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Problems That Result From Over-Indulgent Parenting

Hi Sheila,

== > I’ve responded throughout your email below:

Dear Mark,

I followed your parenting programme and found it helpful, especially the poker face scenarios which worked to some degree. The problem has been that I have felt afraid to carry out some of the scenarios which you advise ie the 'take everything away and ground for 3 days' as my son is 17 and quite strong.

== > Unfortunately, not following the program’s goals will make it nearly impossible to be successful with the desired outcomes.

I think he has an addiction to the computer and he can be on it for up to 14 hours a day. As it is Summer holidays for him (but not for me) he has been on it until 4am in the morning and never goes out. This makes it very difficult for me to get a proper nights sleep because altho he is not noisy his moving around disturbs me and I get up the next morning to do a full days work feeling very tired. When I try to talk to him about it he says that I keep myself up.

When I came back from work 2 weeks ago (after a poor nights sleep) I had lots of work to do on my laptop and was very tired. He had not done the jobs he had agreed to do and there was a mound of washing up in the washing up bowl which was his. I was a bit annoyed (which he hates) but tried to get him to do the jobs there and then so that we could move on. He wanted a chinese take-away and wanted me to drive him to the top of the road to collect it. When I said no, that I had lots of work to do and I was tired but I would give him the money for him to get himself a take away when he had done his jobs he got really annoyed.

== > What did he do to earn money for Chinese take-away?!

To cut a long story short, we had a row, I was unable to maintain a poker face, I turned the computer off, which ruined the on line game he was playing, things went from bad to worse, he took my lap top from me. I tried to go to bed and said I was going to bed in a calm (but very tired) voice he turned the sound up on the computer - therefore I was unable to either work or sleep. I refused to leave his room until I got my lap top back …he started to drag me out of the room etc etc. to cut a long story short, he put a hole in the wall, pushed me over and turned his sound up again, he continued to throw things around the flat and break some of my things. - I called the cops. They took him to his father’s house for one night and that is the last I have seen of him.

== > I’m glad you called the cops. (I was beginning to wonder if you had any backbone.) You sent a very clear message to your son that violence against women is unacceptable.

It has taken 3 years of this to reach that scenario. I was at my wits end, I cannot seem to handle this on my own as he is too strong for me and NO-One has ever told him to stop. His father always says that I must be doing something to provoke him and will not talk to him and will Never agree with anything I say or back me up. He doesn't want to deal with it. Mediation services say he is crossing the boundary of 'normal teenager behaviour' and we need to talk to him. His father refuses to co-parent. In fact his father hates the cops so much and was furious I called them, that he now is forbidding me from seeing my son saying he needs protecting and he is to move in with him and threatening me with child protection and accusing me of abuse - but mark my son is 17 years old and 5ft 10, I am 5ft 4 and 54kg. I am the one with the bruises and although I have got into some tussles with my son, I have never used physical force to punish or control him!!! It is ludicrous.

== > It sounds like you have 2 teenagers to deal with – your son AND your husband. I’m sorry to hear that your husband is a jerk.

However this brings me to my final point and question…

I feel that my son will not learn a good lesson from this. He will, like his father, blame me and I have come to the point where I have been unhappy with him living with me for some time and cannot see a way forward if he came back.

== > This is where I thought we were going with this conversation – and I am glad to see that you are finally getting some insight into what YOU really need to do with this dilemma. I’ll read on…

I love my son desperately and miss him terribly, but there is some relief that he has gone, which I feel guilty about.

== > HOLD IT! Re: “feeling guilty”—

This is why you got so deep into this problem to begin with – that is, your “relationship” with your son was more important to you than it was to him; you took on WAY too much responsibility for that relationship. Of course you’ll always love him, but to AVOID setting healthy boundaries in order to protect your physical and mental health would be insane.

I feel at this moment in time I just dont want to see either him or his father for a very long time - because there will be too much anger from him that is not being addressed by him. Am I doing the right thing?

== > Absolutely! How does it feel to have an “awakening”?

I know you say never give up but I have tried everything under the sun from parenting classes to mediation and nothing works because I am the only one doing anything.

== > I don’t see your need for respite as “giving up” – rather, I see it as you finally realizing that if you don’t take care of you – nobody else will.

The other two just will not play ball... I have tried to be a good mum and things used to be wonderful but as my boy has got older there has been a lack of co-parenting and myself and his dad, have argued around him and have completely different ideas about parenting. He must be confused and there has been a lack of boundaries as we both say different things. I feel I just need to be out of the picture and hope some day that he might realise all the things I tried to do for him and the sacrifices I made.....Is there anything you could suggest that I could do or should I just leave it???

== > I’d leave it -- with one huge caveat:

When your son wants to come back to live with you because he and his father have had a meltdown, your temptation will be to welcome him with open arms. BUT, what you will be doing is setting the whole unfortunate thing in motion again.

You have described over-indulgent parenting on your part throughout this email. If you take your son back at some point – but continue to parent using an over-indulgent parenting style, your son will eat you for lunch …then spit you out.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

My Out-of-Control Teen

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