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

Husband is a Skeptic .

Hi Mark,

I have written to you about my daughter. I have read your book and listened to the audio. I tried to get my husband to listen one night, we only got through a couple of chapters. We haven't had the time (or he hasn't mentioned it again), to finish it. I can tell he is a little skeptical of the techniques (picking battles and letting things "slide"). I have tried telling him what it is all about and he seems open to listening but like I said has not pursued listening to the rest of it.

Anyway, an argument broke out last night because of her attitude and being disrespectful to her stepbrother (his son). She ended up say the "F" word several times. This word has been "slipping" out of her mouth a lot lately. I have chosen to ignore it most of the time, she is usually yelling it as she walks away (which walking away is progress for her). He does not understand this and refuses to let her talk that way, he yells at her and makes threats. He told me last night he is just fed up and cannot and will not allow her to talk that way in his house. I don't think he understands why I blow it off and probably thinks I am not handling things the right way.

I have tried to put other techniques in to play and she seems to be responding a little, which is a good thing. She has controlled her anger for the most part during our arguments. I feel this is progress. I don’t' think he understands or thinks there is ANY progress going on.

How should I get him to have a more open mind to listen and understand the concept of this book?



This problem comes up quite frequently (i.e., husband not really interested in doing anything differently). The best solution I found for this was actually not my idea at all.

One mother (going through the same problem as you) played the audio CDs of the eBook each time she and her husband were in the car together. I think she kinda brainwashed him a bit. You know ...the more you listen to something, the more you unconsciously start implementing what you heard.

This is a way for him to experience some of the material without having to really do anything (no reading, no sitting at the computer).

In the car, he's a captive audience. Give it a try.

You can get the CDs here ==> Audio CDs


Out of Control Teens

Hi Mark,

I'm the step-father of two teenage boys, ages 17 and 15. Their mom and I have been married for 5 years. Both boys decided that they weren't interested in academics (duh) and began failing their classes. We pulled them from public school and put then into on-line school. Even with the reduced studying demands they continue to perform poorly.

A___ routinely ignores his curfew and C___ has a significant problem with truthfulness. Both are in trouble with the authorities. I have 3 court dates this month alone. His mom and I have been working on the 3-day-grounding rule, but even that gets ignored.

We need to have some sort of significant wake-up call that doesn't alienate them. I told their mom that a few days or months behind bars might be just what they need -- she's concerned that they'll just increase in their poor behavioral choices.

Any suggestions?


Hi S.,

You’ve raised 5 issues: poor academic performance, curfew violation, lying, legal difficulties, and refusing to accept consequences.

1. Re: Poor academic performance—Please refer to my recommendation on the webpage entitled “Emails From Exasperated Parents” (online version of the eBook).

2. Re: Curfew violation—If your son is required to be home by a particular time and he does not come home, then he is considered to be a ‘runaway.’ File a ‘runaway complaint’ with police as well as juvenile probation.

3. Re: Lying—Please refer to “When Your Kid Lies” (online version of the eBook).

4. Re: Legal difficulties—I’m glad you are getting assistance from Juvenile Court. This will be a good thing. I’d rather your sons experience some mild, short-term pain now (in the form of probation) rather than a lot of major, long-term pain later (possibly in the form of adult jail – or worse yet, prison).

5. Re: Refusing to accept consequences—Again, if a child is unwilling to accept consequences for misbehavior, the parent has to be willing to enlist the help of an outsider (i.e., probation).


I am so fed up?

Hello mark--

Just a question of how to handle something!! My oldest daughter, who is 18, ready to graduate next week, I have wrote to you many times about, LOL!! …anyways, we went on vacation and she was left at home and I requested no parties at my house and no alcohol to be brought into the house. We got home yesterday and it is obvious that there was a party, empty containers, she says aren't hers and that she had a friend over that may have left it there?

What should we do??? I am so fed up?



Unfortunately, you don’t have any evidence that she is NOT telling the truth. Thus, I don’t think you can legitimately issue a consequence.


F$%k You

Good afternoon Mark,

I am a new addition to your website and have purchased and downloaded your information. I haven't read through the materials yet, but wanted to ask your opinion on the situation going on in my household. I am at a loss at what to do.

My 17 year old son and I have always gotten along and he's always been very honest with me. Earlier this year he had started using marijuana, and had tried a handful of other drugs. He told me about this on his own. I told him I did not approve of his use, but appreciated his honesty with me. He and I have since had various conversations about his drug use, and my wish for him to stop. I have never punished him for what he has told me, because I thought that would result in him not telling me anything.

Well, in late March he was caught at school with a very small amount of pot (I know, any amount is to much). He was suspended from school for three weeks. We got through that, and he's back at school - with the condition by the school that he see a counselor. Well - everything "seemed" to be going okay, although, he was spending more and more time with his friends. He'd go with them after school, but would always be home by curfew (10:00pm). Well, last Wednesday he had a counselor appt. in the evening. I called him to be sure he was going to be home in time for us to leave and he informed me he was not going. I told him it was not optional and we went back and forth, back and forth. I finally told him if he did not go, the consequence was loss of use of my car. He said he didn't care and then said 'f$%k you' to me, and hung up!! This came as a complete shock to me, as he and I had no conflict going on between us. I'm still not sure what I did to possibly be on the receiving end of that.

After he hung up on me, I messaged him reminding him the consequence for disrespect was having his cell phone turned off (I've done this before - but not in months). His response was "if you want to be that way, good luck getting me to come home". Well, seeing that was the consequence of disrespect, I had his phone shut off. He called me later from his friends phone, just to say 'f$%k you" to me again.

He did come home and then missed the bus both Thursday and Friday to school - so, I had to drive him....which made me late for work. When I asked him to please hurry, his response was 'f$%k you'. Thursday we drove in silence. Friday I tried talking to him - but it became an angry conversation. When he got out of my car, he slammed the door and threw his cup of coffee down the side of it.

This morning, again, he would not get out of bed in time to catch the bus. After my fourth attempt to wake him, he said if I'd leave him the f#$$ alone, he would get up. So, I left him alone. The bus came and went. I decided I would not be late for work again, so, I left. As far as I know, he's still asleep.

I'm at a loss. He has so much anger towards just me....but, I really have no clue why I've been singled out here. I know he is angry that I turned off the phone - but he seems to forget his actions caused that outcome. I don't know what caused his initial anger that resulted in the phone being turned off, now I don't know what to do to get past this. I'm afraid to talk to him, because he gets so angry. I don't want him to think he can walk all over me, so I will not turn the phone on until he and I can resolve this.

How do other parents talk to their disrespectful teen when anger becomes an issue? He has both a father and stepfather - but both of them have washed their hands of him. I have not washed my hands of him and never will - but feel very much like a single parent here.

Any advice and/or input to my situation would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you so much for your time (sorry this is so long!),



Hi D.,

I need you to do me a really big favor! Since you are a new member of Online Parent Support—and since most of what you’re going through is addressed in the eBook, would you be willing to digest most of the material (read as well as listen), and then email me again with a specific question. Please pay particular attention to the Anger Management chapter of the ONLINE version of the eBook. I think that chapter will be the most relevant to your case at this point.

Thank you. I’ll wait to hear back.


She was picked up by the police...


We are beside ourselves. Our daughter, and I am a stepmother to her, so she doesn't feel that I have a place in her life except that I am married to her dad. She lives with us. Although she hates coming home because it is so far away from her friends. She takes off, has her friends pick her up from here even when we tell her she is a "runaway". She stays out at friends' homes for days without telling us where she is. Her favorite saying is "f... y..". She is disrespectful to her dad.

She was picked up by the police this weekend because she was in a car with a friend who had a gun and drugs. We don't know what to do with her. We are considering sending her to a camp for troubled teens. Can you please provide us with some advise? If we say white, she says black. If we say left, she says right. It doesn't matter what our approach is, she always contradicts it. We are definitely in trouble here and need advise. We believe she is on the wrong road and fear for her. We have taken away her car and driving privileges until she can prove to us she is responsible. She is getting A's and B's in school and attending school. She is a good kid, but headed in a very bad way with the wrong crowd. Let us know how we can approach her positively. THANK YOU.

A. & P.


If she is running away periodically -- for days at a time -- and running with peers who possess guns and drugs, then you should go to your local juvenile probation department and file a complaint. Once on probation, she will be referred to services that her probation officer deems appropriate (e.g., home-based counseling, anger management classes, etc.). I’m concerned that it has come to the point where you need some outside assistance – otherwise, you’ll continue to spin your wheels and make no headway.

I’m guessing that you and your husband will either choose to involve her in the juvenile justice system now, or she will become involved later by default. I’d rather she experience some mild, short-term pain now (in the form of probation) rather than a lot of major, long-term pain later.

You’ll want to start using the strategies in the eBook too, because she won’t be on probation forever. And you won’t want to start all over again once probation closes her case.


She lies ALL the time...

My daughter is 14 and she lies ALL the time. Back in March my cell phone was lost. I looked for a week and she even helped me look for it. I had convinced myself it had fallen out of my purse and into my trash in my van and I had thrown it away. In the mean time I bought a new cell phone at $300 because my contract was not up.

On mothers day we had taken my parents out for ice cream. I specifically remember putting my phone in my purse in its holder. Well my daughter had gotten into trouble earlier that day. She had gotten a phone call and my husband had told her she had 5 minutes on the phone. She used her 5 minutes and he asked her to get off the phone (land line). Well she decided she needed to get something out of the living quarters of our horse trailer. She put her heavy coat on and just as sweet as pie goes past my husband just a talking up a storm. Which is VERY unusual right now because we are not anything she wants to talk to OR hang out with.

Needless to say my husband got suspicious, came and asked me if I had my cell phone. I told him, "No, it's in the hold in my purse." He said, "Oh no it's not." Well as she was outside, he snuck outside and listened to her talking. When he opened the door to the trailer she closed the phone and put her iPod in her ear. She hid the phone in the trailer in a cabinet.

My husband and I both knew she had it, so I told her give me your iPod and when you decide to give my phone I will give you your iPod. She swore up and down she did not have the phone. She just said she was singing to her iPod. While we were looking for the "new $300 phone" we found my old phone between her mattresses. It took 10 days, and a field trip for school, but she did give me my phone back. I told her it took you ten days to tell me the truth so I believe it should take 10 days to get your iPod back. Is this fair?

I told her she WILL pay me back the $300 dollars because I should have never had to buy the phone in the first place. She is going to work this summer so I figure she can give me half of what she makes and she can keep half until I am paid back.

I have told her from the beginning you will NEVER get into as much trouble if you will be honest with me. She has just started this lying since she turned 13. I have always told her I will back her if she tells me the truth but I must have the truth. I am getting to where I am not sure I know when she tells me the truth. I don't like that!

The other part I don't like with this whole deal is she doesn't think she did ANYTHING wrong -- that it is my fault. She thinks since she told me the truth 10 days later she should not have any punishment. Her punishment is 10 days of no computer, limited phone calls and no friends over or her not going to their house either. She does seem to blame others for her mistakes A LOT. I do not like that and would like help with that.

How do you explain to put blame where blame is due? She blamed a teacher for her bad grade in science when she didn't study??? Then told me the teacher is just a bad teacher and no one at school likes the teacher. My daughter seems lazy when it comes to school and her studies.

Thanks for your time,



Re: I told her it took you ten days to tell me the truth so I believe it should take 10 days to get your iPod back. Is this fair?

=> Sounds right to me.

Re: How do you explain to put blame where blame is due?

=> I wouldn’t spend any time ‘explaining’. She’s going to blame others for her mistakes and misbehavior. Simply issue the consequence for misbehavior – no explaining.

Intense, out of control kids try to convince the mother that the father is mean …they try to convince the parent that the teachers are unfair …they try to convince the teachers that the parents are abusive …and so on. This behavior just comes with the territory. Simply do not ‘buy in’ to her statements that “it’s someone else’s fault.”

Also, do NOT believe a word your daughter says. You have been deceived more than you’ll ever know. Verify EVERYTHING.


The Mom From Hell?


Thanks so much for responding so quickly, and for the validation. I'd been feeling like the Mom from Hell, and seeing "there you go doubting yourself again" made me find some humor in the situation (that has been a hard part of the assignment)!

It's good to hear that I didn't do anything wrong with her friends. I had lost perspective - there's no law against what I did. You won't be surprised to hear that there was no phone call from the school. Actually, I doubted that they complained at all - if they could put two brain cells together, they'd figure out that, if anyone from the school asked why I did it, they would hear about underage drinking and pot smoking and sexual activity on prom night between 18 year olds and minors. Not what they wanted!

The counselor isn't falling for her tantrums - she just said what you did, keep an eye on her [queen]. Next time, I'll do like I did with toddler tantrums, let it run its course and not respond. I see now my most frequent mistake has been getting pulled into it when she goes off. Even Grandma called her a drama queen - she talked calmly to the counselor and to Grandma, but when she sees me, she screams and cries and it's like the end of her world.

What exactly would happen if I did file a battery charge? Have to admit I'm afraid to get the courts involved. But maybe saying that as a warning would work?

>>>>>>>> I wouldn't 'warn' if you're not willing to follow through with the consequence. Your job is to prepare your daughter for the 'real world'. In the real world, one cannot smack another individual out of frustration without legal difficulties. For you to withhold a negative consequence after she smacks you is to send the wrong message about domestic violence -- a message that may cost her dearly in the future with other relationships. We, as parents, do our children a great disfavor by protecting them from painful emotions and negative consequences when they make a poor choice.

I think she does want to be stopped. When I told her grounded or ungrounded, she is not going to go off with these older "friends" I don't know, she didn't argue (maybe she was exhausted).

Another question: I'd been planning on going away for a week to grade AP essays (ETS pays well, and going would be like a vacation) and leaving her with Grandma. But with all the drama now, I'm wondering if I should withdraw because of family emergency. What do you think?

>>>>>>>> For only a week? I think it would be O.K. to go. This will be a great opportunity for the two of you to take a time out from one another. Plus, you'll be able to come back home with a fresh perspective on how to continue the good parenting-changes you have undertaken.


The Truth About Free Government Grants

Hi Mark,

You provide some 'gov grants' info on your site. How realistic is it for a single mom, for example, to actually receive a free grant?


It all depends on what kind of grant you're looking for and whether or not you represent a non-profit organization.

Free government grants are funded in one of two ways: (a) the money comes from the taxes we pay and (b) from private foundations that must give five percent of their assets to stay tax-exempt.

Gurus, companies, and others out to make a quick dollar will try to reel you in and get you to buy their information on free grants. This information is already free and readily available to the public. Do NOT pay to receive this information.

While the government does give farming, housing, business, college, education, and house building grants, these grants are given to non-profit organizations that help people -- they are not given to individuals. An individual grant is more likely to involve food stamp programs, section 8 vouchers, FAFSA, job training, nursing traineeships, Head Start program, welfare/TANF/AFDC, scholarships, free vaccinations, and other such programs. Grants to individuals are most often given for educational support (i.e., financial aid), the arts, and various types of scientific or other research, although some agencies award grants to individuals for other purposes.

Grants require you to fill out forms, generally on a quarterly basis, that tell how much money you have spent and what you have spent it on, as well as how you are progressing on the work you promised to do.

Even though many publications and talk shows publicize grants to small businesses, there is only one grant available -- and that is for research and development for technology based products and services for the government. Government grants are generally given to non-profit organizations for programs and services that benefit the community or the public at large.

Unless your business involves the development of new technology or is a non-profit organization, you will be wasting your time looking for a grant. If you are looking for funding for an existing or new for-profit business, you WILL encounter difficulties in finding and getting grant funding. The U.S. government does not currently provide grants for starting or expanding a small business. However, the government does offer plenty of free help in planning how to start or improve your business and in securing low-interest SBA-backed small business loans. Also, many States DO offer small business grants to individuals.

Women have the largest opportunity of any group to benefit from the government’s generosity. In spite of the perception that women should not look to the government for help, government grants have remained so incredibly huge that if each of the approximately 8 million businesses applied for an equal share, they would each receive over $70,000 in free grant money.

You will find many diverse educational grant programs in FREE databases, directories and resources. Here's a partial listing of all the free government grants and scholarships currently available:

·$30,000 in available for students who want to become teachers
·$6000 plus tuition and fees for teachers to return and get a graduate degree
·$7500 a year for undergraduate or graduate students in health, science, or mathematics
·Free Government Grants for dependents of veterans killed or disabled in military service
·Free Government Grants for flight training
·Free Government Grants for graduate training in family medicine
·Free Government Grants for health care students who want to train in rural areas
·Free Government Grants for undergraduate and graduate students who have trouble paying tuition
·Free Government Grants to states to give scholarships to those who want to serve the community
·Free Government Grants to train to be a professional nurse
·Free tuition to children of law enforcement and firefighters killed in the line of duty
·Free tuition to white students who want to attend black colleges
·Health professionals student loans
·Money for American Indians who want to be health care professionals
·Money for health care students who want to study job safety and health
·Money for health professionals who want to be in public health
·Money for high school students in the top 15% of their class
·Money for students and teachers to travel and study overseas
·Money for students who want to become bilingual education teachers
·Nursing student loans
·Scholarships and money to repay loans of disadvantaged health professionals
·Scholarships for National Health Service Corp
·Scholarships for students in child development
·Scholarships for students in exceptional financial need
·Tuition, books and fees to Vietnam Vets


Online Parent Support

He Doesn't Care

Dear Mark,

Just committing to your rules but finding it difficult in this area:

I have grounded my child for three days, he doesn’t care, walks out the house. I ground him when he comes home. Doesn’t care and doesn’t do the grounding. So I disciplined him for 3 days, no unsupervised TV, no music in his room. Doesn’t care and doesn’t care – his attitude is beginning to drive me crazy. Very insolent, but I have managed to keep my temper (so far).

He is caught up with this girl who has no rules whatsoever in her home, both parents working full time and little supervision. She comes from a very argumentative home and she relays how unhappy she is at home and she wants to run away. My child is an immature young fella (13) at the best of times, but he is listening so closely to her and bringing her attitude right back. She has him hooked.

What should I do?!!!!

Thanking you loads in advance,



The recommendation will depend on where you live. For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume you live in the U.S. (if not, email me again, and we’ll come up with plan B).

In those cases where the child simply refuses to accept a consequence, the parent will either (a) have to get some outside assistance from juvenile probation, or (b) continue to spin her wheels.

So, as difficult as it may be, tell your son that if he refuses to complete the 3-day-discipline, you will call the police so they can make a 'runaway' report – AND you will go to juvenile probation to file a complaint.


Mom Hits Homerun

An update before you answer -- thanks to eBlaster, I found out that she is planning on vomiting at school, going to the nurse, getting dismissed, and saying "my mom's at work, here is my brother's number" and giving the boyfriend's cell. (She doesn't have a brother). I called the school to make sure that I or the three others on my list are the only people she can be released to, and that they call no other numbers.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> This is a great example of the ‘detective work’ that I wish more parents would engage in ongoing.

>>>>>>>> So are you saying I should be a snoop?

>>>>>>>> YES …YES …and YES! Parents of ‘out of control’ teens have been deceived and tricked more than they’ll ever know. DO NOT believe ANYTHING your kid tells you (as in 0%). Verify EVERYTHING – and snoop.

Do you think I should print out and send the laws regarding carnal knowledge of a minor 19 and 15 year olds to the boyfriend?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Absolutely …great idea. You’re thinkin’ on your feet now lady.

A common misconception in this state is that 15 is the age of consent - it's not, but it is the age where it becomes a misdemeanor rather than a felony requiring registration
as a sex offender. But I'd already told her that I would not press charges.

>>>>>>>>> Then you use these 4 little words: “I changed my mind.”

She violated the internet and bedtime rules last night (was up till 2am because, instead of doing her research project, she was socializing on myspace). I'll start with the least restrictive consequence - no internet for one day - but most likely she will defy it, in which case she's grounded for 3 days and the computer gets stashed at a friend's house.

>>>>>>>>>>> You are really ‘on track’. I am so proud of you. Thank you for being such a great student. Keep it going.

On a lighter note, she's asking for a car for Christmas (which of course she can't drive, having just turned 15). She said the boyfriend could drive it. I said that's ridiculous.



Mom is a Sadistic Bitch?


Thanks for your responses.

Re: the boyfriend - things changed quickly in a short time. He broke up with her (he said because she told him she was 15 when she hadn't turned 15 yet), and she was devastated, then they "made up" and are "friends" – but from monitoring her myspace, I found out that what she has in mind is "friends with benefits". So I'm going to continue with the restrictions you suggested.

But I wondered about allowing her to go to his house, since I found out that his parents provide no supervision (or aren't there at all), and they have done everything short of having sex there. She refuses to bring him here, or to have me drive her to Subway to meet him.

So given the choice of seeing him with my restrictions, or not at all, she hasn't been seeing him. She is enraged over that and announces that she will sneak off and see him anyway. What do I do if this happens, besides 3 days discipline? She says that if I call the police and report her as a runaway, she will kill herself.

>>>>>>>>>>>> I’d tell her that she’ll choose the 3-day discipline if she chooses to ‘sneak off’. Then if she sneaks off, follow through with the discipline with the caveat that if it happens a second time, the police will be called and runaway charges will be filed. Do not get sidetracked with threats of suicide (keep an eye on her though).

The other problem I'm going through is with her yelling and cursing and saying things that really, really hurt. A couple of times I've slipped up this past week and yelled at her - I did after she got off restriction and immediately refused to get off the computer again.

She knows how to push my buttons: "You're not my mother" …"I hate you with every fiber of my being" …"You murderer. You destroyed a human being. Some day you will have a dead daughter."

One of her favorites: "When I turn 18 and join the army I will have nothing to do with you" (I think she has every intention of carrying that out – but then again, she could be saying this because she knows that would hurt me more than anything)

Those hurt more than calling me "sadistic bitch", "fucking whore", "Nazi mom", "billy bad ass" (very sarcastically, when I told her that if she doesn't get off the internet, she loses it tomorrow).

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I know these statements hurt, and I’m not asking you to not get angry or to not be hurt – but I am asking you to “act as if” you are unaffected. If you keep that poker face on, she will eventually stop (because there’s no payoff).

>>>>>>>>>> You could throw in the statement, “If you choose to call me a ‘bitch’ or any other name, you’ll choose the consequence (3-day discipline).” If she calls you a name at some point during the 3-day discipline, the 3 days starts over.

Several times she has threatened to jump out of the car into traffic. And she talks about specific suicide methods, like hanging herself and jumping off a 10 story building. I worry because her father is bipolar in addition to being an alcoholic. She says she is "numb" and "empty inside." And, thanks to monitoring software, I found out that she posted a suicide note on myspace in which she blames me and says she hates me with every fiber of her being, and that it is my fault.

She knows how to make me feel guilty - says I am a terrible mother and that I should not have had children, and I fear she may be right; not everyone is cut out for motherhood. And I feel guilty that, right now, I really do not like her very much.

>>>>>>>>>> Hold it lady. You’re letting your daughter “head-trip” you into doubting yourself. I’m glad to her you admit that you do not like your daughter right now. Now you’re gettin’ real (i.e., in touch with authentic feelings).

I do tell her I love her, but she says she doesn't believe me (it's true that I love her because she's my daughter, but I don't like the surly, defiant teenager she has become). And she says she cannot get along with me and that I destroyed my relationship with her.

Anything I can do besides the "poker face", following the rules for fair fighting, giving her more attention when I "catch her doing something right", and trying to take care of myself? (I'm finding it impossible to focus on my own work, which is what I know I need to do).

>>>>>>>>> Yes …there’s one more thing. You need to understand that your daughter is an expert manipulator (i.e., she’s full of shit). Are you taking this “mothering” thing too seriously? Are you taking her anger too personally?

>>>>>>>> Your new assignment is to find humor in ALL these situations – that’s right -- I said humor. If you feel you can’t do this right now, then “act as if” you find some humor in it.



Here's my 3-step process for "acting as if" I find humor in something:

Lack of nutrients and minerals could be causing bipolar disorder...

Mark, I had a client of mine bring me an article that you might find very interesting. I always view herbal type remedies with caution, but this one catches my eye. It was in ‘Canadian Living’, June issue about Empowerplus and bipolar disorder. If you go to you can read about what started Empowerplus and success stories.

Interesting enough I have 2 girls with PCOS which can lead to Type 2 bipolar, and I have a daughter who has developed signs of this. I also almost lost a 25 year old brother last year who they were treating for irritable bowel syndrome, which turned out to be colitis. He was told this runs in families and someone else in the family must have it.

What I get from this article is that lack of nutrients and minerals could be causing bipolar disorder in some individuals. When I look at my family history of possible bipolar with a family history of colitis... could there be a link. Wouldn't it be interesting to see our family history all along could be due to a lack of nutrients and minerals??

The article site ‘pigs’ are the origin for the idea for this product. We now know many of our diseases in the world start in chickens, pigs, etc. Also remember many years ago many of our ancestors used to live with these animals in the same household for survival. Could there be a link and then we've just passed it through generations???

Just an interesting subject to kindle over,


Online Parent Support

Adopted Daughter Problems

Dear Mark,

Right now I'm looking for a different kind of help. I've done foster care for years, approx. 17 years and have adopted 4 children and had 2 biological. We've had about 100 children go thru our house over the years and I thought I had dealt with almost everything until my latest challenge.

She is now 13 years old. She has been with us since she is a year old. Approx. 3 years ago she became very defiant, which has gotten worse and has even been physically reactive at times only to immediate family. She is very rude, sarcastic and enjoys annoying people and non-compliant with almost all rules. She does well at school, she's in accelerated classes and very athletic and talented.

I had her see a psychiatrist 2 1/2 years ago and he diagnosed her with ODD, depression, and attachment issues. He prescribed medicine for the depression and she did try 2 - 3 pills and then refused to take it because they made her feel funny. She was in counseling at that time which she totally manipulated. We stopped everything for a while because it was going nowhere.

It has escalated and in March she was admitted to a local behavioral unit for a few days after punching my husband in the back of her head with her fist when he told her not to do something and she went to do it anyway and he tried to stop her by taking away the poster board. That psychiatrist only diagnosed her with ODD and sent her home and wants her to start counseling again. We do have an appt. set up and are looking into wrap around services, but right now our house is like a time bomb and is very stressful to say the least.

I know ideally the best thing for her because of the attachment issues would be to remain at our house, but I'm not sure we will be able to do so. She has no desire to try and get along and comply with anyone in the house. My question is do you have any suggestions on effective treatment facilities should I need to look for one? I'm afraid she would only learn more negative behaviors in there and come home worse than when she went in. I'm also presently looking into boarding schools, but I'm afraid I won't be able to afford one. Do you know of any special scholarships for adopted children whom are having a difficult time?


Frustrated and heartbroken


Re: My question is do you have any suggestions on effective treatment facilities should I need to look for one?

I would recommend that you simply go to your local juvenile probation department and file a complaint. Once on probation, your daughter will be referred by probation to whatever services she needs (which may include placement).

Re: Do you know of any special scholarships for adopted children whom are having a difficult time?

According to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse's website – -- there is money available for students like your daughter. Some states including Florida, New Jersey, Maine, Texas, and Virginia have earmarked scholarship programs for children adopted through their state foster care systems. To find out if your state has a similar program, contact your State Adoption Specialist.

The Orphan Foundation of America scholarship program has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to foster and former foster youth. For more information, visit -- or call (571) 203-0270.

The National Foster Parent Association also provides awards for foster youth. Get an application by visiting -- or by calling (800) 557-5238.


We Kicked Her Out

Hi Mark,

I was the mother who had the question about my 18 year old. I did purchase your ebook and read it cover to cover yesterday. We are the parents who ended up kicking our daughter out because of lack of respect. She kept going out and would not call to let us know where she was even though we asked her time and time again. She would sleep over at a friend’s house 2-3 times in one weekend to get out of her curfew. We would ask her to help out around the house and gave her specific chores, but they were never done. We do not believe a word she says.

She has started dating a kid who she dated in the past and he has treated her poorly. He is a very jealous kid and we do not condone her seeing him. Since we kicked her out, we have found out that she has lied to us again. I know that we have to confront her about this lie and she has to pay the consequence. She lied about going on a field trip for school, which we paid for. She ended up skipping school that day and someone else went in her place. The trip was $40.00. So, therefore, she owes us $40.00 since she did not go and got reimbursed from the kid who took her place. She also owes us about $500.00 for things that added up when she was out of a job in Feb and March. I wanted her to start paying me back at least $20 to $30.00 a paycheck when she started working again. She has now gotten 3 paychecks and not one dime has come my way.

I also plan on telling her in a calm manner that we are unhappy with her behavior. In the past she would push my buttons and I would get extremely upset, but I know now that was wrong. This bad behavior started years ago, but was pretty much manageable, we thought, up until just recently. Apparently we were wrong.

About three years ago she started sneaking out at night and after months of doing this she got caught. We found out about it and she stopped for a while. We then found out she snuck out again and was brought home by the cops. Only for her and her boyfriend at the time to tell us she might be pregnant, and they were sneaking out to get a pregnancy kit. Thank god she was not pregnant and thankfully she finally saw the light about not dating him again.

She wanted to continue seeing him but we said "no". This basically is when the problems began. My husband cannot forgive her for this since she gave up her virginity plus snuck out on us. Grant it, it took me a long time to forgive her, but I moved on and took her to the gynecologist and tried my best to hold my anger and emotion inside of me.

Now I am wondering if kicking her out was such a good idea. We wanted to send a message. But she has such a chip on her shoulder I do not know if it will work. I have only spoken briefly with her since she left and plan on talking with her tonight. I want her to start counseling again, and like I said, want to talk to her in a calm manner. What do you think??




Well …first, counseling will be a waste of time and money.

Second, you did the right thing here (i.e., kicking her out). I would simply do the following:

1. Tell her that the door is always open as long as she agrees to comply with house rules.

2. State the house rules as well as the consequences for violating the rules.

3. Follow through with the consequences if she violates any house rule.

My best guess is that she will not agree to your house rules, in which case, she chooses to live elsewhere (which would be perfectly acceptable since she is an adult now).


Mom Refuses To Allow Her 'Education Buttons' To Get Pushed

Hi J.,

>>>>>I’ve responded where you see these arrows.

Just as you predicted, we are having some good days as well as bad. My 16 yr old sophomore just got caught skipping a class (chemistry) 2 days in a row this week--his girlfriend turned him in as they were arguing/breaking up (I think they are back together now). He was in the lunchroom. He was given 2 detentions. He now is saying he "may not serve" them. I kept my composure but it is really hard.

We also got his progress report in the mail yesterday and as he has been telling us (for several weeks) his grades are lower. I truly thought he was doing this to get a response out of me, and he didn't. He is getting a C- in chemistry (was a B+) and a D in advanced algebra (was a C). I did tell him (as I have been for the several weeks now) that it is his responsibility/future etc. and I cannot MAKE him get better grades. I did try to engage him in a non-biased discussion about how did he feel about it, why did he feel his grades were dropping, what he could do to improve them. He said he felt they were ok, he didn't care anymore, school is boring, etc. Is the correct action to do NOTHING?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Close to nothing.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I would ask to see his report card. And I would reassure him periodically that he is “more than capable of making all A’s and B’s.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Remember, we provide intensity (i.e., acknowledgment and praise) when things are going right (i.e., kid making C’s, B’s, A’s), and provide no intensity (i.e., getting angry, arguing, lecturing, threatening, allowing our ‘education buttons’ to get pushed) when things are going wrong (i.e., kid making bad grades). School is your kid’s job. Bad grades do NOT fall into the “chore” category -- nor the “behavioral problem” category.

This is harder for me to accept than I thought it would be. I did tell him to bring his books home for the next few days and spend some time with them open and I would still take him to part 2 of driver's training, as he has not been violent, misusing his phone, etc. This would only be a piece of paper getting closer to obtaining his license, but I'm not ready to let him get it yet.

>>>>>>>>>>> To allow a kid to get his driver’s license is to “foster the development of self-reliance.” This is what we, as parents, are always shooting for.

I should also mention that our 19yr old son has been a poor student since the 8th grade. He has been tested and was found to be perfectly capable of doing the work. We forced him to go to summer school twice and to a tutor (all of which he paid for) but his grades never improved.

>>>>>>>>>> More evidence that when parents allow their ‘education buttons’ to get pushed, they ultimately ‘lose the war’ on ‘bad grades’.

He would scan his report card into our computer and then change the grades/comments. He would try this over and over again. I had to go get them directly from the school myself. We waited until the last week before he graduated to know for sure whether he would or not.

He did attend college this year and we just found out he is not academically eligible to come back. I found this letter in the outside trash. He once again was trying to change the grade for us (his parents) to see. This was in the trash also. He was paying for college on his own with the understanding that we would reimburse a % based on the grade he received.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I REALLY like this idea …now you’re thinkin’.

Since he is of age, he does have some choices to make (attend community college, work full-time and pay all of his own bills in his name and live at home and pay rent, or move out and pay all of his own bills). We have given him until the weekend to tell us of his plans. He also will hardly talk to us about this. I now know we handled it wrong, but this occurred long ago.

>>>>>>>>>> I think the “living at home” arrangement (pays rent) will work for a while, but remember – “self-reliance is key.” He really should be OUT by age 20 if you want to be consistent with this model.

My husband is having a terrible time with this method, but he is at least listening to me most of the time and trying to just not be part of it and letting me handle the behaviours/consequences.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Good. I’m glad he stays out of your way.

I feel I am an emotional wreck as my boys (especially 16 yr old) test me over and over. I just need clarification to simply let the grades go down with no action/consequence/discipline. I did read the book (over and over) and listen to the on-line (over and over), but still feel so much better when you respond with your e-mail. I do feel this is the way you intend us parents to handle it.

>>>>>>>>>> You are on track! Now …stay on that track.


Is your son a computer hacker?

Three teenagers face felony charges for allegedly hacking into their school computer system to "fix" grades — not for themselves but for friends.

The 16-year-olds are enrolled in advanced computer classes at Bay High School, and sheriff's investigator Paul Vecker said they didn't need to change their own grades.

"These are three young men who are quite intelligent," he said.

Vecker said they mostly changed friends' grades by small increments to avoid notice. However, they allegedly made a big change for one junior, who reportedly would've failed if her grade hadn't been changed from an F to a B, investigators said.

The school contacted the Bay County sheriff's office on Thursday.

One of the teens is charged with offense against intellectual property and the other two face charges of being principal to offense against intellectual property. 

A county juvenile detention supervisor said Saturday he couldn't say if they had been released on bail because of privacy laws protecting juveniles.

Detective Mom


Thanks for the previous advice. Your methods do seem to be working. We had a beautiful FSS (thanks!). My husband thinks I'm crazy for how "lenient" he feels I'm being, but he has not interfered for 1 week! My 16 yr old son is in a relationship with a 16 yr old girl (~1 1/2 yrs now) that I feel is not good. I have not said anything negative about her in ~1 month. I have let them see each other in supervised settings. Her parents have no rules whatsoever and tell him we're wrong, but I do try to deal with this.

I would like your advice on the following: My son went out after Lacrosse practice last night (I do feel this is part of school and a GOOD thing for him as it helps keep him busy and I know where he is at) which I was OK with since he has been earning this right by following all of our rules. I did get a "bad vibe" later that he was not where he said--can't prove it. He would not answer his phone, ended up at his girlfriends (this was not OK'd, but probably would have been if I knew beforehand and parents were home), and when he called was 15 minutes late and I ended up picking him up. He still swears he went where he said.

I did tell him he was to stay home tonight after his game (lost privilege of going out) and he would not get his phone back until this evening. This was because he did not answer his phone, was late, and was not where we agreed upon. He was NOT happy, but did not argue much, only threatening me he can't call me if to pick him up earlier (game may be canceled because of predicted storm heading our way) since I took his phone. I let this pass, "not arguing".

I did check his phone text-messaging today while he is at school, and it appears he may have intended/or did have a fight with a boy over his girlfriend. He was accusing this girl of "cheating" on him and "F*****" someone else. He did end up at her house later in the evening), don't know if they made up or not, and he says he did not get there until 8:30 but his text to her indicates he was arriving at 7pm. He did have some calls to a boy whose name I don't know.

Another friend text him today with "did you fight or not?" He also did speak with another girl last night, which he has not done before (could be starting to break-up with current girlfriend?).

My husband and I would LOVE for this relationship to end. How would you handle this? Confront him about the calls/text? He would know I check his phone and I am trying to build back trust. It can't be proven (where he was or if the fight did happen). If you could guide me in what step(s) to take with this, and what the consequences should be, I would very much appreciate it!!!

Thanks again!


Hi J.,

Re: How would you handle this? You already handled it the way you should (i.e., ground with no cell privileges).

Re: Confront him about the calls/text? If it can’t be proven (i.e., where he was or if the fight did happen), then you have nothing to gain by confronting him on this. He’ll just deny that anything happened, and you’ll go fishing for an argument.

Also, you have nothing to gain by telling him you checked his calls/text. If you do tell him, he will just find other ways to communicate with friends (or make sure everything is erased before you confiscate it again).

I’d let this be your secret. Thus, when you take away the cell in future disciplines, you’ll have a potential investigation tool (i.e., cell). Depending on the seriousness of future texts/calls, you may or may not decide to confront at that time. In the meantime, I would keep my ear to the ground regarding tension between your son and that other kid.

Great ‘undercover’ work,


It's getting worse...


Thanks. A quick update -- I wrote four house rules and gave the paper to her (I'll add more rules later but thought I'd keep it simple for now).

1. Bedtime 11:00 pm.
2. Two hours limit on internet time, no computer after 10:00 pm.
3. No going off with friends without permission - no exceptions - and must
obey curfew.
4. No seeing boyfriend without direct supervision.

Not following the above entails 3 days grounding. Violating grounding entails additional consequences (which I didn't specify - in the long term I'm thinking of no drivers' license at 16 and no JROTC next year if her behavior doesn't change). What do you think?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I’m not sure the self-reliance concept is sinking in. Will withholding JROTC and a driver’s license foster the development of self-reliance or dependency? Answer: Dependency. Thus: Bad decision.

>>>>>>>>>>> Just stick with the 3-day-discipline principles. If she violates the discipline, just look at your watch and re-start it – don’t tack-on more consequences. If restrictions start to pile up, she’ll not be able to see any light at the end of the tunnel, and as a result, will adopt the “fuck-it” attitude (i.e., she’ll be so despondent that she will not cooperate on anything whatsoever).

As you predicted, it's getting worse before it gets better. She violated the computer and bedtime rules and had a meltdown, yelling and cursing and calling me "billy bad-ass" and screaming "you are a terrible mother, you never should have had me" and promising to make my life "hell" when I told her she cannot see the boyfriend after school. She yelled so loudly I was afraid the neighbors would call the police. But she's cell phone-less and
computer-less for 3 days.

>>>>>>>>>> Believe me when I tell you that this is a good thing. It tells me that positive change is occurring – and change is painful. But it will be well worth the effort in the long run. Don’t back down!


Boyfriend Problem

Hi Mark,

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. Yes, I know I need to listen to all the audio files (and probably order any CD's too) but, for obvious reasons, I have to wait to listen to the files until daughter's not home.

Sorry for asking so many questions at once.

Here's the big question (at least for now). What to do about the boyfriend?

>>>>>>>> You have a Romeo & Juliet phenomenon on your hands that will need to be diffused (if not, they will continue to work harder at sneaking their rendezvous behind your back).

Unfortunately, if your daughter wants to be with someone -- she'll find a way, no matter what you say or do. Parents can only guide their children in the right direction and hope for the best. If they do a good job, their daughter will make the right decision all on her own. Since you will not be successful at keeping those two apart, you must adopt a philosophy of if you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em. In other words, they should be able to see one another within reasonable limits. For example:

· They can be together at your house only during those times that you are home and can monitor their behavior (if not, he has to leave)

· You could schedule some activity for them in which you would be a distant chaperon (e.g., take them to a shopping plaza and tell them to meet you back at the coffee shop in exactly one hour)

· Your daughter is allowed to go over to her boyfriend’s house for a designated time period (if she violates the time limit, there is a consequence that is commensurate with the “crime”)

You will not win this battle. Figure out a way for your daughter to see her boyfriend in a way that will keep her safe. This is the best you will be able to do.

I thought that, after the prom night fiasco, this relationship should end, but I offered the compromise of letting her see him with my supervision. Daughter says she won't accept that. If she goes off with him without my permission, should I call the police immediately, or is there any other consequence I could impose?

>>>>>>>>>>Calling the police would only be a temporary fix …but it will drive them closer together in the long run too.

(I've thought of telling her that she cannot take JROTC next year if she goes off - I was against it this year because I don't think it belongs in schools and I don't want to feed her military obsession, but let her have her choice. I think that would fit the crime because she met the boyfriend and this older group that drinks and smokes pot through JROTC).

>>>>>>>>>> I thought we already addressed this issue in the last email. Were you hoping for a different answer in this one?

Right now our worst fights are over the boyfriend. Before she met him, the main "battles" were over the internet. I've had the pregnancy/ STD talks with her, but of course she thinks she's immune. Yesterday we had the worst one yet when I wouldn't let her go out. Ironically enough, he didn't even ask her out! (I'm praying that, like so many teenage romances, this one will die a natural death).

There will be another fight over the boyfriend today, I'm sure. One of the house rules is no dating on school nights (today would be the first day off the two weeks grounding, but if I let her date on a school night once, then she will expect that all the time).

>>>>>>>>>>> Two weeks is about 11 days too long.

I've let her go to a friend's on a school night, but these are friends I know, not this older group she wants to associate with. She doesn't see that going to a friend's on a school
night is different from dating.

Re: the internet: So far all she's done to earn computer privileges is to make honor roll.

I take computer privileges for one day if she stays on it too long. The problem now is that she often has homework (and now has two research projects) for which she needs the computer, and I've given in and let her use it to get her homework done.

>>>>>>>>>>> Computer use is still a privilege, not a right. Out of control kids often use the excuse of needing to do research or homework in order to get the parent to reinstate computer privileges. You’ve just been punked – again!

What she's been doing is multitasking, doing some homework but mostly IM'ing her friends or wasting time on MySpace. So I guess I should keep her off the internet, homework or not. Should I use the 3 day grounding rather than just taking the computer
for one day?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> This is covered in the strategy entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid.”

She says she doesn't care about school, but it did bother her last time when she missed honor roll for the first time (all A's and a C in Algebra II).

Re: suicide threats: Thanks for your answer; it relieves many of my worries. Next time she does it, I'll put on the "poker face" and as you said, keep an eye on it. I'm just worried about her if the boyfriend breaks up with her, as she's quite impulsive.

Re: living situation: There's a maximum one-year time frame for staying here. I'm due to finish my PhD dissertation by May (passed all exams and have most of the research done), and I'm going on the academic job market, which will mean moving to wherever I can find a tenure-track job. My mother's health is getting worse, but she says she'd rather move to a retirement home than come with me. Actually, although my mother owns the
house, she is dependent on me because she cannot maintain it or even do her own grocery shopping. For now, after daughter had the worst tantrum yet when I wouldn't let her see the boyfriend (she's still on the two weeks grounding for prom night), Grandma has agreed not to interfere when I discipline daughter. There's something of a Catch 22 - total self-reliance with a low paying full time job now could also give her the message of quitting the degree when things get difficult (full time work would mean no time for the
diss; I've tried).

>>>>>>>>>>> I agree …it is a catch 22. You have to weigh everything together and pick the lesser of the two “evils” so to speak (i.e., which course of action will be less problematic).

I used the statement you suggested - admitting I made mistakes parenting, apologizing, making amends, letting her know there will be some changes. And I also admitted I was wrong to yell back at her. Reading the ebook, I think the biggest mistake I've been making is to let the arguing escalate. I'm ashamed to admit this, but all too often I yell back at her and get extremely angry at her. For example, a few days ago when she screamed "I hate it here" I yelled back "OK, if you want to go to foster care, you can"
and she cried "my family doesn't want me." We both have said very hurtful things to one another. I've apologized and own my part, but she continues to blame me for everything.

I see my major task for Week 1 as practicing the "poker face", breathing deeply, and saying "I'm not going to argue with you" no matter what she says, and enforcing the rules re: the boyfriend and internet. Does this sound about right to you?

>>>>>>>>> Here’s the bottom line: If those two want to see each other, nothing will be able to stop it. The more attention you give it, and the more intensity you provide when “things are going wrong” (i.e., the two of you fighting over this boyfriend), the more those two will bond.


I'll commit suicide if I don't get my way... I swear I will.

Hi Mark,

I downloaded your e-book last night, read the whole book and the first week's part twice, and I'm ready to implement these techniques.

Right now, I hope it's not too late, because my daughter and I are in a crisis situation. I desperately need the help you're offering via OPS!

Here's the situation (it's complicated). She just turned 15 year and, up until recently, she has been a good kid. She makes straight A's in school (and she takes gifted level and one AP class) except for math; however, I should have seen trouble coming when she became increasingly disrespectful and defiant - up till recently, her defiance has involved not going to bed when she should and refusing to get off the internet. She is sometimes up till 1 or 2 am, including on school nights.

It's hard to say what my toughest parenting challenge is. Between her suicide threats, defiance, and yelling and cursing and recent drinking and sexual activity I don't know what to do.

She has been threatening suicide. Yesterday in the car, she threatened to jump out in front of traffic because I told her I would not let her see her boyfriend without my direct supervision.

How this developed is that a senior asked her to the prom, and I made the mistake of letting her go (so far, she had not given me any reason to mistrust her; she had gone with him and a group to an amusement park and a baseball game and they returned on time). They were supposed to go to an after-prom (a school-sponsored, chaperoned event), but instead they went to a wild party where there was drinking, pot smoking, and sexual activity. This was the first time (as far as I know) that she was exposed to drinking (she said she did not smoke the pot, but admitted to drinking). When she did not come home by 7am (the after-prom ended at 5am) I called the police. (All I could think of was her dying of alcohol poisoning somewhere).

Now she says I "ruined her life" (the boyfriend ignored her until yesterday). She's blaming me because she says he is afraid because I could have pressed charges on him for carnal knowledge of a minor (he is 19).

She has done everything short of sexual intercourse with him. (At least she is being honest). I had made the mistake of letting her go to his house; supposedly the parents were present, but it seems that they provide little or no supervision. I've told her that if she continues to see him, it must be under my supervision. She can invite him over here (which she refuses to do), or she can meet him in a public place (I will drive her and pick her up. This boy drinks, and has a reckless driving conviction, so there are safety issues too). Am I being unreasonable?

She says I should not have called the police; I tell her that it was his and her choice to lie to me about where they were going and what they were doing. And she has to regain my trust.

She's grounded for two weeks (this is the last weekend of this grounding), and has announced that she is "through" with me and will go out whenever she wants to. She also says that I'm not her mother, and when she is 18 she will have nothing to do with me.

Another problem is that she is very one-sided - she is obsessed with joining the army right after high school (which I think would be a disaster; we've clashed about that constantly - I urge her to go to college first).

She met the boyfriend in JROTC. I did not want her to join, but made the mistake of going along with it, and I don't want her in that program next year, because it is through that class that she met these new "friends" who drink, drug, and have sex. She says that if I don't let her take it next year, she will fail all her classes. I'd like to forbid her from taking it.

Part of the problem is that I'm a single parent (the father is not in the picture at all) and we live with my mother, who can't stand the yelling and caves in to my daughter to buy a little temporary peace. For example, yesterday I wanted to take the computer away because she was on the internet until 1am, Grandma said "let her have it for an hour" and daughter would not get off the computer. And I want her to go to a 10-day summer pre-college program (she could earn 2 college credits, and I think a change of scene would do her a world of good). She says "I'm not going and you can't make me" and Grandma says not to force her.

Should I drop out of graduate school (I'm working part time), look for fulltime work, and get an apartment? Or could your techniques work even if there is an uncooperative adult in the house? I'm concerned because you mentioned that in the ebook, and this child is expert at driving mother and grandmother apart.

Right now, as I write this, daughter is crying, yelling, and screaming because I am refusing to let her see the boyfriend today. She's howling that she wants to go to foster care. And, as has become her custom, she is screaming that she hates me and that I destroyed her.

Grandma is saying to let her see the boyfriend today, but I am standing firm. Although coincidentally there was an article in yesterday's paper about an 18 year old who was charged with a felony for consensual carnal knowledge (not even sexual intercourse or oral sex) with a 14 year old, daughter does not understand that I could have chosen to press charges on the boyfriend but didn't. In this state, carnal knowledge of a 15 year old by a 18 year old is still a misdemeanor. I've told her that I won't press charges, but that I will do my utmost to prevent sexual activity when she is not physically or emotionally mature enough for it. And this is an infatuation, not a committed relationship. I've installed monitoring software, and found that she is planning to "finish what they started" with the boyfriend.

I don't want to condone sexual activity, or underage drinking, but Grandma says that in not letting her see him, I will drive her to suicide or run away. I respond that I am not forbidding the relationship, but imposing reasonable restrictions, and after prom night trust has to be (slowly) regained. She manipulates by yelling, knowing that Grandma will take her side to try to buy a little temporary peace, and then her demands escalate.

Next time she makes a suicide threat, should I call 911? She has been seeing a psychologist for an eating disorder (was anorexia, but she gained enough weight that she no longer meets the criteria) since October, but as her behavior has worsened, the therapy doesn't seem to be helping.

I look forward to any advice you have. It's at the point that I am seriously considering boarding school. She has a violent temper, sometimes throws herself on the floor and screams, has thrown things, and has shoved me when I tried to get her off the computer. I feel that I cannot handle this child. Thank you for taking the time to read this!



Hi S.,

You’ve raised at least a dozen points here …I’m not sure where to start. My preference, per each email, is to go into depth on one or two topics rather than provide short responses to multiple problems, but we’ll have to do the later for now.

First of all, if you have only read the ebook -- and not listened to ALL the audio files – then you are missing at least 50% of the total information. So please be sure to listen as well as read.

Second, your daughter is spoiled rotten. She’s 15-years-old and acting like a 5-year-old. This doesn’t make her a bad kid, just a misguided one.

Re: refusing to get off the internet

What is she doing to EARN computer privileges? And how long are you withholding computer privileges when she violates a house rule?

Re: threatening suicide

This is pure manipulation. And everyone is falling for it. Should you keep an eye on her when she makes these threats? Of course! But you must also put on your ‘poker face’ and “act” as though you are not worried. Otherwise, she’ll continue to use suicide threats (a variation of a temper tantrum really) as a weapon to get her way.

Re: alcohol drinking / pot smoking

This is covered in the Emails From Exasperated Parents chapter of the eBook …so I won’t waste our time going over it again here.

Re: …This boy drinks, and has a reckless driving conviction, so there are safety issues too). Am I being unreasonable?

Absolutely NOT!

Re: joining the army right after high school

As you read in the eBook, self-reliance is key. In these situations, we as parents ask ourselves, “Will this [in this case, joining the Army] foster the development of self-reliance – or dependency?” It appears to me that you will be ‘fostering the development of self-reliance’ here.

Re: grandma not on the same page

Please don’t get upset with me here S. But, how old are YOU? And you’re still living at home?! These questions are rhetorical (i.e., questions to make a point rather than illicit an answer).

This doesn’t seem very self-reliant to me. Remember, this whole program is based on “self-reliance.” It will be very difficult for you to instill ‘self-reliance’ in your daughter while – at the same time -- you are ‘dependent’ on your mother.

Re: Should I drop out of graduate school (I'm working part time), look for fulltime work, and get an apartment? Or could your techniques work even if there is an uncooperative adult in the house? I'm concerned because you mentioned that in the ebook, and this child is expert at driving mother and grandmother apart.

I think for you to continue to live at home will be the “kiss of failure” on several fronts.

Re: Next time she makes a suicide threat, should I call 911?

Oh sure ...and have them bring the fire trucks too.

O.K. I’m being a smart-ass. But I want to make a point. The real answer in “NO, of course not.” Keep an eye on her following the threats, but do not provide any intensity during this temper tantrum.

Re: Counseling

As you are finding out, this is just another traditional parenting strategy that has little or no positive effect (too often it makes a bad problem worse).

Re: boarding school

Way to premature for that.

Here’s to a better home environment,


Mom With a Grateful Attitude

Hi Mark,

I have to first of all let you know how much I'm blown away at not just what you do, but also because you are so attainable. To be able to E-mail you for help is one thing, but to be able to call you (I do better talking then e-mail about such important things from my heart) is so special, you are my hero, truly!!

I have, as a child, been through hell living in the south and west side of Chicago, just me and my mom, no brothers, sisters, or father. My mom is only 17 yrs older then me, and she was an alcoholic. I took care of her as a child ...lived in constant fear, by the grace of God I survived.

The thing is I see now all that Hell was a blessing, a sort of a necessary conditioning to be able to relate to the kids that come into my life, because they know I've been there, and because of that, they allow me in -- and I really listen. That was the purpose, I had to walk that road. The reason I'm telling you this is so you really understand me when I tell you YOU'RE MY HERO !!

From the bottom of my heart
Thank You

The "Art of Schmoozing"

>>>>>>>>> Hi T. I’ve commented below.


I think our 16 year old daughter is still playing mom and dad against each other when it comes to getting what she wants. C___ is still living with her dad. I have read your parenting strategies, and being her mother, I’ve been enacting the rules as best I can from a distance and I should say that I have seen some improvements in her. It’s difficult because I work 2 jobs, but I’ve managed to have dinner with her once a week, tell her I love her every night, encourage her by saying things like how I think she’s showing responsibility by doing her homework or how proud I am of her for this or that - for not lying today, for not skipping school, etc.

>>>>>>>>> This is so terribly important. This is a great of example of “catching your child in the act of NOT doing something wrong.” Most parents overlook this important ingredient to successful assertive-parenting.

I’m always asking her things about her day and giving her a chance to tell me what’s going on in her life. I think that’s very important. I advised her father to assign her chores, and I guess he’s done that, but I don’t think he’s assigned her an allowance because she still complains that she thinks she should be entitled to money if she asks for it. Instead, I think he gives her money which I know isn’t the way it should be done, but I can’t argue with him because that’s his house and we’re divorced. He and I don’t get along and he won’t get on the same page with me on parenting her so I’ve given up on trying. Instead, whenever he says something negative about her to think about – I just try to counter it with something positive to help show her that he’s not always right and he can make mistakes. I think it’s helped her become a better person recently. I think she’s begun to realize that parents can make mistakes, and I want to also thank you for that.

>>>>>>>>> Here you have demonstrated a great example of “picking you battles carefully” …you’ve realized that you cannot control your ex-husband’s parenting habits, and you are working around him rather than wasting time/energy trying to change him.

My concern, though, is whether or not the trust issue is going to be met. I’ve talked to C___ about the bond between us recently and how I said, ‘we need to mend this’. C___ says she wants to try and her father ALWAYS wants to give her the benefit of the doubt unless he sees or hears different where I’m always the suspicious one. It’s been a source of contention between her father and me. He is always ready to tell C___ that I don’t trust her and tear into our relationship.

>>>>>>>>> I regularly encourage parents to not believe anything their kid tells them (as in 0%) until it can be verified. Here’s why: You AND your ex-husband have been “punked” more than you’ll ever know (i.e., deceived, lied to, manipulated, etc.).

C___ has been a habitual liar with me so there is plenty of reason for distrust. But recently, after 4 months of being in her father’s care, she is now saying how she wants to turn over a new leaf and try to start off fresh. Me, I say, “Not so fast!” Her father says, “Sure, why not?”

All year this year, her grades have been nearly all F’s. But I took your advice and got out of the hand holding business. Instead, I said to C___ that if she would just bring home a completed weekly progress report (a written report from her teachers) - good or bad – she could go out that weekend.

>>>>>>>>>> You get another “A” for parenting, dear mom!

C___ has a job at McDonald’s and works every weekend so I wasn’t giving her but one night out with her friends. The other stipulation was she’d give a phone number from a “land” line to be reached, an address of the location she’s at, and a list of names of the people who would be with her. She agreed to everything. Her curfew, being she’s on probation, is 11 p.m., but Courtney wanted to stay overnight. That was the part I wasn’t sure about. Going out was all right, but I didn’t really think she had earned a privilege of staying out all night with her dishonesty, however, again this isn’t my home.

Her father said she’d have to finish all chores and I said she would have to do her homework before her departure, but I was still unsure if that was enough. Her progress report wasn’t that great, she actually could’ve brought home 2 books to study for upcoming tests next Tuesday that she had failing grades, but she didn’t, and her dad hadn’t said yes to her going out before she called me. So why was she calling me for this request? Because I was the one who had given her the progress report stipulation in the first place weeks ago?

Dad’s house should be dad’s rules, right? Wrong. He doesn’t enforce any rules and she knows it. Did he have a leg to stand on, now, by telling her no? What reason could he have given her by this time if he didn’t want her to go? She had out-smarted us both by getting me on the phone and trying to play my parenting skills against him. Do you see this? It happens all of the time. If I had tried to take a stand at this point and said she couldn’t go, he would have let her go just despite me. But what if he had wanted to do something with her that evening? Should he have said, “No you can’t go out because I have made plans to take you somewhere tonight with me…”? Then state a consequence if she rages? Does his plans become a priority over hers?

By the way, I should tell you that I do like your line, “I don’t want to argue.” It has worked for me when talking with both C___ and her father and it is a wonderful diffuser in fights as long as you can keep cool.

Please advise. Thanks.



If I understand correctly, your ex-husband is not only on a different page than you -- he is actively working AGAINST you. Thus, it will be in YOUR best interest to ‘schmooze’ him. Let me explain (and this is all a ‘con job’ on your part):

  • Objective of the schmooze: To get your ex on your team as much as possible.
  • Goal of the schmooze: To diffuse your daughter’s ability to play one parent against the other.
  • Method: Use some of the parenting strategies ON THE EX-HUSBAND (you’ve already been doing this with the “I’m not going to argue” line).

Thus, catch your husband in the act of ‘doing things right’ -- and catch him in the act of ‘not doing things wrong.’ Provide an appropriate quantity (not too much) of acknowledgment and praise (even though you will often get the impression that you are simply feeding him a line of ‘bullshit’). And give him the impression you are being authentic; convey that you really mean it.

For example:

“I noticed that you didn’t allow C_____ to manipulate you when she told you ‘_______________________’. I appreciate you working with me on this.”

“Thanks for calling me back regarding ______________________. What’s your suggestion? I really need your help on this.”

Let me share an example of my recent schmooze. The following conversation was recorded and transcribed (I do this occasionally for training purposes for other therapists). This is a one-on-one session with a 15-year-old female client. She was very angry about many things (including being made to attend a brief counseling session with me).


Interview [23 minutes]


Therapist: What’s up?

Youth: -silence- [no eye contact; melancholic affect]

Therapist: [therapist begins quietly playing with his cell phone]

Youth: -silence-

Therapist: You look pissed. Who’s been hassling you?

Youth: [pause] Everybody.

Therapist: [pause] Who’s the worst?

Youth: My mom.

Therapist: She’s annoying?

Youth: Uh huh.

Therapist: [pause] She thinks you need counseling.

Youth: Yea, right!

Therapist: [long pause] I don’t think you need counseling. [pause] I just think you’re under a lot of stress.

Youth: -silence-

Therapist: How do you manage with all the stress you’re going through?

Youth: I don’t know.

Therapist: I don’t know how you get through life, but evidently you’re doing it.

Youth: [nods her head ‘yes’; begins to make eye contact]

Therapist: Got any tips for me? I’m having a stressful day myself.

Youth: Not really.

Therapist: [pause] Do you just tune people out when they get on your nerves?

Youth: Yea.

Therapist: Me too …but sometimes when I tune people out, they think I’m ignoring them and then they feel hurt.

Youth: -silence-

Therapist: [pause] You ever get mad at people just so they’ll leave you alone?

Youth: [nods her head ‘yes’]

Therapist: What’s the most annoying bullshit you have to put up with?

Youth: My mom telling me what to do. She doesn’t understand me, and she doesn’t know my friends. She trashes my friends, but she doesn’t even know them. It’s none of her business. It’s none of her business who I hang with.

Therapist: [pause] That’s one of those annoying things?

Youth: Uh huh!

Therapist: [pause] You know …you could have come in here today with an attitude …but you didn’t. You could have come in here and told me to ‘kiss off’ …but you didn’t. You could have refused to talk to me …but you talked anyway. That’s you being responsible. So, it’s not a question of whether you can or can’t be responsible – you ARE being responsible. So what can YOU do to take care of YOU? What can you do FOR YOU – not for the judge, the PO, your mom, or anybody else?

Youth: Finish school …take care of my dogs.

Therapist: You’ve got dogs?

Youth: Yea …Max and Casey.

Therapist: What kind are they?

Youth: Chihuahua puppies.

Therapist: Cool you take good care of your dogs?

Youth: [nods head ‘yes’]

Therapist: [therapist asks a lot of questions about client’s dogs; client is very informative]

Therapist: [pause] Thanks for the tips on how to deal with annoying people. I need all the help I can get!

Youth: [nods head ‘yes’]

Therapist: [pause] Is there anything else we need to talk about?

Youth: [nods head ‘no’]

Therapist: I appreciate you making time for me today.

Youth: You’re welcome.

Therapist: Tell your mom she can call me if she needs to, O.K.?

Youth: O.K.



So anyway, cultivate the “art of schmoozing” – not because your ex deserves it, but because your job will be far easier if he works WITH you instead of AGAINST you - even if it’s only 49% of the time. And it is very possible that you will get a significant level of cooperation if you schmooze just right.

Side note: One mother told me she would have the following thought right before she ‘put on the schmooze’ to her ex-husband: “I’m going to compliment the hell out of this bastard.”



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