17 Year Old Daughter Living with 20 Year Old Boyfriend

Mark, I have been reading your ebook, and the information in it is very good. However, my 17 yr old daughter has moved out and is now living with her 20 yr old boyfriend, whom she only met a month ago. He is on methadone and I have also learned other terrible things about him. One parent had to have a restraining order put against him because he wouldn't leave her daughter alone, and there is probably even more that I don't know about.

My daughter went to his house (his parent's home) and told them she was kicked out, (she was not), and when I went there to find out what was going on and to get her to come home, she told me to f--- myself. She has never used this language on me,

We don't use that language in my house. She has not been raised this way, both her father and I have tried to encourage her to do good in school, we don't let her stay out all hours, she has a curfew, and for the most part, one of us picks her up at night. I never go to bed until she is home.

Now, she has left and seems quite pleased with herself, no ‘good-byes’ to her 2 sisters, no ‘I am sorry for what I said’. I am running low on batteries; I don't know how much more I can take. I love my child and she is in dangerous water with this guy. How do I handle this?

Today, they got an apartment. His income is not enough to live on. I am sure she will quit school now to get a job. She will probably end up pregnant, and who knows what this guy is capable of. Plus, this is her first real relationship. I feel that everyday, I am loosing her more and I don't know how to proceed.

She has a good home. I am heart broken, and I am trying to act normal for the sake of my other two kids. Her grandparents are sick about this. I don't know what to do. It is like I had 3 daughters, now I have two, overnight. Can you help me?


First, let’s be clear on the primary tenet, which will be the foundation for my recommendations: Our primary goal as parents should be to foster the development of self-reliance.

When parents begin to implement appropriate discipline for broken house rules, many children respond by threatening to runaway from home if they do not get their way. Some follow through with this threat.

But, in the case of a 17-year-old, we are dealing with a young adult. Thus, she is old enough to make her own decisions, even if they are bad decisions. Your efforts to protect her from bad decisions WILL make a bad problem worse. She must be able to make mistakes – it’s how she learns! Allow her to make her own choice – even if the choice is a poor one in your estimation. If, for example, she returns home (which is likely -- after a huge break-up with this boyfriend) and wants to violate a house rule, let her do it, and then simply issue a consequence.

Simply state the house rules and the consequences for violating house rules. If she doesn’t want to abide by your rules, she can live elsewhere. In any event, do not loosen-up your expectations for compliance regarding house rules. Again, this is her choice: (a) live with mom and dad and play by their rules, or (b) live elsewhere under my own set of rules and deny myself the comforts of home.

It is very possible to support her (a) even if she lives elsewhere and (b) as she begins the process of separating from the “nest.” She is making an effort to become self-reliant, and this is a good thing. She will likely learn a very valuable life lesson with this boyfriend. I know you are terribly concerned for her safety. But you have no control at this time. And, again, attempts to control the situation will most likely make a bad problem worse.

Reward her for seeking self-reliance and provide a lot of encouragement in this area. She will live up to – or down to – your expectations of her. If you convey an attitude that she is too immature and incompetent to survive away from the nest, she will take your attitude as instruction to fail out in the real world. On the other hand, if you convey an attitude of trust in her capabilities, she will become capable.

Again, pick your battles carefully. This falls into the category of “things you cannot control,” and attempts to control it will most likely backfire.

Be patient with your daughter as she pushes against the world to see how it responds. Old habits are hard to break. It may take awhile for her to understand that you are serious and will no longer be controlled by her emotional outbursts or manipulations. Keep your cool and continue about your day, not letting her see the frustration you may feel. And always, always, follow through with the consequence that you have described to her should she return home (or visit home) and violate a house rule. Be consistent. Most importantly, when she makes the right decision, be sure to give her a big hug and let her know how proud of her you.

Trust that things will work out for the best in the long run …detach from the outcome …and have faith in yourself as a parent, trusting that you have laid down a solid foundation for your daughter such that she will be able to be a responsible adult sooner rather than later.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

==> Click here for more help...

She lied to us...

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your quick response. We have a situation in our home at the moment and my husband and I have differing views on consequences for an action.

Situation: One of our 17-year-old triplet girls is very social always on the go. Last weekend she was to sleep at a friend’s with 2 other girls. She called when she arrived to let us know she was there for the night.

Yesterday she admitted to us (because she thought we were going to receive a phone call) that they went back out to pick up a friend. When they arrived at the friend's house, kids started showing up with alcohol and "barged in." They had heard that the girl's mother was out of town.

I later found out from my daughter that they stayed for the party, and spent the night at this girl's house because they had to help her clean up.

I have told my daughter that I am disappointed in her judgment. She has compromised our trust in her. We have guidelines in our house that if they ever find themselves in such a situation they are to call us and we will come a get them, no questions and no punishment.

She lied to us, stayed somewhere with no parental supervision, and would have deceived us further by not telling us if her friends mom had not said she was calling.

I feel that her punishment be a longer-term punishment (i.e., earlier curfew, call when she gets to her destination, when she leaves etc.). A much closer eye on her to let her understand that she must earn our trust back. My husband feels she should have a consequence, but says she will be away next year at college and we won't know what she is doing. I want her to learn good judgment especially since she will be away.

I would love a 3rd person's opinion. She is really a good kid, honor roll, this is only the second time we have had a punishment issue with her. I don't know how much I don't know!

Thank you

D. M.


Hi D.,

Several months ago, I received an email from a parent who had gone through the same experience. I’ll simply refer you to my response to this mother’s inquiry here: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com

The above is my ongoing recommendation for teens and ‘alcohol drinking episodes’.

Please stay in touch,

I feel betrayed...


Last evening our daughter who is living out of our home came home and she said she is going to write us a letter of all the things she is feeling. She tells her dad when she wants to do homework that I am always yelling at her because something else needs to be done.

The last time I wanted help to clean the laundry room which she had agreed to help with but she hollers at me, mom, can't you leave me alone I’m trying to do homework. I thought ok, fair enough but when I checked later she spent all afternoon chatting to friends on the computer and little homework would have been done.

When your children need computers for homework now, do you control them not being on the chatline otherwise? I always felt this was trust and now I feel betrayed. Any suggestions? She also does not want us to respond to her letter, but I feel we have a right to let her know what our feelings are on the whole situation also.


Hi E. & P.,

Out of control kids often use “homework” as an excuse to avoid doing chores. If she has a chore to do, then give her a choice: She can choose to do the chore within the next 5 minutes, or she can choose the consequence for NOT doing it – it’s her choice. More on this here: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com

Re: computer use for homework.

Out of control kids often say they are doing their “homework” when in fact they are on MySpace (or something similar). The computer should be viewed as just another toy (i.e., a privilege, not a right). Thus, if she abuses the privilege, the toy should be taken away. If she complains that she will get into trouble with her teachers for not doing her “homework,” then she will get a double consequence – one at home and one at school. But that would be her choice.


I'm a disabled parent...


I'm a disabled parent of two adopted twin boys who are getting WAY out of my control. Are there any special parenting strategies for parents with disabilities?



Hi J.,

In all honesty, "special parenting strategies" are not needed just because you are disabled. You may need some "non-traditional" strategies for your strong-willed, out of control boys. But this is because of their intensity -- not your disability.

The strategies in the eBook will work just fine whether or not you are disabled. You need nothing special.

I am interested in a sample of what you claim does work....

{In your sales letter} you have given a lot of examples of what you know doesn't work, but I am interested in a sample of what you claim does work. Can you give me an example of one of your suggestions?


Hi A.,

Here are just a few strategies that we detail in the eBook. I’ll show you how to:

1. Issue a consequence in a way that gets your child to work with you rather than against you.

2. Learn to differentiate between your kid’s wants and needs.

3. Follow through with the consequence without “nagging” or “arguing.”

4. Deal with your out-of-control kid when he/she resists your new parenting strategies.

5. Give equal love to all your kids, but parent them differently.

6. Give only one warning -- then follow through with a consequence.

7. Foster the development of “self-reliance.”

8. Control YOUR anger as well as help your child with his/her anger.

9. Avoid your child’s guilt-trips.

10. Develop a parenting-plan that is likely to be supported by both parents – even if they are divorced.

11. Learn to say -- and stick with -- “no.”

12. Respond to your kid’s anger with a poker face.

13. Take away privileges in a way that influences your child to change unwanted behavior.

14. Avoid pitfalls that accidentally reward your child for negative behavior.

15. Use active listening, empathy, paraphrasing and validation.

I want to show YOU how to be the “therapist” and how to approach your child -- in spite of all the emotional and behavioral problems. There is no need for you to continue living as a frustrated, stressed-out parent. I will help you bring the behavior problems to a grinding halt, but I can’t do it for you!

I’m here for you whenever you’re ready to Join Online Parent Support: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com

Mark Hutten, M.A.
Online Parent Support

Parents are having a hard time with "tough love"!

“Our son ran after having a fight with his father ‘cause he doesn’t want rules, no curfews'. He'll be 18 in March. All he keeps saying is, 'I will NOT come home unless you agree that I will NOT be punished, and I WILL get my car back, period'. This has been going on for 3 weeks. We can't give in, but are having a hard time with the tough love. We paid for the car, insurance, and have his cell on suspension, but he thinks it's canceled. Any advice?”

Click here for my advice...

Is there any chance I can turn this around?

Hi N., I’ve responded to each of your points below. Please look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>> ===============

Hi Mark,

My daughter this evening started again as usual, this is what happened: I took her clothes up to her bedroom which I had just ironed and asked her to put them in her wardrobe, so she threw them on the floor and laughed at me and told me to get out of her room. So in anger I smacked her. She then picked up a clock and said she would throw it at my head if I didn't get out of her room.

>>>>>>>>>> You are in a power struggle with your daughter, and children always win the power struggles. The Anger Management chapter will shed more light on this: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/am

A few minutes later she came down stairs saying she hated me she wished I were dead and wants to go to a children home. So I in turn said there is the phone ring them, but I think you will find this home is far nicer place to be. She constantly tries to pick fights with everyone in the family.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> More evidence of a power struggle. Power struggles can create frustration, anger and resentment on the part of the parent and the out-of-control kid. Resentment can cause a further breakdown of communication until it seems as if all you do is argue with your out-of-control kid.

In order to end such arguments, it must be the parent that begins to take charge in a positive way. However, the most effective step, to simply stop arguing, can also be the most difficult. It sounds quite simple, just stop arguing, but in reality, it takes discipline and effort to change the pattern of behavior. By refusing to participate in the argument, the power of the out-of-control kid disappears. The out-of-control kid only continues to have power over you if you allow them to.

To stop the power struggle, prepare yourself ahead of time. Sit down, after your out-of-control kid is in bed for the night and it is quiet, and make a list of the times that you most often argue. Is it getting ready for school, doing homework, completing chores, getting ready for bed, etc? For each situation, determine a few choices that you can give your kid.

When preparing the choices, make sure to list only those that you are willing to carry out. If you are not willing to pick up your out-of-control kid and bring them to school in their pajamas, don’t threaten to or they will know that they still have control of the situation. Once you have decided on the choices you will give your out-of-control kid, stick to them and practice your self-control to not yell. Walk away, leave the room, and wait outside if you have to. But an argument can only happen if there is more than one person. With just one person, it is simply a temper tantrum.

The final straw was when I said I would ring them myself. She grabbed the phone. I tried to take it off of her and by holding her arm I snatched the phone out of her hand and she now said I hurt her wrist. She goes to bed and I am up feeling really guilty and feeling like the worst parent in the world.

I have downloaded your book have not read it yet. The trouble is with my daughter is not just a teenage thing -- she has always been really spoilt and very difficult. It has just got worse as a teenager. I started a new job in September which in turn leaves the girls (my 2 daughters) home alone for 2 hours everyday after school, my youngest daughters rings me at work constantly telling me my other daughter is been nasty to her.

I told my boss last week I was leaving because I needed to be at home for my children. My eldest daughters response to that was "Great I will have to see you for longer each day now". My youngest daughter 11yrs is the sweetest girl you can imagine, never been any trouble never, seeks attention, yet my other daughter gets all the attention for been so naughty and rude all the time. She didn't even seem bother that I was giving up a job that I need financially.

Another example: She was rude lied and did not come home when she was supposed to so I made a decision that she was not going to a party that she had been invited to a had purchased a lovely new dress for. Instead she came out for a Pizza with myself my husband and my other daughter. She sat opposite her dad in the restaurant and was kicking him under the table, he ignored it, so she continued, then she called him a “dick,” refused to order any food, which we ignored, so she sat there with no food whilst we all eat continually insulting us. Again we ignored her, she then said she was going to walk out of the restaurant and run away, so my husband said "when you get home you are in big trouble.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Ignoring misbehavior is just another traditional parenting strategy that backfires with the strong-willed, out of control child.

The strong-willed, out-of-control kid is 100% successful at getting your attention -- whether it's positive attention or negative attention!

She enjoys energy and attention. She seeks energy and attention from you too (e.g., your being animated, arguing, lecturing, getting angry, threatening him, etc.). Unfortunately, she has discovered that you are much more energetic, attentive and interesting when she misbehaves.

Attention-seeking children are not out to get you as a parent -- they are out to get your energy, intensity and attention. They want you to be exciting to them. Unfortunately, you are much more exciting when things are going wrong.

So, whenever you use a "traditional" parenting strategy (e.g., ignoring misbehavior, arguing, lecturing, getting angry, threatening, slapping, smacking), it is actually a reward to your daughter -- she gets what he wants -- your energy and attention! She is able to push your energy-producing buttons.

On our way home in the car she was kicking the back of my seat calling me names which we ignored, the whole time her sister was telling her to stop, then when we finally get home she as usual tells us how much she hates us. My husband smacked her across her legs. She then shouted I wish you were dead in your dad’s grave. Because she was smacked she then ran out of the house. I was frantic driving around looking for her crying my eyes out because its so dark where I live and not many street lights. My husband called the Police. I did eventually find her. The Police still came round because they said they need to check that she was home and to explain to her how valuable their time is and she should never do this again.

>>>>>>>>>>> I’m sure will be sick of hearing me say this by now (please forgive me), but “calling the police” is just another traditional parenting strategy that has no effect. A better strategy will be in the Anger Management chapter under the heading “When You Want Something From Your Kid” – http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/am

I then tried to let her do what she wants to do but still have rules my husband disagreed with me and said she should be kept in for a month. If I be totally honest the house is far happier when she is not in, so I suppose I'm allowing her to do what she wants for piece and quiet and hopefully keep her happy.

>>>>>>>>>>>>Assertive parenting will be the key to your success as you begin implementing these new non-traditional parenting strategies. Approaching problems assertively is something new to most parents, however.

Most parents have vacillated between passive-parenting and aggressive-parenting. In other words, we let our child have her way time and time again. Then, when we finally had enough and attempted to set some limits, in came in the form of raging at our child. Then we felt guilty for raging and went back to being passive again.

She doesn't respect me she swears at me and tells me that she gets it from me. Yes I have and do swear when she says such nasty hurtful things, that’s just my anger coming out.

I could go on forever with examples. Is there any chance I can turn this around?

Sorry the email so long I'm desperate now!!!

>>>>>>>>> The chances are excellent that you can turn this around. I would ask that you simply read the material and begin implementing it. A good place to start would the humble statement in your session #1 assignments: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/assign1

I’m asking you, the parent, to humble yourself a bit. As soon as possible, say to your daughter something like this:

“I discovered that I’ve made some mistakes in parenting you. And I apologize. But I have an obligation to you to make some changes. I’ll explain each change to you as it comes, and I will give you time to adjust to the change.”

It doesn’t matter how your child responds to this statement. This statement gives your child a “heads-up” that change is coming, and it models that it’s O.K. to do the following:

  • admit one’s mistakes
  • make amends
  • take responsibility
  • accept change
Here’s to a better home environment,



Learning Disabilities

I'm not sure whether my son's learning disability is contributing to his behavior problems, or if his behavior problems are contributing to his failing grades. Any suggestions? __________ Parents are often baffled by the problems presented by a child with learning disabilities. Often this “invisible disability” does not become obvious until a child reaches school age. Even then, difficulties may be subtle. Students with learning disorders may become so frustrated with their performance in school that by adolescence they may feel like failures and want to drop out of school or may develop behavioral problems.

Do you have the same book in Spanish?

Do you have the same book in Spanish?



Yes ...since the eBook is an online book, you have the ability to turn it into Spanish. All you have to do is download the Google toolbar here:


The Google tool bar instantly translates words on English web pages into the language of your choice.

You can set the Google homepage, messages, and buttons to display in your selected language via their Preferences page.

If you have any difficulty with this, just send me an email and I'll help you figure it all out.

Mark Hutten



¿Tienes el mismo libro en español? Agradece


Sí… puesto que el eBook es un libro en línea, tienes la capacidad de darte vuelta en español. Todo lo que tienes que hacer es descargar el Google toolbar aquí:


La barra de la herramienta de Google traduce inmediatamente palabras en Web pages ingleses a la lengua de tu opción. Puedes fijar el homepage de Google, los mensajes, y los botones a la exhibición en tu lengua seleccionada vía su página de las preferencias. Si tienes cualquier dificultad con esto, apenas enviarme un email y te ayudaré a calcularlo todo hacia fuera.

Mark Hutten


What can we do in a school setting...?

There tends to be lots of information on how parents can deal with Conduct Disorder, but what can we do in a school setting with students who exhibit conduct disorder? Can school settings change these behaviors without parent participation?

Hi S.,
You absolutely right ..there's a ton of info on conduct disorder. But few - if any - authors of books that illustrate strategies to use with these children work with these families on a daily basis.
Most of the info is from psychiatrists who know very few cognitive-behavioral methods for dealing with the problem. They are more focused on the medication side of things. They have a lot of theoretical knowledge, but not a lot of man-hours "in the field" (i.e., in the homes of these families).
Can the techniques I illustrate work in the classroom -- even without parental participation? Absolutely.
I would say that 20 to 30% of the eBook purchasers who benefit from this info are teachers. In too many cases, they are seeing the child more than the parent.
To take this a step further, use these strategies on your difficult students. Find the ones that are the most effective. Then share what you know to work with that child's parent. She/he may be very grateful that somebody found "something that works."
I'm not a miracle worker, but I'm sure you will be glad you went the extra mile by investing in these strategies. You will experience a significant reduction in your stress-level as well.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

F*** You!

Thank you for your support,

I do have a question. We have a 15 year old. There is a whole story behind this, but she is difficult to control. I am a pseudo step mom so it makes it worst. I've lived with my boyfriend for 4 years but we are not married, nor do we want to get married, we're fine with our relationship the way it is.

One of our problems is lately she has decided to leave obscene messages for me to find or whoever because she thinks we are reading her journal. This week she left a message stating F*** you in her bed and my house keeping found it and they were appalled. She is going to apologize to the house keeping, but I want her to understand the effect that type of language and obscenity has on people and how it hurts people. I wanted her to write a report on it and have her English teacher grade it. Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks – T.


Hi T.,

Having her write a report will probably not hurt anything, but it will not help either. Having kids write reports is just another "traditional" parenting strategy that has little or no effect.

I would use the strategy "When You Want Something From Your Kid" (in the Anger Management chapter of the ebook, online version).

Stay in touch,

I am falling apart on the inside for this kid...

Dear Mark,
Parent: We have a question. We read your response to our questions about our daughter. You commented that it would be easy to support her even though she is living away from home. How do we do this? Emotional support?

>>>>>>>>>Yes ...I was referring to emotional support.

>>>>>>>>>>Please hear me here: You have more power than you are giving yourself credit for. If you will shift your focus (i.e., your attitude, belief, thoughts) from what is going wrong (i.e., daughter may not make it academically, may not make it in life, etc.) to what you trust will go right, then you will literally set something in motion that will yield the desired result.

>>>>>>>>>>This should be your mantra: "My daughter is more than capable ...she will do fine in whatever it is she decides to do ...she will be successful in a career ...she will be a good wife and mother ...she will continue to mature and grow and learn and develop wisdom.” YOU ARE PROGRAMMING HER FOR SUCCESS OR FAILURE.
Parent: Also we spoke about her long-term goals and to always have a plan B in place in case plan A fails to follow through. She is a skilled basketball player and would love to play university or college ball, but she seems to have a hard time keeping up the academics. She often over-fills her time with sports leaving little for the academics. She is at a point where these dreams are falling apart as well without upgrading some of her grade 12.

>>>>>>>>>>> This sounds terribly dramatic. Let her "dreams fall apart" -- you can't do anything about that anyway. She is not made of stale rice paper. She will not fall apart and crumble if her dream does not become a reality. If this happens, it will be a good thing, because she will develop emotional muscles that would never become developed otherwise.

Parent: Mark, as a mom I am falling apart on the inside for this kid. Is this normal for a mom to feel like this or do I need to seek professional help myself. If she is not around, I am often in tears. Perhaps I am too emotionally attached.

>>>>>>>> I think you hit the nail on the head ...you are overly invested, and the "feeling sorry for" ...and "worrying about" is not helping anybody -- especially yourself. I think it would be o.k. if you wanted to talk to a therapist about your stress, because that's what were talking about here. If you boil all this down to a root cause, it is stress. Thus, what can YOU do today to take care of YOU? Your daughter can take care of herself.

>>>>>>>>> Bottom line: If you think your daughter won't make it, then you're probably right. If you trust that you're daughter WILL make it, then you're probably right. Be careful how you think. The glass is always half full in spite of your opinion about it.

Here's to a better home environment,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

==> Click here for more help...

The problem just seems to get more and more complicated.

Hi E. & P.,

I’ve responded to each of your points below. Please look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>

But first, let’s be clear on a few tenets that will be the foundation for my recommendations:

1. Our primary goal as parents should be to foster the development of self-reliance.

2. Our main strategy for fostering this development is to provide opportunities for our kids to EARN privileges.

3. We must provide no intensity when “things are going wrong” and provide a lot of intensity when “things are going right.”



We started using your techniques such as making our daughter earn, things such as money for gas ect. That was 1 week ago. She went to a friend’s house to house-sit for the weekend and now has stayed with them. They also think this arrangement is ok. But it is NOT ok with us.

>>>>>>>>>> When parents begin to implement appropriate discipline for broken house rules, many children respond by threatening to runaway from home if they do not get their way. Some follow through with this threat.

We try to talk to her about what her long term plans are and she tells us she doesn't want to go there. We tell her we love her more than anything in the world and we are told I don't want to go there.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I think you may have talked to her about YOUR long terms plan for her rather than asking her what ideas she may have about HER long terms plans for her (if I’m wrong, then ignore this statement).

She is still in high school but has turned 18 about a month ago.

>>>>>>>>>> She is an adult now. Thus, she is old enough to make her own decisions, even if they are bad decisions. Your efforts to protect her from bad decisions WILL make a bad problem worse. She must be able to make mistakes – it’s how she learns! Allow her to make her own choice – even if the choice is a poor one in your estimation. If, for example, she returns home (which is likely) and wants to violate a house rule, let her do it, and then simply issue a consequence.

This friend that she is moving in with also self cuts and left home and thinks this is the solution to the problem.

>>>>>>>>>>> Pick your battles carefully. This is a completely separate issue. You have no control over her “cutting,” and again …the more you attempt to control this, the more she will move in the opposite direction. This is a battle I would not fight …you have bigger fish to fry. More info on cutting here: https://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/cutting

She tells us our home is not the problem, so what is it then? She has only known this friend for a few months. I see the problem as we are making her accountable and she refuses to be accountable to anyone not even herself.

>>>>>>>>> Simply state the house rules and the consequences for violating house rules. If she doesn’t want to abide by your rules, she can live elsewhere. In any event, do not loosen-up your expectations for compliance regarding house rules. Again, this is her choice: (a) live with mom and dad and play by their rules, or (b) live elsewhere under my own set of rules and deny myself the comforts of home.

A family councellor tells us that we must not let this happen during the school year and that we give her permission but not till June. He says she still needs the family unit for support in all areas when he has seen her.

>>>>>>>>>> I agree, but it is very possible to support her (a) even if she lives elsewhere and (b) as she begins the process of separating from the “nest.” She is making an effort to become self-reliant, and this is a good thing -- assuming that her current living arrangement is safe.

This is a huge complicated picture both emotionally and other wise as well. If she stays moved out do we cut all ties with her…

>>>>>>>>>> Reward her for seeking self-reliance and provide a lot of encouragement in this area. She will live up to – or down to – your expectations of her. If you convey an attitude that she is too immature and incompetent to survive away from the nest, she will take your attitude as instruction to fail out in the real world. On the other hand, if you convey an attitude of trust in her capabilities, she will become capable.

…do we continue to give her the opportunity to earn things so she has some financial means. We live in a small community and the opportunity for employment for our young people is almost nill. At the moment, she does not support herself financially.

>>>>>>>>>> Absolutely …you will be helping with the development of self-reliance, which is key here.

Do we allow her access to our home?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> As long as she abides by your house rules.

Do we allow her access to her siblings?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> As long as she abides by your house rules.

Do we allow her to take anything other than her clothes?

>>>>>>>>>> Only with your permission.

Mark, if anyone had told me 1 year ago we'd be where we are today with this kid, I would have called their bluff. Our daughter has P.C.O.S. so we also have the hormonal component to add to this picture. P.C.O.S. can lead to Type 2 bipolar, but this is also the child who refuses to take her meds. We didn't even get the opportunity to try giving repercussions due to her not taking her meds.

>>>>>>>>>>>Again, pick your battles carefully. This (similar to the “cutting” issue) falls into the category of “things you cannot control,” and attempts to control it will most likely backfire.

Any advice would be helpful. The problem just seems to get more and more complicated.

>>>>>>>>>>> Be patient with your daughter as she pushes against the world to see how it responds. Old habits are hard to break. It may take awhile for her to understand that you are serious and will no longer be controlled by her emotional outbursts or manipulations. Keep your cool and continue about your day, not letting her see the frustration you may feel. And always, always, follow through with the consequence that you have described to her should she return home (or visit home) and violate a house rule. Be consistent. Most importantly, when she makes the right decision, be sure to give her a big hug and let her know how proud of her you are.

Please stay in touch,


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

My mom calls me crying all the time about it...

This question is not about my children (I don't have any) but my 16-year-old brother. Sometimes he is the nicest kid in the world, but now he is acting out and not listening to my parents. My parents are fighting about it and not getting along and I have another brother and sister who are younger and cry because C___ and mom are fighting. He does not listen and is starting to fail school. He just got his license and thinks he is invincible. My mom calls me crying all the time about it and I don't know what to do. Help!!

Got help!?

Do I call the cops?

My daughter turned 18 in Oct, since then, rules have been tested every step of the way. She had her teacher call, grades were slipping, I talked to her, she got loud and we argued. We have argued about curfew. We argue about her attitude, very poor. We talked about a lip pierce, I said no, and no again. She knew the rules, I said wait till she graduated.

She came home late after work, said I know you're going to be mad, but I got one. I blew up. I got mad and told her that she needed to go spend the night at her older brother's house, while I cooled down. I was furious for her defying me. She stayed one night there, and moved over to her girlfriends. Haven’t heard from her in a week. She's going to school. I talked to the coach. What do I do? Do I go and force her home, do I call the cops (she's 18, I don’t think they can do anything) leave it alone, she’ll come home on her own? She won’t even talk to me. Help


Hi B.,

You’re right …the cops will not be able to force her to return home.

I think it is good that she is “out on her own.” This experience will teach her how to survive away from “the nest.” Plus she will develop a greater appreciation for YOU as she lives day-to-day without the comforts of “home” and “mom.”

If (or should I say ‘when’) she returns home, this will be a good time for the two of you to sit down so you can lay-out the ground rules for her living ‘under your roof.’ If she does not want to follow your house rules, then she can live elsewhere. It’s her choice.

You’re obligations have been met. Now that your daughter is an adult, living in YOUR house is a privilege – not a right.



Can he just take her away or what?

Hi Mark,

I had a meeting with ex re: finances, but he wont pay anything. He has a new girlfriend who lives in NSW and says L___ will not stay at her high school the whole way through. I want her to. He doesn't know where he will live. Where does that leave me? It actually affected my work today. I think I need some legal advice on that matter. Can he just take her away or what? I am overeating and over-sleeping now. I believe L___ would take us to court if she could or would know about it. She has been okay during holidays.



Hi J.,

I’m not sure what the laws are on this matter in your area. In my state, either parent (or both) can get custody. If the parents agree between themselves on custody, they can avoid a long and expensive court case. But if they can't agree, the judge will hear both sides and decide what's best for the child, not the parents. The judge will consider many factors such as:

  • Which parent has been the children’s primary caregiver
  • Emotional ties of the children to parents and other family members
  • Attitude of the parents towards the child
  • Whether one parent has abused the other (the law assumes that it is not best for the child to be in the custody of a parent who has abused the other parent)
  • Whether one parent is more likely to help the other parent keep a close relationship with the children (the judge won’t consider this if one parent shows that the other parent has been abusive and that a continuing relationship with the children would be dangerous for either the parent or the children)
  • Any criminal record of the parents
  • The parents' emotional stability
  • Home environment
  • The child's age, sex, and health
  • Whom the child wishes to be with (if the child is old enough to make a good decision)

Judges will often award permanent legal custody to the parent who has had physical custody of the child. Judges do not like to change the living situation of a child who is doing well.



Do you think this program will help him?

I am a very experience tutor tutoring a thirteen-year-old who does not respond to strategies. Will this program help me? I have never worked with a child as difficult, and I am used to working with children who are difficult. I am determined to succeed.

There is a stubborn refusal to attend, to try a new strategy even though he knows the strategies he has been using don't work, and an inability to carry through on completing a task. He is very intelligent and could do well; however, I am not able to reach him. Do you think this program will help him?

Here's Help!

Please help.

Hi M.,

I’ve responded to each of your comments in turn below.

Please look for there arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dear Mr. Hutten,

Our son is already in a mental health facility. He would have gone to a juvenile justice facility if we had not intervened and sent him to get some help.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Michael …don’t get upset with me, but I think this was a big mistake (i.e., intervening to “save” him from experiencing emotional pain associated with poor choices). This “enabled” him and will most likely come back to bite you in the hind-end. Counseling – and even placement in a mental health facility – will not give you much “bang for your buck.” He needs a painful consequence, not an expensive babysitter. He does need to be stabilized and on some form of medication for his rage, but this can be done as an out-patient.

He has attacked both of us. He attacked my wife the last time and it was VERY bad. I am not worried about the emotional pain. Emotional pain is hurtful but we can get through it. I am worried that someone is going to get hurt badly. He knows what our physical ailments are and where the best spots to attack are located. He is bigger than either of us.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Your son has Conduct Disorder tendencies.

We love him. We want him to get the therapy he needs so that we can be a family. He is making false accusations of emotional and mental abuse.

>>>>>>>>> It doesn’t surprise that he would be making false accusations. This what kids with ODD and CD do.

He can not claim physical abuse any longer because he is larger, and all the marks, bruises, hair yanked out of his mother's head, broken phones when she tries to call 911.

>>>>>>>>>>Have you filed any battery charges against your son? If not, you are digging your self into a deeper hole.

We don't know what kind of therapy they are implementing because they are not located in the same city as we are. They are not sharing with us anything other than what medication they are giving him. He lies in therapy and like you said, they believe him because he is very manipulative. He is very smart and knows what to say. He has shown us at home that he is able to cry at will. He proved it to me in order to show that he could use it to manipulate my wife at any time. I told her and he showed her as well. That’s when the violence really began because he couldn't fake crying anymore.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Again, please do not get upset with me, but I have to say this: Your son is spoiled rotten!! Don’t get me wrong -- he’s not a bad kid, but he is so used to being in charge (i.e., the tail wagging the dog) that it is going to take a lot of hard work to get the problems reversed.

We are worried about our son. He may never be a productive member of society for himself. He may never be able to get along with anyone. He claims that it is all our fault. He feels like acute care is a vacation. He is not afraid of going to a detention facility.

WE only get weekly appts on the phone with him and the therapist. We don't know what to do when he gets home. It is scary because we are wondering if he will come home and attack again. The therapist is saying that it will never get better.

>>>>>>>>>>>It will definitely NOT get better until you muster up some tough love. Are you willing to do this? If not, you need get an attorney and have him removed permanently from the home.

The only thing that the justice system and mental health facilities have done is make him more educated on terminology and able to manipulate the situation better.

>>>>>>>>>>>This is not entirely true. If he’s locked-up, he can’t hurt anybody. This is as much about protecting you and others as it is about getting him some help.

He has had to change roommates 3 times because he is violent and even stabbed one child with a pen. I want you to understand the gravity of what we are dealing with. Please help.

>>>>>>>>>>>Oh …I get the picture. But I have a huge concern. I have a bad feeling in my gut that you may continue to “save” your son from emotional pain associated with his poor choices. Please begin setting some serious boundaries immediately. I’ve written a whole book on how to do this.



I have never paid for a support group...

I am currently disabled and fighting social security. I don't have a credit card, debit etc. I would really like to join the parent support group, unless I can find one that is free. I do have to admit that I have never paid for a support group, nor have I ever charged when I ran my own support groups. But if this is what I have to do, I will. However we go back to original problem, paying. Can you accept a check through the mail? Please let me know as soon as possible.




Hi S.,

Online Parent Support is much more than a support group, and there are several reasons why Online Parent Support cost members a one-time fee of $19.99.

1. Cost of advertising and keeping the website up and running

2. You get an eBook

3. You have access to my lectures (live audio recording of my parent group)

4. You have access to all the videos and power point presentations shown during the parent group

5. You have access to 44 additional ebooks -- and this number is growing

6. I offer multiple resources, which provide financial assistance to those single parents who get little or no financial help from their child's other parent

7. I provide parent-coaching for as long -- and as often -- as you need consultation

8. And I offer a weekly newsletter.

You will not find another program -- online or off -- that comes close to providing the quantity and quality of services offered on www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com and Online Parent Support. You can, however, find other programs that are much more expensive and provide fewer services.

As far as “free” programs go – well, if you find one, let me know. If parents are not willing to invest 19 bucks in their child, then they probably will not spend the time or energy to “work” the program anyway -- in which case, they WOULD be wasting their money.

Mark Hutten M.A.

Drug/Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents

Alcohol and drugs are a growing danger to our countries young people. The number one cause of car accidents involving teenagers is substance abuse.


She is hanging out with a really bad crowd...

I have a 17-year-old girl who is hanging out with a bad group of kids. She was charged with curfew violation and drinking under the age of 21 20 days ago. I have read your ebook and I thought that maybe things were improving, but last night we let her go out and she was supposed to be home between 11:30 and 12:00. We got a call from the police at 12:00 to come and get her. She had 2 15-year-olds in her truck and there was evidence of alcohol and some pot seeds and stems in her truck. She was again charged with curfew violation and she apparently told the police officer that she would rather be dead. The police officer told my husband that she is hanging out with a really bad crowd.

What can I do? My husband and I were talking this morning trying to figure out what has went wrong. Should we move her to a different school? How do we make her stay away from these kids? We both work and this is my very busy time of the year. Please help or give your suggestions.


Hi M.,

You’ve raised several issues here:

  1. Hanging with the wrong crowd
  2. Curfew violation
  3. Possible under age drinking
  4. Possible marijuana smoking

First, I have to ask. What did your daughter do to earn her truck? Second, what did your daughter do to earn her “night out” the other night?

The reason I ask is because – if she did nothing to earn the above – this was the beginning of the problems.

The method for all four of these problems is outlined in the Anger Management chapter of the ebook (online version) in the section entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid,” which can be reviewed here: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/am

I’ve taken the liberty of plugging in your specific set of problems into the strategy:

1. Clearly state your expectation.

"Be sure to be home by curfew. No drinking, smoking pot, or hanging with that crowd.”

2. If your child does what she is told to do, reward her with acknowledgment and praise.

"I appreciate that you got home by curfew and _________________."

Note: "Rewards" such as hugs, kisses, and high-fives increase your children's motivation to do what you ask them to do.

3. If your child refuses or ignores your request, then a clear warning (with your best poker face) should be given immediately in the form of a simple “If/Then” statement.

"If you choose to ignore my request, then you choose the consequence, which will be _________" (pick the least restrictive consequence first, such as grounding and no phone privileges for one evening).

4. If the warning is ignored, then quickly follow through with the discipline.

"Because you chose to ignore my request, you also chose the consequence which is grounding and no phone tonight."

5. If your child refuses to accept the consequence (e.g., leaves the house or she gets on the phone anyway), take everything away (or at least her "favorite" stuff and/or activities) and ground her for 3 days. If she has a rage-attack when she finds out she is grounded for 3 days, the 3-day-discipline does not start until she calms down. If she violates the 3-day-discipline at any point, merely re-start the 3 days rather than making it 7 days or longer.


In addition, you may want to review my response to a similar email from another parent.

The parent asked, "My daughter has a few friends who have experimented with alcohol. How can I keep her from seeing these friends, and what should I do if she comes home under the influence?

My response can be viewed here: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/q-a

Moving her to a different school would be just another “traditional” parenting strategy that will most likely make a bad problem worse. I would simply use the strategies listed above for now.

Please keep me posted,


Stress-Relief for Stressed-Out Parents

Have you had trouble sleeping lately? Suffer from headaches, stomachaches, or heartburn? Or do you seem to develop one cold after another? Perhaps that's your body's way of reacting to too much stress.
Stress is a normal part of life, but working parents with out-of-control teenagers have more than their share. You need to be sure that the stress in your life doesn't adversely affect your health. If you cant fight or flee, learn how to flow.

Get Yourself De-Stressed

I was looking for some help with a girl I know...

I was looking for some help with a girl I know. Basically she is a family friend's 13-year-old daughter and is out of control. She doesn’t have any respect for her mum at all, and I don’t think she has any respect for herself. She drinks, smoke, takes drugs regularly, skips school so much that her mum is now faced with a £1000 fine or a month in jail, and I know that she tried self harm once and she has just been told she is suffering form alopetia (hair falling out usually die to stress).

My problem is that I have been asked to speak to the girl as her mum is running out of ideas. I’m unsure what to say to the girl. I’m assuming there is a reason for her behaviour (possibly because her mum and dad have been separated since she was young). But I don’t know if I should look for the reason or ask her to change her behaviour (which seems unlikely) or something else?

Any ideas on a good starting point ...even how to get her into the conversation as she will either become very defensive or she will go for the ‘poor me’ sympathy vote. I just want to help her realise that the way she is living isn’t good and do whatever I can to get her out of it.


Hi A.,
I hear you saying that you are preparing to do some form of “trying to reason with” this young lady. Unfortunately, traditional parenting strategies (e.g., lecturing, reasoning, attempting to impart wisdom, etc.) do not work – and too often make a bad problem worse.
Your best bet would be to learn a set of non-traditional approaches that will influence this young lady to change herself. She will NEVER work for what her mother wants, nor will she “come to some sort of understanding” as a result of your “talk” with her – but she WILL work for what SHE wants. And I show you how this works in the eBook: www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com


Our son is already willing to physically attack us...

We purchased your eBook. The beginning of the book says that ‘things will initially get worse’. Our son is already willing to physically attack us, and we are concerned that the initial period might cause serious damage. Can you help?

This is where you are going to have to muster up some tuff. Stick to your guns. Use the strategies just as they are intended. And SHOW NO FEAR! If you feel afraid, "act as if" you are not afraid. If your son knows you are intimidated, he will continue to "rule the roost." If he lays a hand on you, you should immediately call the police and have him arrested.

This is not a game. Tough circumstances call for tough measures. You should not have to "live in fear" that issuing a consequence will result in domestic battery.

If it gets worse before it gets better (and it sounds like it will), this is a good thing. Think of it as "labor before birth." There will be some emotional pain associated with change, but once the new changes become habit, you will know it was worth the effort.


Our son is in a long-term mental health facility.

Our son is in a long-term mental health facility. We do not know where to turn for advice. His therapist is recommending that we put him into a group home. She does not believe that the treatment he is receiving will have any affect on our family life and that he will never be able to return home. This is frustrating because he is there to get help for his aggression and depression. He feels unloved and we wonder if she is helping him feel that way. Why are we paying these people to help our son when their answer is that there is no hope? We don't know who we should contact or what we can do to help our son and ourselves. We want to be a happy family, but they don't seem to share that goal. We will be visiting him on the 23rd of this month. Can you offer us any guidance on this? Thank you for your support. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
M. & D.
Hi M. & D.,
My day job involves working with teens/pre-teens and their parents. I work with these families in their homes. All of these kids have a variety of behavioral and mental health problems (e.g., adhd, odd, cd, ocd, bipolar, asperger’s, tourette’s, etc.). All of them were formerly in placement somewhere and have been returned to the home. I help parents re-learn how to parent their out of control, “unconventional” kids with the use of “unconventional” parenting strategies.
If they were to continue to parent their children using “conventional” parenting strategies, it wouldn’t be long before the child would have to be removed from the home again. Why? Because “conventional” parenting strategies BACKFIRE when used with “unconventional” kids.
I use the term “unconventional.” More familiar labels are “problem child,” “abnormal child,” “dysfunctional child” and so on. Whatever term you want to use, the bottom line is this: If you will use the strategies outlined in my eBook, and if you will use me as your parent coach via email over the next several months, there is absolutely no reason why your son cannot come back home and live a normal life.
It is never too late …there is no problem that is too big …and there is no need to continue living as a worried, defeated parent. But you cannot parent your son like you would a “normal” or “average” child. And you’ll have to take care of yourself in ways you wouldn’t have to if your son were not so strong-willed and out of control.
If you will “hunker down” and prepare yourself for the hard work ahead, I’ll be there for you as often as you need my assistance. We can get him returned home, and we can get him behaving in an acceptable manner within a few weeks. If you will take a step of faith here and make a commitment to making a few changes in the way you parent, then you will experience the same success as hundreds of other parents who were in the same boat as you are now.

How do I find the kind of help he needs?

The younger boy is the kid who is acting out. He's lunging at his older brother and the fight ensues. This boy is also smoking pot, has talked about trying LSD, throws things, ditches school, cussing, has kicked opened my car door so hard then slammed it so hard that the door doesn't close right anymore, etc. He has even stuck me in the arm.

I'm at the point where the consequence is calling the police, which I don't want to do. When I've sat down to talk to him, red flags started popping up. I want to get him counseling and anger management help. I don't know where to start. How do I find the kind of help he needs?


Putting out small fires is about 99.99% easier than putting out larger ones. When the fire is as big as you have described, you must have some outside assistance. Calling the police will have little benefit. Out of control kids love intensity, and calling the police will reward his negative behavior. You'll need to go to your local juvenile probation department (without your son) and file an incorrigibility complaint. In this way, your bark will have some bit. Once on probation, your child will be directed toward the behavioral modification treatment he needs.


How do I get my over-achieving daughter to slow down?

"I have taken the quiz and surprisingly found that I was a severely over indulgent parent. This angers me because I didn't think...