She's Back To Her Old Ways


Good to hear from you. I've responded to this email in several places throughout where you see these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hi Mark,

I haven't completed reading the e-book as yet but it certainly is very relevant so far. I live in Australia and found your website via Google. I have been divorced from my 14-year-old daughter's mother for the past 9 years. I live in another state but have maintained regular contact with my daughter over the phone and every school holidays she stays with me and my new wife and children.

I had no idea there was a problem until recently. Whenever she visits or speaks with me, she is fine and when I spoke with her mother, she didn't let on there was anything wrong. About 4 months ago, I get a call from my ex saying that my daughter was skipping school and had been suspended. Then she tells me that she had been getting progressively worse over the prior 12 months that led to this point. She had become friends with a group of kids who were all getting into trouble and had started to behave very badly at home. I felt completely hopeless and annoyed with myself that it got to this point without me realising.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> You were in the fortunate position of being the "good guy." If your daughter comes to live with you, you will have to be willing to be the "bad guy" (i.e., the one who issues consequences for poor choices).

We both came to the conclusion that it would be best for her to get out of that environment and come live with me. Trouble was, my daughter didn't want to. She felt her friends are more important and didn't want to move away from them. This is when I finally got to see the side of her that her mother had been dealing with for the past year. I was devastated. I had no idea she could be like this. When I went down to pick her up, she was yelling and screaming at us both and flat out refused to come with me. We ended up calling the police to come talk to her as we didn't know what else to do. This is the stage she is at. She knows that we as parents can't force her to do anything. The police basically confirmed this for her. There is no law that says she has to do what we say. The police finally convinced her to come and stay with me as a trial but a week after she was with me, she begged me to go back to say goodbye to her friends and when I let her, she again refused to come back.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Clearly, the tail is wagging the dog (i.e., your daughter has been "in charge" for several years now).

We didn't want to go through the whole thing again so she is still living with her mother. I'm sure she knows she can walk all over her mother so that's why she prefers to live there. She has stopped going to school completely and quite often goes out with her friends and doesn't come home for 2 nights straight. She is a very smart girl and I truly believe it is not too late to turn her around but we are at our wit's end.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Please feel free to give your ex the password to the online and printable version of my ebook. If the two of you will coordinate and collaborate, you'll have all the tools you need to get the problems turned around. I know this is a bold statement, but I repeatedly find that, in those cases where the parents are dead serious about using the strategies discussed in the ebook, the results are quite remarkable.

In addition to all this, at about the time when I first found out about the problems, we found out she was pregnant. Luckily she realised this was a mistake and had the pregnancy terminated but going through all this made no difference to her behavior. It seemed to reinforce her belief that she can do as she pleases. Whenever I talk with her and feel as though I am getting through to her, a few days later I get a call from her mother and sure enough, she is back to her old ways.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Your daughter is intense and strong-willed (i.e., unconventional). And as you and your ex have discovered, conventional parenting strategies DO NOT WORK with an unconventional kid. She's not a bad kid -- no way. But she is intense, and she seeks intensity from others -- especially her parents (more on this in the ebook).

I know it's hard for a child in her situation. I have not been there for her and she has had some issues with her step-sister who is the daughter of her mother's new husband (who she has recently separated from). As you can see there are plenty of reasons for her to be like this and I feel terrible she has had to go through all this. We have tried to get her to go to counseling as I am sure she needs to speak to someone who knows how to deal with all this but she refuses to go.

>>>>>>>>>>> I detect a bit of you "feeling sorry" for you daughter. Unfortunately, this has been a contributing factor to some of her behavioral problems. There are hundreds of thousands of children dealing without divorce and/or seeing their other parent infrequently. This is no excuse for misbehavior and making every other family member's life hellish.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Counseling is a conventional parenting strategy, and as you have already heard me say, conventional strategies DO NOT WORK with an unconventional kid such as your daughter. I can promise you that counseling will be yet another failed attempt at getting her behavior on the right track (it won't hurt, but you will get virtually no bang for your buck).

I am hoping I can pass your book onto her mother so she can better handle her. The good thing is that her mother and I still get on really well and always present a united front to our daughter. It's difficult with me living so far away and I am conscious of how it is affecting my three other children and my marriage to my new wife.

>>>>>>>>>>> I detect a bit of you "beating up on yourself" -- again! This will unfortunately contribute to the problem rather than the solution.

>>>>>>>>>>>.. I'm sure glad you stumbled into Online Parent Support. It was created for parents like you (i.e., a well intentioned, loving, caring parent who has lost control of his out-of-control child).

>>>>>>>>>>I can tell you that, in your family's case, the hen is in charge of the hen house, which is extremely unhealthy for the hen.
You and your ex now have a solution-based program to work with -- you need nothing else (another bold statement, I know).

>>>>>>>>>>Get busy reading and implementing the strategies discussed in the ebook. Keep me posted on the progress, or lack thereof -- and keep in touch frequently. Your ex may contact me as well. This will take some work, but you will be successful if you follow my recommendations.

>>>>>>>>>>Your daughter will never be willing to work for what you and your wife want, be she will be willing to work for what she wants (more on this in the ebook).

>>>>>>>>>Please forward this email to your ex-wife.

Here's to a better home environment,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Cell: 765-810-3319
Home Page:


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Hateful Daughter

My 15 year old is hateful, tells me to shut up, be quiet, calls me stupid -- then wants me to fix her hair, take her to a friend’s, have her boyfriend over, or take them somewhere etc.

If I ask her to do something, she gets mad or says “I will do it later.” She just broke her arm a second time due to tumbling class that I didn't want her to go to, so I finally gave in -- and this happens. I coached cheerleading for 4 years, don't know, and she says I don't care etc.

I am under constant stress with her. She was so sweet. This is my 3rd daughter to act this way. My son never did, thank you.


Hi L.,

Gee -- your daughter sounds like all the other kids I work with. You are definitely not alone.

At the risk of giving you a “sales pitch,” the e-book that I wrote (My Out-of-Control Teen) is specifically for parents who are experiencing what you are experiencing: problems associated with unconventional, strong-willed, out-of-control teens.

People often asked me, “What do you mean by ‘unconventional’ teens.” What I mean is this: These kids enjoy intense interactions with others, especially their parents. They are not out to get you as the parent, but they are out to get your energy – in any form they can.

Unfortunately, the use of “traditional” or “conventional” parenting strategies reward the child for negative behavior, thus making it more likely the child will continue the “rewarded’ behavior.

I’m sorry this has turned into a “Sales Letter,” but your best bet would be to download my e-book and use me as your consultant. If you ware willing to work with me, I can promise you we will get the problems turned around.

What makes me so confident?

I follow-up with parents who complete my program, and the vast majority report that problems in the home occur less frequently and with less intensity. For example, instead of 14 arguments a week, there are only 3. And when the problems do arise, they are fairly easy to manage.

I hope to be working with you soon.

Here’s to a better home environment,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

We Bought Bill a Truck

Mark, We made contract with [our son] Bill when we bought him a truck. It said he would keep grades at C's and have no more behavior problems. The second week of school, he was suspended for telling the bus driver to shut up and flipping him off. We have the truck for sale. This was stated plainly in contract. Are we doing the right thing? ~ Sharon


Hi Sharon,

As you read my ebook, you'll discover where I fall of the issue of "advanced credit." The deal you made with your son goes something like this:

"We'll give you a truck in exchange for (a) grades no lower than a 'C' and (b) no more behavior problems."

With unconventional, strong-willed kids, "advanced credit" is the kiss of failure.

For example, son says, "Mom, can I go over to my friend's house to play basketball."

Mom says, "No, not until you get your homework done."

Son says, "I'll do it when I get back ...I promise. I've gotta play basketball."

Mom says, "O.K., but you make sure you're home in one hour and get started on that homework."

Son says, "Alright!" ...and he takes off out the door, fully intending to do his homework when he returns home.

You know the rest of the story. Does the homework get done?

No ...of course not.

Unconventional kids are not into "compromising" or "making deals" with parents -- they simply want to "have it their way." You will NEVER get your son to work for what you want, but you WILL get him to work for what he wants.

Here's what I recommend:

I know it was stipulated in the contract, but don't sell the truck!

The development of "self-reliance" is key. This is a golden opportunity for your son to EARN that truck and develop some self-reliance.

Here's how:

He earns his own money and pays for all or half of the truck -- you decide. He can earn money from doing chores at home, as well as his place of employment (if he's old enough to drive, he's old enough to be working somewhere).

When he reaches the dollar amount that you have agreed to (no contract, simply tell him what the expectation is), he can possess the truck -- and not a minute earlier. If there’s no way he can afford to pay at least half, then trade the truck in for a cheaper vehicle and proceed as described.

Remember: No Advanced Credit!

Tip: When a parent gives a child a vehicle, the kid has it pretty much destroyed in about 9 months. When a child pays for all or half of his vehicle, he washes and waxes the damn thing every weekend.

Please keep me posted regarding the progress of this matter.

Here's to a better home environment,



==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

St. Paul's Academy

Dear Mr. Hutten,

A few minutes ago I e-mailed you a link to St. Paul’s web page. I want to take a minute to provide you some more background information. St. Paul’s is a private, not for profit college-prep boarding and day high school for young men. The school has a 46 year history of working with young men as a therapeutic group home, residential treatment center and during the past 12 years as a boarding school offering counseling support. Our typical students include:

--Students who have gotten off the academic path due to poor choices, drug and alcohol experimentation, negative peer groups and desire to get back on track.
--Students who perform better in a small classroom setting.
--Students who require a structured academic and residential setting.
--Students who desire the benefits of private school education.
--Students who are scholarshiped as day students because of the benefits of a state academic tax credit for underprivileged children. Students receive the scholarship based on merit and a desire to be part of the school.

Through the years we have seen discouraged kids become encouraged and students who had no hope of entering into college because of past poor choices be accepted and be successful in a college of their choice. The school offers a strong character development component based on developing personal responsibility, honor and integrity. St. Paul’s has a 100% college acceptance. We also offer auxiliary counseling services for those students who need additional emotional support for the challenges they face.

I have worked for the school for over twenty years in various positions including therapist, Director of Residential Life, Dean of Counseling, Dean of Students. Recently we have established the position of Parent Liaison to assist parents with the challenges of having their son in a boarding school and I have moved into this role. In addition to being a mentor for the parents, I will also be conducting parenting workshops through the year.

I am also working on a school based web site (see my link below) that will offer assistance to our parents, and am pleased to be offering a link to your web site and book.

Your book and web site is an excellent source of guidance and support for all parents, just not those of troubled teens.

Best regards,

Jim Graves, MC
Parent Liaison
St. Paul's Preparatory Academy
Educating Young Men Since 1961

RE: "I’ve had a huge row with my son this Morning..."

Hi T.,

I’ve responded to your email “point-by-point” below.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Please look for these arrows:

I’ve had a huge row with my son this Morning over nothing really. Anyway although I don’t have any concerns over his behaviour outside of home, he's become increasingly idle. Once he reached 16 he was told he had to stand on his own two feet and get a job and that pocket money would finish when he finished school.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>It sounds as though he is somewhat resistant to “standing on his own two feet.” Is there an adult male (who you know very well) that could be a mentor to your son – someone who would volunteer to have a one-on-one relationship with him and help him to appreciate who he is while developing the skills he needs to succeed in the work place?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> A mentoring relationship will help your son develop work ethics and responsibility, improve self-esteem and attitudes towards school, improve relationships with peers and family members and increase communication skills. This is crucial, especially at an age where children are developing relationships with those outside of their family.

He's done nothing about getting a job, doesn't appear that bothered about not having money, and if you try to talk to him, we get told to shut up. He won’t do jobs around the house and gets verbally abusive to his younger sister, who we are waiting for a diagnosis for ADHD.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>You’ve listed 2 problems here: (1) lack of motivation to (a) seek employment and (b) help with household chores, and (2) disrespect (i.e., telling you to “shut up,” and verbal abuse toward sibling).

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Regarding “lack of motivation” – I believe a relationship with a mentor (preferably a non-family member) would be of great benefit here.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Regarding “disrespect” - You cannot control your son, but you can control the things he enjoys such as telephones, television, toys, games, freedom for activities, junk food, toiletries, favorite cloths, bedroom doors, bedroom furniture, etc. While he may not be willing to work for the things you want, he will usually work for the things he wants. By controlling the things he wants, you can motivate him to change unwanted behaviors. The strategy for this is discussed in the section of the ebook entitled, “What To Do When You Want Something From Your Kid.”

As soon as our back is turned, he has friends in and we end up with the mess to clear up. His room is disgusting, and he tends to leave most of the pots he uses in there till we run out and have to collect them out.

I've tried reasoning with him, and when he wants something, we can get him to conform (that usually only lasts till he's got what he wants). I've told him in the past “no mates will be allowed in” until be behaves, and that if his attitude doesn't change he'd have to find somewhere else to live. None of what I say to him seems to make a difference, and it’s starting to get me down.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Please refer to the chapter of the ebook entitled “Anger Management” for solutions to this one.

I know this is probably a mild problem compared to most, but what can you suggest we do other than pack his bags for him. ~ T.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Please let me know how things continue to go.

Mark Hutten, M.A.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Is He Bi-Polar?

Hi D.,

I've responded throughout your email where you see these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thank you, we appreciate the support. We are having a problem with our son accepting punishment -- whether it’s time-out or grounding. He has difficulty accepting any responsibility for his actions. He is relentless in the pursuit of what he wants, which is usually just to play.

He is very young for his age. We have been trying to work with him to go out and come home on time. Once he gets out he just refuses to come home. He'll be punished and then just do the same thing again. Currently we are having trouble keeping him in his room or the house when he is punished.

What are some strategies to help with this?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Two sections of the ebook will help you with this problem: "The Art of Saying Yes & No" ...and "Anger Management"

He continually comes out of the room trying to insight us and has escalated in this behavior. We ignore, walk away and keep redirecting him back to his room, but when he is in one of his moments it is very difficult.

He does have ADD and it is possible that he has bipolar, although the meds have not helped him, and we are currently weaning him off.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Please see the two sections of the ebook: "Dealing with Teenage ADHD" ...and "Dealing with a Bi-Polar Teen"

He is 13 and the current Dr. we have been seeing since January has been unable to place him in a specific diagnosis. He has symptoms from several disorders and no clear distinction towards one. It is possible that it may still be emerging.

He has been difficult from day one. The most disconcerting thing though recently is that we have seen a major escalation in his anger and frustration levels over the last few months. Things seem to be getting worse daily. The more doctors, therapy and medications we try the worse things seem to get.

Any help or suggestions you can give would be appreciated.

>>>>>>>>>>>I'm going to send an attachment that will be quite helpful, please read the whole thing. It sounds like he may have some bi-polar tendencies. Does anyone else in the family have bi-polar disorder?

>>>>>>>>>>You have access to the Online Parent Support CHAT-ROOM now. If you think it would be helpful, you and I can set-up a day and time that is convenient for both of us and talk more -- in real time -- about your son. He sounds like a handful, but no more so than any of the other kids I work with. We may want to consider having me chat with your son too at some point. You can look over his shoulder during the chat if you and I decide this could be helpful.

In any event, I'm going to direct you to My Out-Of-Control Teen E-book because the answers to your current child-difficulties will all be addressed there.

Here's to a better home environment,

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