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

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

Daughter Is Too Comfortable

Hi,

I recently signed up for your teenage help programme and have found it very useful in certain situations as well as controlling and making me think about the way I react to things.

My daughter decided a month ago to drop out of school, basically this is because she is too lazy to get up in the mornings or to do the homework. She says that she wants to start college in September, although she hasn't got round to applying in the four weeks she has had off, nor has she seriously looked for a job for the meantime.

To stop her lazing in bed all day watching TV I have disconnected her aerial, I also disconnected her phone as she recently run up a HUGE phonebill which she was unable to pay as she has no money! However I have since comprimised and allowed her phone to receive incoming calls as she said that she had left her phone number with jobs that she'd applied for.

This evening I asked her casually what her plans were for tomorrow she said "dunno, nothing really", and I said "well it would be helpful if you could vacuum round for me", she replied "NO WAY! Why should I when you've stopped me from making calls on my mobile? and anyway I hate you!" (that bit hurt)

I felt this was totally uncalled for and felt like shouting at her for being so ungrateful and spiteful, however I managed to keep my cool and said calmly well I think that’s very unfair. With that she went upstairs to bed, I have since text her as I fear I will get angry and hurt if I speak to her, in the text I said well if that’s how you feel and you won't even help around the house then maybe I should send back those new wardrobes I just bought for you. She hasn't replied!

Am I doing the right thing? I feel as though I am just thinking what else can I take away from her!

How else can I address her lack of motivation and laziness, she’s not on drugs but has no ambition or get up and go!

Many Thanks

J.

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Hi J.,

Please refer to the section of the eBook entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid” [in the Anger Management chapter – online version].

With all due respect Dear Mom, I can see by your email that you are still using “soft love” as opposed to “tough love.” I’m concerned for you that she may never leave the nest, as she is too comfortable in there.

If she is contemplating college in September, then I’m guessing she is 17-years-old or so, which means she is an adult (at least in the physical sense). The latest parenting challenge is dealing with emerging adults who have no intention of leaving the nest. Many 17- to 24-year-olds either return home after college or they've never even left home. The media refers to them as "Boomerang Kids." Parents are worried that their kids won't leave home.

This new phenomenon is highlighted in the movie Failure to Launch. Matthew McConaughey plays Tripp, 30-something bachelor whose parents want him out of the house. They've hired Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), an interventionist, to help him move out. Paula has a track record of successfully boosting men's self-confidence to cause them to want to be independent.

Interestingly, this story line is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult to coax out of their comfy childhood homes.

Since the '70s, the number of 24-year-olds still living at home has nearly doubled! Here are the top 4 factors contributing to this change:

1. They Are Unprepared

They are overwhelmed or unmotivated to live independently. They would rather play it safe by occupying the family home, playing computer games and delivering pizza.

These kids often grow up living the life of the privileged. Here, well-meaning parents provide their children with all the amenities congruent with an affluent lifestyle. The parents are focused on doing more for their children than what their parents did for them – at the expense of keeping them dependent. Kids don't move out because they've got it made!

When your financial generosity isn't combined with teaching kids how to become self-sufficient at an early age, we cannot expect them to automatically possess adequate life skills when they reach legal adulthood. How will they gain the skills to confidently live their own life when they haven't had the opportunity to do things for themselves?

2. They Are Cautious or Clueless

They are committed, but unsure how to discover their ideal career path. They approach college with the same trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out that it no longer prepares them for today's competitive world.

Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions. In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this is much too late! It's best to start young, at age 13. This stage of development is the perfect time to begin connecting the dots between what they love to do and possible career options. It can take years to prepare for the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens maximize their opportunities in high school and make college a much better investment.

3. They Have Personal Problems

They don't have effective life coping skills, have failed relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling with a challenging life event.

In Failure to Launch, we learn that Tripp's parents indulged him largely because the woman he loved died, and he hasn't gotten over his loss. When Tripp falls in love with Paula – the new girl of his dreams – his self-sabotaging habit of dumping a girl before she can get too close gets reactivated. Finally, his friends intervene and Tripp eventually faces his demons, to everyone's delight.

If your teen is struggling emotionally, don't make the mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better without an intervention. Tough love requires that you insist your adolescent get professional help so that he or she can move forward. If you don't know how to have that kind of conversation, consider getting help from a parenting expert.

4. They Have Mounting Debt

They've accumulated significant credit card debt and moving back in with their parents is a way to pay it off. According to the National Credit Card Research Foundation, 55 percent of students ages 16 to 22 have at least one credit card. If your teen falls into this group, make sure you monitor spending together online. Helping your teen understand how to budget and manage credit cards will be important for handling a household budget in the future.

Kids can't learn to manage money if they don't have any or if parents always pay for everything. If your offspring moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal amount for room and board. As an adult member of your household, it's important for your young adult to contribute to household chores and expenses.

If the purpose of your child's return home is to pay off bills or a college loan, have a realistic plan and stick to the plan to make sure your young adult moves out of the house.

Determine Goals and Stick to Them— Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will consider offering some short-term help. However, indulging an adult child's inaction does not help your son or daughter begin his or her own life. If your child defaults on your agreement, be willing to enforce consequences to help him or her launch into responsible adulthood.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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2 comments:

doodle said...

Does this apply to those who have suffered trauma? What about an 18yr old who was misdiagnosed for 8 months only to have to have emergency surgery to remove a life threatening brain tumour and who is finding it very difficult to come to terms with that? Or a 22yr old who became pregnant after a rape, kept the baby but suffered mental health issues as a result and has proven - twice!- that she is unable to live on her own with her child. This is my family and I just don't know what to do. I want them to have a life but how do we egt there?

Mark said...

I would say it applies regardless of trauma. They may need a little more time to become self-sufficient -- and should have ongoing support. But should they NEVER leave the nest? I think to allow them to continue to live at home past 21 years of age is doing them a great disfavor because it reinforces the misconception that they are weak, unable, incompetent, etc.

Help them gain confidence by assisting them out of their comfort zone.

Mark

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