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:

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

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...