Want Some Peace In Your House Again?

If you would finally like to:

1. Have some peace in your house again (remember what that was like?)

2. Not argue every minute of every day with your kid

3. Feel that what you do for him/her is actually appreciated

4. Stop the disrespect and verbal abuse

5. Know how to deal with problems such as disrespect, lying, stealing, truancy, and drug abuse without having to call the police to have your kid locked-up (if this hasn’t happened already!)

...then this might be the most important website you’ll ever visit:


Teenage Son is a Trouble Maker

"The main problem I have with my son Ryan is his behaviour in school, from all accounts, is disruptive in class, has got into fights in school, has been suspended on a number of occasions for smoking, being very argumentative with teachers, skipping off school, porn mags …turns up to school with no books, no homework.

When we sit down to talk about these things, he sits in front of me and either cry's or just says "I don't know" or there's a big story that the teacher was all wrong or it was some one else and no one believes him. I have punished him e.g.: grounded him, taken his cell for weeks on end, Ryan has always been giddy and is very easily detracted, I feel at times he just doesn't know how to change things around at school and they are so sick of him they have given up.

At 15 he is 6 f 6". Lets on he is full of confidence, but at home he is kind, affectionate, very witty and would do anything for you, he has a part time job working on a farm, driving all sorts of machinery, and his boss cant speak highly enough of him, finds him hard working, responsible and can use his own initiative, so why is he doing these things in school. Ryan has good grades in tech drawing, woodwork and history but all his other subjects are below average, his teachers all feel he is capable of a lot more and Ryan talks about being an architect. I hope you can point me in the right direction in helping Ryan reach his potential and become an all rounded happy kid."

For some children, behavior in school requires a positive behavior intervention plan to address the behavior. If your child's behavior is significant enough that it interferes with your child's or another child's ability to learn, you should ask your school to hold an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting to develop a plan to address the behavior.

To request an IEP meeting call your special education coordinator to schedule the meeting. Send a follow-up letter to confirm your discussion. At the meeting, the IEP team, including you, should address how to assess your child's behavioral needs and what services are needed. The following is a sample letter:

Date (include month, day, and year)

Name of Your Child's Special Education Coordinator

Name of School District

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Dear (name of Special Education Coordinator),

I am writing to request an IEP meeting for my child (child's name). I am requesting this meeting because my child is having behaviors in school (describe the behaviors). At this meeting I would like to discuss how to address my child's behavior and development of a behavior plan for (child's name).

In addition to the regular IEP team, I am requesting that a person able to assist the IEP team in developing a plan to address (child's name)'s behavior be present at the meeting.

I can arrange to meet with you and the other members of the IEP team on (list days you are available) between (give a range of time, such as between 2:00 and 4:00). Please let me know what time would be best for you.

I look forward to hearing from you within five school days of the date you receive this letter. My daytime telephone number is (give your phone number). Thank you for your help.


Your Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Daytime telephone number

Ask the school to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). Document the behavior and interventions. In order to decide how to address your child's behavior, the school must document the behavior. The school should document the type of behavior, where the behavior is occurring, what and how responses to the behavior have worked, and why the behavior is occurring. With this information, your child's IEP team can determine ways to address the behavior.

Determine how to assess the behavior. Your child's IEP team should determine how best to assess your child's behavior. Behaviors can be assessed by observation and by formal evaluation tools. Observation can confirm the accuracy of the information collected through documentation and can provide insight into why the behaviors are happening. It is important for your child's behavior to be observed and assessed in the environment where the behavior happens. Your child can be assessed by a variety of people, including teachers, special education personnel, and behavior specialists.

Determine who is qualified to assess the behavior. The IEP team should determine who is qualified to assess your child's behavior. It is simple to document where and when behavior happens, but more difficult to assess the reasons for behavior. Your child's IEP team may be capable of determining why your child is having behaviors or the team may require the assistance of a specialist in behavior. Your child's IEP team should discuss what qualifications are required to assess your child. This discussion should include the required level of behavioral expertise and knowledge about your child's disability. A person capable of assessing your child's behavior might be a "behavior specialist," a psychologist, or a Ph.D. in education or a related field.

Determine if independent assessments are available. Information on your child's behavior from sources independent of the school can help your child's IEP team determine how to address the behavior. This information can include psychological or psychiatric evaluations, information about medications, and information from your child's physician. You should decide whether to share this information with your child's IEP team. Generally, the IEP team will be able to better address your child's behaviors if the team has more information about your child and the behaviors.

If your school has conducted an evaluation of your child's behavior and you disagree with the evaluation, you may be able to pursue an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at the school's expense.

Once your child's behavior has been assessed, the IEP team should consider the results of the assessment. The individual(s) who collected data about your child's behavior should attend the meeting. You should request that the individual(s) who conducted assessment or evaluation of your child's behavior also attend the meeting. The data collector and assessor should explain the results of their assessment and their recommendations to address the behavior. From this discussion, the team should determine if a positive behavior intervention plan is needed.

If needed, a positive behavior intervention plan (BIP) should be written to address your child's behaviors. This plan can be written as goals and objectives on your child's IEP, or can be a separate plan that is attached to your child's IEP. The BIP should include positive ways to reduce your child's behaviors. This can include goals that teach your child more appropriate behaviors or modifications to your child's environment, which decrease the likelihood that behaviors will occur. In addition, the plan should include recommendations to school staff about appropriate ways to respond to your child's behaviors.

Training or inservice opportunities for staff may be included in your child's BIP. The IEP team should determine whether staff working with your child have the necessary information and training to effectively implement your child's BIP. Your special education regional resource center (SERRC) can provide information about training opportunities.

It can be helpful to have the on-going support of a behavior specialist, especially from the behavior specialist who assessed your child. This on-going support is helpful to determine if the BIP is working, and if not, to help your child's IEP team to modify the BIP. You should ask your child's school to agree to on-going involvement from the behavior specialist until your child's BIP is successfully implemented.

The goal of your child's BIP should be to reduce or eliminate the behavior so that your child can learn in school. Another goal should be to reduce or eliminate any discipline of your child. However, even with a BIP, your child may be suspended from school for behavior for short periods of time. Your school is required to follow specific procedures in disciplining a child with an IEP for more than short periods of time. If school discipline is a problem for your child, you should learn the discipline procedures.

Your child is entitled to receive an education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This usually means in the school setting with the most opportunity possible to be with students who do not have a disability. Your child's IEP is required to address your child's behavior so that your child can receive an education in the LRE with access to and progress in the general education curriculum. Your school should not change your child's LRE because of behavior if your school has not appropriately addressed your child's behavioral needs. If your school wants to place your child in a more restrictive environment you should request an IEP meeting and ask the school to follow the steps outlined in this section.

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

She doesn't seem too worried about her future...

Dear Mr. Hutten,

I am writing to ask for some advise. I should also mention that i visit your site regularly and think it is great. My daughter is 14 and has ADD, which encompasses a lot of challenges in itself. My biggest problem with her is her lack of interest in school work, goals or motivation. It's a struggle just to get her up and going every day, and even though i succeed most times, she doesn't do anything in school except socialize and roam around. She will not study, always says she doesn't have any homework until the last minute sometimes and then expects me to race around getting her supplies or letting her use the computer to throw her project together.

I have tried grounding her but she doesn’t seem to care...we live a few miles out of town so she doesn't get to go many places anyway. I don’t let her use the computer very much to try and make her earn its use, and i don’t give her an allowance because she rarely does what's expected of her in the way of respect, chores and schoolwork in order to get it. She just generally has this "i don't care" attitude about however you try and motivate her.

Please help...she is a bright girl with a loving heart but whatever anybody does for her its never enough, things are always everyone else's fault and she doesn't seem too worried about her future. I appreciate your taking the time to read this.




Hi P.,

I'm about to give you the #1 most difficult recommendation for parents to hear. When I tell them what I'm about to tell you, they look at me in disbelief. But here's the deal:

Those parents who follow this advice find a slight improvement in their child's academic performance. Those who don't continue to waste a lot time and energy trying to get their child to bring the grades up -- and they continue to drive a wedge between themselves and their child. Having said that, here's what I STRONGLY recommend:


He is on concerta, strattera, celexa, trazadone...

I purchased your online book: My out of control teen. My 14 yr old son has ADHD, ODD, has terrible tantrums, but mostly with his stepfather. He physically hits him. It doesn't hurt him as he is 300 lbs & my son is 105 lbs but we are becoming concerned with the violence.

When his stepdad tries to restrain him he yells quite loudly "ow, you're hurting me" so everyone in public will hear. He has yet to physically harm me, but his stepdad has told him bad things will happen if he hurts me. His father also has an anger problem (verbal), but he seldom seem\s him, but that doesn’t mean the past hasn’t rubbed off on him.

I have been divorced from his father for 7 yrs. We do have him in counseling right now for his anger, but it doesn't seem to be helping. He is also adopted so I don’t know much about his past, but his Dr’s all seem to think he was probably a drug or alcohol baby. He is getting into a lot of trouble at school, but mostly for acting out verbally. His grades are slipping. He has a special medication Dr that has monitored him since he was 5. He said he has never seen him this depressed but the behavior is still the same behavior he had at 5. His depression seems to be caused from his older sister (his only sibling) going away to college this year (or so he told the Dr).

He is on concerta, strattera, & celexa in the am & trazadone to sleep. Anyway, I am at my wits end with him. He physically exhausts me with his constant barrage of tantrums. If we say no, we pay the price. He tries to beat us down to giving in to him & if we don’t, then the barrage continues. We don’t give in to him, which is why we are so exhausted, but he just is relentless!! Any suggestions on how to deal with him?



Hi K.,

I’m not trying to take a shortcut with you here, but I have already addressed this in the ebook. Please refer to the Anger Management chapter of the ONLINE version of the ebook. Listen to the audio as well. If you still need clarification, we should probably schedule a phone consultation. If I answered this email in depth, I would just be repeating what I have already discussed in the Anger Management chapter.

If you’re still at a lose after reviewing the ebook, call 856-457-4883. Leave a message re: when I can return your call (include your time-zone).



We are facing some challenging times ahead...

Hi, We are facing some challenging times ahead and I would like some advice on how to handle this with our 16 year old son. We moved to the town we are in now in the U.S. about 2.5 years ago from Canada. At the time our son had just started Grade 9. We had some rough times with him refusing to do school work, not caring about school and just being very angry. Things had just turned around with him recently when his Dad's company decided to close down without much warning. His Dad won't have any trouble finding a new job but we likely will need to move again.

As you can imagine, this prospect is not going over well with our son. He is saying he wants to stay here to finish high school. Unfortunately with his past academic efforts or lack of them, he isn't doing great at school. He is in his Junior year but he is a few credits shy of graduating on schedule as he has failed a couple of semesters in 2 courses.

Also, he does not have a job and he isn't driving. How do we handle this?? Do we just insist that he come with us as he is not ready to live on his own? Do I stay behind with him until he graduates and have his Dad commute on weekends for this time?

The issue I have with this is that if our son decides to not make a real effort to pass at school he could drag out the moving indefinitely.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this??? Thanks in advance, C.

Click here for the answer...

Yes ...there actually is audio on the Online Version of the ebook.

Hi Mark,

We're working hard on improving things with our son.
Success is in small steps but there is definitely
improvement. Thanks for your help and for talking with
us on the phone several weeks ago.

I see from some of your comments on the blog that I
have just had access to the written book, not to the
audio book, which seems to have more information in

How do I access it? I've downloaded the link that says
online book and audio book, but still don't see the
audio. Do I have to pay something extra for this?




No ...you don't have to pay extra.

1. Go to www.myoutofcontrolteen.com
2. Click on "Online Version"
3. Save to desktop
4. Open the ebook using your password

…then on each page of the Online Version you should see 3 buttons (one is a play button, one is a stop button, and one is a pause button).

The "live"audio recording of the parenting-workshop (195 minutes total time) is divided into 2 - 5 minute sections throughout the eBook. Each audio section, Power Point Presentation, and video corresponds to the accompanying text.



Stealing all the money on the debit card...

Mark, Thank you for your time. I very much appreciate your offer of a phone call. I'm actually in England so I'd have to check the charges to phone you in the States. It might be better to have an online chat. I feel a bit talked out today as we've spent the last week talking very intensely- myself and my wife- a couple of very difficult sessions with my daughter in the aftermath of her stealing all the money on the debit card. I've also talked to a few people on helplines and even a clinician from an organisation called Youngminds. It starts to get very tangled up when you go over and over the same things. I was beginning to think that things had calmed down -less arguments-she is either up in her room or out with her friends. She was disturbing our sleep every night by coming in late and of course then she'd stay in bed very late or be at work so we wouldn't see her but at least the rows had largely stopped but largely because we had stopped talking. And then she stole all this money making us feel desperate all over again. If you let me know when is a good time to contact you I would like to do so. Thanks, P. 



 Hi P., “Talking to” and “trying to reason with” the daughter-unit are just more traditional parenting strategies that will have little (if any) positive effect. Also, allowing her to stay out late ...and allowing her to stay in her room and sleep late are just other forms of over-indulgence. I understand that it makes things easier in the short run (to have her 'out of the way' so to speak in her room), but as you will find out (or maybe you already have found out), it makes things much more difficult in the long run. 

Mark  www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?


If we put my daughter who will be 19, on her own separate auto insurance and put the title of the car in her name, are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?

She will be going to college, living at home, so we are completely supporting her financially and claiming her as a dependent.

We live in Ohio. She has had a few incidents with the car and we don't want to be liable for anything that may happen in the future. We don't want our insurance to be dropped as well as our umbrella policy.

Any help?



Re: "...are we still liable for any accidents and injuries she may cause?"

Generally no. In case of an accident, the owner of a car can normally be held liable up to the statutory maximum for damages caused by the car. You, as a third party, would not be liable unless the other party (i.e., whoever suffered damage due to your daughter's accident) could prove some sort of negligence on your part (e.g., if you gave your daughter alcoholic drinks and knew she was going to drive, then you could be potentially responsible). But, the general rule is that you cannot be liable just because she lives at home with you. I'm sure a good attorney could find a loophole if he needed to though.



Resentment Flu


I really appreciate your help. I do want to ask you though about "resentment flu". Unfortunately, I have it myself. It is hard when I love my kids, but I also feel so angry and so terribly hurt by what has been happening. I pray to my higher power for guidance very often - it does help. Do you have any suggestions for my "resentment flu"? My feelings tend to show too well on my face, and because my children know me so well, I am sure they can tell. My hurt feelings are probably the reason my children continue to do some acting up - they probably want to hurt me. Any suggestions on how I can assume a better "poker face"?

Thanks again!



Hi L.,

To resolve “resentment flu,” we must forgive. This is discussed in the ebook (in the chapter “How To Let Go” – online version).

It’s going to be very hard to maintain your good poker face if you have ‘unresolved anger’ (i.e., resentment) toward your kids. Please review -- and practice -- the material in the chapter “How To Let Go.”



My daughter doesn't respond to what we do and rarely speaks to me...

Hi P.,

I've responded in several places below. Please look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>

I've read through [the ebook] and need to make these comments. In the contents to the online version it mentions different assignments, but these don't seem to be in the printable version.

>>>>>>>>>> Actually, the assignments ARE in both the printable version and online version. On my printable copy, I see the following:

Assignment #1 - page 23
Assignment #2 - page 29
Assignment #3 - page 36
Assignment #4 - page 41

...this could be slightly different on your copy, but only by a page or two.

I have attempted to use assertive parenting as much as possible in the way that you describe. I am a teacher working with disturbed and damaged children and we use many of the strategies you mention, so I am familiar with the ideas. However, my daughter doesn't respond to what we do and rarely speaks to me, usually walking out of the room as soon as I walk in.

>>>>>>>>>> This indicates that you are in a power struggle with you daughter. Also, she has 'resentment flu'. You must - absolutely must - get into the online version of the ebook and listen to all the audio. You have only digested 50% of the material so far since you have only read the printable version. I can see why you're still struggling.

I have withdrawn privileges and possessions and she either hides away in her room for days on end or goes out and stays away all night.

>>>>>>>>>> O.K. Then you can ground her FROM her room. But you need to get out of the power-struggle first.

The only time she really makes any contact with us is if she is feeling poorly and then turns into a baby lying across her mother like a very young child.

>>>>>>>>>>> This is an indication that she is emotionally under-developed (which as you may have read, is a result of over-indulgent parenting).

She is very awkward about taking any medicine when she is unwell and will often refuse totally because she doesn't like the taste or consistency. This contrasts with drinking large amounts of vodka when she goes out with friends. I can't really see how the very good advice in the ebook can help us in this situation.

>>>>>>>>>> I have to be honest here. I don't think you "got it" with your first "read through" of my ebook. I clearly stipulate a method for dealing with teenage drinking. We should probably schedule a phone consultation. If you're available tomorrow, I'll be glad to spend some time with you on the phone (my dime).

Also to go back to the online support, in the advertising it says that the course is available in audio form but I can't see it anywhere on the website.

>>>>>>>>>> The audio is in the online version of the ebook, which you have not accessed yet.


I feel like no matter what I do, it will be wrong in their eyes.


Right now you are the only one who might have any idea of what I am going through. I wish I knew what to ask you. I guess one of my first questions to you would be: How much contact should I have with my kids?

Their grandmother said I could call or stop over whenever I wanted. I told her I would rather let my children call me when they wanted, and I would like to come see them if they asked her if I could come over.

She said that they do not usually tell her what they want, so I should probably make the first move towards contacting them. I have been emailing them, but that is it so far except for calling their grandmother twice to see how they were doing.

If I contact them first, will it make the situation worse? If I wait for them, will they think that I don't miss them? I might be their Mom, but I feel like no matter what I do, it will be wrong in their eyes.

Do you have any suggestions?



Hi Laura,

I agree with their grandmother. You will have to be the one to initiate contact – at first. After everyone has recovered from “resentment flu,” your kids will start to initiate contact as well.

Don’t make a big production out of the visits, and keep them short initially. Simply pop-in unannounced, ask how things are going, tell them you love them (don’t wait for a response; it doesn’t matter how they respond), then go on about your day.

Make visits a habit – a weekly event that is never missed. But, again, keep them short at first. And don’t expect anything from your kids (e.g., kind statements, hugs, kisses, eye-to-eye contact, etc.). Don’t require them to respond to you in any particular way.

Ask your higher power -- whoever that is -- to give you guidance. Trust that you will receive the guidance you need. Be patient with the process. Detach from the outcome. And never, never give up!



Adolescent Sex Offenders

Hello Mr. Hutten,

I found your statement about going with the flow when writing these newsletters interesting in light of the previous topic on Adolescent Sex Offenders. I have to ask, are the parents coming to you with questions because their children are the offender or questions because their child has been a victim??

I have a little experience with this and am curious what percentage of parents are out there who's children have sexually offended and they feel paralyzed by their inability to talk to anyone about their experience because this topic is just not socially acceptable. I think the parents are often viewed to be just as bad as the child who offended. I feel that not all cases are worthy of litigation but certainly all offenses are worthy of mandatory counseling for the offender.

What are your thoughts and would you consider this parent support group a safe place for those parents to share their experiences, to learn from, and also to help others?




Hello J.,

Parents who email with questions about sex offenders usually have some suspicion that their child is engaging in this activity …they just don’t have any solid evidence yet. They’re trying to educate themselves on ‘what to look for’ because some red flags have shown up.

In the U.S., 15 to 33 percent of all sex offenses are committed by persons under 21 years of age. Males represent approximately 90% of adult and adolescent sex offenders reported to authorities.

Many victims do not report their abuse out of fear of revenge. Victims of sexual dating violence or acquaintance rape, or male victims of female offenders often do not define their experience as sexual assault or abuse, therefore do not report it. Other victims are afraid of parental reactions, or are too embarrassed to report because they mistakenly believe that what happened to them is their fault. Some are sometimes reluctant to involve the police or other "officials" because they think they will bring shame or stigma to themselves or their family. Some victims are just too young, developmentally delayed, or immature to realize they were sexually assaulted or sexually abused. Sexual acts by teens are still often dismissed or minimized as being just experimentation or harmless curiosity. Adolescent sex offenders rarely disclose their abusing behavior or refer themselves to treatment. Many parents also do not report incidents of incest between siblings or other members of the family.

Re: “…would you consider this parent support group a safe place for those parents to share their experiences, to learn from, and also to help others?”

Answer: Absolutely. Parents remain anonymous. In many cases, the parent simply states she does not want her email posted to this blog, in which case, it is NOT posted for others to read.


It's All About Money ...right?

Being a single mother (of 3 all together) with a part-time income and struggling with my work-schedule and counseling appointments, behavior specialists, case workers, COURT (14-yr old gets into legal trouble), everyday household tasks/duties, a 10 yr old daughter who is active in Girl Scouts and school activities, AND dealing with major disrespect from BOTH boys....has driven me to do some research online. And pretty much it's all the same BS. Don't get me wrong; the info I am finding is (somewhat) helpful and websites are always chock full of great information; but so were my therapists/counselors- however, VERY VERY discouraging for single parents like myself, because I DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY FOR THE 'HELP' I NEED. I am lucky to even have 20 bucks for gas in my car a week!

And people dangle the fact that THEY have the ANSWER to these kinds of PROBLEMS and put on flashy lights and great advertisements...but overall, it is to make a quick buck with no regards to individual situations. How unfair this is for other families like mine.

May your 'business' bring you more prosperity....


Hi "heated" ..I mean C.,

My full-time job consists of going to the homes of parents who are at a loss on what to do or how to help. I work with both the parent and the defiant child over a period of about 4 to 6 weeks. During our time together, I show the parent how to use some highly effective “unconventional” parenting strategies to use with their out-of-control, “unconventional” child.

These parents have tried very hard to address their child’s emotional & behavioral problems on their own, but with little or no success. And it seems the harder they try, the worse it gets.

Here’s the good news. These “out-of-control” kids I see on a daily basis are the most enjoyable bunch I could ever work with. I get nothing but respect and cooperation from all of them. Why? Because I’ve learned how to approach them. And believe me, it’s taken many years to get it right.

I show the parent how to be the “therapist” and how to approach their child -- in spite of all the emotional and behavioral problems. There is no need for them to continue living as a frustrated, stressed-out parent. I help them resolve most of the behavioral problems, but I can’t do it for them!

When they read my eBook, listen to my talks, view my videos and power point presentations, and email me with specific questions as they go along – they get the problems turned around. They take a step of faith by joining Online Parent Suport, and then they experience the same success that hundreds of other parents are now enjoying.

After years of dealing with strong-willed, defiant children, many parents feel so defeated that they believe nothing or nobody will be able to help them – they think it’s simply “too late.” But it is NOT too late!!

Most parents are tired of the disrespect, dishonesty and arguments …tired of trying to deal with the problems “on your own,” so they get started with these parenting strategies. And they find out that Online Parent Support is not some "scam" or whatever.

I'm not a “miracle worker,” but they don't need a miracle to get their kid on a good track behaviorally and emotionally -- they just need the right combination of “unconventional” parenting strategies.

I’m always here for parents whenever they are ready to stop feeling sorry for themselves ...when they are ready to stop portraying themselves as the victim …and when they are ready to get serious about correcting the problems at home.

Mark Hutten, M.A.
Online Parent Support
Madison County Juvenile Probation
Madison Superior Court, Division 2

The education of the kids is seriously hampered...

I am highly delighted over my admission as a member of online parent support. I truly pledge to utilize this admission to the fullest advantage. I shall always bring to your knowledge issue, questions and matters bordering my family.

Presently, I have a family of seven comprising wife, four boys, a girl, and myself. The five kids are all in school.

The family runs a small sized paint-processing factory, the proceeds of which sustained the family and catered for the education of the kids. Unfortunately, due to the absence of public power supply in our area since January 2006, the business has grounded. Due to the high cost of generating sets, it has not been possible to resuscitate the factory. Equally, there is a great lull in other ventures as a result of this energy problem.

Consequently, the education of the kids is seriously hampered, as the family now finds it difficult to cope with the high cost of education in Nigeria.

Because of this precarious development, my first son, Chinomso, who was doing second year in the university, withdrew. He now wonders about and constitutes a big problem to the family. The family is seriously disturbed. Efforts made to send him back to school have not yielded any positive dividend as a result of the poor financial state of the family.

What shall we do please? I shall spread the word about online parent support to friends and colleagues.

Thank you, and best regards.

In addition:

I am writing about one Mum in my area with five kids, whose husband died some years ago and has no other extended family to assist her for the upbringing of her kids.

As a result of this predicament the kids resulted to scandalous behaviours of wondering about and appear uncontrollable. Their state has affected their mum’s health adversely and her condition is deteriorating.

Please advice in this regard.


He calls us losers and that we suck...

Mark, ok thank you,

If you recall I was the parent that sent in a blog about breaking up a party that my son was at (Saint Patrick’s night). The parents that were away are friends of mine thru little league coaching.

Their daughter had some kids over for a get together after DECA practice. Her parents were at their ski lodge in Maine. According to their daughter the kids just started showing up. Today’s technology with phones and text messages is to blame for that nowadays.

Anyway I broke the party up with the owner of the house on the phone. My main concern was that the drinking did not mix with the driving. Once I announced myself all the kids scattered. To make a long story short my kid is very mad at me and totally disrespects our authority and hates what I did.

After the weekend and one school day my son started talking w/ my wife and said I did this and that at the party broke up making my wife drift towards believing my son which was totally out of context.

I had such a responsibility that night and most likely prevented what could have been some serious problems that the kids could have gotten into.
He calls us losers and that we suck.

Now the consequences: This is what my wife and I have planned to present to my son

1) No more sleep-overs for the rest of the school year
2) He must get a weekend job
3) Grounded for 2 weeks
4) Must call the house owners and sincerely apologize
5) If these items are not taken seriously I am taking his laptop and phone away.

This kid is 19 years old senior in H.S. Mostly a great kid but hates to be around us and his 3 other brothers. He said that we cannot prevent him from drinking and that he would be a looser if he did not drink. Everyone drinks he says. Every time we give him reins he gets in trouble again. He has had 4 instances with the police ever since he turned 16.

College next year!!!

What do you think?




All sounds good except consequence #3 (I’d make the grounding for only 1 week). Also, in consequence #5 you stated, “if these items are not taken seriously” you will take his laptop and phone away. If I were to video tape your son “taking these items seriously” what would I see. Make it very clear to him what you expect – be specific.



Do I let him continue to suffer...

Ryan has suffered with bad acne. We have taken him to 2 different doctors. He has yet to truly follow the regime of either so needless to say he has not seen improvements. I KNOW this impacts his mood. We have a follow up scheduled for May 4th.

>>>>>>>>>>Here's some info for you on the subject: ACNE

1. Do I let him continue to suffer the "natural consequences" of not following docs orders?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes

2. Do I take him for his follow up visit and let the doctor tell him? This seems like the typical over indulgent. I keep paying for docs and medicine and he does not take it and then blames the doctor?

>>>>>>>>>> No

3. Continue to remind him (although as gently as I try to do it he perceives it to be nagging?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> No

>>>>>> Whose problem is it ...yours or your son's? The more responsibility you take for his acne, the less he will take.

>>>>>> In general, when you are undecided about what to do, ask yourself the question: "Is what I'm about to say or do going to foster the development of self-reliance in my child -- or is it going to inhibit the development of self-reliance?

>>>>>> If it's going to promote self-reliance (directly or indirectly), then do it -- if not, then don't.



Online Parent Support


You rock! This is EXACTLY the type of help I was looking for.

Now let me know how this all works!

1. This is what we can get as part of the online parent support?

>>>>>>>>>> Yes

2. Is there a limit to how much/how often?

>>>>>>>>>>> No

If I have questions every few days in the beginning would this be included?

>>>>>>>>>> Yes

3. IF we wanted to do weekly or bi-weekly personal coaching via the phone, do you offer this?

>>>>>>>>>>> I’m willing to do periodic phone-consults (i.e., once every month or two). I have to set some limits on my time due to the sheer volume of Online Parent Support members that email and/or call.

How much?

>>>>>>>>> Free for members of Online Parent Support.

How can we get started?

>>>>>>>>>>> The best way to do a phone consult would be to call the Toll Free number [856-457-4883] and leave a message re: your time zone and an approximate day/time that I could return your call.

Email is GREAT …but I think hearing you and having you HEAR my husband and I would work wonders! Let me know.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>>>>>>>> You are very welcome. Thank you for being willing to work a program [for your kid’s sake].

Join Online Parent Support

She says I am overprotective and do not trust her...

Hi Mark I was just looking at the safe internet use email and safe surfing guide. I am very concerned about my 15 year old daughter: she is fiercely secretive about her use of the internet - I think mostly instant messenger, Bebo and My space. She refuses to let me see her profile and the type of messages she receives and sends. I have been able to see her provocative pictures and language without her knowing. Her contacts are boasting about trying pot. I want to talk about the dangers of her image openly but I will loose trust if she finds out I have been snooping. She always flicks off if I open the door. She says she understands the dangers and is using the internet safely. She says I am overprotective and do not trust her. This has coincided with her change of attitude to authority - teachers etc and caring less about the quality of her homework, keeping appointments and handing work in on time. She wants more freedom, fun and social time and has a closed, secretive, rebellious attitude. She is not open to any advice/suggestions from us. I want to enforce the safety rules described, but I know she will see this as distrust and an infringement of her freedom which I fear will make her rebel more. I would like help on how to balance the need for her to understand the risks she is taking with building a trusting relationship where we can talk openly. Help please, L.T.


Hi Linda, I’m going to be a bit tough on you. Ready? You are not a buddy!  And yes …she IS going to rebel more. It probably WILL get worse before it gets better. Do not try to “advise” her or “suggest” things to her – this is a traditional parenting strategy that does not – and has not – worked. You are being too lenient, which is a huge contributor to the existing problems. Computer use is a privilege – not a right. Please re-read the ebook and listen to all the audio-files. Please don’t get upset with me, but I’m concerned you didn’t ‘get it’ the first time around. Your concerned parent-coach, Mark

Ryan has always been different...

Hi A. …I’ve responded below. Look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I just found your website and ordered your e-materials and have just read some of your great stuff. It makes sense. We have struggled with my oldest who is now 15 ...almost 16 his entire life! We have 3 children. We both work full time. I own my own business and work from home but travel often. I would guess that all 5 of us are ADD ...so structure and consistency have always been and continues to be a real struggle.

We both grew up with nothing and have very obviously been the over indulging parents.

As I read this I feel good that we have done some things right. We try (despite incredibly busy schedules) to have dinner as a family of 5 at LEAST 5-6 nights a week. We try to attend Church together at least 2 times/month. They are all doing ok in school. My youngest does GREAT! They are all involved in organized sports and school sports and have all done fairly well.

We have really tried to get better over last 6 months. Overall despite all of our imperfections the other 2 kids are warm, happy affectionate and more or less compliant. Yes, they are a bit whiney and lazy as a result of our mistakes but overall when we try all of the good solid tips you recommend they definitely respond and respond well!! So I know this can work.

For some reason our Ryan has always been different. He is very moody. He is very manipulative. He can seem very troubled and depressed which gets us into a horrible cycle of feeling badly for him...etc. He makes ok choices but lately has been faced with a TON of peer pressure. We live in an affluent, highly permissive area where things happen as you mentioned …adult-sanctioned under age drinking, etc.

We have tried to crack down of late but this has led to a HUGE, and LONG power struggle. He has effectively used the Silent Treatment and Withdrawal. Of course this KILLS my husband and myself. We have tried for HOURS (no exaggeration) at a clip calmly asking him to tell us

How he feels…
What is one thing he likes about us/his life…
One thing he would like to see changed…

We have even lobbed possible topics out there...that may be tough for him. I stepped up and did actually admit that I have not been the best mom...but I am trying to change, etc. There was no connection/no empathy/ just disgust. To NO avail! We have tried counseling for a few months now and have seen NO improvement!

I am proud that we have started to do many of the things you mentioned here.

1. We caught him lying about a party he went to...we had discussed this calmly and even put it in writing weeks before...and followed through beautifully. But now I am thinking it was too harsh. WE said 4 weeks grounding. Then we said any disrespect which he does DAILY he would lose his cell, pc, xbox, computer, etc. And again followed through. But I am thinking that the time frames are SO LONG and the punishment so severe (after years of being lax) that this could be causing him to be so despondent and confused?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 3 days works best.

I tried to get him his electronics back earlier by saying …you can earn them back by being respectful for one hour. Do you know he flatly refused?

>>>>>>>>>> “Being respectful for one hour” – what does that mean exactly? If I were to video-tape him being disrespectful, what would I see? Be very specific when telling your son what he has to do to earn his way off discipline.

Digging in and preferring to punish himself over complying and reaping the rewards. Guessing he is at Stage 3?

Q: Is this normal? Is he just adjusting to our new style? Should we follow through on the 4-week deal? We have 2 more to go or give him an option to earn back the privilege?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes…very normal. Four weeks is about 3 ½ weeks too long.

2. I realize that I try so hard to stay calm but am in a constant power struggle. I try to be calm but he pushes my buttons all day/every day.

Q: When I say "What do you have going on today? What time is basketball? Any tests today sweetie?" and he does not make eye contact or answer...what should I do? IGNORE him or discipline him?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I would ask one short question …then either listen to his response, or ignore his lack of response.

When he responds with a grunt...same question? When he is going to bed. I say I love you...and he does not answer or leaves the house in the morning without saying good bye back...

>>>>>>>>>>>Pick your battles carefully ...you have bigger fish to fry. It doesn’t matter whether he responds or not. What matters is you are doing the nurturing piece that is so vital to the overall success of these strategies.

I would LOVE to get coaching from you, either on line or via phone. We live in NJ ...not sure if in person is an option.

>>>>>>>>>> Not currently unfortunately.

PLEASE let me know ...how you work/ how fast we can get started/can you address very specific questions like I have outlined here?

Thank you so much!!

Hopeful in NJ



He threatening to slit my throat...

Hi Mark. My son has been staying at his Dad's for a week and a half now with no contact at all. Suddenly, today, he left me a phone message threatening to slit my throat because he fucking hates me. He also called me a fucking C---!!! Is it time to call the police? This was totally unprovoked unless he heard something from one of his friends. Everyone knows I'm concerned with drugs.




I would definitely file a complaint. If you can get an officer to the house so he can hear the message -- that would be even better.

If someone you knew (other than your son) called you and threatened to set your house on fire, would you take that seriously? ...I'm guessing you would. I don't see this threat from your son as any different.

Err on the side of safety (plus you will be showing your son that threats of physical harm have legal consequences).

Be safe,



Do you think this is just jealousy...?

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your email, I am a single mum with two daughters aged 9 and 11 (nearly 12). They spend every second weekend with their father and he treats them well but he refuses to communicate with me in any way whatsoever which can cause problems obviously.

I have a very good relationship with both of them but the eldest in particular has always been very strong willed and often appears very angry. It is difficult to get her to identify her anger and sometimes it can get out of control.

They have had a particularly difficult time over the last year or two with the break up. It was a particularly traumatic breakup and they witnessed some truly awful stuff when their father was trying to get me to move out of the house by intimidation and other methods for which there is now a police prosecution pending. Eventually he was made to leave the home by the courts.

As part of my 'parenting schedule' I take each of them out individually once a month for some ‘one-on-one’ time alone with them. It was my youngest daughters turn this week, and the older girl was going to spend the afternoon with her friend (supervised by her friend’s mum of course). When I picked the girls up from school however the older daughter was in very bad form and was being very difficult so much so I was concerned something had happened in school. When I approached her she got very angry with me … shouting, and so on. She was crying and shouting quite a bit and then refused to go to her friends house.

I told her that she was spoiling my special time with her younger sister and she got her time too so that was unfair. In fact her younger sister was very upset too as she thought our afternoon together would have to be cancelled. Eventually I persuaded her to go to her friends but with difficulty and I was really quite angry with her for spoiling the afternoon. I work part-time so I am with both of them every day after school but still think it’s important to have some individual time with them also.

Do you think this is just jealousy? She really can be very difficult. Should I have actually 'Punished' her for her behavior??

This probably sounds very trivial a problem but her mood swings can be very difficult to handle and very upsetting also. I also worry about her anger which seems mainly directed at me but can also be directed towards her sister and can at time spill over to her friends also.

Thank you for your time,



Hi J.,

Going on what you’ve told me, it does sound like jealousy [with a touch of sibling rivalry] since she refused to go to her friend's house. In these cases, reassurance from the parent is much more effective than punishment.

I also like the idea of ‘one-on-one’ time with each daughter. An even better scenario would be if you could add time with the both of them (‘one-on-two’ time). There’s an added element of mother-daughter bonding that occurs in a threesome (i.e., the whole family spending time together) that would not occur otherwise.


We are exhausted...how do we get her out this summer...

Hi P.,

>>>>>>>>>>> I’ve responded throughout your text below:

Hello--I did post in the parent forum, but no one has responded, but I will keep reading all the posts, for I am sure they will be beneficial.

>>>>>>>>>>> I'm glad you brought this up! Parent Forum is where parents respond to one another; however, most posts do not get a response. I wish members of Online Parent Support would spend more time in Parent Forum and respond/support each other. Note: Posts have to go through a review process by staff before they are posted (usually takes 24 hours).

>>>>>>>>> Emailing, as you did, is the best way to get a response from me. I post these emails (without individual’s names of course) in the Online Parent Support blog (blog name is ‘Emails From Parents’). However, I tend not to respond to very general questions such as “How do I get my child to behave” …or “How can I teach my child to show more respect” …or “My child has a terrible attitude – HELP!” …and so on.

>>>>>>>>>I figure that if parents are too cheap to spend 20 bucks on their kid …or too lazy to read the eBook, my time is better spent with those parents who (a) actually want to work the program, and (b) are not looking for the “easy way out.”

I read the whole E-book and found it very beneficial in dealing with day-to-day interactions, but I had already tried the verbal contract of respectful conversation and that doesn't work.

>>>>>>>>The strategy you’re referring to here is for younger children, not older teens (I mentioned that in the eBook).

I always have to end the conversation cause she won't stick to being respectful. She is sarcastic 100% of the time and seems to enjoy getting any sort of rise out of me--so I used to really be hurt over the things she says, but now I am numb to it all and I just leave the conversation when she starts. I don't engage unless I absolutely have to with her, which is usually over her chore list. It is difficult to get her to return to any subject, cause she just won't, but I have found ways to get my point across by just being direct, and quick and she usually walks off saying stuff, but I think she hears it then. Nothing else works. I have told her that if she cusses at me one more time she will have to leave this home--I can't and won't tolerate the F word around my 11 year old.

I do see some parenting mistakes in that we allowed too much freedom her senior year, and that we let her out of some consequences when she was younger by saying she was sorry, but we didn't do that with all things. She said that is all she needed was more freedom and things would be better, well things didn't get better. My husband and I mainly caved because she got her grandmother involved and the whole thing just got so ridiculous that we decided she could be out as much as she wants as long as she is home by 2:00 a.m. but in all honesty she is home most of the week. She only goes out about 2-3 days a week, now that her boyfriend has put the breaks on their relationship. But before it was every night. Thank heavens he put a break on it, otherwise she would be gone all the time. I used to really care what others thought, including her grandma, but now I don't and I think her grandmother was completely out of line and I think made things much worse for all of us. I wish I knew what I know now then, cause it would of helped me navigate through all that mess much better.

My questions that I have really weren't answered in the e-book, so I have to ask them. She is graduating from high school soon, in 3 months. My husband and I desperately want her to move out this summer. I know that isn't going to come easy. I want to know how to go about this. She will be starting the university and things will be tight for her. But I no longer think this is my problem, since she makes living here a real difficult task. It doesn't bother me that she hates us right now and thinks she knows everything, but the tension of her being here is wearing. So help me with this. How do we go about this?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>I’ll respond to this question at the end of this email (see below).

In addition she is starting the University. I did tell her that we don't have the funds for the University, but do for a community college. We make a decent living, I am a nurse and my husband works for Fed-Ex, but that isn’t enough to put her through a college that would cost me an additional $1000.00 a month to support. I have agreed to help her with some extra expenses now and again, but that is it. The university says there are loans she can take out and she has applied, but I don't want to sign for them for her to get them? Is that wrong?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> No …it’s not “wrong” …this is a personal decision you make that will have both advantages and disadvantages.

I don’t want to be responsible for her debt in any way. I think she is a bright girl and I think she will make something of herself, but I could see her flaking out on that part of paying, cause she is flaky now with it and then I think she smokes pot as well with her pot head friends and that is concerning of where that is going for her future.

My husband and I can manage the next few months I think, but once the summer gets here, I don't want to be obligated anymore and that is plainly all I feel right now. I love her and always will, but she has snatched the penny from the hand with lack of a better word. She is constantly sarcastic and mean to her younger sister, mainly with emotional abandonment and sarcasm. We are exhausted.

So question--how do we get her out this summer--she has a job--would it be feasible to set a date?

>>>>>>>>> It’s more than feasible – it should be a requirement.

In addition she is seeing our old counselor. He is a psychologist and a nice guy--but he doesn't think the pot smoking is something to be real concerned about. He actually told her that he smoked pot all through college and he had no problem with it and doesn't think it is addicting. I totally disagree in every way--what do you think about this? Is this okay for him to do?

>>>>>>>> Is this o.k.? I don’t know. Is it a “real concern”? It would be if your daughter got busted with a bag of weed by the cops – she’d go to jail, and it will cost her a lot of money (court costs, attorney fees, etc.).

We went to a counseling session with her which was a total mistake, she just blasted us the whole time and being the type of counselor he is, he just sat there and then later told us to have stronger personal boundaries with her that she is just a middle class rebellious kid. I know that is true, but I thought he would make more of the drinking we discovered and the pot. I told her that she isn't allowed to do any of that in my home and we turned over her car to her and her insurance that way she can be responsible for that.

Any direction would be great--thanks again

Signed all out of answers--ha.ha.. P.

>>>>>>>>>> With all the attention on where your kids are going, little may have been said about where they are leaving. Parents would do well to remember their first experience of leaving home. For many it came easily, but for some it was accompanied by stress and for others conflict. In remembering their own experience, parents next have to consider the experience they want to provide their son or daughter.

This experience of leaving home is important psychologically for children, now young adults, and parents alike. The experience can set the tone for the next stage of family development, adult-to-adult relationship with your child. Remember, they will likely be married some day and you will want to see your grandchildren.

After managing their child through adolescence, parents are faced with the fact that their child is a young adult. Long gone are the days of parental authority. Coming to terms with this fact lies at the heart of the leaving home experience and can impact on your son or daughters sense of adult security and your future relationship together.

Perhaps it is not so much that the parents must reassure their children that they will be all right, but that the parents must reassure themselves and not let their concerns impede the children’s departure. Just let ‘em launch and do not try to cram in all the lessons left untaught. Some lessons are only gained by leaving home.

For a better leaving home experience consider these suggestions:

1. Talk with your daughter about her feelings of leaving home.
2. Reminisce with her about her growing up and the pleasures you have had along the way. Marvel at her growth and accomplishments and your anticipation of future accomplishments.
3. Plan well for the departure so the actual moment isn’t fraught with last minute errands or conflicts. Offer your help and be prepared to stand back -- or jump in – only as requested or discussed. Your hand is no longer attached to the bicycle seat and you have to let go now again.

If you follow these suggestions you will experience a smoother transition to an adult relationship with your daughter. This kind of experience can repair past conflicts with her and improve the odds of having a great relationship as adults.

As parents, we are so use to telling our children what to do. To prepare for his leaving however, we must begin to ask them what they think they should do. Let me warn you, our kids’ thinking is very different from ours. I admit that I had to literally press my lips tightly to keep my opinions out of it. Coaching your children to think through things and come up with their own solutions is critical to their exodus.

It's important to distinguish between two types of exodus: (1) moving toward another support system, or (2) simply running away from home with an eye toward escape. The former can be a very positive experience for an adolescent; the latter is much more likely to be terrifying and self-destructive.

It's common for adolescents to look for ways to explore who they are and to see how they fit into the world. The timing may reflect biological changes in their brains, for they can now think differently than they did only a year or two earlier. They can readily imagine new solutions to problems or different approaches to challenging situations. Their world is no longer black-and-white, but a complex mosaic of grays. An explosion in the possibilities they can envision for their lives calls them to reexamine their sense of identity and who they might become. They can picture themselves, often for the first time, as independent from their parents.

For many, spending time away from their immediate families is a normal and appropriate way of testing their new ways of thinking and of forming relationships. These children are very different from runaways, whose dramatic actions often point to serious underlying emotional problems for them or their families.

One way of differentiating the two is to ask yourself why the adolescent is leaving home. Is she running away from issues such as how she should deal with authority, or is this a mature decision to move out because she needs a different environment at that moment in order to grow emotionally?



Brain on Drugs? NO!

Radiation Penetration in a 13-year-old

Brain on Drugs? NO! This is a picture of your kid's brain while he talks on his cell phone!
Hi Mark,

I recently registered for your site-

I wondered what you might have in the way of advice regarding the following:

MIXIT has become the in-thing in this country- kids are using it more and more and some becoming addicted as in 6 hours a day and into the night.

Parents needing their kids to have mobile phones in terms of arrangements are finding it extremely difficult to control as it is dirt cheap, easy to access and being used by all their friends as a mobile chat room.

I’d appreciate your opinion or any articles relating to this.

Kind regards,



Hi J.,

MXit is a mobile instant messenger application developed in South Africa that runs on GPRS\3G mobile phones with java support that allows you to communicate with other MXit users on their cell phones or even on a PC. Messages are sent and received via the mobile Internet, rather than with standard Short message service technology (SMS).

The user can also exchange messages with online chat communities like MSN Messenger, ICQ, and Jabber.

Messages are limited to about 2000 characters.

Because messages are billed by the amount of data sent, they are much cheaper to send than traditional SMS messages. MXit is very popular because of its simplicity and the cost.

Currently during peak time, an SMS on any one of our network providers costs around 80c for 160 characters. Using MXit, the exact same message, will equate to around 3 to 5c!

MXit claims to have a registered user-base of two million and about five million log-ons per day …and most of the users are South African Teenagers.

The problems associated with cell phone use among teens and pre-teens are mostly related to health issues.

Learn more about the dangers of electro-pollution here: www.emf-health.com/children.htm

I'd like to take the door off his room.

My 15 yr old son has become such a punk and is very lazy. He went through his teacher’s desk and was told on by his classmates. He only admitted to sitting at her desk and is now being placed in a different class due to loss of trust from her. She is a great teacher too. Since he doesn't respect her privacy, I think his privacy should also be compromised. I'd like to take the door off his room. Any thoughts?


I think this punishment fits the crime ...good thinkin' (only for 3 days though).



Why don't I just 'know' how to parent the right way?

Mark, This may sound like a ridiculous question ...but why don't we, as parents, just KNOW how to parent our children the right way. Why don't we just know it!!! Why does it seem that we HAVE to get outside help with our kids nowadays (otherwise all hell breaks lose). ~ K.


Hi K.,

All parents are experts in 'HOW' their child behaves. But few, if any, are experts in 'WHY' their child behaves the way she/he does. And if the parent doesn't know the 'WHY' part, she will beat her head against a brick wall for years without finding a solution to the behavior problems.

Kids are extremely complex creatures-- especially when they suffer with ADHD, ODD, CD, etc. How could anyone be expected to know how to parent these individuals. If I pulled the automatic transmission from my car and placed it on a table in front of you, would you just "KNOW" how to fix it. Of course not. The idea is absurd. Parenting kids with emotional/behavioral problems is no different.

This is why I'm glad you are a member of Online Parent Support (OPS). Members of OPS are my hero's. Why? Because they are willing to spend a significant amount of time figuring out the 'WHY' part, and are working hard at making the necessary adjustments in their parenting.

I'm proud of you K. -- you have what it takes.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Terminate The Relationship?


In the Emails From Parents ("This Mom Has A Backbone"), you used the word "terminate." Could you elaborate on what you mean exactly by this term? Surely you're not telling us to abandon our kids.



When you "terminate the relationship," you're not saying to your child, "Hey ...I don't love you anymore, and I never want to see you again." Rather, you are sending a clear, verbal message that "as long as you choose to use abusive language and threats, I choose not to be around you." You could include the comment, "whenever you decide to stop using abusive language and threats, I'd love to spend time with you" (tough love that, in many cases, is equally tough for the parent).

In those cases where the child does not have the luxury of going to live with the other parent, you have to adopt a different approach obviously (which is discussed in the ebook).

I hope this clarifies,



He's Got 4 Parents.

Hi Mark,

I have read quite a bit of your ebook now. I am finding controlling my anger a problem. I have not found my poker face yet. I do have a question for you though. My son goes to his fathers for dinner every Tuesday night and every other weekend. How do I enforce the discipline?

My son did not earn this past weekends wrestling tournament and was told he could not go, his father took him anyway. So now my son is acting like he got away with something. And I feel like what I say doesn't matter. I except that I cannot control my son's reaction. But, how do I control his father’s actions or reactions? My son has 2 mom's and 2 dad's and none of us get along very well because we have different idea's of what's best for our son.


Hi A-M.,

If he has 2 moms and 2 dads, then you only get 25% of the say-so -- not good odds.

In any event, I would recommend that, if possible, the 4 parents get together and come up with some type of parenting plan that everyone can live with (compromise). A watered-down, weaker plan supported by all 4 parents would be infinitely better than a solid, stronger plan supported by only one parent.

If the other 3 parents are not interested in working WITH you, then let your son know that your rules are different than theirs, and there are consequences for violating your rules while he's on your watch.

I know this is a frustrating situation. You make two steps forward, and then it seems that the other parent pulls you 3 steps back. But don't try to control what they do on their end. Your son will simply have to operate under two or more different sets of rule-structures.



J's school counselor recommended a part time job.

Hey Mark~

J's school counselor recommended a part time job. Thought it necessary since he will be 17 on Apr 28 (more important than a sport). I thought track would be a better idea- get him social and active- and he could pick up a job in the summer. J refuses to do either. He is taking Drivers Ed. but has no motivation to drive or go anywhere (child of indulgent parent). How do I handle this?

Thanx- L.


I think this falls into the 'pick your battles carefully' category. Here's my 2 cents:

If he doesn't want to work -- fine. But he should do chores around the house to earn money.

If he doesn't want to do track -- no problem.

If he wants to be a homebody -- that's o.k.

Your son is going to be a late bloomer ...I can see that now.

I wouldn't spend time or energy fighting these battles,


p.s. Don't go lookin' for trouble.


She's got ADHD, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder , and Bipolar Disorder.

I have a 17 year old daughter who has been diagnoses with severe ADHD, anxiety and border-line bi-polar. These past six months have been terrible. She's hanging out with terrible kids, she quit school, she hates her family and as her mom, I have tried several drugs, including Strattera, which she just started, and she is miserable.

Anyone with authority, including family, teachers, anyone, she does not tolerate. I'm trying to get her tutored so she can graduate, she thinks it's no big deal, feels entitled to get her car back on the road, get a new cell phone, etc. I'm at my wit's end, I don't know what to do with her, she threatens to move out daily, she is not even 18 (in a few weeks), she's a know-it-all and I cannot reason with this child at all, she is illogical and will not listen and everyone is making her life miserable and nothing is her fault.


She's a Shoplifter!

Thank you Mark!

I am having some issues right now with my 16 yr old daughter, D_____. I may give you a call today. I am a single mother. Her father lives across the state in Memphis and is uninvolved. She is really a good kid with moments of complete stupidity. She is extremely intelligent, sensitive, caring and beautiful. She has been on the high school dance team for 3 years now. She takes honors and ap classes, although she has struggled all year. Self-discipline and motivation seem to be her obstacles. She is not a child that I would call blatantly rebellious. It's almost like she does well for a while and then seems to fall back into self-sabotage. She then moves on and is good for a while and then trouble. It seems to be a vicious cycle. Here are some of the issues that we've dealt with over the past 3 years:

- Underage drinking (huge problem with most of the kids around here). This seems to be improving though.

- Lying (consistent pattern)

- Sneaking out (twice that I know of....busted in the act once)

- Shoplifted earrings 2 yrs ago while visiting my brother and sister in law in Nashville. She was caught by the store security. He scared her pretty badly but they did not prosecute. This was a very traumatic event for all of us. We were stunned.

- Turning homework in late or just blowing it off occasionally. Typical example: All grades turned in are As and Bs. Then there will be a 0 here and there, which drops her grade dramatically.

- Periods of apathy, difficulty sleeping. She is on an anti-depressant and sees a counselor some but not regularly.

- 3 wrecks in the first 6 mos of driving. She has her own car....a 1996 Pathfinder that I found in great condition. The first wreck was probably unavoidable. The second one she backed into my neighbor's car in the parking lot of our condo. The third (last week) was from changing lanes and someone was in her blind spot. She did not look over her shoulder. This happened 5 days after we had gotten her car back from being fixed, from the first wreck. Her car is drivable and I have told her that she will have to pay to get it fixed. She is planning to get a job at the end of the month. (She has mono right now.) I am just praying that the insurance does not drop her. I have told her that, when the policy renews and the rates go up, that she will have to pay the difference.

- Unorganized and a tendency to lose things. Room is a mess. She cleans it up and it is a mess again with 1 day. Last year she lost her ipod, my digital camera and a Northface jacket within about a 6 mo period. I no longer by her anything expensive.

- And now for the current issue: She went shopping on Monday just to look at clothes. She did not have money to spend right now. On Tuesday, I discovered some new clothes in her room. I questioned her about it and she said that she had enough money for one thing and the other clothes belonged to her friend. I knew she was lying. My first thought was that she possibly wrote a bad check. However after investigating, I could not find any bags, receipts or evidence of her writing a check. My fear was that she stole the clothes. After confronting her last night, she confessed that she took them. Old Navy: shoes, a dress, a bathing suit. Kohls: flip flops, a bathing suit, a bra and a pair of shorts. She then tells me that she took care of it after school and took all of the clothes back to the stores and told the managers she shoplifted them. I didn't believe her and left the house shortly after our conversation. I drove straight to Old Navy and talked to the manager. She did not bring anything back there. Then I went to Kohls....same story. I told both managers that I would be back with her today to return the items. She has worn the dress and shoes, so we will have to pay for those. I am planning to take her to both stores this afternoon after school. She is bringing the clothes home. They are in her locker. Both places told me last night that they would talk to her but would probably not involve the police. Had she been caught in the act, they would have called them. I am just really worried about her and want to do the right thing. I am also extremely disappointed in her, as she knows the difference between right and wrong.

I've practically read all of the printable info from your website. I realize a lot of things I have been doing wrong. I am committed to changing my methods! Thank you so much for what you are doing. I can see it has made a difference in a lot of lives.

Thank you,



Hi E.,

I think you're right on track with how to handle this one.

Most teens shoplift because they:

·think the store can afford the loss
·think they won't get caught
·don't know how to handle temptation when faced with things they want
·feel peer-pressure to shoplift
·don't know how to work through feelings of anger, depression, unattractiveness, or lack of acceptance

In any event, take your daughter back to the store and find the manager. Then have your daughter confess, apologize, make restitution (i.e., pay for the items she took), and accept any legal consequences.

Know that once teenagers steal, it is easier for them to steal again. If police arrest teens for stealing, especially shoplifting, it is rarely their first time.



He can smell the stink of it...

I want to thank you for the email advice and the chance to review material that has helped us. I have to admit we haven't gone step-by-step through the plan; however, just reading and taking different paths during problematic times along with knowing I have support has been so much help. In addition to the material, we do have our son in counseling -- not sure what the outcome will be; but a step we had to take rather than not to and wonder if it could have helped some. We did put our son on medication.

My son has been in and out of dr. apts to the point of almost disappointment. However, after several med changes, we have found one that appears to help him. I know this is not a complete cure, I know he may grow immune to the regimen, but it has given us time to let our guard down at home and work with our son. I never wanted to put my son on anything that could hurt his system and didn't want to because of the many articles you read making a parent almost feel guilty in doing so - but the combination of items is helping us to recover.

Our situation isn't gone and there are days that go downhill, but my son is happier! Our home is more relaxed. I did want to pass along a book title to others who may need to feel some comfort is the Dance of Defiance; a mother and son journey.

Here is my question - and need some advice quickly.

Despite all of the behavioral problems, school trouble, and rebellion, I haven't ever worried about my son smoking, drinking or doing drugs. At this point, (13 years old) he makes comments about headaches from smoke and doesn't like the taste of alcohol. However, like any child without defiance issues, the peer pressure is there to do so.

My son has been given more responsibility and privileges due to positive behavior and has shown significant improvement in his school grades. We also have gone for 8 weeks without a school phone call or detention.

In the earned privileges is the ability to go to his friend's house and spend the night. A couple weeks ago, he stayed the day there and appeared to have a good time - along with going out to play ice hockey with friends. A few days later he told me his friend's sister smokes pot in her bedroom and he can smell the stink of it. I am torn as to what to do now.

The friend has been a friend of my son's for the past few years; it isn't a new relationship. The boy happens to live with his sister with their grandmother. The boy's mother did live with them but moved out with a fiance in another school district and so the kids stayed so as not to change schools. I know the grandmother and mother but they do not have home phones to call and talk - only cell phones. And, do I know actually the daughter is smoking pot?? My son did not show any interest in or didn't talk about "hanging out" with the sister when at the house.

I feel as a parent I shouldn't let my son go over any more. I feel like I should say something but short of driving to their home to talk it isn't as easy as picking up the phone. The other side of me says my son has shown responsibility and is not influenced by the situation - so is it up to me to tell the grandmother her granddaughter smokes pot in her bedroom. I am also torn to tell my son he can't go anymore and not tell him why. I don't feel it necessary to lie to him at 13; and should I tell him the truth he may not confide in us any longer (when I really need him to feel comfortable to do so). And, talking to the family could create a situation at school for my son, which would ultimately against widen the trust factor in my son's mind against us.

What to do next? This situation could turn us upside down after the progress we made going forward - am I gaining anything?

Please provide your thoughts.


Hi K.,

Weighing everything together, I think your son should be allowed to see his friend.

Educate yourself completely about drugs so you will be able to identify any warning signs that your son is abusing drugs: www.nida.nih.gov

Keep a sharp eye out. If you feel he’s getting caught up in something, then intervene regardless of your son’s relationship with his buddy.



He blows smoke in my face...

I am very much appreciating the support and book guidance. I have not seen anything yet that helps me deal with another issue, which is huge in our home. My son does smoke when he finds ways to obtain cigarettes. He's been suspended from school, off his basketball team for 3 weeks, but most of the time has not gotten "caught". I firmly believe this is just another means of producing a reaction in me. However, I am deathly allergic to cig smoke and my asthma has required intense treatment as he flaunts his cigs, blows smoke in my face and refuses to change his smoky clothes. I have had 3 bouts of pneumonia this winter, which has knocked me for a loop and I have had to limit our activities. Again I think he is attempting to maintain his control over me and he's doing a great job any suggestions? Thanks


Sorry mom. You're not going to
like my advice, but here goes:

You will not be able to stop him
from smoking. Pick your battles
carefully - and this is not a battle
you should fight. In fact, the
more you worry about it or
lecture him, the more he will
smoke! But you can stop him
from smoking on YOUR
property. Here's what you can
say to your son:

"I can't keep you from damaging
your health by smoking. But it's
your health – and mine! So,
I don't want you smoking in my
house or anywhere on my
property. If you choose to
smoke on my property, you'll
choose the consequence, which
is grounding for 3 days without
privileges (e.g., use of phone,
T.V., computer, etc.)."

If your son smokes on the
property, follow through with the

[Use the strategy “When You Want
Something From Your Kid” in the
Anger Management section of the
online version of the ebook.]


My 15-year-old daughter had been drinking...

Dear Mr. Hutten,

Thanks for getting back to me so promptly. I was able to find the email last night and printed out your book. I had just discovered that my 15-year-old daughter had been drinking again and I was able to handle the situation from a position of power. You advice really was helpful.

My question is I have told my daughter she can have a birthday party for her boy and girl friends at our house. I have outlined the restrictions (no backpacks, parents must rsvp. once they come in, they can't go out, if anyone is found with alcohol or drugs I will call their parents to pick them up immediately, and my daughter will directly bear the responsibility for any inappropriate behavior. What advise can you give me so that she can have a fun but safe party and I can have peace about having her friends over.

Thank you,



I think you on track …I don’t really have anything to add. As long as everybody knows what the ground rules are for the party, then just focus on making it a celebratory event. If anybody chooses to violate a ground rule, then simply follow through with the consequence.


Picky Eater & Poor Organizer


Thank you for your quick response. You are helping us so much. A couple more quick questions:

1. My daughter has always been a very picky eater and it seems to be getting worse. We eat dinner together at least a few nights a week. I serve healthy meals and keep pretty healthy stuff in our home. We make her have at least a bite of everything, but she would rather starve rather than eat something she doesn’t like. When she is around junk food, she goes crazy. She seems to be addicted to sugar. I know this is affecting her moods. Any suggestions?

>>>>>>>>>> Junk food is a privilege, just like video games or money for a movie. She should EARN her junk food, and a good way to do this would be for her to eat some fruits and veggies (e.g., eat a salad = receive one serving of potato chips).

2. My daughter’s school notebooks are a huge disaster. All of her stuff is so disorganized. Somehow she manages to still get pretty good grades although they are starting to go down. Do we make her organize her stuff or do we just let it go?

>>>>>>>>>> “Providing too much assistance” is a form of over-indulgence, and as you may have read in my ebook, over-indulgence is the main parenting mistake. Consider having her EARN some really cool notebook with pockets, flaps, tabs and so on. Then let her choose to organize it however she wants (‘disorganization’ is a form of organization).

My husband and I are so motivated to start now with all of the suggestions in your ebook and are now looking forward to the positive changes we know that will happen.

We are very grateful,



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

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