HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

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

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He really loses it...


Hi,

I’m finding the printable version of your book very helpful in realising i'm not the only parent with this problem. My son is a really nice kid 60% of the time, but when something doesn't go his way, he really loses it, trashing his room, throwing anything he can get his hands on. As you predicted, this has got worse to the point where he was very physical towards me. My main problem is how to get a 13yr old to stay in his room etc. I've taken his t.v. away at the moment, but he just goes to his brothers room to watch it. If i ask him to leave he just says no. How do you get a child to leave a room without encouraging physical aggravation?

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I would use the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” [Online Version of the eBook].

Also, you may want to consider putting a lock on his brother’s bedroom door so that he is essentially locked-out of that room [brother can lock him out when he goes in there to watch t.v.].

If he is physically violent, he should be on some kind of psychiatric med. If he attacks anyone, you really should call the police.

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

We are doing better than before...

Mark,

My husband and I have been going over your book and we have found it to be incredibly helpful. I am still losing control over myself and getting into screaming matches with my ODD kid, but we are still doing better than before we found your book.

C.K.

My Out of Control Teen

Pack her suitcase for her...


Hi Mark:

After receiving your email, I did go through some of the points in your book, etc. I know most of it is a “tough love” method, etc. and I do understand that. Well in follow up to my last email to you, our daughter went camping with friends last Saturday and lied about where she would be. She was in the same vicinity, but we did not know where. When she called me on Sunday morning (father’s day) and she told me she’d be doing this a lot, camping every weekend with friends, etc., I told her this wasn’t going to fly, I don’t know where she is and I can’t trust her and that possibly I would allow it here and there and on exceptions, but not every weekend. Well, of course, she freaked out and then I heard the old phrase “all the other parents don’t care”, to which I always reply “they don’t care as much as me, I do care about you” and no one’s mother would be checking on them, etc.

She didn’t come home Sunday night, basically because she didn’t like what I said, and she didn’t come home Monday night. My husband called and left messages on her voicemail, because she didn’t pick up her phone, and told her to come home, that this was unacceptable, all the same stuff we’ve said, and the next morning he called her again and told her he’d shut her phone off if she didn’t call, and THEN she called, of course.

She was gone that night too, he told her to be in early evening to talk to us. Well she came home and was here a little while after she worked, talked to her sister about how she was off “dirt biking”, etc., with no remorse, nothing said to me, etc. and I couldn’t believe this, I just stood there and started saying, you have to leave, you have to live somewhere else, you have no respect or consideration for us, any of us, I will not take this abuse any more, I’m stressed out to the max, I have three other kids and a husband to take care of, you HAVE to go, I was very clear. This was a turning point for me.

Well, she left to go to work and, so, I put her suitcase on the front porch so she would realize we were done and she had to wake up and stop acting like this. So her father waited up for her until 1:30 a.m. and she did not come home. The next day, my husband told her that we had had it, she had to go, but if she changed her ways, she was always welcome home. We had to do this, because she has nowhere to go, except stay with friends, and it is scary throwing your child out on the street.

Well, she came and got her suitcase that day around 4:30. I just saw her leave in her car, no words were exchanged and it was very emotional. Well, by Friday, she had called a friend of ours saying she wanted to come home and that if he’d call her father (never me) and see if we’d let her come home, etc. Her father called her and told her it had to be under totally different circumstances, that she had to be respectful, etc., yada yada yada, the same old stuff, and he said she seemed to be truly upset and moved.

When she came home, she came into the kitchen and said “Sean (this friend) and dad wanted me to come home.” I said, “Do you want to be here?” And she said, “Well, yeah, and I don’t have any money or anywhere to live”. Not the “hat in your hand” attitude I was expecting. Well, we talked a few minutes, she was the same, she was still blaming me for the first time she ran away on her eighteenth birthday, and I told her the second time she pulled this stunt, I would pack her a suitcase, and that’s what we, I said “WE” had done. So it just starts all over again.

She showered, put her suitcase in her bedroom, watched t.v. with us for a little while (which was a token thrown at us) and then went out with her friends until curfew. Yesterday was the same thing, she got up, left with friends, and came in to shower and left again until curfew. Today she got up, didn’t eat with the family when we called the kids for breakfast, instead, left with friends, when I told her to unpack her suitcase, she flung me a nasty stare and said she’d do it later, etc. like always, with her mean looks and no respect attitude. She came home around 6:00 p.m. to wash her car (her best friend) and then when she went to leave again at 9:00 p.m., she said she was going to meet Joe and then Greg, etc. and out to curfew.

I have to tell you, I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t know what to do with this kid. I did tell her Friday that one of the conditions that her father and I have decided is that she has to seek counseling because of her ADHD or possible BiPolar disorder. I’m going to find her a new doctor (the old one doesn’t do kids over 18) and she has got to try another medication so she has a normal thinking pattern and has a normal life. This is so difficult for me at this point. I was fine with her gone, yes, I worried, but I knew she’d have friends to stay with for a while, I thought it was too soon, she hadn’t reached a turning point, she hadn’t reached the bottom yet, I thought another week might have made a different, maybe sleeping in her car a few nights, etc. So, here we are, back to square one. My husband thinks this is going to happen a few times before she gets it, but what he has to realize is that I can’t take the stress any more. Any input? I definitely need input.

P.

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Hi P.,

Yes ...I’ve got input. You were on the right track when you made her leave. You got off track again when you let her back in. She should be able to visit, but she needs to be out on her own. She will not change otherwise. How much longer will you tolerate her disrespect? Haven’t you wasted enough time and energy trying to change her?

If you want to see significant, long-term change, pack her suitcase for her.

My favorite statement from a mother (and member of Online Parent Support) who was going through a similar deal with her daughter was when she said, “Turn in your house key …you’re washed-up as a ‘live-at-home’ daughter.

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

I am full of hope...

Mark,

I have been reading your book and I started using the earning, dinner once a week, asking a question that requires a complete answer and saying ‘no’ only once. I have three teens, two girls 18 and 16 and one boy 15. No yelling and most of your suggestions worked.

The two youngest failed miserably this year in school and are in summer school and getting good grades. Still have problems with my 16-year-old daughter lying and stealing. But this week I am full of hope, a little less resentful and working on forgiveness.

Thanks,

V.

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Keep your mouth shut & stay out of his way...


Dear Mark,

I have a question ...my son is doing very well at school now ...he got mostly B's & A's, but we spoke to his teacher and she said that he knows his work and he could be an all-around 'A' student if he tried and put some interest into his work. Do I try and push him or do I leave it because he is doing well?

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Are you kiddin’ me?!

I’ll speak for myself here (so please don’t be offended): If my son were doing this well in school, I would want to simply keep my mouth shut and stay out of his way.

Pick your battles carefully,

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

I am not sure how to handle this family...

Mark-

K___, on her own decided she was not going to live with her boyfriend and came home after one week. She is extremely defiant though and stayed home one evening, staying at her sisters for two. She is now staying with her sister because her father and she got into an argument when she didn't call him as he had requested her to. He approached her with anger. I believe his family for the past 16 years has been extremely dysfunctional and now he lives with me. I approach things AFTER I get over the anger or emotions I am feeling. Probably because I grew up with a mother who was emotionally abusive to all three children and said a lot of things she really didn't mean, but caused all kinds of havoc by saying them.

I told P___ after he hung up from yelling and swearing at K___ over the phone that he hadn't accomplished a thing by doing that. He, of course was offended, and slept on the couch. The next day he thought about what I said and while not being angry, thought about the situation and how he had handled it and agreed it wasn't the best way to handle it. He called K___ and apologized. I explained to him we had taken two steps backwards by his actions. K___ isn't calling or coming home; she is staying with her sister. Her sister will most likely allow her to stay with her because she had gone through a lot of trauma with their mother and father.

Once again… I am not sure how to handle this family and their ways of dealing with things. Do you have any suggestions Mark?

P___'s parents both died when he was a teenager, and he and his six brothers and sisters were raised by an Aunt and Uncle. I think he has a lot of anger over that. He is a wonderful father though. He is the one who makes the kids lunches, takes them to school, shows up for school functions, takes them where they need to go for sports. His ex works, works late, and puts him down for his parenting skills while she is doing nothing for her children. She doesn't even cook them dinner because she's always working.

I need suggestions on how to deal with this, I am stumped. Thank you for your emails. I appreciate them.

A.

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Hi A.,

I notice 2 very important positives here: (1) P___ gained some insight into how he approached K___ (i.e., seeing that it resulted in nothing positive), and (2) he made amends with K___.

Too often, the female caretaker of the house spends a great deal of time and energy trying to fix everybody and their problems. This is noble and done with good intention; however, it is also an exercise in futility.

I would suggest that you focus on taking care of you -- first! Then focus on taking care of YOUR relationships with family members. But, draw the line when it comes to solving other's problems or worrying about how they treat one another. Don't take responsibility for their relationships with one another. No more playing "peace-maker". Their problems are their problems. The quality of their relationships is their responsibility.

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

I'm trying my best...

Mark,

Thanks for the accommodations. You are a big help. I started some of the pointers that we've talked about, and I see some good effects. It's very hard to switch emotions, but I'm trying my best. I think I will be sending you a lot of thanks for this book and for the warm accommodation on the first phone consultation. I know I got the right help now. I wish God will give you more time to accommodate parents like me.

K.N.

Online Parent Support

His attitude has changed totally...

Hi Mark-

It’s been a while since I’ve reported back. I thought I would just let you know that my son is at last heading in the correct direction and I think it’s good to give good news too not only bad.

I first read your book almost two years ago now and it got us started. At that stage it was exactly what was necessary. I also got a drug councilor involved which also made be huge impact on the drug issue. I then took him to Italy to meet his Italian family he had never met. This had a huge positive affect on him too.

I found sticking to your program rather difficult and I was successful sometimes but not all of the time. I found it difficult to stay hard as it is just not in my nature, but the bit I did had the desired effect. Some of it has become natural without having to be dictatorial which is great.

Then three months ago in my search for answers I sent him on a week camp organized by a local group of absolutely fantastic people. I am not too sure what they actually do, but I can tell you three months down the line I am living with a totally different child. He is a pleasure to be around. His attitude has changed totally. It is absolutely wonderful.

Thank you for your contribution to the healing process.

Keep well,

L.

Online Parent Support

In one day you have already helped me...

Dear Mark,

Well ...just so you know-I found you by chance. I went to troubledteens.com and somehow found you.

I want to tell you that in one day you have already helped me. I downloaded the 60 pages-highlighted-and have read all of it and will continue to do it over and over. You really get it and I am tremendously grateful.

We have been to 3 therapists-adderol and wellbutrin and now I am going to try it your way. It makes lots of sense to me. Our 17 yr old son is "Out of Control" but it is going to improve.

Thanks so much,

P.S.

My Out-of-Control Teen

“No” is beginning to mean “no”...


Just a short note to say thanks. We are now well into your assignments and things are going well. As you predicted, things got a lot worse to begin with, but the three kids and both parents are starting to settle well. We are getting into a routine, and now “no” is beginning to mean “no,” consequences to actions are beginning to be recognized, and your method of getting them to do something is very effective. Many thanks. I hope it's still o.k. to write with any questions as they come along, as I feel we are only part way through. And as they get older, new things are going to appear.

Thanks again,

M.V.

Online Parent Support

Bipolar Daughter


HI MARK,

MY NAME IS G___, I SPOKE TO YOU ON THE PHONE LAST WEEK ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM. I HAVE A 16 YEAR OLD STEP-DAUGHTER THAT HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH BI-POLAR. MY WIFE AND I HAVE HAD PROBLEMS WITH HER FOR OVER FOUR YEARS.

SHE HAS HAD TWO STAYS IN THE LOCAL CHILDRENS MENTAL HOSPITAL …THE FIRST STAY WAS ABOUT FOUR MONTHS, AFTER WE DISCOVERED SUICIDAL POETRY SHE WAS WRITING, CUTTING HERSELF, BULIMIA, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANCE, VERBAL ABUSE, CUTTING SCHOOL, NO SCHOOL WORK WAS BEING DONE.

THE SECOND STAY WAS AFTER SHE HAD A BREAKDOWN ABOUT A 19 YEAR OLD MAN SHE WAS GOING WITH THAT WE OPPOSED. THE CUTTING CONTINUED AFTER SHE WAS ADMITTED INTO THE HOSPITAL …THE SECOND RELEASE WAS IN SEPTEMBER 2006. SHE WAS PUT INTO A THERAPEUTIC SCHOOL AND HAS DONE BETTER THAN THE PREVIOUS PUBLIC SCHOOL. …SHE HAS A JOB AT A LOCAL SUPERMARKET THAT I PUSHED HER TO GET …SHE HAS BEEN THERE FOR ABOUT 2 MONTHS.


THE PROBLEM NOW IS HER BEHAVIOR. IT IS AT ITS WORST WHEN SHE IS WITH HER FRIENDS. BUT I CAN'T SAY ITS THAT GOOD WITHOUT THEM. THE FRIENDS THAT SHE SPENDS THE MOST TIME WITH ARE FROM HER PRESENT SCHOOL. …THEY ALL HAVE A MENTAL DISORDER. MOST OF THEM ARE NOT INVOLVED IN ANYTHING BUT SCHOOL, WHICH IS OVER FOR THE YEAR. THEY SEEM TO ALL GRAVITATE TOWARDS EACH OTHER AND SITTING OUTSIDE DOING NOTHING OR FINDING SOME SORT OF TROUBLE. THERE IS A LOT OF CURSING IN HER EVERYDAY SPEECH. SHE IS ALSO EXTREMELY LAZY. MOST TIMES SHE'S ONLY MOTIVATED BY GREED. SHE REALLY SHOWS NOTHING TOWARDS HER FAMILY (MOTHER, SISTER, AND BROTHER).


SHE TAKES 2 MEDICATIONS FOR THE BIPOLAR.THAT IS ALSO A PROBLEM …GETTING HER TO TAKE THE MEDS ON A REGULAR BASIS. SHE HAS STOPPED TAKING THEM FOR PERIODS AT A TIME. SHE TAKES A LOT OF ADVICE FROM HER FRIENDS. WHAT BOTHERS ME THE MOST ARE THE REACTIONS TO THE QUESTIONS I ASK HER. WHEN SHE DOESN'T FOLLOW SOMETHING WE TELL HER TO DO, SHE BECOMES VERY CONFRONTATIONAL, VERBALLY ABUSIVE, AND DENIES THAT PREVIOUS CONVERSATIONS EVER TOOK PLACE.

MY WIFE AND I HAVE DEVOTED THE LAST 4 YEARS TO TRYING TO HELP HER (NATURAL IS NOT AROUND). I'VE WORKED VERY HARD TO TAKE A LOT OF THE PRESSURE OFF MY WIFE. MY WIFE HAS LOST ALL PATIENCE WITH HER. THIS PUTS US AT ODDS A GOOD PART OF THE TIME. THE REASON I'M WRITING IS BECAUSE I'VE EXHAUSTED MY ABILITY TO HELP MY DAUGHTER. I TRULY FEEL THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO HELP HER. THERE IS STILL A GREAT DEAL OF DEFIANCE WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH. WE'VE HAD HER WITH A PROBATION OFFICER, BUT THEY DON'T GET INVOLVED ANYMORE BECAUSE IT IS A MENTAL ISSUE.

I DON'T FEEL HELPLESS, BUT I FEEL THAT MY FAMILY HAS BEEN CHEATED OUT OF A STRESS-FREE LIFE. THE AMOUNT OF CRAP THAT MY 9 YR OLD DAUGHTER HAS HEARD AND DEALT WITH IS UNREASONABLE. WE HAVE ALL TOLERATED A LOT, WORKED HARD, PUT IN A GREAT AMOUNT OF TIME. I FEEL IT IS UNFAIR TO CONTINUE TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. THE THERAPIST AT THE MENTAL HOSPITAL HAS DISCUSSED A BACKUP PLAN IF THINGS DIDN'T WORK OUT AFTER HER RELEASE. AS I REMEMBER THERE WAS SOME SORT OF FOSTER CARE PROGRAM. WE ALWAYS GET STUCK, BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS LOOK FOR EXTREME BEHAVIOR IN MY DAUGHTER, AND NOT THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH EVERYDAY.

TO SUM THINGS UP, I DON'T THINK MY DAUGHTER IN CAPABLE OF MAKING RATIONAL DECISIONS A LOT OF THE TIME. ITS NOT JUST TYPICAL TEENAGE NONSENSE, BUT I SEE PROBLEMS FAR BEYOND THAT. IT SEEMS LIKE IT’S AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN. MY WIFE AND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU SUGGEST. WE FEEL WE CAN'T CONTINUE TO LET HER GO ON LIKE THIS. I'M GOING TO CONTACT THE THERAPIST FROM THE HOSPITAL TOMORROW TO SEE WHAT OUR POSSIBILITIES ARE.

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME,

G.N.

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Hi G.,

I’m not sure where to start. You’ve listed the following problems:

1. Bipolar
2. Suicidal ideation
3. Self mutilation
4. Bulimia
5. ODD
6. Truancy
7. Poor academic performance
8. Verbal abuse
9. Negative peer association
10. Refusing to take meds
11. Use of profanity
12. Lack of motivation
13. Bio father is not involved

To address each of these issues individually will take me the rest of the afternoon. Since you are a new member to Online Parent Support, I want to provide a checklist of the strategies in the eBook that you and your wife should be focusing on.

Some parents are indecisive about what course of action to try with their child. They jump from one parenting technique to the other without giving any one technique enough time to be effective, or they try a new parenting technique once and then give up in frustration because it didn't work fast enough.

Some parents will say, "We've tried everything and nothing works with this kid." On rare occasion, this may be true. What I usually see is parents drifting from one parenting tool to another without refining their parenting tools.

Here are several ways to refine:

---Realize the same discipline may not work for all children, because of the unique features of different children

---Try to blend a combination of several parenting tools to create a more effective discipline

---Don't believe it when your children seem unaffected by discipline. Children often pretend discipline doesn't bother them. Continue to be persistent with your planned discipline, and consider yourself successful by keeping your parenting plan in place. When children pretend a discipline doesn't bother them, parents often give up on a discipline, which reinforces the child's disobedience. Remember, you can only control your actions, not your children's reactions.

Let's trouble shoot...

Below is a summary of all the assignments I gave you in My Out-of-Control Teen eBook. If parents do not implement ALL of these assignments, it will be the "kiss of failure." For example, the transmission in your car has hundreds of parts, but if just one little tiny part is not working -- the whole transmission does not work. The same is true with this "parent program." Omit just one strategy, and the whole plan falls through the floor.

1. Are you asking your daughter at least one question each day that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or a "no" to demonstrate that you are interested in what is going on in her life? (page 20 of the printable version of eBook)

2. Are you saying to her "I love you" everyday and expecting nothing in return? (page 20)

3. Are you eating dinner together at least one evening each week -- either at home or out? (page 20)

4. Do you use "The Art of Saying Yes" whenever your answer is yes? (page 25)

5. Do you use "The The Art of Saying - and Sticking With - No" whenever your answer is no? (page 25)

6. Do you catch her in the act of doing something right at least once each day? (page 25)

7. Do you use the "When You Want Something From Your Kid" approach as needed? (page 31)

8. Do you give her at least one chore each day? (page 31)

9. Do you find something fun to do with her each week? (page 54)

10. Do you use the "I noticed ...I felt ...Listen" approach when something unexpected pops-up? (bottom of page 50)

11. When you are undecided about what to say or do in any particular situation, are you asking yourself the following question: "Will this promote the development of self-reliance in my daughter, or will this inhibit the development of self-reliance?"

If it is supportive of self-reliance, say it or do it. If it is not supportive, don't!

12. Is she EARNING ALL of her stuff and freedom? (see "Self-Reliance Cycle" - page 19)

If you answered "no" to any of the above, you are missing some important pieces to the puzzle. Most parents DO miss a few pieces initially -- you can't be expected to remember everything! But don't get frustrated and give up. We must be willing to hang in there for the long haul.

I'm talking about refinement here. Refinement is a necessary tool to use in order to truly be successful with these parenting strategies.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: Parents who refine are, on average, 95% - 100% successful at getting the parent-child difficulties reduced in intensity and severity (i.e., the problems are easily managed).

The same can be true in your case. Don’t give up just yet. Please continue to refine by emailing me as needed over the next few months. Refinement is a process, not a one-time event.

Mark

Online Parent Support

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Comment:


Hi Mark,


A have written to you 2 times regarding our daughter (17). Our last communication was about her being asked to leave since she had broken all our house rules after returning home from running away for 2 months. She begged for another chance and we gave it to her since she asked for psychological help. Over the month she kept her end (smoking outside, no drugs on premises, none of her new 'mall' friends over and sleeping here 5 nights per week).


In this time she has been improving. No screaming anger outbursts etc. However, this is partly becasue she does not have any pressure on her. She dropped out of school and doesn't turn up for her casual job. However, we do not provide her with any spending money at all or pay her fines etc. She would need to earn it.


We have been seeing a social worker (who works primarily with kids she hangs with from this mall area) and a psychologist who she has seen a few times. She has been assessed by our region's mental health team and a GP doctor who have diagnosed her as clinically depressed (cutting, running away from home, substance abuse, intrusive negative thoughts, loss of school and normal friends etc) and is on their waiting list for therapy. They recommended we seek a private psychiatrist for assesment and treatment since she has had 3 nights of being afraid of her bedroom due to seeing lights and hearing noises that are not there (she said she had recently used cannabis). Although that stopped we are currently waiting for an appointment which I'm concerned she won't attend.


Like you and us, originally the social worker believed she was an out of control teen who needed strong boundaries to the point of letting her live on the streets if she chose not to comply. We put in the work re that. Other psychologists agreed UNTIL they have seen the whole picture: date raped last year and two sexual assaults since then as well as a loss, as well as a strong history of bipolar and psychotic depression in the family. They have said it seems she is experiencing possible post traumatic stress, major depression (possibly bipolar) and very disorganized and scattered thinking which is preventing decision making.


The problem is that she is now saying she is 'feeling better' and doesn't need to see a psychologist regularly anymore (it cuts into time with the boyfriend and is too confronting I think). She has begun staying away for more days at the boyfriend's (who we don't allow at our home due to his behaviours - he is 20 unemployed, vandalizes, intimidates people etc and the police told us is bad news - we don't want this influence on our younger daughters). The advice we have been given now is to just keep her safe. To prevent her raging against herself - basically walk on eggshells. We have been told whatever happens to prevent her being out of home again as she is at extreme risk. This is hard becasue at times she appears fine - when there is no pressure.


We feel at ransom. We had an ultimatum - 5 nights or you have chosen to live elsewhere. Now there are to be NO rules regarding her number of nights at home??? As long as the door is open she can drift in and out, not do anything constructive with her life (I've been told she needs routine - how can I encourage that if we are told she needs just a safe place to fall until she is ready to seek help???) At 17 1/2 with a mental illness is this reasonable? Last night we brought up about work etc and she said she 'didn't want to talk about it' over and over again. After 5 months of patience it is growing thin all this unpredicable all over the place behaviour, so we lost control of our poker faces (no screaming though but not great) but it was too confronting for her so she packed some bags and left 9don't know how long for).


We are so stressed out feeling at ransom. She asks for help then doesn't want it. She can't keep to anything she says she will do. The social worker said her way of coping and keeping safe is avoiding everything other than hanging with the boyfriend and at the mall (staying at the boyfriends as often as possible - which is a problem becasue he is very controlling). If mental illness wasn't in the picture we could implement this stuff without concern. But we have been advised to just be there for her and provide gentle guidance and encouragement to try new things since she feels like a failure and isn't sure how to dig her way out.


Please advise us as we are finding it hard to know how to handle this situation. She complies with everything when at home (not swearing at people, she doesn't ask for money or steal off us anymore, she is polite and reconnecting with family, hasn't brought people home etc) but wants to stay away when ever she wants and can't hold a job etc. The psych says just try to gently prod her to therapy or psychiatrist - easier said than done. We feel disarmed, we have nothing left to guide her because the one thing we had (not living here as a consequence for not working or being in school or staying 5 nights) is the very thing we've been told not to do in order to protect her. We only have our own personal boundaries left. It is such a bad message to our younger kids (14 with mild aspergers and 11). We've been told to just explain that she is mentally unwell and the way she is living is not what we expect of them.


Please advise us as we are so confused. We feel manipulated by her comments such as 'I'm not coming home tonight because something has happened and I need to get my head together' (often an excuse to stay at the boyfriends) coupled with direction to keep her at home to protect her mental and physical well-being. We keep thinking if only we had accepted this new boyfriend we wouldn't be in this mess.....although we never told her she can't see him or go out with him etc so as not to make the connection stronger but it seems to have happened anyway because we won't have him over in order to protect our younger ones. Please help us with some direction.


Thank you.


Melanie


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Hi Melanie,

Re: ...how can I encourage that if we are told she needs just a safe place to fall until she is ready to seek help???


She's never going to be "ready" as long as she is pampered.


I think you've been duped again!!! She's very smart.


Even if she is bipolar and depressed - it doesn't change anything on your end. Many parents with bipolar teens are using the strategies outlined in the ebook. One important caveat is to make sure she stays on her meds. You will make no progress otherwise.


Botton line: If she has a mental illness, she needs help from a psychiatrist -- but you should NOT change from assertive parenting BACK TO passive-overindulgent parenting (which sounds like what you have done).


You do her no flavors when you let her run the show. It hurts her - it doesn't help her. How do you expect her to function in the real world as an adult (when you're not around).


Mark

Daughter is Hanging-out with a Bad Crowd

"Can u give me some guidance? I feel my daughter is hanging out with a bad crowd and have been trying to get her to see that but have had no success. She took some of these friends to one of her "good" friends sweet 16th birthday party with parent chaperones. The kids were dressed gothic and thought they could just go in with their cigarettes and all and thought nothing of it. I have tried to stop her from seeing them but she continues to do so."


First of all, it sounds like you are trying to “reason with” your daughter (a traditional parenting strategy that doesn’t work – and too often makes a bad problem worse).

We, as parents of strong-willed, out of control kids, must pick our battles very carefully. Which battles do we fight? The ones in which we have an element of control. Unfortunately, you will not be able to control who your daughter associates with (unless you ground her for the entire year).

Your daughter wants to be liked, to fit in, and she worries that other kids may make fun of her if she doesn’t go along with the group. Also, she is curious to try something new that others are doing. The idea that "everyone's doing it" (whatever “it” is) may influence some kids to leave their better judgment, or common sense, behind.

We have to prepare our kids for peer pressure when they are very young (prevention strategies rather than intervention ones). Thus, when kids are younger, we want to do the following:

1. We want to develop a close relationship with our kids. Kids who have close relationships with their parents are more likely to identify with - and try to please - their parents by doing the right things, and they are much more likely to go to their parents when they are in trouble or are having problems.

2. We want to figure out the reasons our kids are giving into peer pressure and address them immediately. Kids give into peer pressure for many different reasons (e.g., lack of self-confidence or self-discipline). We should try to find the reasons and then attempt to solve the problem.

3. We want to teach our kids to say “NO”. It is tough to be the only one saying NO, but we can tell our kids they can do it. Paying attention to their own feelings and beliefs about what is right or wrong will help them do the proper thing.

These suggestions may not be a big help to you now, but I had to mention that (a) parent’s strategies for helping kids deal with peer pressure need to be implemented early, and (b) once they are teenagers, we have to “let go” and trust that we did something right while we were guiding them through their childhood and preteen years.

My Out-of-Control teen: Help for Parents

I think my change in attitude is having an extremely positive affect...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for all the encouragement, I really appreciate that someone is out there and willing to listen.

Kirsten has started to pack up all her stuff but I haven't issued the ultimatum - yet. I very calmly asked for her to pack up the rooms as I was going to need them clean and empty for the boarders. "Poker Face" ...She looked like I'd thrown a bucket of water over her.

I explained that I was advertising with the local Uni to take in a couple of students. My word she did not take this news very well at all, saying things like "What am I going to do with all my things - there's not enough room at Jarrod's - I'll have to throw everything out - this is ridiculous You can't do that". "That means someone else will be using my bed" "They won't be here for tea on Sundays will they? - Dad You won't want strangers here?" "What if Chloe needs to stay overnight with you - does this mean you can't babysit?"

I thought this was priceless. Anyway I kept a neutral tone and told her she could use our loft storage area for some of her belongings but as it was already being used for that purpose she may need to sort out some of her possessions and have a good clean out.

As for using her bed YEP (mine anyway), being there for Sun tea YEP(I'm a good cook), babysitting Chloe would have be arranged but I stated one room would remain as the guest room, we get a lot of relatives visiting.

Mark this really hit home that "I was moving on" and she wouldn't be able to return anytime she liked, in effect her back door was being closed. Next time a fight erupts with Jarrod she won't be able to manipulate her way back into our home as easily. I was cool calm and collected the whole time she ranted and it was like she just ran out of steam. At the end she said she was surprised I hadn't discussed any of this with her before and I just said "You don't live here anymore - you've got your own life now - go live it - I wish you well"

I was totally amazed at how quickly her attitude changed when she figured I wasn't entering into an argument with her, it was brilliant and actually felt wonderful to be in control of my own reactions, thanks to the book. I wouldn't turn her away from our door but walking in and out will no longer be an option and she got the message I can't be manipulated.

I'm still working on the money thing - one battle at a time. The "cat issue" I'll deal with when the time comes. I'm just taking one problem at a time and trying real hard to let the rest wash over.

Since my last email we have had a big family get together where all my children (3) and their partners etc came to our house for a luncheon. This may not seem very big to other people but since my eldest son lives a couple of hours away from the rest of us we very rarely manage to see each other all at once. Matthew (eldest) arranged with everyone to be present, even contacting Kirsten directly to extend the invitation. Neither of my sons bother with her very much of late and this dissention in the family hasn't really helped the overall situation - you should have been there at Xmas - could have cut the air with a knife.

I think they both feel protective of me and their Dad and disapprove strongly about Kirsten and her life choices. Apart from that Kirsten has had some tremendous fights with both of them and the sister in laws and the boys just closed ranks and kept their distance from her.

Anyway the visit went pretty well although Jarrod didn't attend, apparently they had another blow up about him coming to any of our family functions. I was very proud of myself as normally I would try and point out to Kirsten how this one sided relationship with him isn't very fair when she is always ready to blend in with his family at all times. I just put that poker face on and didn't even comment about it - I reckon I'm getting pretty good at this stuff.

You know in general I think my change in attitude is having an extremely positive affect on my relationship with Kirsten. Rather than TELL her what to do I sit back now and consider my whole approach and I am trying more to just influence the right decision - it's no where near perfect but life is a hell of a lot easier. Ultimately I may have no gains in changing Kirsten's decisions but I can control my reactions and I no longer feed the anger. After the family visit she commented about being left out of things a bit and again I didn't try and reason with her. Normally I would come right in there with things like "This is how you've treated others What do you expect? etc", or be the peace maker and make excuses for everyone. Not this time, I just let it all go,they all have to figure out in their own way.

Anyway Mark thanks for listening,

Rgds M.

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Whose In Charge At Your House?

Mark-

I realized I was very good at allowing my children to be independent, but I was not very good at setting clear and firm limits for behavior. My children easily discovered rules that could be broken if their protests were long and loud enough.

Often times, I just wanted to avoid the hassle of a conflict. It was easier for me to let the rules slide than to deal with the fuss. Also, it was sometimes hard to refuse my children anything, because I didn't want them to be unhappy. I thought "unhappy children" equals "bad parents." And I guess at some level I was afraid my children would become angry and hate me if I set boundaries.

Now I know that children want to know that their parents are in charge; they need structure and limits. This concept alone is helping me immensely.

Thank you,

J.W.

Join Online Parent Support

He was so drunk it was hard to wake him up...


Hi Mark,

My problem is that I keep finding alcohol that my 16 yr old son has hidden. I have found beer and vodka. He is also on depression and anxiety medication (Effexor). Last Sunday night he was so drunk it was hard to wake him up. When we woke him up he did not know where he was, he was hostile, threatened to run away, and he said some very hurtful things to me. How do I get him to stop drinking and tell the truth?

Most days he is a wonderful kid - hard working & makes the A/B honor roll. Right now he has a summer job at the DA's office and tutors some high school kids with Algebra. He also lost his dad in a car accident about 5 years ago. This may be the cause of his depression. He does not open up to me so it is hard to know what is going on with him. How can I get him to talk to me?

P.


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Hi P.,

I got an answer that is short and sweet. He needs to be in some form of treatment for both alcohol abuse and depression. Intensive Out-patient (IOP) is recommended. He’s got some grief issues that he really needs to work through.

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

She takes no responsibility of her actions...

Hi Mark,

I have read your ebook and saw that you say 3 - 7 days grounding. I have dished out a grounding of 4 weeks and no mobile phone. My 14 year old daughter is putting herself at risk with her behaviour. She has a personality that she has to be centre of attention. Just last weekend she decided to stay out for a day and night. Her friends were worried for her as they had all gone to town and she didn't come home with them.

She wouldn't answer her phone and went to her job the following night with love bites covering her neck and high. I have done a drug test. She takes no responsibility of her actions and seems to self-sabotage herself with pushing the limits.

She has a councillor and she said that she needs help. But won’t let anyone near her. She wants to go to a foster family and we feel that we can’t keep her safe as she is aggressive and breaks rules and thinks we are the ones with the problem. This behaviour has been going on for a long while. I have a 17 year old daughter who is an ADHD child who is difficult also. I can't leave the girls together as a fight will erupt within minutes over nothing. My 14 year old always wins by beating the 17 year old. My husband and I feel that she might be better off going to another family for 6 weeks to give us a break and her space.

New Zealand doesn't have many facilities for teens who are out of control. What are your thoughts on this?

Regards

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Hi,

If she wants to go to a foster home, and you need a break from her, then I would go for it.

Of course, she’ll be back after you get a call from the foster parent stating she cannot control your daughter anymore. But by then, your daughter will have matured a bit, and you will have had a respite from her negative behavior and choices (albeit a short one).

Mark

p.s. 4 weeks is too long. She'll forget why she's grounded after a week and the lesson will be lost.

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

A Classic Case of Over-Indulgence

Hi Mark: It’s been a long time since I’ve written, but I wanted some input on my daughter. Ever since she got her license, a year ago March, she has changed dramatically. She has been diagnosed with severe ADHD and they thought possibly borderline bi-polar disorder.

Over the past year, things have slowly gone down hill. When she went back to school in September for her senior year, she just couldn’t deal. She had an attitude with teachers, she was barely getting passing grades (and she is extremely smart and has the capability of being an A student), she started skipping school and hanging out with other kids that skipped. She does not do drugs or alcohol, I know for a fact she is anti-drugs, etc. because she was put on different meds for her adhd and she had severe side effects to most all medications and she is afraid to do anything like that.

She went away with us (her family of six) to Florida in February, and when we returned home, she refused to go to school and quit, with only fifty days to graduation. I dragged her to her doctor and was able to get a note stating she had anxiety in school and with must red tape and phone calls, meetings, etc. (all of which I took care of), she was able to get tutored. To make a long story short, she did get her high school diploma on June 2nd, and she did quite well, all A, B’s and a few C’s. She is working two jobs now and is gone most of the time, but still bucks the system here at home.

I enforce a 12:30 curfew for her, as she does not need to be out all night, she is not a good driver, she has had four accidents (fender benders, all in the driveway) and she is a speed demon. She just bought a new car (mustang) and her car is her life. She has a car payment now that she is going to be held accountable for, car insurance, and her cell phone. She is fine with working towards these things, but she is absolutely miserable to her family.

She always has a sarcastic remark to make to me if I ask her the slightest thing, which might be “Pick up your wet towels after you shower and hang them up”. Everything is a battle, and she is not asked to do much except do her own laundry, hang up her towels and be home by curfew.

She has mostly boy friends, not boyfriends, but guys she hangs out with that she’s known for a year or more, and then new people from work that she’s only known a month or so. Boys are her friends, not girls. She does have maybe two girl friends, but sees mostly the boys. They talk about cars, racing, getting her car to run faster, etc. I’m afraid she’s going to end up in a serious car accident. She has had two speeding tickets within one week of getting her new car. She bought a radar detector so she could still go fast. There is no talking to her. She rolls her eyes and leaves. She is gone all the time. If she is working, she may leave at 7:30 in the morning (to baby-sit), get out of that job, and go to a friend’s house until curfew. She does this daily. She does not make any attempt to talk to me, (especially me because I’m the enforcer), my husband, her 16 year old sister or her twin 12 year old brothers. She comes and goes with an attitude.

She never smiles that much, she doesn’t make conversation and you can’t engage her in any conversation unless its about her car. I’m sick about this. I feel like I’ve lost my daughter, she is not the same person I use to know. I think it would be better if she moved out, but she doesn’t have the money to support herself, she can’t even pay her bills on time unless we are telling her to do it. She acts like such a child but thinks she’s all grown up. I know some of this is a typical eighteen year old attitude, but the disassociation with her family is eating away at me, I don’t get it.

We are an extremely close knit family, have vacationed twice a year together since the time she was five years old, have lots of good memories, have great family values; I am a stay at home mom and have always put my kids first and are here for them. My other three are a breeze, they are easy going and do not like the way my daughter acts. When it was mother’s day, she barely could get the words out to me, when it was our anniversary, we wanted to take the kids out to a nice restaurant because it was our twentieth, and she said she rather be with friends. It’s breaking my heart. I don’t know what to do accept try to be strong, stand my ground, and try to detach emotionally, but that is easier said than done, I miss her. Do you have any advice?

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Greetings,

There was one line in your email that greatly concerns me. You said, “…she is not asked to do much except do her own laundry, hang up her towels and be home by curfew” – none of which she is doing.

This statement coupled with the fact that you are allowing her to continue to live at YOUR house without following any house rules tells me what? You guessed it! This is a classic example of over-indulgence.

I do not want to chastise …so please don’t get upset with me here. But I would recommend that you review the Online Version of the eBook (be sure to listen to all the audio). A refresher course would be helpful I think.

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

It's time for her to move out...


Dear Mark,

HELP!! LOL!!

I just wanted to talk with you about some stuff; I am hoping you can email me as soon as you can!! Thanks for always responding so promptly, it has been a world of help!

I have emailed you plenty of times about our daughter. She is now graduated …thank heavens. We told you about the party she had in our house, and all the alcohol we found. She still won’t admit to it, but we know she did. I had emailed you before about her screaming and yelling on the phone with her boyfriend in our home and how we have asked her to stop it and it is breaking rules in our house when she does this. You suggested that she was in an addictive relationship and needed to move out for her sake as well.

She has done it two more times since; the last one scared my youngest daughter so much that she called me at work. I spoke with our oldest daughter about the situation and said it is time for her to move out, that she won’t respect our wishes and or our rules. She wasn’t sorry for her behavior; she just said she was upset. In addition over the weekend she received a ticket from a police officer for a minor in possession of marijuana and seems to think that it is the problem with society, not her.

The ticket is over a $1,000 dollars. She has a place to go and doesn’t want to go there. It is a friend of ours, who has a spare room, just blocks from the college that she will be attending in the fall. We have offered to pay 2 months rent up front, so she won’t have to worry about it right away and we have told her she has 2 weeks to go and we will move her there. She wouldn’t hear of a studio, or a dorm or a room for rent with a bunch of students and all of her friends are either staying with their parents or are going away for college. We really have no options.

She says she doesn’t want to go and that we can’t make her. I said well you won’t stick to the rules and it is just time for you to get out on your own. We offered to move her stuff.

I think she is going to make this hard and I am trying to take control of my home. She has said terrible things about us to her grandmother, who has taken her side and also thinks we are terrible for making her leave as well.

I am at my wits end. Does this sound on track? I always want to make sure I am doing the right thing.

Thanks, P.

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Hi P.,

Yes …you are definitely on track. Let me share a story that occurred last spring (2006) with one of the mother’s of OPS who was going through the same thing with her daughter. And yes…it does seem heartless at first:

Mother wanted daughter out …daughter didn’t want to leave …but she did want to basically harass her mother on a daily basis. Finally mom mustered the courage to follow my recommendation. Here’s what she did:

One day while the daughter was at summer school, mom and friends got a U-Haul truck and packed up all of the daughter’s things, moved them to a studio apartment …then to put the icing on the cake, mom confiscated her daughter’s garage door opener and changed the lock on the front door.

She had warned her daughter up front to be out of the house by a certain date, or she would take these measures. The daughter called her bluff and lost.

Long story short …this mother has kept me posted over the year. Her daughter has since moved into a larger apartment and is continuing to do fine at college. Mother and daughter have a fairly civilized relationship now (you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder kinda thing).

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

She wants to live with her 18 yr old boyfriend this summer...

Mark-

Patrick and I are spiritual as well. Unfortunately her mother is involved in her upbringing and she is somewhat evil. K___ has been gone for three weeks now and we are doing our best to get her to come home. We have arranged for her to make up the three classes she dropped this school year. She is an honor roll student and she thought she would have to do the makeup work before school was out. That was not the case. She wants a car and to work as well. We are trying to get her to come home to earn those things she treasurers most. Unfortunately, her mother wants to involve law enforcement. I worked in law enforcement and I don't feel it's good to involve them on domestic issues if you can work them out at home. To me it is a negative introduction. Once you’re in the system you tend to not care anymore. I don't want that for her.

We are going to talk to her again tomorrow evening about coming home. She wants to live with her 18 yr old boyfriend this summer. We are NOT for that. Any suggestions? I provided her with a VERY positive goal list last time we met with her.

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Greetings,

I don’t think K___’s mother is evil. Everybody thinks they’re doing right. If we think others do bad things because they have evil intentions, we may give up trying to influence them, become afraid of them, get angry with them, seek revenge, etc.

Also, I respectfully disagree that “once you’re in the system you tend to not care anymore” …this has not been my experience. And I also think that parents should involve law enforcement whenever a domestic battery occurs.

Re: living with boyfriend this summer. Remember, one of our major tenets here at Online Parent Support is to “foster the development of self-reliance.” Thus, if K___ lives out on her own for the summer, will this promote or inhibit self-reliance? The answer is clear: it will promote it.

I understand that you can make a good argument for her NOT living with the boyfriend (e.g., may get pregnant), but since “self-reliance” is PARAMOUNT, the recommendation would be to allow her to learn some ‘life -lessons’ away from the nest.

(NOTE: This assumes she is 17-years-old; if she's 16 or younger, then we need to come up with a different strategy.)

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

I have better tools in my parenting toolbox now...


Hi Mark,

I think my biggest problem was that I didn't change the things that weren't working.
I kept using the same parenting strategies and hoped for different results. This turned out to be almost as big a problem as not trying to fix problems in the first place. For example, I thought that lecturing and threatening to do this or that was an effective form of discipline -- but since I had to use it each day to correct the
same problem over and over again, it should have been obvious that it was not a good strategy. I have better tools in my parenting toolbox now. Thanks for all your
help.

G.B.

Online Parent Support

Aussie Mum Employs Tough Love


Hi Mark,

Thank you for your emails, I really find your contact to be quite soothing. Although I am unable to put any of the ebook into practice, I have still been studying on your suggested time frame (digesting weekly assignments) and believe quite firmly that this is helping me immensely to understand the problems I have experienced with my daughter.

As discussed in my earlier email, K___ has officially left home but she has invited herself and her family for dinner for the past two Sundays. This move rather surprised me as I thought she would stay away for quite a long time. K___ arranges these appearances with her Dad and only stays for the duration of the meal and is gone within 2 hours. At least I am seeing C___ (my granddaughter) for these brief visits, the poor little bugger doesn't understand any of this. The mood is a tad strained and we basically exchange pleasantries. I keep myself busy in the kitchen and don't initiate any conversations, I answer if I am addressed directly, but really just try to stay out of the way and enjoy my time with C___. J___ (the boyfriend) has never got along with my husband and he hides himself outside smoking and talking to his mates on his mobile, he appears at the table to eat and then they leave.

Not the best kind of arrangement I know but this is keeping the peace according to my husband. During these visits I have been quite proud of myself for maintaining a "poker face" and keeping a neutral tone to my voice. K___ has tried a couple of things to incite me, mainly involving C___ but I haven't taken the bait. Last night she rang and asked to speak with me, I was rather shocked. Anyway we had a conversation about one of her girlfriends, blah blah, filling me in on the latest gossip, but it was like she needed to just talk to her Mum, a bit strange I thought. Maybe my recent attitude is starting to pay off… at least she knows I'm not buying any emotional blackmail where C___ is concerned.

1st question - Last Sunday I have asked her to pack up the 2 bedrooms and the bathroom her and C___ were using. She agreed she would come on Monday but we are at Thursday and nothing has been done. These rooms were all left in a damn mess (and I haven't touched them which is amazing for me), she has taken the fundamentals but left the rest behind and she hasn't slept in our house for 6 weeks. I want to give her an ultimatum - do it or I will, but if I do it everything goes in the bin. Should I follow through or is this going to cause more trouble than it’s worth?

2nd question - How do I approach her about taking responsibility for her actions? Prior to K___ leaving she ran up a $300.00 phone bill in one month, part of which was due to her "borrowing" my mobile phone. My phone went missing for a couple of weeks and I really thought I had lost it but mysteriously it turned up. I was furious with her at the time and we did have words especially when the bill turned up. She claimed she would be paying the account but she left home and there has been no further mention of it. My problem is I want to ask her for the money but L___ is dead set against me doing this. He does not want to make any waves and just wants me to chalk it up with all the rest. We bought her car and paid for the rental property along with settling quite a few of her debts, all up 10k plus in the past 1½ years. Even so, I know she has debt collection agencies chasing her right now for unpaid bills - the mail still comes to our house. I believe she needs to take responsibility for this excessive phone bill and this is a prime example of OUR over indulgence. After reading your book we've become excellent in this department over the years, I want to stop but her Dad can't see it.

3rd question - She wants me to do something so it's easier on her - I don't think so!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have inherited K___'s 12 year old cat which she has left behind when she moved out. When she rang last night I notified her the cat needs to be taken to the Vet as its having trouble weeing and she is worried it will need to be put down and claims she can't do this. She will take the cat today to get it checked out but then burst into tears saying if the cat needs to be put down she will make a second appointment and I will have to take it as she couldn't possibly do it. This request from the "I'm an Adult Now", cruel as it sounds I just think she has to be the one to do this, not me. Either you're a grown up or you're not, after her past performance sprouting about this I'm not inclined to do anything that makes it easy on her.

Am I being too hard?

Sorry to be such a pain but with her not living here I feel I have little or no leverage, it's not like I can ground her or anything and I certainly don't get any support from her Dad at the moment. The situation has created a rather bad feeling between us, which is the first time in 27 years of marriage we're in discord. However I am taking your advice and trying to be positive just for me, the rest have to take care of themselves. I'm trying to transport myself beyond all these difficulties and I know everything will work itself out in the end. I am working really hard on getting rid of the resentment flu and I try to forgive myself a little more each day.

Any help you can offer with the above would be greatly appreciated. I can't change the past but I reckon I can have a fair old go at the future. I want to try and establish a relationship where we all get some peace but at the same time K___ needs to know there are boundaries, no matter how old you are.

Thanks for your time and all those positive messages - they do help.

Aussie Mum

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Hi M.,

Re: I want to give her an ultimatum - do it or I will, but if I do it everything goes in the bin. Should I follow through or is this going to cause more trouble than it’s worth?

>>>>>>>>>> Excellent idea!!! A single father and member of Online Parent Support reported a similar situation recently …his daughter always left the bathroom a mess each morning. So he gave her one warning: “If this stuff (i.e., cosmetics, hair spray, etc.) is all over the place tomorrow morning, I’m throwing it away.” Well …she didn’t clean up after herself …so he put it all in the trash. Plus she has to purchase – with her own money – any items she needs replaced (funny how the counter tops have been reported to be tidy lately).

Re: My problem is I want to ask her for the money but L___ is dead set against me doing this. He does not want to make any waves and just wants me to chalk it up with all the rest.

>>>>>>>>>> I think it would set a good example to request that she be responsible this debt. But it’s more about setting a good example than it is about the money. So, require her to pay a few dollars a week (e.g., $5.00). It will take forever to get you paid back, but (a) you won’t be putting your daughter in a financial crunch and (b) you will be modeling for her that there are no more free handouts.

Re: Am I being too hard [cat issue]?

>>>>>>>>>> Maybe just a bit …this issue falls into a gray area. I’m not going to recommend one way or the other on this one. You go where your heart leads you. If I had to deal with this situation (and I’m not saying you should be like me), I would probably go ahead and deal with the cat for her.

Bottom line: You are greatly on track. Thanks for being a good student. Keep taking care of you (taking care of oneself is another good behavior to model for our children).

Mark

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

I pretended that things were getting better...

Mark,

I resisted joining Online Parent Support for a long time. I thought I could handle the problems without outside assistance, and I pretended that things were getting better on their own. But this pretending took the place of the hard work required to bring about real change that you talk about in the eBook. That's all over now. I'm taking responsibility for my part of the problem, and my daughter is accepting here part as well.

Thank you for all your help.

Sign me a grateful member of Online Parent Support,

J.D.

ONLINE PARENT SUPPORT

Mark:

I have been a member of your support group for several months now and have found it very helpful. This past Sunday, my daughter graduated from High School with an honors diploma. A few months ago, I would not have thought this possible. Thanks, in part, to your website and support group, her behavior has become much better.

She has always been a high achiever, but she also has been an extremely high maintenance girl, perfectly fitting your description of the out of control teen. My husband and I were married for 13 years before we adopted her from Korea. She was our shining star and we doted on her. You get the picture..... very spoiled, must always be the center of attention, very opinionated. She has a total lack of ability to tell the truth and a very high sense of entitlement. By following your advice, things have improved greatly, but this past year has been the most difficult of my life. We also have a 13 year old son whose temperament is the total opposite. He is shy, respectful, hard-working, a total joy.

There have been many, many issues over the last five or so years, but I need help with the biggest. When we first began implementing your program back in October, she resisted greatly. She was hanging around with a really rough group of kids. She has experienced some racism, which has greatly affected her, so she has turned her back on most of her Caucasian friends. Instead of trying to find a group that she fits in with, she has decided to find a group that she feels superior to. We live a very comfortable life, make good salaries and have a beautiful new home in an upscale neighborhood. She has chosen to befriend a group of gang-bangers from low-income families because, I believe, she likes to show off what she has to these kids. It has resulted in brushes with the law and them stealing from her and us. One young man that she considered her boyfriend stole her new digital camera and iPod as well as my son's wallet.

In mid-December, she had had enough of our new rules and ran away from home on a Friday afternoon after we told her she couldn't go out that night. Before I came home from work, she had packed a few belongings, got in her car and drove away. She knew that I would be taking her car away when she got home. She had her cell phone with her and did call me a few times, but wouldn't tell me where she was. We reported her as a runaway, which I think was a big shock to her. She felt that we wouldn't want to garner any bad publicity because I am a public official. By Sunday night, she called and said that she was going to go to school Monday morning and would come home after school to work things out. She followed through and came home. We have been working through things since then and she has stopped hanging with most of those kids.

Just when I thought things were turning around, one of her close friends called me and told me that my daughter was hiding something from me that I needed to know. She was pregnant and planning on having an abortion the next day without my knowledge. I talked to her about it and she admitted it. I found out that many people at school knew about it and I was humiliated. She told me that she was going through with the abortion no matter what I said, and I could either support her decision or not. We are active Catholics and this was totally against everything I believe in. I was extremely torn between my Catholic faith and my desire to make sure my daughter was safe. I was afraid of where she was going to have this procedure done. She was adamant that she could not raise a child, even with our help, and refused to place a child for adoption. Her child would have been biracial, Korean and Hispanic, and she felt that it would never be placed in a good home and would end up in foster care. Admittedly, I had no desire to raise another child at this point in my life.

I know that her child would have become my full responsibility. In the end, I made the decision to go with her for the abortion. This entire decision was made in less than ten hours, as I found out about the pregnancy the evening before the scheduled abortion.

Ever since the abortion, which occurred in late February, I have been wracked with guilt. I have not attended church since I cannot make myself go because I feel like such a hypocrite. Every week I tell myself that this week I will return, then on Sunday I can't make myself go. She knows that I'm not going and knows why, and she feels very guilty about it. I know that, because she told so many people about it, many parishioners at my church are aware of the abortion. I feel humiliated and shameful. Did I make the decision to help her because I was concerned about her, or about me? I cannot get past my guilt, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have refused to go with her. I would have made every attempt to force her not to have the procedure. She had several weeks to think about it, I had several hours. I deeply regret the decision.

I miss going to church, I miss my faith, but I don't know how to reconcile myself to this. I know that, people being people, many have already passed judgment on us and I will always feel that everyone in church knows what happened. My 13 year old son doesn't know anything about this, and I am concerned that someone will tell him. He wonders why we don't go to church anymore. Both of the kids went to the Catholic elementary school that is associated with this church, we have been life-long members and I really don't want to move to a knew church, I had planned on being a member here for the rest of my life. I am afraid to go and speak to my pastor about this for fear that he will have my daughter, and possibly me, excommunicated.

I'm sorry this letter is so long. If you have any suggestions for me, I would really appreciate it.

C.

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Hi C.,

Re: Did I make the decision to help her because I was concerned about her, or about me?

Answer: Both, which is understandable.

In situations such as this, we have to ask ourselves, “Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?” So, do the advantages of an abortion outweigh the disadvantages?

Advantages of going ahead with an abortion— Some of the consequences of compulsory pregnancy and forced motherhood (i.e., unwanted children) are as follows. The child:

· has more emotional handicaps
· does less well scholastically; is a low achiever
· is twice as likely to have record of juvenile delinquency
· is 4x as likely to have adult criminal record
· is more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs
· is 6x more likely to receive welfare between 16-21
· has poorer relationships with parents
· is at a higher risk to be abused or neglected by parents

Disadvantages of abortion—

· creates feelings of regret and grief
· does not give the child that is in the womb a chance at life, thus it is looked down upon by many religions
· having an abortion always lessens your chances for having children later in life
· the “would-be-mother” will always wonder ‘what if’ and may feel some level of guilt for the rest of her life about the child she could have had

No matter what her political persuasion, it always comes down to a very intimate, personal decision that no woman makes without some degree of emotional trauma. All of the options -- abortion, or raising the baby, or allowing another family to adopt the baby -- carry emotional pain and personal sacrifice. This is the price your daughter -- and you too, unfortunately -- are paying for her poor choice to have unprotected sex.

Millions of women and men, both in society and in the church, are suffering under the guilt of abortion. Nearly one out of five women getting an abortion identifies herself as a Christian. This means a quarter of a million abortions are performed on Christians each year.

It’s counterproductive to try to eliminate guilt feelings without dealing with guilt’s cause. Others may say, “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” but you know better. Only by denying reality can you avoid guilt feelings. Denial sets you up for emotional collapse whenever something reminds you of the child or grandchild you could have had. You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not pretense.

Bottom line: The good news is that God loves you and your daughter and desires to forgive both of you for the abortion, whether or not you knew what you were doing. So your 1st task is to accept his forgiveness, your 2nd task is to then forgive yourself, and your 3rd task is to forgive your daughter.

Re: church attendance.

Answer: I think you need to go back to your church and start attending services again. If you start getting some “bad vibes” from other church members, then find a church that forgives like your God did.

Mark

Online Parent Support

I remember feeling so helpless...

Mark,

I remember feeling so helpless, like I couldn't do anything about the chaos and drama in my home. I told myself, 'If you haven't got the power, there is nothing you can do about your situation'. Seeing myself as helpless insured paralysis and provided a powerful rationale for doing nothing. But now I feel empowered -- because most of the things you suggest actually work.

Thanks again,

M.C.

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Stepfather-Stepson Relationship Problems

"I feel I have my son on a better path with his ODD/ADHD. The extreme behavior and fits have calmed down and his grades have improved. I use the material I purchased from you, and he is on a small dosage of Adderall. There is still a problem I am having a hard time dealing with - my husband!

My husband is a stepfather to my son who has had the trouble. I have another son from the previous marriage and one son after getting remarried to my husband. I struggle with my son's father as he doesn't see the problems we do (his father only sees him on the weekends). And, then most concerning I struggle with my husband at home. My ex feels there are only slight problems and I blow things out of proportion (even calling the police on my son after he attacked me twice at the height of the problems) and my current husband feels I am not hard enough and feels I can't see the problems as he can because of the biological tie.

I do not fear my husband leaving and I don't want to think of leaving my husband due to my son, but I am almost at the end of my rope. Finally after months and months of trying to get help for my son, he is feeling better and smiling. He is still a teenager and still gets angry and he still says things he shouldn't (and swearing). However, the progress we have made is tremendous -- in my mind. Grades have improved, suspensions have halted, teachers calling have subsided, and the outbursts are much less intense. My son even does chores -- not happily, and a lot of times not without a struggle -- but not battles! It is considerable progress.

My husband still refuses to accept the progress. He tells me it is only time until another outburst happens and says the only difference is we are giving him his own way. Without a lot of detail, that isn't the case in my mind. I feel I have given him privileges and some room to be trustworthy.

I have given up on trying to convince my husband he is wrong. My son has overheard some of these comments and kids aren't stupid. They sense things just as we do. My husband and son do not get along. I truly believe my son wants my husband to take an interest in him, but my husband acts somewhat like a child himself because he says he isn't just going to forget what has happened! He isn't going to just let H___ talk to people that way whether it is a short amount of time or longer fits. It is so uncomfortable in our household! I am tired of being pulled left and right."


You said it, and you see it – your son is making progress!!! Who would know better than you?

When a man marries a woman with children, it is almost guaranteed that it will take longer for the household to settle down than he thinks it will.

Stepfathers must resist the urge to straighten out the kids' behavior. It takes time for an emotional bond to develop, and it isn't possible to successfully discipline without that bond. Stepfathers who try to discipline too much or too soon end up feeling inadequate, frustrated, and disappointed. The stepfather is active in disciplinary decisions, of course, but works with his wife behind the scenes. The children's mother should be the one to announce the discipline - but she says, "WE have decided..."

Promoting an emotional bond includes the stepfather telling the children how he feels and showing that he recognizes and understands their feelings. It’s important for a stepfather to tell his stepchildren that he’s not their father and is not trying to replace him, but will be there for them.

It is unfortunate that stepfathers may have to deal with a biological father who has no intention of being cooperative or helpful. Fighting back, however, will make things worse.

If the child has a good relationship with the biological dad, competition could turn the child against the stepfather. Thus, it’s important for the stepfather to say good things about the bio-father (e.g., complimenting the stepson on a good pitching arm by adding, "you must get that from your dad"), and if possible, try to work with the other man to set policies that can be used with the child. If there can be a working relationship with the biological father, it will make the stepfather seem less of a threat to both the father and the child.


My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

He is getting praise from teachers...

Your eBook and website are very thorough and have helped me and my family immensely. My husband and I have a better understanding now!

Since completing the program, my son J___ has brought his grades up 35%, and he is getting praise from teachers. The Assistant Principal wrote a letter describing improvements in J___’s behavior and gave it to me at the parent-teacher conference.

Grateful Mom,

T.S.

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Sometimes I think about committing suicide...

Mark,

My 13 year old son recently shows lots of problems and finally he is under probation with the electric monitoring program. My culture of origin is Korean but I try to understand this culture and raise him in the bi-cultural condition. I've studied counseling education and for the last two decades I've worked on the field of education. It is really heartbroken just watching him to struggle and at the same time I have to support him.

For the last two weeks he was o.k. under that ankle monitor and seemed to change his mind toward the positive direction. But yesterday my older son (19 years old) told me C___ (13 years old one) smoked the day before yesterday when I went to bed and he secretly shared this story with him. I never suspected him at home even though he did some drugs outside when I was gone to Korea to take care of my ill father. How could he smoke in my house under my presence? But last week his kind of bad friend visited him and they smoked together in the bathroom. When I checked the bathroom, they told a lie and just said they burned his friend's F graded math test.

I am not concerned about his smoking habit. He has lied habitually. So I kept on asking him to tell the truth but he burst his anger and broke the closet mirror. I did not respond to him even though I was so upset and even scared. I better call the probation but I couldn't.

Two weeks ago there was a big fight between him and his dad in my house while I was gone to Korea and his dad (my ex-husband) called the police and he was sent to the jail. I believe it is not good to invite the legal system to control my own child. After that anger burst moment suddenly he became calm and childish again to talk nicely to his brother and me. I think he has a mental problem too as well as this conduct disorder.

Sometimes I think about committing suicide for my own luck and his. But I know time matters. Someday he will grow and everything will be fine. But I am not sure he could be a responsible healthy civilian not a criminal.

I cannot share my ugly story with anyone anymore. His probation officer recommended me to take individual counseling and it will start this Friday. But I cannot open wide because they have to report to the court about any progress and any issues during the sessions.

Is there any hope? I really want to give up his custody and go back to my country never seeing him again.

-Y.

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Hi Y.,

Some kids misbehave because they are experiencing internal distress: anger, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, or sorrow. The younger a child is, the more likely he is to call attention to his distress through his behavior.

When their behavior is extreme and highly disturbed, the temptation is to dismiss these kids as scary, lost, or bad to the core. Increasingly, there is a tendency to relegate them to the criminal or juvenile justice system. Yet, by doing so, we may overlook the fact that some of these kids have serious underlying emotional disorders.

Many of the underlying causes of childhood behavioral problems, including family violence and abuse, can be prevented or successfully managed. It's important to look beyond obvious negative behaviors to identify underlying biological, emotional, or social vulnerabilities that might be present and treatable. Biochemical underpinnings and genetic vulnerabilities interact with environmental forces and individual characteristics to cause conduct disorders.

Because kids with conduct disorders may suffer from myriad biological, psychological, and social vulnerabilities, a combination of treatment methods seems most effective. Frequently this combination of therapy will include liaison with community resources including juvenile court staff or probation officers.

The methods described in My Out-of-Control Teen eBook have been used with considerable success with aggressive kids, particularly when parents themselves can make changes. When parents can participate fully, this method helps parents to encourage appropriate behaviors in their kids and to use discipline in more effective ways. In order to interact with their kids in new ways, parents learn to use positive reinforcement, to link misbehavior to appropriate consequences, and to develop ways of negotiating with their kids. Once the parent child relationship smoothes out, many kids are better able to navigate their social and academic worlds in a more productive manner.

So yes …there is always hope.

Welcome to Online Parent Support,

Mark

BIG Thank You

I just wanted to say a BIG Thank You for your work! I think, I mean I KNOW that your e-books and website are the most informative I have ever seen. And I have looked everywhere, read everything, tried it all! Thank you!

D.G.

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Stepsons Steal iPad: Dilemma for a Stepfather

"What would you recommend as a course of action for the following: I have a 15 yr old stepson who admits to having stolen an I-Pad from a car, and a 17 yr old stepson who admits to having sold it to a friend. My gut says call the police, report the incident, and let them deal with the consequences. My wife wants to deal with it 'in house' and keep the law out of the matter. The problem is threefold: (1) Both sons are currently dealing with legal issues (on probation in juvenile court), and reporting the theft would almost certainly guarantee jail time for them. (2) This occurred a couple of weeks ago, and it appears that the whole matter is quietly slipping into oblivion. (3) Reporting the boys has major potential to cause a rift in my marriage. Any suggestions?"


Re: Point #1 – Your wife is not doing anyone any favors by saving her sons from consequences. Obviously, she is not willing to work this program if her attitude is “I need to keep my sons from experiencing painful emotions associated with their poor choices.” Anyway …as a weak alternative (in the interest of avoiding a rift in the marriage), both sons should earn money to replace the iPad and return the new one to the theft-victim.

Re: Point #2 – You’re right ...to issue a late consequence will not have as much of an impact as it would if it were immediate.

Re: Point #3 – Here we have to take a look at how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Clearly, keeping your marriage intact is paramount. Without you, the sons have no father-figure. The marriage comes first.

The following is not necessarily a recommendation in the formal sense, but I recently had another “stepfather” that was going through a very similar situation. Somehow, he got an anonymous call through to his stepson’s probation officer, advising him of some illegal activity that the son was engaging in. As a result, the issue was addressed immediately, but without putting the stepfather in the “hot seat” with his wife.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

She is coming around in a positive way...

Mark-

Update. K___ has been in touch with use several times. We have given her permission to move in with a friend in Port Orchard. She is going to call us every week with updates. We have an address, phone number, her boyfriends first, last name, phone number, license plate, everything we need in case something happens.

We decided to give her this space to show us she is responsible enough. She went to her school to get her make up schoolwork. She is going to complete the work and turn it in for her credit. She is an honor roll student, and at the present time has more credits than necessary to enter the 11th grade. She has promised both P___ and I that she will graduate from high school. She actually wants to go to college and P___ and I assured her we will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

P___ and I both told her she could "push us away all she wants, but we will never give up on her". When we sit down and speak with her, we never yell or scream. We keep our voices down and try out best to "communicate with her", something her mother can't accomplish.

It is apparent that K___ holds a lot of anger toward her mother. I asked her to deal with her anger. She told me she was aware of it and she planned on dealing with it on her own. I told her I wasn't sure she would be able to do it on her own, but to let me know if she needs help. She is coming around in a positive way. We are both optimistic about her adventure this summer. We believe she will see how difficult it is on her own and end up coming back before school starts in the fall.

Thank you for your continued support. It means a lot to me.

A.

www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

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Therapy Ain't Workin'


Mark,

Thank you for the recent report on ODD and ADHD. There is no question that this is what my son suffers from. We were assigned to AB3632 last year. He was almost expelled and having a lot of issues at school. We started a med last April, which has really made a difference in school. He is 13 almost 14. He is in SDC at school and is having a much better year behaviorally then last year. We are still struggling at home, but there is some improvement. The more structured and busy he is the better. Summer will be a little more difficult, but we are making plans to keep him as busy as possible.

We have 2 hours of services available each week through the AB3632 program. They continue to do "therapy" and my son is frustrated and refusing to go. For him it is a waste of time and I can't disagree. The therapist has not been able to make a connection with him. We were doing behavior modification, which was having some impact, but that person left the program. Now they have assigned a drug/alcohol counselor also. I think they were hoping as a male he could connect. Both are trying to engage him in talk therapy and failing. I have spoken to them several times and requested programs for anger-management and skill building …practical things that could help. At this point the therapy sessions are causing him to be more angry and frustrated. Although they agree with me, we continue down the same path. I feel that they are expecting me to make my son want to work with them and I can't do that. You said you deal with the behavior side. What do you suggest?

D.Z.

```````````````

Hi D.,

Counseling is just another traditional parenting strategy that has little or no effect. Thus, as you know, you are not making much headway with “therapy” (and maybe making a bad problem worse).

Are you using the strategies outlined in “My Out-of-Control Teen” eBook? If so, do you have a specific question regarding how to implement any particular strategy?

If I were you, I would try to find your son a mentor (e.g., a big brother from the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization). He needs someone to talk to “on his level” (i.e., someone who is interested in him as an individual, not someone who is attempting some sort of behavior modification). When I do therapy with a kid, he rarely perceives it as a “therapy session” because I recruit him as a ‘partner in problem solving’ – he does the work. You can see an example of a session here ==> The Art of Schmoozing.

None of us know why we behave the way we do, so if a therapist tells the kid that he is doing something for some reason and this is a good reason, the kid is inclined to believe it. If he is angry or negative with the therapist, but the therapist responds with positive reframing (i.e., turning a 'negative' into a 'positive'), then the kid is likely to get confused. Here the kid is trying to be obnoxious and distance himself from the therapist, but the therapist is saying lots of nice things the kid likes to hear!

The difference between how men and women behave can be illustrated by how they deal with an angry dog. A man would say, 'Good dog! Good dog!' while he looked around for a big stick. A woman on the other hand would say, 'Good dog! Good Dog!' until it actually believed it was a good dog! I don't believe that this represents a sex difference --it's just good psychology. When you reframe, you are telling the kid what a good doggy he is until he believes it! And it works. It works because at heart, that's what we all are (i.e., GOOD). No matter how foolish our behavior, our intentions are always good.

Please review the information on the Anger Management for Teens page. See if you can get your son to read this material. In addition, you may want to consider getting the eBook shown on that page -- Child Anger Revealed by Jamie Sullivan. It’s a great book that will really be a help to you.

Mark

Online Parent Support

`````````````````

Thanks for your response Mark.

This is confirmation on counsel we received from a pastor friend. We are in process of working with our youth leaders to identify a good mentor. Someone in college and closer to Matt's age. I agree that we need to focus on the positives and believe that success is possible. This seems to be more difficult for my husband. He really struggles with the language and impulsive response's from my son. Things like "stupid", "shut up" and "dumb butt".

My husband advised me today that it is more difficult for men than woman to tolerate this type of action. My feeling that he shouldn't tolerate it, but punish him immediately. Maybe we should chat sometime.

D.Z.

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