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Do we let him go and get thrown to the wolves?


Thank you so much for the opportunity to have access to the Online Parent Support book. As I am sure you already have realised, my husband and I are no different than any of the other parents I have been reading about. We have "tried everything" with our 14 year old ODD out of control son and it seems to be getting worse as each day goes by. I am the step-mother (wicked, in his eyes) and my husband and I have custody of him and his younger sister. They go to stay with their mother and step-father every other weekend. Their mother walked out on them when my step-son was 5 and my step-daughter was barely 2, so my husband raised them alone until he and I married 2 years later.

My husband and I sat down last night and were able to go through the ODD e-book together and are very excited about implementing it. Because as you say, we have been doing the same thing expecting different results mainly because we had no idea what else to do. So we are very committed to trying this program.

I have a couple of questions that we need some direction and advice on. First, my son will not get out of bed in the morning to get ready for school in the amount of time we have allowed. He gets called at 6:30 and is to be up and headed to the bathroom by 6:35. Invariably, he will push it until I have to keep calling and calling to get his butt out of bed. I have to leave to go to work at 6:50 and there have been times that I have left not knowing whether or not he missed the bus and school until I arrive home around 1:00 pm. Do I just let him fall on his face and miss school?

Also, I feel like he wins the battle because he ends up getting to do what he wants. He is in a situation on the bus that is he gets in trouble one more time he will be kicked off for the rest of the school year. So instead of addressing the situation, my husband picks him up after school. I don't agree with this. But what do we do if he gets kicked off the bus? We both have to work and our jobs require us to be there before school starts.

One more thing for now. His father is in the National Guard and may be getting deployed to Iraq in the next 6 months. My son thinks he will be going to live with his mother. She has no rules, no chores, and no discipline. Whereas, he knows that I am very strict (too strict sometimes) and with her he will get by with murder. Do we let him go and get thrown to the wolves? I don't feel she would be receptive to trying to join us in these new parenting techniques. She feels very guilty about walking out on them in the first place and is trying to make up for it by letting him do whatever he wants.

I apologize for the length of my letter, but felt you should know some of the details. Your input and advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,



Hi J.,

Re: problems getting him out of bed

1st - Try to maintain his sleep routine by not allowing him to stay UP too late -- and sleep IN too late the following morning -- on the weekends. An extra hour or two is fine, but any more than that will throw his sleep cycle out-of-whack for the rest of the week. Also, make sure that he's not staying up extra late in his room after you think he's gone to bed.

2nd - If he as a computer or TV in his bedroom, take them out of there! Make his room as boring as possible.

3rd - Establish a consequence for NOT getting ready on time (e.g., must go to bed an hour earlier; cannot have any friends over on the weekend, etc.). And establish incentives for getting up on time (e.g., can have pizza Friday evening, can go to a Saturday afternoon movie with a friend). You get the idea – be creative!

4th - Tell him it is time to get up, then make a very Very VEry VERy VERY load noise that startles him. Slam his door, smack the door with the palm of your hand, drop something heavy on the floor, yell “YEEEEHHAAAAAWWWWWW” – you get the idea. This will get his blood pressure up which will make it very difficult to settle back into alpha (warning: expect him to pretend that you did not startled him and that this strategy has no effect). I know this may seem like a ridiculous strategy, but it works. After several mornings of this, he will tend to not dawdle as much.

5th - Use the strategy in the ebook: “When You Want Something From Your Kid” (in the Anger Management section of the online version of the ebook).

Re: may get kicked of the bus

Again, please refer to the strategy in the ebook: “When You Want Something From Your Kid” (in the Anger Management section of the online version of the ebook).

Re: Do we let him go and get thrown to the wolves?

If his mother is not going to be united and bonded with you and your husband regarding using identical parenting strategies, then why don’t you simply give yourself a break and let him go live his mother and step-father. Then when they complain about his behavior and ask you to take him back, they may be more likely to work with you. This is risky – I know.

I'm going to honk my horn for just a few seconds -- I’m a risk-taker. This is one of the reasons I’m successful with my clients. I'm very creative, and in some cases, I do the last thing I would ever think of doing first. I hope this way of thinking is rubbing off on you now.


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