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Our biggest mistake was grounding him for too long...

Hi K.,

I've responded throughout your email below:

Hi Mark,

My husband and I have been taking your online seminar and found it to be very helpful. Our son will be 18 in October. He's never cared about school and has become more and more defiant in the past few years. I would describe his behavior as passive aggressive. He'll say what you want to hear but then do something totally different. He says he will continue high school when he's 18 but I doubt it very much. He wants, wants, wants, but has not motivation behind any of it. He's had a little trouble with drugs but I don't think he is abusing drugs.

After taking your seminar, we found our biggest mistake was grounding him for too long. He kept screwing up so we just kept adding to his grounding. After awhile, he just ignored anything we said. The 3-day grounding rule helped a little bit, but basically he would get off grounding for a day or so then screw up again.

==> He only "screws up" if he repeats the original offense. Please refer to Session #3 and have another peak at the strategy entitled "When You Want Something From Your Kid."

That's the cycle we're in right now. But our relationship still has improved because of your recommendations for daily positive affirmations, etc.

I would like your advice in how to handle our latest problem. We discovered over the weekend that our son had stolen $60 from my purse and we have seen some indications that he may be buying and selling marijuana with a group of friends. I've told him that he must pay back every penny of what he took (by doing chores, which will take him sometime to do because he only does chores when he wants something.) I'm not sure if I should go to the police. I can't prove any of this although I believe he has taken money before but can't be absolutely sure. He's had a few minor run-ins with the police already – trespassing on schools grounds at night and possession of marijuana. We have an appt with a juvenile probation office this week regarding these problems.

==> If you don't have any hard evidence that he stole money from you, then you really cannot do anything other than take extra precautions in the future (hide your money). Regarding selling/smoking pot: Get some home drug kits. Test him randomly. Involve authorities if he tests positive (otherwise you will inadvertently be grooming him to become a pusher). (It's good that you will be having a talk with Juvenile Probation Officer.)


My Out-of-Control Teen


Thanks for the advice. We had been drug testing B____ randomly but not very regularly. You gave me an idea of tying in the probation offices consequences with the drug testing. If they don’t ask for it, I will “volunteer” to drug test him. That will make both of us accountable.

Thanks for all of your online recommendations. It has been very helpful and I review it all the time. I’ll take another look at the section “When you want something from your kid”.

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