and LONG power struggle. He has effectively used the Silent Treatment and Withdrawal. Of course this KILLS my husband and myself. We have tried for HOURS (no exaggeration) at a clip calmly asking him to tell us

How he feels…
What is one thing he likes about us/his life…
One thing he would like to see changed…

We have even lobbed possible topics out there...that may be tough for him. I stepped up and did actually admit that I have not been the best mom...but I am trying to change, etc. There was no connection/no empathy/ just disgust. To NO avail! We have tried counseling for a few months now and have seen NO improvement!

I am proud that we have started to do many of the things you mentioned here.

1. We caught him lying about a party he went to...we had discussed this calmly and even put it in writing weeks before...and followed through beautifully. But now I am thinking it was too harsh. WE said 4 weeks grounding. Then we said any disrespect which he does DAILY he would lose his cell, pc, xbox, computer, etc. And again followed through. But I am thinking that the time frames are SO LONG and the punishment so severe (after years of being lax) that this could be causing him to be so despondent and confused?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 3 days works best.

I tried to get him his electronics back earlier by saying …you can earn them back by being respectful for one hour. Do you know he flatly refused?

>>>>>>>>>> “Being respectful for one hour” – what does that mean exactly? If I were to video-tape him being disrespectful, what would I see? Be very specific when telling your son what he has to do to earn his way off discipline.

Digging in and preferring to punish himself over complying and reaping the rewards. Guessing he is at Stage 3?

Q: Is this normal? Is he just adjusting to our new style? Should we follow through on the 4-week deal? We have 2 more to go or give him an option to earn back the privilege?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes…very normal. Four weeks is about 3 ½ weeks too long.

2. I realize that I try so hard to stay calm but am in a constant power struggle. I try to be calm but he pushes my buttons all day/every day.

Q: When I say "What do you have going on today? What time is basketball? Any tests today sweetie?" and he does not make eye contact or answer...what should I do? IGNORE him or discipline him?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I would ask one short question …then either listen to his response, or ignore his lack of response.

When he responds with a grunt...same question? When he is going to bed. I say I love you...and he does not answer or leaves the house in the morning without saying good bye back...

>>>>>>>>>>>Pick your battles carefully have bigger fish to fry. It doesn’t matter whether he responds or not. What matters is you are doing the nurturing piece that is so vital to the overall success of these strategies.

I would LOVE to get coaching from you, either on line or via phone. We live in NJ ...not sure if in person is an option.

>>>>>>>>>> Not currently unfortunately.

PLEASE let me know you work/ how fast we can get started/can you address very specific questions like I have outlined here?

Thank you so much!!

Hopeful in NJ


He threatening to slit my throat...

Hi Mark. My son has been staying at his Dad's for a week and a half now with no contact at all. Suddenly, today, he left me a phone message threatening to slit my throat because he fucking hates me. He also called me a fucking C---!!! Is it time to call the police? This was totally unprovoked unless he heard something from one of his friends. Everyone knows I'm concerned with drugs.




I would definitely file a complaint. If you can get an officer to the house so he can hear the message -- that would be even better.

If someone you knew (other than your son) called you and threatened to set your house on fire, would you take that seriously? ...I'm guessing you would. I don't see this threat from your son as any different.

Err on the side of safety (plus you will be showing your son that threats of physical harm have legal consequences).

Be safe,


She took her tantrum to a whole new level...


My husband and I read your e-book a couple of weeks ago and we have started making a lot of changes. Our daughter is not responding well. She took her tantrum to a whole new level last night, bringing a knife into her room and telling us that we make her want to kill herself. We have been giving her a lot of positive attention when she is good and spending time talking to her etc. But, she feels like she is always getting into trouble now. I realize now that we let her get away with so much in the past, and it is a difficult adjustment. We have sent her to her room at least once a day and taken away a lot of her computer privileges. We are not yelling or getting emotional, but being firm. I don’t know what else to do. I didn’t give her any attention when she had her tantrum last night, but I am worried that she will do something stupid.

Also, she told us that one of her good friends has told her that she started taking drugs, but she is not sure if it is true and does not know what kind. Do we forbid her from spending time with her friend?



It’s good that things are getting worse …that tells me you are working the program. Be patient with your daughter as she adjusts to the parenting changes you’ve made.

You’re in a precarious stage right now. This current ‘stage-of-change’ is the stage when many parents usually feel guilty (e.g., “I’m afraid I’m coming down too hard on my child”) as well as insecure (e.g., “I’m not sure I made the right decision when I decided to start using these new parenting strategies”).

When parents begin to doubt themselves, and when they fall for more manipulations (e.g., child says “I’m going to kill myself …”I’m going to run away” …etc.), they tend to revert back to their original parenting strategies, which is the “kiss of failure.” Reverting back to original parenting strategies puts the parent back in her “comfort zone” again (or should I say “discomfort zone”?), but the huge benefits associated with positive change are never realized.

Re: “Do we forbid her from spending time with her friend?”

No …otherwise, your daughter will feel betrayed and may never divulge information about her friends ever again. Reward her for telling the truth by saying something like, “We appreciate that you told us the truth about your friend …and we know you will be truthful about your friends -- and their possible drug use -- in the future. Since you’re honest, we trust you to see your friend.”

Do you really have all this trust in your daughter? No, of course not …but she will live up to – or down to – your expectations of her.


Do you think this is just jealousy...?

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your email, I am a single mum with two daughters aged 9 and 11 (nearly 12). They spend every second weekend with their father and he treats them well but he refuses to communicate with me in any way whatsoever which can cause problems obviously.

I have a very good relationship with both of them but the eldest in particular has always been very strong willed and often appears very angry. It is difficult to get her to identify her anger and sometimes it can get out of control.

They have had a particularly difficult time over the last year or two with the break up. It was a particularly traumatic breakup and they witnessed some truly awful stuff when their father was trying to get me to move out of the house by intimidation and other methods for which there is now a police prosecution pending. Eventually he was made to leave the home by the courts.

As part of my 'parenting schedule' I take each of them out individually once a month for some ‘one-on-one’ time alone with them. It was my youngest daughters turn this week, and the older girl was going to spend the afternoon with her friend (supervised by her friend’s mum of course). When I picked the girls up from school however the older daughter was in very bad form and was being very difficult so much so I was concerned something had happened in school. When I approached her she got very angry with me … shouting, and so on. She was crying and shouting quite a bit and then refused to go to her friends house.

I told her that she was spoiling my special time with her younger sister and she got her time too so that was unfair. In fact her younger sister was very upset too as she thought our afternoon together would have to be cancelled. Eventually I persuaded her to go to her friends but with difficulty and I was really quite angry with her for spoiling the afternoon. I work part-time so I am with both of them every day after school but still think it’s important to have some individual time with them also.

Do you think this is just jealousy? She really can be very difficult. Should I have actually 'Punished' her for her behavior??

This probably sounds very trivial a problem but her mood swings can be very difficult to handle and very upsetting also. I also worry about her anger which seems mainly directed at me but can also be directed towards her sister and can at time spill over to her friends also.

Thank you for your time,



Hi J.,

Going on what you’ve told me, it does sound like jealousy [with a touch of sibling rivalry] since she refused to go to her friend's house. In these cases, reassurance from the parent is much more effective than punishment.

I also like the idea of ‘one-on-one’ time with each daughter. An even better scenario would be if you could add time with the both of them (‘one-on-two’ time). There’s an added element of mother-daughter bonding that occurs in a threesome (i.e., the whole family spending time together) that would not occur otherwise.

She Will Probably Make It A Disaster


>>>>>>>>>>I can see that you are really trying, and I am very happy to take time to respond to ‘well-thought-out’ questions such as these. Please see below:

Hi Mark, thanks for your explanation. I have a couple more questions and whenever you can get back to me is fine--I appreciate the guidance.

We as a family need her to leave this summer, shortly after graduation and she also has expressed the desire to leave as well. So she is leaving cause it isn't working for either of us any longer. She doesn't want to live in a dorm, she doesn't have many friends that are going to be around here for college--so no roommates and she doesn't want a studio apartment. She pretty much has eliminated everything that is an option. I want to rent her a room that is next to the college and I think that would fit her needs financially and ours. I am not sure she will go for that either, so how do you go about making this smoothly when your teenager won't discuss an apartment on her own, or a dorm? She is 3 months from graduating.

>>>>>>>>>> Ask her what she DOES want …if you can’t make that work (whatever it is that she comes up with) on your end -- financially or otherwise -- then she’ll simply have to settle for what she gets. WHEN she has a temper tantrum (because she’s not getting her way), put on your poker face …say I’m not going to argue …walk away …leave the house if you have to …anything. BUT DO NOT ENGAGE IN ANY POWER STRUGGLES OVER THIS.

>>>>>>>>>> Allow me to repeat this: (1) Tell her what you can and cannot do to help with college preparations, (2) provide NO intensity when she starts to bitch, moan, groan, whine and complain, (3) take a time-out away from her if you have to. (I can see that you are allowing her to keep you in a constant state of anxiety over this issue – she’s good!)

I am interested in preserving the relationship as much as possible, and I do understand your thoughts there, but this is not a loving child, she is hateful and resentful right now and has been for 2 years! I understand this will change, but how do you be loving and kind to your child when they are mean 24/7?

>>>>>>>>>You don’t …where did you hear me say anything about being “loving and kind”? However, I did say that “in remembering their own experience, parents next have to consider the experience they want to provide their son or daughter.” If this doesn’t include “love and kindness” – so be it.

It is beyond me. If I would have treated my mom like that, I would of been kicked out on my ear with no discussion. Additionally, since I have been applying your suggestions, it has gotten a little worse. You said to expect this, but it has been hard. She isn’t in any danger of running away, but getting her to move out is not going to be a small feat? And she will probably make it a disaster, not us. So what do you do there?

>>>>>>>>> If she wants to “make it a disaster,” that’s her choice – you don’t have to participate in her disaster.

>>>>>>>>>I can’t make you spit …I can’t make you stand on your head …I can’t make you mad …I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. In the same way, your daughter cannot recruit you as a participant in her “disaster” if you choose not too.

I just don’t know how to preserve something more than I already am! I am not trying to blame, but I just don't know how to handle this.

Additionally I didn't see that the oral contract wasn't applied to teenagers--I must of missed that in my readings--so how to you suggest we go about this, since we can't even talk to her about anything without a problem arising. Not one thing! Even day-to-day stuff is a bear to get through. I want to set a date with her and thanks for the feedback that this is should I just say, we need you to move out on July 1st, letting you know now, and this is what we can afford to do to help you!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes …and please don’t make it anymore complicated than this!

One last thing--how do I get the sarcasm to stop. I have used some of your one liners and I have to say those are nice, cause she always is smarting off--but it seems when I use some of them she just has another one of top of it and when I leave rooms, she keeps going--what should I do here. I have an 11 year old that is suffering with it and is actually scared of her sister.

>>>>>>>>>> I’m glad you asked, because this gives me an opportunity to clarify the sarcasm thing. For those who don’t know, in the eBook I provide some one-liners you can deliver to your teenager, for example:

· And your crybaby, whiny opinion would be...?
· Do I look like a damn people person?
· Sarcasm is just one more service I offer.
· Does your train of thought have a caboose?

…and so on. But these comments should be used only when “things are going right” rather than as a weapon against a smart-mouthed daughter during those times that “things are going wrong.” These one-liners are great to use when you’re searching for some comedy-relief …when you are in a playful in spirit …and when your kid knows you are teasing -- but then and only then. (Thanks P. for providing me with an opportunity to clarify.)

Thanks again for your advice, I am really trying.


We are do we get her out this summer...

Hi P.,

>>>>>>>>>>> I’ve responded throughout your text below:

Hello--I did post in the parent forum, but no one has responded, but I will keep reading all the posts, for I am sure they will be beneficial.

>>>>>>>>>>> I'm glad you brought this up! Parent Forum is where parents respond to one another; however, most posts do not get a response. I wish members of Online Parent Support would spend more time in Parent Forum and respond/support each other. Note: Posts have to go through a review process by staff before they are posted (usually takes 24 hours).

>>>>>>>>> Emailing, as you did, is the best way to get a response from me. I post these emails (without individual’s names of course) in the Online Parent Support blog (blog name is ‘Emails From Parents’). However, I tend not to respond to very general questions such as “How do I get my child to behave” …or “How can I teach my child to show more respect” …or “My child has a terrible attitude – HELP!” …and so on.

>>>>>>>>>I figure that if parents are too cheap to spend 20 bucks on their kid …or too lazy to read the eBook, my time is better spent with those parents who (a) actually want to work the program, and (b) are not looking for the “easy way out.”

I read the whole E-book and found it very beneficial in dealing with day-to-day interactions, but I had already tried the verbal contract of respectful conversation and that doesn't work.

>>>>>>>>The strategy you’re referring to here is for younger children, not older teens (I mentioned that in the eBook).

I always have to end the conversation cause she won't stick to being respectful. She is sarcastic 100% of the time and seems to enjoy getting any sort of rise out of me--so I used to really be hurt over the things she says, but now I am numb to it all and I just leave the conversation when she starts. I don't engage unless I absolutely have to with her, which is usually over her chore list. It is difficult to get her to return to any subject, cause she just won't, but I have found ways to get my point across by just being direct, and quick and she usually walks off saying stuff, but I think she hears it then. Nothing else works. I have told her that if she cusses at me one more time she will have to leave this home--I can't and won't tolerate the F word around my 11 year old.

I do see some parenting mistakes in that we allowed too much freedom her senior year, and that we let her out of some consequences when she was younger by saying she was sorry, but we didn't do that with all things. She said that is all she needed was more freedom and things would be better, well things didn't get better. My husband and I mainly caved because she got her grandmother involved and the whole thing just got so ridiculous that we decided she could be out as much as she wants as long as she is home by 2:00 a.m. but in all honesty she is home most of the week. She only goes out about 2-3 days a week, now that her boyfriend has put the breaks on their relationship. But before it was every night. Thank heavens he put a break on it, otherwise she would be gone all the time. I used to really care what others thought, including her grandma, but now I don't and I think her grandmother was completely out of line and I think made things much worse for all of us. I wish I knew what I know now then, cause it would of helped me navigate through all that mess much better.

My questions that I have really weren't answered in the e-book, so I have to ask them. She is graduating from high school soon, in 3 months. My husband and I desperately want her to move out this summer. I know that isn't going to come easy. I want to know how to go about this. She will be starting the university and things will be tight for her. But I no longer think this is my problem, since she makes living here a real difficult task. It doesn't bother me that she hates us right now and thinks she knows everything, but the tension of her being here is wearing. So help me with this. How do we go about this?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>I’ll respond to this question at the end of this email (see below).

In addition she is starting the University. I did tell her that we don't have the funds for the University, but do for a community college. We make a decent living, I am a nurse and my husband works for Fed-Ex, but that isn’t enough to put her through a college that would cost me an additional $1000.00 a month to support. I have agreed to help her with some extra expenses now and again, but that is it. The university says there are loans she can take out and she has applied, but I don't want to sign for them for her to get them? Is that wrong?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> No …it’s not “wrong” …this is a personal decision you make that will have both advantages and disadvantages.

I don’t want to be responsible for her debt in any way. I think she is a bright girl and I think she will make something of herself, but I could see her flaking out on that part of paying, cause she is flaky now with it and then I think she smokes pot as well with her pot head friends and that is concerning of where that is going for her future.

My husband and I can manage the next few months I think, but once the summer gets here, I don't want to be obligated anymore and that is plainly all I feel right now. I love her and always will, but she has snatched the penny from the hand with lack of a better word. She is constantly sarcastic and mean to her younger sister, mainly with emotional abandonment and sarcasm. We are exhausted.

So question--how do we get her out this summer--she has a job--would it be feasible to set a date?

>>>>>>>>> It’s more than feasible – it should be a requirement.

In addition she is seeing our old counselor. He is a psychologist and a nice guy--but he doesn't think the pot smoking is something to be real concerned about. He actually told her that he smoked pot all through college and he had no problem with it and doesn't think it is addicting. I totally disagree in every way--what do you think about this? Is this okay for him to do?

>>>>>>>> Is this o.k.? I don’t know. Is it a “real concern”? It would be if your daughter got busted with a bag of weed by the cops – she’d go to jail, and it will cost her a lot of money (court costs, attorney fees, etc.).

We went to a counseling session with her which was a total mistake, she just blasted us the whole time and being the type of counselor he is, he just sat there and then later told us to have stronger personal boundaries with her that she is just a middle class rebellious kid. I know that is true, but I thought he would make more of the drinking we discovered and the pot. I told her that she isn't allowed to do any of that in my home and we turned over her car to her and her insurance that way she can be responsible for that.

Any direction would be great--thanks again

Signed all out of answers--ha.ha.. P.

>>>>>>>>>> With all the attention on where your kids are going, little may have been said about where they are leaving. Parents would do well to remember their first experience of leaving home. For many it came easily, but for some it was accompanied by stress and for others conflict. In remembering their own experience, parents next have to consider the experience they want to provide their son or daughter.

This experience of leaving home is important psychologically for children, now young adults, and parents alike. The experience can set the tone for the next stage of family development, adult-to-adult relationship with your child. Remember, they will likely be married some day and you will want to see your grandchildren.

After managing their child through adolescence, parents are faced with the fact that their child is a young adult. Long gone are the days of parental authority. Coming to terms with this fact lies at the heart of the leaving home experience and can impact on your son or daughters sense of adult security and your future relationship together.

Perhaps it is not so much that the parents must reassure their children that they will be all right, but that the parents must reassure themselves and not let their concerns impede the children’s departure. Just let ‘em launch and do not try to cram in all the lessons left untaught. Some lessons are only gained by leaving home.

For a better leaving home experience consider these suggestions:

1. Talk with your daughter about her feelings of leaving home.
2. Reminisce with her about her growing up and the pleasures you have had along the way. Marvel at her growth and accomplishments and your anticipation of future accomplishments.
3. Plan well for the departure so the actual moment isn’t fraught with last minute errands or conflicts. Offer your help and be prepared to stand back -- or jump in – only as requested or discussed. Your hand is no longer attached to the bicycle seat and you have to let go now again.

If you follow these suggestions you will experience a smoother transition to an adult relationship with your daughter. This kind of experience can repair past conflicts with her and improve the odds of having a great relationship as adults.

As parents, we are so use to telling our children what to do. To prepare for his leaving however, we must begin to ask them what they think they should do. Let me warn you, our kids’ thinking is very different from ours. I admit that I had to literally press my lips tightly to keep my opinions out of it. Coaching your children to think through things and come up with their own solutions is critical to their exodus.

It's important to distinguish between two types of exodus: (1) moving toward another support system, or (2) simply running away from home with an eye toward escape. The former can be a very positive experience for an adolescent; the latter is much more likely to be terrifying and self-destructive.

It's common for adolescents to look for ways to explore who they are and to see how they fit into the world. The timing may reflect biological changes in their brains, for they can now think differently than they did only a year or two earlier. They can readily imagine new solutions to problems or different approaches to challenging situations. Their world is no longer black-and-white, but a complex mosaic of grays. An explosion in the possibilities they can envision for their lives calls them to reexamine their sense of identity and who they might become. They can picture themselves, often for the first time, as independent from their parents.

For many, spending time away from their immediate families is a normal and appropriate way of testing their new ways of thinking and of forming relationships. These children are very different from runaways, whose dramatic actions often point to serious underlying emotional problems for them or their families.

One way of differentiating the two is to ask yourself why the adolescent is leaving home. Is she running away from issues such as how she should deal with authority, or is this a mature decision to move out because she needs a different environment at that moment in order to grow emotionally?


I really want my child back...

Hi Mark,

As you may remember, my son has been at his dad's for over a week. His Dad has told me that he's doing well, says he's not doing pot anymore, catching up on homework etc. The mom in me is happy about that however am wondering how this could happen so quickly. Could dad be falling for a line of crap? I miss him terribly and am very hurt that all this has happened, I really want my child back, happy and healthy; in your experience, has the relationship with a parent and child ever been mended? I'm so afraid I've lost him forever.

I know I have to work on myself and gain respect. This is all SO hard.



Hi T.,

Re: Could dad be falling for a line of crap?
==> Probably.

Re: In your experience, has the relationship with a parent and child ever been mended?
==> I’ve lost track of the number of incidences similar to yours. It usually goes like this:

· 18-year-old has been over-indulged most of his life
· 18-year-old moves out – or is kicked out – after a terrible ugly scene
· 18-year-old goes several months without any contact with parent due to a bad case of resentment flu
· After 3 – 12 months, the now young adult has recovered from his resentment flu and has gained some knowledge of how the “real” world operates (for the first time in his life)
· By virtue of (a) time away from the parent and (b) emotional maturation (i.e., the emergence of personal and behavioral characteristics through growth processes), the young adult returns to the parent-child relationship in the emotional and communicational sense (he sometimes returns physically – living with the parent again – in those cases where he was unable to function independently; a failure to launch)

Things are never as BAD as they seem, so don’t adopt the mistaken belief that you will never have a relationship with your son again.

Also, things are never as GOOD as they seem, so don’t be surprised if you get a call from your son’s dad regarding problems with your son (although, it’s very possible that your son’s dad will cover-up any difficulties in order to (a) “save face” and (b) “give the impression” that he can do a better job parenting).


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