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Are we doing the right thing?

My 16 yr old daughter rec'd F's and we are not allowing her to get her drivers license until her grades are c or better. Are we doing the right thing?


Hi L.,

Re: poor academic performance, please go to and read this email from a parent: "My son brings home straight F's on his report cards. I ground him for the entire grading period, but he continues to fail in nearly all subjects. I know my son is a bright kid and can do the work when he wants to. What can I do to motivate him?" -- B. R.

Re: withholding her driver’s license, please review the following page:

Given that we as parents want to (a) get out of the business of playing teacher, dean, vice-principal, etc., and (b) foster the development of self-reliance, the answer to your question is “no” – parents are not doing the right thing by not allowing a teenager to get her driver’s license.

Whenever you are undecided about what to do, always ask yourself, “Is the decision I’m about to make going to foster the development of self-reliance or inhibit it. If your decision will foster the development, then go with it. If not, then don’t.

Not allowing her to get her driver’s license will inhibit, to some degree, the development of self-reliance.


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The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing teens with serious behavioral problems. Disrespect, anger, violent rages, self-injury, running away from home, school failure, hanging-out with the wrong crowd, drug abuse, theft, and legal problems are just some of the behaviors that parents of defiant teens will have to learn to control.

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