Her son is intolerable to me...

I have been involved/partnered for 3 years with a wonderful woman. But her son is intolerable to me. Despite a variety of diagnoses from doctors who see only his mood disorders and not his daily behavior, the most obvious diagnosis (that they all missed) is ODD. You can not do or say anything that he doesnt like w/o him jumping up screaming, sometimes for hours. Three years ago he was 5150’d for putting his fist through several windows, making numerous suicide threats, throwing things all over the living room and more. I pushed his mom to call the police and they took him to the hospital. The hospital kept him for only one night. If it was my kid, he’d have had to clean the mess he made and sign a contract about future behavior and professional help (including anger mgmt) before I would take him back to live in my house. But his mother never holds him accountable for anything, for fear of him hurting himself or screaming at her (which he does anyway.) He tore up the contract that I had helped her compose and she let him back in anyway.

The next day while she was at work, he smashed up her entire kitchen with a baseball bat. Then the hospital kept him for 3 weeks. To this day, his mother has not asked him to reimburse her the $2000 it took to replace the sliding glass door, the cabinets, etc. (It would have cost more, but a friend gave her a free stove, I gave her dishes, and she chose not to replace the microwave).

His mother vacilates between feeling sorry for him and being afraid of him. In fact, now she thinks she made a mistake sending him to the hospital (because he talks endlessly about how bad that made him feel and how horrible it was that we “did that to him”).

He fails at school, wont keep a job, smokes pot, and constantly complains about what a victim he is and how everyone owes him an apology. His mom has done everything (too much) for him, but he appreciates nothing and rails about his victimhood. He has issues about being a mixed-race child who was adopted (at 4 months) and his mother buys into all his excuses. I am a social worker with an MSW and a BA in psychology. I know plenty about the hurt children endure being seperated from birth parents etc. But I don’t believe for a minute that that is the cause of his outrageous behavior that she tolerates and rewards with nurturing attention.

He is very verbally abusive and incapable of listening. He is in charge of his mother instead of the reverse. He batters her verbally until she feels like dying. She appeases, accomodates, over-protects & over-indulges. She rewards his misbehavior and seems puzzled at the cause. I love her very much and don't want to leave like all her prior partners. But I am at my wits end. I can not stand to be around him; he is so hostile and cruel and she cant or wont take charge.

I have been searching through the internet seeking help with this problem. Personally, much as I love her, I think mom is a big part of the problem. Her son is no longer living in her home, but she pays his rent. Because he is completely financially dependent on her, she is the one person with real leverage, but she wont use it, due not just to insufficient info/strategies, etc. (I’ve given her plenty of good advice, which she uses on occasion.) But she rarely puts her foot down (even though he acts better on the rare occasions when she does), due to deeply ingrained emotional barriers like fear, misplaced guilt, and I don’t know what else.

If you have techniques that really work, how can you get her to consistantly use them?

--in love but desperate in California


I have to be honest here (of course). If she's NOT willing to work a program - and if she's the only one in a position to effect change - then don't waste your money purchasing the eBook.

Having said that, a weaker strategy supported by both caretakers is much better than a stronger plan supported by only one (you did say you have offered some advice in the past, which she uses on occasion).

In any case, you don't risk anything if you decide to try the program. If the strategies I've outlined don't provide you with any benefit [or very little benefit], just email me and I'll forward your invoice to ClickBank for your refund - and you can keep the eBook and everything that comes with the package.

Fair enough?

I know you're in a tough spot,


Online Parent Support

Take some quiet time each day and read God’s word...

Thank you for all your encouragement.

I find the one of best ways to relax and meditate is to take some quiet time each day and read God’s word the Bible.

In Joshua 1: 8, 9 Just after the death of his best friend and leader the mighty Moses, Joshua was given the responsibility to then take over the leadership of several hundred thousand people (very demanding strong willed people). He was encouraged to take time each day to meditate on God’s word. As you have encouraged us to do with our needy strong willed kids. Mine is conduct disorder & bi-polar needy. At times I feel overwhelmed, but then your words and the words of other’s in my life come ringing in my ears, don’t give up, be of good courage, you will get through this. So I keep going, each day, one day at a time.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Keep up the great work, and take some time to meditate on the words of the creator of the universe who is not too busy to think about us.

Yours faithfully,


Failure As A Mother?

Hi Mark:

I'm interested in getting your book, is it sold at book store? My computer is really old and I can't download a large file and have no sound card.

I'm having a problem with my 16 year old son. He is disrespectful, smokes pot and sometimes gets very angry. I'm divorced and my new partner is having a very difficult time dealing with the disrespect in the home. I feel like I'm in the middle and am trying to make everyone happy.

I really need some help. My partner thinks it's my fault for how my son is acting. I am a failure as a mother? I have loved him, tried teaching him right from wrong, talked with him, and put him in a program for kids from divorced parents. I am a good role model, I don't drink, do drugs, I'm honest and loving. I don't understand why this is happening.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.




Hi R.,

The eBook is a digital book not sold in stores. We have the eBook as a digital product so individuals can receive it instantly rather than waiting for shipping.

Even with an old computer, download time is only about 10 seconds. If for some reason you cannot download it, I'll send it to you as an attachment in an email.

Re: no sound card. You can purchase CDs and play the audio in your car or elsewhere.

==> Here's the link for the CDs.

Feel free to call me if you have any additional questions or concerns about the delivery of this package.

Thank you,


P.S. Of course you are NOT a failure as a mother. Are you beating up on yourself? If so, stop!

Online vs. Offline

Hi Mark,

I am glad to have found your site on this my precious son's 17th birthday. I have every intention of ordering shortly. I did want to ask though, since it is online, are we (my hubby too) able to view the seminars over and over? I am not particularly enthused about an online seminar but short of driving to Indiana it's a great option. I prefer to have a hardcopy of books, so I'll print it out.

I am the only person in a family of 5 who does NOT take medication for ADHD (husband included), so I hope that we are all able to gain help from this newly found insight.

Looking forward to your reply.




Hi D.,

Yes …you can go through the program as often as needed – and at your own pace. You can print out a hard copy of the eBook, and I also have 2 CDs of the seminar (an additional $17.00) if you want to go the extra mile (click here for details). Thus, you can go through all the material without sitting at the computer. If you don't want to spend the money to get both the eBook and the CDs, I would recommend just getting the CDs.

Mark @ www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

ODD Boyfriend


I was just wondering if you could answer a few questions for me. My boyfriend is 19 years old and has oppositional defiant disorder and its driving me crazy. It seems like all we do is fight then he appologizes when he finally makes me cry. How can I make a simple convo not turn into an argument about nothing. For example I was waiting for him to finish getting dresses kinda watching him and he freaked out saying how he HATES when i watch him all the time it annoys him. What?! or another is we were talking about actors and I said that i didnt like a certain actor because he was too popular and he said that it wasnt a good enough reason and got really mad and the fight escalated to him calling me a bitch and me crying. I just cant help but "stick up for myself" but is this just fueling the fire? what are some techniques for dealing with this without feeling like im giving in or just agreeing with him all the time. I feel worthless and resentful alot but i also feel guilty for making him feel like he is a mean person all the time. He refuses to see anyone for help because he was pumped full of meds for adhd when he was just 5 and it really messed him up so is there anything i can do? please help. ive looked everywhere on the internet but i just cant find anything about dealing with a spouse or boyfriend with ODD. thank you for your time and i eagerly look forward to your relpy.

Best Regards


At the risk of turning this email into a sales pitch, I have to say you would greatly benefit from my eBook. I regularly recommend to parents that, in the case where one spouse acts more like a child and less like an adult, the more mature parent simply use the same strategies - except on the other parent.

You'll find a lot of ways to deal with your boyfriend. Just use the strategies in the same way you would with a child, because your boyfriend may be 19-years-old chronologically - but emotionally he's more like a 12-year-old (if he is ODD). There's a huge maturity-time-lag with ADHD/ODD individuals.

I'm serious, download the eBook and try the techniques on him. If you don't get any benefit from the eBook, just email me and I'll give you a refund. It's that simple. You'll drive yourself nuts if you don't know how to deal with an ODD personality - I promise.

Mark @ www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Son's Poor Academic Performance

"One area that I'm dealing with regarding my 15 year old (almost 16) son is with his school work. He has not interest in school whatsoever. He's barely getting by. He skips classes (which after he did last week, I grounded him for three days, as you suggest). I just received a call yesterday from his science teacher letting me know that he hasn't turned in assignments, and currently has a D in her class. He has D's and F's in his other classes as well. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I know he is intelligent. He has the potential, but he doesn't see it and doesn't care to apply himself. In your ebook, you talk about handing over ownership of this area in particular to your children. So, I've started doing this, however, I wonder if you can tell me what my place is in his life in regards to this area. I will also let you know that he is also dealing with depression, and was recently put on an antidepressant at the suggestion of his doctor. I'm sure this plays some part in all of this. If you can offer me any suggestions/advice as to what my role is in this particular area I would greatly appreciate!"

Re: “…what my place is in his life in regards to this area.”

First of all, I’m glad to hear that you are letting go of ownership of your son’s poor academic performance. As long as you take responsibility for it – he won’t!

As far as your “place” goes, you will need to do the following:
  1. Let him know that his schoolwork is HIS job and that you are not going to take responsibility for it any longer.
  2. If teachers attempt to recruit you as a co-teacher, tell them to call you if the issue is behavioral, otherwise - it’s his problem now.
  3. Ask to see report cards, but only to show your son that you are interested in is school life – not to reprimand or take back ownership.
  4. Continue to make periodic statements such as “you’ve got what it takes” …“I know you’re more than capable” …etc.

Re: “…dealing with depression…”

Simply follow through with the nurturing pieces outlined in the eBook (e.g., asking one question each day to show you are interested in his day-to-day life ...saying “I love you” ...spending time with him in an activity that costs little or no money ...catching him in the act of “doing things right” ...etc.).

Most teens grow out of their depression. Don’t focus on – or show emotions of worry about – this condition (unless he begins to talk about suicide). And don’t try to “cheer him up” by over-indulging him.

Sometimes the hardest thing for parents to do is “nothing.” But often times, less is better.

==> JOIN Online Parent Support

I have actually gotten the words...

If I had had this program when B___ was two, I think our lives would’ve been so much easier. I have actually gotten the words that you use to turn his arguments around - and his behavior. It wasn't easy, and things are not perfect, but we have far more good days than bad.

I doubted for several months that this program would work. But on faith, I kept doing it and doing it and doing it. Now my new parenting strategies have become a habit - and my son knows it. We still have our ups and downs, but I know I'm finally over the hump - and I actually enjoy seeing the fruits of my tough love. Thanks again Mark. I don't know where I would be without your support.

Grateful mum,


Online Parent Support

Mom Needs Support From "The System"


It has been another crazy week in my home.

B was in a patrol car three times within 26 hours this week.

He did not come home four nights in a row, Th-Fr-Sat-Sun. Stayed at that Foster kid's house against my wishes. G (estranged and STRANGE husband) is no help.

Tuesday..he skipped school...the City Police picked him up at 11:00 A.M. with his delinquent ghetto friend by the mall, took him to school. He wore bedroom slippers to school to cause a scene and call attention to himself. I had to go and get him as he was obnoxious. He came home went to bed. He had been running around for four nights. Slept for hours. I went to check on him later, he had switched door knobs to put one that had a lock on it...swapped from another door) and I used a paper clip to open it. When I got it open, the black friend was on the bottom bunk and B was on the top. They had ripped the magnets off the window in his room for the alarm system. They were planning to sneak out.

He and I were arguing. He pushed me and everything spoken to me had an "F" in the sentence. The two of them walked out at 11:00 P.M. I had the cops bring him back and they could not find the other boy. B let the other kid have his cell phone and they were calling each other. I went to bed, as I had been up four nights prior in a row and it was past midnight at that point. A went to the lav at 2:30 and said she heard voices in B's room. B snuck the other boy back in. At this point, I called the cops to report that he was "found" and the foster dad. They got up at 5:00 A.M. and went to school.

At 1:00 P.M. Wednesday afternoon, B went to get on the public transportation bus instead of the school bus. The principal grabbed his arm and told him you go on YOUR BUS as your mother wants you home. He told the administrator to get his "fing" hands off of him and he got arrested for disturbance. He spent four hours in JDD.

Thursday and Friday (last night) he stayed at that kid's again. He does not listen and just walks out of the house. He is strong and violent and I do not want to mess with him. My husband has no control either. He has two arrests and two court dates now. We need some help. He is completely out of control.

I have been advised from a few counselors here to let him suffer the natural consequences and I will have some leverage once the courts (which are inundated) kick in.

I would appreciate any input.

Thanks and have a great weekend!



I agree …he needs to experience the full ramifications of his poor choices, which he will. I know the wheels of justice turn slowly – but they turn – and he will have his day in court. Your mission in the meantime is to muster up some patience with the process.

If he destroys property, pushes you, leaves without permission, etc., simply call the police so they can make yet another report. This will give the prosecutor more ammunition when you actually do get to court.


My Out-of-Control Teen

Tough Love for Your Unruly Teen

"Well, I took the car away because he missed his curfew last night by 50 minutes. Total attitude all day. Now he has packed his things and left - after a big scene. I tried to remain calm, did not chase but am obviously concerned as to where he is. I think I am dealing with a child that is beyond what I can handle. We have tried counseling at a local level and were unsuccessful since he manipulated it. A lot of money and weak results. He refuses to go back. We may need an intervention program/boarding school. Suggestions on how we investigate that? Thank you again."

Click here for the answer...

Bipolar Teen


The diagnoses is in - he's got bipolar. This is what we thought all along based on the info on your site and your emails. Do you know how this is treated?




Hi F.,

Once the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made, the treatment of children and adolescents is based mainly on experience with adults, since as yet there is very limited data on the efficacy and safety of mood stabilizing medications in youth.

The essential treatment for this disorder in adults involves the use of appropriate doses of mood stabilizers, most typically lithium and/or valproate, which are often very effective for controlling mania and preventing recurrences of manic and depressive episodes.

Research on the effectiveness of these and other medications in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder is ongoing. In addition, studies are investigating various forms of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, to complement medication treatment for this illness in young people.

Lithium is a naturally occurring substance. As a medication, lithium reduces chemicals in the body that cause excitation or mania. Lithium is used to treat manic episodes of manic-depressive illness. Lithium helps to prevent and control symptoms of mania such as hyperactivity, rushed speech, poor judgment, reduced need for sleep, aggression, and anger.

Valproate is also an excellent mood stabilizer and is superior to lithium for mixed, chronic, or atypical forms of bipolar disorder in children. It has also been successfully used to treat aggression in patients with FXS and in children with autism.

Good luck - stay in touch,

Online Parent Support

SUCCESS is sooooo sweet...

Just wanted to let you know about my success last night. J___ met at a little Italian restaurant me for dinner last night since we were the only two home. Nice dinner, some nice talk - college lacrosse recruiting, Christmas, etc. As we were leaving the restaurant to get into our separate cars he asked to go to the soccer game. I said no and that it was not open for discussion. I told him if he went I would take the car away for 3 days. He tried to call my bluff and said that never works due to inconvenience. I told him my good friend had agreed to help me since my husband is traveling so much. Of course he began to argue - even pulled the "that girl I really like is gonna be there!" routine. I kept a slight smile on my face (no scowling!) and repeated myself several times. He continued to negotiate and all I said was no and I am not going to argue. He threatened, told me I was acting like a robot, said this is b....it - all the things you know he was going to do. I laughed at some of his antics to make it lighter but firmly held my ground. We stayed in that parking lot "discussing" for 22 minutes. (i would have left sooner but since I intended to FIRMLY hold my ground I needed to wait it out.) He left in a huff and threatened. We went in opposite directions and when I got home (probably 2 minutes after he did) his car was in the garage and he was watching TV. I came in and made a BIG deal about his cooperation - intentionally acting like an over the top fool so he would laugh.

SUCCESS is sooooo sweet.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!


Kudos for a job well done!!

Bear in mind there will be more episodes like this one. Be consistent. Hunker-down for the long haul.


Online Parent Support

Transportation Issue

Love this product. It is as if someone sat in our house for three days and watched what was going on in order to write it! Job well done.

I agree with everything you have said, but I am stuck re: consequences. My husband works in a different city so he leaves Sun nite and returns Fri nite. Our 17 year old son has a car - we thought to make our lives easier. He is responsible for taking his sister to school, getting himself home from sports practices and running an occasional errand. I work full time, have little to no flexibility during the day and have two younger children who also have activities.

We did take the car away for one week and it was crazy. My younger ones were left waiting for me while I picked up Mr. 17 and then he started to get rides from friends and was showing up even later - they went to McDonalds, to someone's house, etc. When I told him not to do that he said, "I'm not the one driving. I have no control. So & so had to take Johnny home, go to the mall to pick up his new shoes, etc, etc, etc.".

You may ask what we did before he had the car. At that time none, of the kids had cars so parents carpooled. Now, since most kids have cars, there is no carpooling available.

The CAR is the greatest consequence we could impose. Especially since most of our fights are around his "excessive" use of freedom and disregard for curfews. But how do I make it work for ME!

Thank you,



It sounds like a compromise may be the best route to go.

On one hand, the car is your son's most valuable item, thus making it a great tool to use during consequences -- on the other hand, your life is easier when he's able to drive.

How about a partial consequence?

That is, whenever you would ordinarily like to confiscate his car for discipline purposes, is it feasible to simply put just enough gas in the vehicle for him to take sister to school, get to sports practice and run an errand - but no further? This will take a bit of calculation on your part (i.e., estimating mileage here and there). On those occasions when he abuses the partial consequence (i.e., makes a few extra stops along the way), I think you have to inconvenience yourself and park his car (1 - 3 days).

If this is not feasible, let me know and we'll come up with plan B.


My Out-of-Control Teen


I am seriously considering buying your book and online course. However, I am a single parent of extremely limited means and want to ask you a question first.

My 14 year old son Toby just fell asleep after being awake for more than 24 hours. Is this a possible symptom of bipolar disorder? I doubt it is the first time he has done this, but it is the first time I have verified it beyond doubt, or perhaps that I have believed him.

When he was a baby and toddler I don't recall him ever sleeping more than two hours at a time. I used to lock all the doors,turn off all the lights, take a sleeping pill myself, and bury myself under a pillow so I could sleep. He seems to be having a resurgence of this in adolescence. And, he has become quite hostile when I attempt to discipline him re schoolwork.

Yes, he definitely has phases of extreme irritability, hates rules & teachers, is highly intelligent, has had depressive phases, has been suicidal.

I am currently homeschooling with a charter school. I have definitely tried everything in the school department and am increasingly tempted to give up and send him back to his Dad and the juvenile justice system where his half-brothers were when I met them.

His father and paternal grandma are alcoholic, his mother, aunt, maternal grandma have all been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, his maternal grandpa was alcoholic and had an IQ of 176. I believe there is a relative somewhere on Mom's side who committed suicide. No one in my family of origin has ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder altho a couple of my father's best friends were.

My son and I have both experienced counseling and schooling that were completely useless.

I personally have experienced counseling, schooling, and psychotropic medication that were quite useful, but my son refuses to discuss this.

I would appreciate your comments.

Thank you



Re: Is this a possible symptom of bipolar disorder?

Possibly. Sleep can be disturbed by mood disorders, PTSD, substance abuse, ADHD, and anxiety. Many children have sleep problems. Examples include:

· Bedwetting
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Feeling sleepy during the day
· Frequent awakening during the night
· Having nightmares
· Talking during sleep
· Teeth grinding and clenching
· Waking early
· Waking up crying

Many childhood sleep problems are related to poor sleep habits or to anxiety about going to bed and falling asleep. Persistent sleep problems may also be symptoms of emotional difficulties.

Nightmares are relatively common during childhood. The child often remembers nightmares, which usually involve major threats to the child's well-being. For some children nightmares are serious, frequent, and interfere with restful sleep.

A range of treatments is available for sleep disorders. Fortunately, as they mature, children usually get over common sleep problems as well as the more serious sleep disorders (parasomnias). However, parents with ongoing concerns should contact their pediatrician or directly seek consultation with a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Online Parent Support

OPS Newsletter

I enjoy your newsletter and use the information provided. I have had some good results with the tools. I thought I would still be receiving the newsletter for one year and would like to do so. Please advise. Thank you, L.J.

Hi L.,

You can re- subscribe on the home page (subscriptions automatically terminate after one year). The newsletter is still free. CLICK HERE to go to the home page. Look for the sign-up box that reads:
I want to receive weekly newsletters from Online Parent Support (under the chat room).

There you will also find a link to the newsletter archive and can get caught up on all the past issues you may have missed.

Thank you,

My 14-year-old daughter...

Dear Mark,

I'm writing again about my 14-year-old daughter. I have really tried to follow your plan to the best of my ability but unfortunately my husband and I are not on the same page. He has gotten a whole lot better but will often overlook things to prevent any conflict or explosive behavior or retaliation. I cannot speak for him but I remain firm on my issues and even when he does back me up she does not cooperate. Consequences do nothing for her. We cannot force her to do anything such as go to her room, take a shower, etc. nothing too difficult to comply with. I feel we have lost control of our home to this girl. We have had her in counseling for the last few years and family counseling for the last six months and things seem to be getting worse with the total defiance. She really hasn't done any raging since August but the tension in our house is almost unbearable. I have actually considered leaving; there is only so much I can take.

We have considered boarding schools but many of them require her to want to go there and ask for some sort of writing sample on the application, which she does not cooperate with. She is very bright and very athletic and that is why we have considered regular boarding schools. I have also looked into specialty boarding schools and they are very expensive although she does not have to agree to go there. While I was on your website I seen a listing for boarding schools and many are the same as the ones I have seen. What I would like to know from you is if you have any recommendations for the schools. Are there some in which you've had more positive feedback than others?

She has never been a problem at school mainly at home. She wants everyone at school to think the best of her but is totally disrespectful to her parents and immediate family. She puts on a show for the extended family. No one has any idea what we live with every day. I know this sounds like we are giving up or letting someone else take over but this has been going on for the last four years and we all need a break. We adopted her when she was little and she is our responsibility and we are not ignoring that or throwing her away but nothing we do seems to work, and that is why we are searching for the best possible solution for all concerned.

Any suggestions or recommendations you can give would be greatly appreciated.




I think the best help I can be to you at this time is to provide you with a checklist of sorts.

Let's trouble shoot...

Below is a summary of all the assignments I gave you in My Out-of-Control Teen eBook. If parents do not implement most of these assignments, it is often the "kiss of failure." For example, the transmission in your car has hundreds of parts, but if just one little tiny part is not working -- the whole transmission does not work. The same is true with this "parent program." Omit just one strategy, and the whole plan runs the risk of failing.

1. Are you asking your daughter at least one question each day that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or a "no" to demonstrate that you are interested in what is going on in her life? (page 20 of the printable version of eBook)

2. Are you saying to her "I love you" everyday and expecting nothing in return? (page 20)

3. Are you eating dinner together at least one evening each week -- either at home or out? (page 20)

4. Do you use "The Art of Saying Yes" whenever your answer is yes? (page 25)

5. Do you use "The The Art of Saying - and Sticking With - No" whenever your answer is no? (page 25)

6. Do you catch her in the act of doing something right at least once each day? (page 25)

7. Do you use the "When You Want Something From Your Kid" approach as needed? (page 31)

8. Do you give her at least one chore each day? (page 31)

9. Do you find something fun to do with her each week? (page 54)

10. Do you use the "I noticed ...I felt ...Listen" approach when something unexpected pops-up? (bottom of page 50)

11. When you are undecided about what to say or do in any particular situation, are you asking yourself the following question: "Will this promote the development of self-reliance in my daughter, or will this inhibit the development of self-reliance?"

If it is supportive of self-reliance, say it or do it. If it is not supportive, don't!

12. Is she EARNING ALL of her stuff and freedom? (see "Self-Reliance Cycle" - page 19)

If you answered "no" to any of the above, you are missing some important pieces to the puzzle. Most parents DO miss a few pieces initially -- you can't be expected to remember everything! But don't get frustrated and give up. We must be willing to hang in there for the long haul.

I'm talking about refinement here. Refinement is a necessary tool to use in order to truly be successful with these parenting strategies.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: Parents who refine are, on average, 95% - 100% successful at getting the parent-child difficulties reduced in intensity and severity (i.e., the problems are easily managed).

The same can be true in your case. Don’t give up just yet. Please continue to refine by emailing me as needed over the next few months. Refinement is a process, not a one-time event.


Online Parent Support

My Out-of-Control Teens

Hi D.,

Please look for these arrows below: ==>

Hi Mark: A lot has happened since my last email about 5 weeks ago. Our son B, 15, was arrested for battery on a school official on November 2nd. (He threw a piece of candy at a teacher from a distance at lunch time horsing around.) He was arrested for battery on a school official and the teacher dropped the charges but he mouthed off to the cop and resisted arrest without violence. He is in the juvenile system and as of today in a diversion program. As a result for this recent offense, he was up for expulsion but in lieu of that is assigned to an internet-based alternative school. He is very capable, making poor choices and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

==> This is a good thing. Most of my juvenile clients do very well in alternative school. The classroom is usually smaller and they get more one-on-one attention. His latest "Buddy" is an Afro-American 15 year old who is already a FATHER!! He is a foster child, living with six other foster kids with a single adult male. He has been going there all too often, against my wishes. Walks out of the house without permission, lies about his whereabouts and takes public transportation hither and yon. He got picked up by the police for sleeping on a girl's doorstep with the one mentioned above, they were both warned and let go.

==> If he leaves without permission, go to probation and file a runaway complaint. He was drug tested this morning. Negative except for a trace of marijuana and he admitted trying it three months ago. He is non-compliant at home, makes threats and breaks things to manipulate. All of this will be coming to an end.

==> Call the police and file a report whenever he destroys property. This gives your son’s PO more ammunition in court. Our daughter, A, 17, I found out today skipped school all day on Friday. I also found out today with a little research from a deputy, that her boyfriend is 21 and has his own apartment. Her Father signed a car loan for her on October 20th and now that she has wheels, it is harder to control her. She is grounded for a week and will lose driving privileges if she violates those terms. Her grades are great and she has maintained a job for over two years that she likes. I was going to have her battery charges on me dropped, but with her recent antics, we are going ahead. She has skipped other days too and forged her Father's signature on a note to get out of school.

==> I’m glad to hear you are not dropping the charges. I am hoping that they will both hit rock bottom and we will see some changes. They both have so much going for them, attractive, bright and I have already done their pre-paid college programs. They are making destructive choices. If Bart violates the diversion he will go through the court system and be on probation. All up to him. Any feedback appreciated...Thank you!

==> Well …as ugly as circumstances are right now, you’re doing what you should be (i.e., allowing natural consequences to take effect). Mark


Hitting, biting, slapping...

What do I do when my child is hitting, biting, slapping. She wont go in her room cuz I took off the door. I restrained her till my husband came home. She only does this to me and some at her sister. what do i do?


While some biting can occur during normal development, persistent biting can be a sign that a child has emotional or behavioral problems. While many children occasionally fight with or hit others, frequent and/or severe physical aggression may mean that a child is having serious emotional or behavioral problems that require professional evaluation and intervention. Persistent fighting or biting when a child is in daycare or preschool can be a serious problem. At this age, children have much more contact with peers and are expected to be able to make friends and get along.

Many children start aggressive biting between one and three years of age. Biting can be a way for a child to test his or her power or to get attention. Some children bite because they are unhappy, anxious or jealous. Sometimes biting may result from excessive or harsh discipline or exposure to physical violence. Parents should remember that children who are teething might also bite. Biting is the most common reason children get expelled from day care.

What to do:
·Say "no", immediately, in a calm but firm and disapproving tone.
·Do NOT bite a child to show how biting feels. This teaches the child aggressive behavior.
·If biting persists, try a negative consequence. For example, do not hold or play with a child for five minutes after he or she bites.
·For a toddler (1-2 years), firmly hold the child, or put the child down.
·For a young child (2-3 years) say, "biting is not okay because it hurts people."

If these techniques or interventions are not effective, parents should talk to their family physician.

Toddlers and preschool age children often fight over toys. Sometimes children are unintentionally rewarded for aggressive behavior. For example, one child may push another child down and take away a toy. If the child cries and walks away, the aggressive child feels successful since he or she got the toy. It is important to identify whether this pattern is occurring in children who are aggressive.

What to do:
·Do NOT hit a child if he or she is hitting others. This teaches the child to use aggressive behavior.
·For a toddler (1-2 years) say, "No hitting. Hitting hurts."
·For a young child (2-3 years) say, "I know you are angry, but don't hit. Hitting hurts." This begins to teach empathy to your child.
·If a child hits another child, immediately separate the children. Then try to comfort and attend to the other child.
·It is more effective to intervene before a child starts hitting. For example, intervene as soon as you see the child is very frustrated or getting upset.
·Parents should not ignore or down play fighting between siblings.
·When young children fight a lot, supervise them more closely.

When hitting or fighting is frequent, it may be a sign that a child has other problems. For example, he or she may be sad or upset, have problems controlling anger, have witnessed violence or may have been the victim of abuse at day care, school, or home.

Research has shown that children who are physically aggressive at a younger age are more likely to continue this behavior when they are older. Studies have also shown that children who are repeatedly exposed to violence and aggression from TV, videos and movies act more aggressively. If a young child has a persistent problem with fighting and biting or aggressive behavior, parents should seek professional assistance from a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of behavior problems in very young children.

Online Parent Support

Parent: "We have taken almost everything away from our son..."

Hi Judy,

Please look for these arrows: ==>


Once again I need your guidance and experience. I last e-mailed you beginning of November. Things have been going pretty well with the usual "falling off of the wagon" but overall we were feeling pretty good. If you remember we (husband and I) turned off M______ cell phone service and internet capabilities on his lap-top and we keep our desk top locked at all times unless we are using it. M______ has the potential of earning back the cell phone with parameters we gave him (proper house phone use and restriction of speaking with 2 people and passing with C grades [capable of A's and B's easily]). So far this has not happened--he keeps calling these people, but otherwise is OK. He has lost his TV in his room, playstation, and clothes when he left overnight with ability to earn them back. The items were kept locked in the back of my SUV. He was told if he wanted them back as he had earned them, to place them back in his room where they go and not just on the floor by Nov. 30 (told this 11/21 and reminded every few days of the deadline). If not, they would be given away to charity. He kept saying I should put them back as I took them, or I "would pay". I told him no with a straight face. Well, he chose charity--so far, no retaliation.

==> So for, so good. GREAT JOB!

We have seen him using an I-pad and a gaming system that do not belong to us. He says the I-pod is a friend's and he bought the I-pad for $50 (highly unlikely as they are $200 and we dole out his weekly money from his job)--LIES, LIES, LIES. We are waiting to meet with these boys and their parents (will see at the upcoming school sporting events) to verify things. Yesterday I found a Rx patch for an ADHD drug that he is not on. Also after he returned from a sports event (we were unable to go) I found a digital camera in his sports bag along with a uniform from the opposing team. (I was emptying the gym bag as it smelled and found those items.) I began to look in his room and also found a men's watch, bracelet and cell phone. I took them. He was confronted about these and of course lied his head off about it. Later, he snuck into my bedroom, found my hiding space, and took them back. He then was denying ever having them as we had no "proof". Well, he lost the use of a car and we took back his license. He was told he could start to earn back the privilege of use of the car when the items showed up, and the consequence would start.

==>You’re still on track!!

This morning, I told him he needed to tell me the truth about the items. He did not want to, but I told him he needed to start to trust me, that I would listen, ask questions, but not yell, consequence, etc. for 24 hours. He said someone "gave" him a bottle Vicodin that he sold for the I-pad, and he then traded it for the camera. He said the I-pod really was a friends. Also "found" the uniform, watch, and bracelet in the lost and found. Told he needed to produce them, and that we would return them to the school. He said he would "think" about it. Told the way he was acting was the person he would turn out to be, to really think about doing the right thing. Consequence would begin when the items were returned.

==> I think at this point I would tell him that if the items are not given to you within 24 hours, you will call police and file a report as well as call the school. We’re dealing with pure, unadulterated theft here.

==> JOIN Online Parent Support

His coach showed up this afternoon (I was planning on calling him to tell him about our "findings". The other schools coach called and complained that someone had pooped in a sports bag. He knew M______ was the only one with enough free time to do this. M______ was not here with us, as he was at work. We told the coach about the other things. He wants to see M_____ later today to ask him personally about it.

==> Good!

M______ has a counseling session tomorrow evening and a meeting with his PO on Wednesday. I did tell M_____ that I would not cover up for him and would report what I know/have seen and on his behavior. He constantly is taking things from his older brother so he is charged $5 for entering his room and $% for each item "borrowed". He is constantly using profanity and within the last week or so it is really escalating. He says F____ at least 12 times per day, usually aimed at me. He also says "Why don't you go kill yourself". I don't let him see me get angry, but I do tell him not to do this around 9 yr old brother. However I am getting REALLY tired of it. I told him today, if he swore at me or in general was disrespectful to me I would not be doing his laundry as he did not respect me and I didn't owe him this service.

== > Actually dear mom, he should be doing his own laundry anyway!!!!!!

He has been seeing a boy who we are very uneasy with. He says his parents (separated, currently newly with his Dad, and recently moved back to this area after being 5 hrs away with his Mom) don't care where he is, who he's with, etc. and doesn't go home for days. He was told until we could speak to a parent, he was not to spend the night again. We didn't think this was "cool", as we feel a parent should know where their child is as long as they were minors and living in the family home.

I guess Mark, what I'm asking is "what now?" We have taken away almost everything. Trust is totally shot and very difficult to even allow him to go places etc. He will have "natural consequences" but what else can we do? I need some insight on where to go from here as far as consequences, privileges, etc.

== > If he will receive natural consequences associated with the above problems, then I wouldn’t issue another consequence on top of it.

Regarding “we have taken almost everything”: Let’s lower the bar a bit by only fighting one battle at a time. The biggest issue currently seems to be “theft.” Put everything else in the “deal-with-it-later” file. The 3-day-discipline starts as soon as he returns the stolen items – and after 3 days, he gets all his stuff back.

I do get some support from friends but most of their children are preteen so I can talk/vent but they do not have the same life experiences yet. Thanks again. I will try to keep this all in perspective and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Have a good week. ~ J


==> JOIN Online Parent Support

She has turned up the dial on her defiance...


We are new to your service – and will be implementing the week 1 assignment with our 17 ½ year old senior daughter. We have observed problems for some time now (about two years to be exact – same time as she started birth control pills which has always made us wonder if that is coincidence or physiology). “We have read Parenting Your Out-Of-Control Teenager” by Dr. Scott P. Sells also – which seems to share many of the same pinciples. We’ve tried a contract and various approaches – but we (her dad and I – we are married) have not both consistently held to the contract information so weakened its affect, no doubt. We barely have been getting by – doing much enabling (making calls to school for her schedule problems, filling out college apps., etc.) just to keep her progressing through this last year of high school – but realize that is part of problem.

She just finished a successful high school tennis career and now that this is over, she has turned up the dial on her definance and disrespect for us and our rules. We have a rule that she be home by curfew (which we have lengthened to 1a.m. already) and not stay overnight. She can get a ride from us anytime. Well, she stayed overnight a week ago now on the weekend and lied about where she was as well – she sent a text message to tell us where she was and we were already asleep (she had been following curfew up to this time during this year). We found out she was at her boyfriend’s house (he is two years older and now lives on his own with a roommate or two) – we found this by seeing her online checking account purchase from his community on the following morning and also her online log of phone calls and text messages through our cell phone carrier – she had calls back and forth to the girlfriend where she was reportedly staying. We disabled the car we let her drive, when she returned home and she has been without a vehicle now for a full week.

Her stubborn defiance is amazing – and she dug her heels in and has decided to really show us. She said if she can’t have the car anyway, she does not follow the rules and she did not come home now, three nights in a row. She did tell us where she was AFTER the first night (last Thursday – there was no school this past Friday so it became like a weekend night) – it was her boyfriend’s again – supposedly – but who knows. She comes home in between and then gets someone to pick her up and leave – then tells us she is staying overnight again and again we are not sure where the second night – but she gets a ride home again and is here in the afternoon for a bit.

Her dad talked with her about getting her car back and gave her two terms: come home every night and agree to seeing a counselor with or without mom and dad. She was disrespectful and defiant to him and told him she would not do that. She left again and said she was going to a nearby town – then we didn’t hear from her again except to say she would not be able to get home due to the snow (it had indeed snowed here about 8 inches). We replied via text message (she refused to answer the phone on a call) that we would come get her by our 4 wheel drive vehicle – tell us where you are, we can be on our way. She did not respond at all. We then called friends and no one knew where they were.

I talked to her boyfriend who said he did not know where she was this time and that he told her to go home the night before but she said we had given her permission to stay that night (he is very laid back and has trouble dealing with conflict – but has always been respectful and basically cooperative with us). I asked him to call me if she arrived at his place and we would come to pick her up – told him in no uncertain terms that we did not want her staying overnight at his place, that she is too young, etc. He said he would call (but who knows if he would). I also called another friend to enlist help – but think that fell on deaf ears as this friend was at her older boyfriends place at the time I called – and this friend seems to have few rules (part of the problem is the group our daughter hangs with – either older than her or very limited parental supervision – parents who are being “friends”, it seems). I texted another few people whose phone numbers I have gathered – people who she had mentioned being with. No response or help from this endeavor.

Our next item to take away is cell phone – she was told in a text last night, the last one of evening, to call us in 30 minutes for a ride, or we would expect her home by 1 a.m. Told her we would disconnect cell phone in the morning if she did not respond or come home. Well, here it is morning and no reply so we will disable cell phone (which is her life line). Not sure where she is or if she will come home soon. She has a 3:30 pm appointment with an energy healer (Reiki) who she really likes and opens up with – this person is a positive influence and will talk with her about much of this. Our daughter will not talk with us at all and says she is making plans to buy a car, earn more money to have her own way and get her own cell phone, etc. so she does not have to deal with us, etc.

We are not sure what to do next if she doesn’t come home or keeps leaving and we don’t know where she is. We think she’ll go to school tomorrow and we thought we could call the police liaison officer there for some advice and help – she has a good relationship with him (he’s all for the teens and well received by most, etc.). She has good grades and has not been in trouble in school up to this point. Losing her cell tends to move her over the edge – so not sure what will happen next but it has to be done or it’s another idle threat. She can’t seem to find rides and function without her phone – but she also knows we are here to give her rides and she knows the terms to get the car back and avoid cell phone turn off – but is not willing to cooperate.

She exhibits most of the descriptors of oppositional defiant disorder. We tried a counselor this summer but she refused to go back and indeed we did not find a good match – it did shift energy though and she was willing to talk to us for a time – that’s passed. Found another young woman counselor who also is a clinical hypnotist and she saw her once – but didn’t like having to talk so much so refused to go back to her – again, didn’t find the “match”.

Are we on the right path? What else might we do to get her home or if we need to continue really “tough love” – do we have to let go and let things fall apart for her to get her to face this and take some responsibility for her actions?

Thank you for your help and information – greatly appreciated,



Hi B.,

After reading your email, I believe most of your questions will be answered by the time you get through the 4-week program. If after that time you need any clarification, do not hesitate to email me again.

I think in your case, the most applicable strategies will be in the following areas of the eBook (online version):

1. The Art of Saying 'Yes' / The Art of Saying 'No'
2. When You Want Something From Your Kid (in the Anger Management Chapter)
3. When Something Unexpected Pops Up (in Emails From Exasperated Parents)

Stay in touch. I'll look forward to hearing back from you to clarify.


Online Parent Support

Son Assaults Mother

"Hi Mark, I'm new to this site. I have a couple of questions and scenarios that I would like to run by you. I have just charged my 17 year old with assault and put him out of the house, I was informed that he could go to a shelter, however there are no beds available at the shelter and he is now trying to come back home, as he has burned his bridges everywhere else. There is a no contact order in place, he cannot be within 100 ft of the house, and he is only permitted to contact me by phone. This is part of the scenario, there is more involved, I desperately need some advice. Could you please get back to me?"

Click here for the response...

The biggest mistake I made...

Please look for my responses where you see these arrows: ==>

Dear Mr. Hutten:

I would like to speak with you on the phone. To be worth doing at all it will entail some time commitment (say an hour minimum). Are you willing to do this? Would you be willing to make a phone date so I will be sure to have the time free? During school
hours is best.

==> Due to the sheer volume of OPS members I respond to on a daily basis, it would be best to communicate via email.

I have had a lot of success using NVC (non-violent communication) and imagine your program could be integrated into what I already do. The family situation is difficult legally and every other way. You may think you've heard it all but I bet this one has a few new kinks. Actually the child's behavior is not all that bad compared to what I'm reading from other parents. I've done a not bad job I think under extraordinarily bad circumstances.

The biggest mistake I' made was not to sue for guardianship when both of her parents were certifiably incompetent. Instead I kept trying to prop them up, hoping for eventual help and that the kid would have at least parents she could know instead of a vacuum.

But things are at a very critical point right now where poor choices could have far reaching ill effects for her life and education.

In terms of what I've read on your web site: she's moved out from the stricter gramma (me) to the indulgent parent (her dad) who left her with whoever for 6 weeks until she swallowed a bottle of aspirin to get his attention. She's back with him now. She comes by my place to use the computer almost daily. I need to return to my home in CA (she likes it there by the way) for many reasons and want to get her completely out of her present environment. I think that below her anger she knows she's better off with me. i want her to come back with the willingness to accept me as her legal guardian even to the point of filing a petition herself which she can now do in california (at age 12).

Her stated reason for leaving is that she can't stand me; that I don't care about her and any statement i may make about the deep love that I have for her is derided as BS. These ideas border on delusional. it is opposite to what she was saying 2 years ago and I have
very moving statement which she wrote at that time as to why she wanted me for her guardian. She will say that she was lying she always hated me etc. this just isn't true. She's in deep pain and needs a way out. I can help her if she will just cooperate a little.

In your view do I have to wait for her to blow up with her dad or is there some way I can reach her now? I'm afraid if I leave town interference from outsiders will prevent my knowing what's going on and will discourage her from calling. That's what happened
with her suicide attempt. It was just by chance I found out.

==> It sounds like you will have to wait for her to be in a severe state of "needing to reach out" to you before she will be ripe for a "live-in" relationship with you.
She has been mostly with me since age 3 and has asked for me to be her guardian till now and has accepted my authority to make the big decisions. She thinks she wants the apparent freedom her dad will give but she will actually get more real autonomy and independence and more real choice (meaning more choices, more options) much sooner and ultimately, with me.

On paper I have physical custody and her dad has legal custody, since a year or so ago. She is very very smart. Smart enough to figure out what she needs but will she figure in time? Her defiant behavior seems really compulsive to me. Like she knows it's not what
she really wants but she MUST rebel and side with her "friends". These are in part adult "friends" in there 20's 30's who along with her dad have fomented the rebellion as it were. I need to get her out of town and willingly. She has been very conflicted over her family situation for years and i think maybe the defiance, flat out and non negotiable shored up with a lot of anger is a way out of inner conflict. Any suggestions?

==> Let her know she is always welcome to come live with you as long as she is willing to abide by your house rules.
She spent 10 days in acute psychiatric care after her suicide attempt and was diagnosed ODD which is what lead me to your site, looking for more info on just what the hell is that. i suspect that she has an extremely high IQ and would like to have her evaluated by the Gifted Developement Center in denver; I've wanted to for years. She was released to her dad against the recommendations of the staff because she refused to go with me and the tribe (she's registered navaho) intervened to prevent her being placed in non indian foster care. The hospital recommended a 30 to 90 day treatment foster care. there is no such Indian foster care available so she's back with dad.

In general my approach with her has been like reeling in a fish only in reverse: trying to keep just enough tension on the line to give her the security of feeling some control and boundaries and reeling it out as fast as she can handle the responsibility. There are some very practical reasons for this: mainly i am 63 years old and there are no other family members remotely able to take over. Also it works real well. She responds well to real challenge. Again my problem is getting her dad out of the way. He is clueless.

Her dad is a marijuana dealer and heavy user. I have off and on for years debated making an anonymous phone call to try to have him busted. I hesitate for two reasons: (1) it makes me feel like a mean person; I favor legalization and to my knowledge he doesn't
handle the hard stuff. But it brings him in contact with people who do. It makes him a pitiful excuse for a dad and no role model for anybody. But I have a hard time with the idea of sending him up just to get him out of the way. (2) more importantly I don't think it in the child's best interest to have her dad in prison, to possibly ever know I blew the whistle even if he got off without serving time, which I think would be the most likely outcome.) I have been told that kids with parents who go to prison are statistically far more likely to do so themselves and part of what i am sensing with him is that he would
not be sorry to see her adopt his lifestyle.

I am fed up with trying to work with her dad. The personal/cultural differences are too great and I have been trying for 10 years.

Any opinions here?

==> Again, I think until her father "has had enough" and is willing to work with you rather than against you, your hands are tied.
There is a lot more. Some whole important areas I haven't even touched on. these are just a few bites. Might you be willing to work with me?

==> Yes... but due to time constraints, we will do best to communicate via email.
Thanks for your phone call maybe this email will spark questions and be a jumping off point.

AND do you know of anyway to disable MySpace without disconnecting from the internet? It is a Really Bad Thing. My kid started at 10 (at the instigation of one of those 20 something "friends") and then the cat was out. If you don't already understand the damage this thing (and other copy cats) are doing don't get me started. Just start looking at what's happening.You'll see.

==> At this time, she really should not have computer privileges. Here's parental control software to use if you want to continue to allow computer privileges, however ==> PC Tattletail.

This is what we use at our house. I think it is probably the best one out there.


"My son will just defy me as soon as Dad leaves the house..."

Dear Mr. Hutten: I have read most of your book today. I am almost done, but am quite confused regarding my own personal situation. I know I sent you that long email, but please remember these facts, as they are much harder for me than you realize. I am not trying to say that no one knows what they are talking about, I want you to realize that I need exact instructions on how to deal with my son AT THE POINT WE HAVE REACHED. My husband is gone for days at a time, and my son and I have an very very estranged relationship. If I even asked him to do a chore, to tried to impose a curfew or told him no to anything, he knows he can hang over my head the act of busting up my house. He would just say "F_ _ _ _ you B _ _ _ _ _, make me", grab his keys and walk out, doing whatever he wants. He just literally stands there and says "No." How do I converse with someone like that? He scares me, has hit me once about 5 years ago, and is now 6'1" and a brown belt. (I should have never paid for that), he never learned dicipline there, they taught it, but he used it against me.

In short, since my husband is an airline pilot, I can fly for free. Would it pay for me to have a session with you? An appointment? Would you be able to meet with me, for a while, hear everything I have to say and give me some honest to goodness guidance and sound advice on exactly what to do? I have been dealing with this for 10 years and am on the brink of divorce over it and have 3 more kids to raise. What I am trying to say is that I hear your advice in your book, but for many of your situations (such as imposing chores, or setting guidlines), this son will just defy me as soon as Dad leaves the house. I am stripped of authority, how do I get it back? I know my husband must join forces, but even if he does, how do I enforce it when Dad goes away? Please let me know something more.Thank you, A.


Hi A.,

First of all, please do not use this program in “crash-course” fashion. Parents make a huge mistake when they try to shoot for a quick fix by blasting through the printable version of the ebook in one afternoon and then try to implement change. This approach will be the kiss of failure. Simply do one session per week – and be sure to listen to all the audio and watch all the instructional videos.

Secondly, I understood from your first email what you particular dilemma is. You are basically parenting alone with a very angry son who has no respect for you. Since your husband is not there to back you up, you must seek some form of outside assistance. I think this should come in the form of juvenile probation if necessary. That’s right – juvenile probation.

Use the strategies as outlined in the eBook. If your son threatens you, destroys property, violates curfew, etc., you should go to your local probation department and file a complaint (whether you get your husband’s approval or not). Then you will get assistance from a probation officer.

Now I’m going to be a bit tough on you:

If you are one of those parents that wants to save her son from uncomfortable emotions associated with his poor choices …if you find the above recommendation to be unthinkable …if you choose to be held captive in that abusive environment with little support from your absent husband, then you are NOT working this program as it is intended. 
This is a serious matter. You will either make a stand as well as muster the courage to implement change, or you will find a host of reasons why this program will not work – it’s your choice.

Having said that, I trust that you will take things one-step at a time by fully digesting session #1 (and implementing session #1 assignments) this week – and nothing more. Save session #2 for next week. Also email me as needed for any clarification you may need.

Lastly, shift from focusing on all that’s going wrong and how you are being treated unfairly to focusing on how you can begin to take care of you.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

This will be hard, won't it?

Mr. Hutten:

I purchased your book, but am worried about something. Correct me if I am wrong: I cannot effectively do this if my husband doesn't right? Also, how am I to pull this off every time my pilot husband leaves town? This will be hard, won't it?


While it's true that it will be exceedingly difficult to implement these strategies if your husband is working in the opposite direction from you, I find that - even in worse case scenarios - spouses can find at least a few areas they agree on.

Rarely is the case that husband and wife are 100% diametrically opposed on ALL decision-making opportunities about their kids. A weaker plan supported by both parents is much, much better than a strong plan supported by only one.


Online Parent Support

Serious problem with son...

Hello Mark,

I have serious problem with my son and his breaking our family rules. This story sounds like a great plan; however our son is able to stay the course for three days and then start all over again, hence the weekend begins. Over the Thanksgiving holiday he stayed out all night and then came home and we took all his privileges away. He told his father that he understood his punishment and within 2 hours proceeded to walk out the door.

He also tells us that if we put our hands on him he will call the police. Now we know that we can restrain him but this is a no win situation. We cannot watch over him 24 hours a day. We already went down that road a year and a half ago. When he ran off for 5 days at the age of 13 we were told that a wilderness trip and boarding school was the answer. After being gone for over a year he came back and seems to be worse.

He has been in counseling and everyone who has ever encountered him says the same thing; he is an edgy kid who likes to take risks. We also know he loves to smoke marijuana. More so than most of his acquaintances; I have often asked if this is a sign of depression and have been told that in their opinion he is not depressed. What do you suggest?

I wanted you to be aware that we live in Maryland and I am not sure what the laws are concerning his absence. He has now been gone for over 2 days. I am going to find out the laws today that govern this situation. We have had advice saying that we should just let him stay out there and see what it is like; they say he will tire of it and come home. I have wondered the same thing; maybe we should just let it run its course. Another suggestion has been to call the police each and every time he stays out. This will give him a track record and maybe the police can give him a citation and then we would go to juvenile services and he would be given community service. I am looking into that aspect today. What would your opinion be concerning this action?

We have found out thru different sources that he is staying at various friends houses in and around our area. My mind is consumed with worry and I just want him safe; there are so many different drugs out there and trouble that he could get into. Believe me when I say we have tried a lot of different approaches. Please help us with your experience in these matters.

Thank you,



Since he refuses to accept rules and discipline, your only recourse (that will be effective) is to file a run away complaint as well as an incorrigibility complaint at your local juvenile probation department. You need outside assistance in the form of “formal probation.” Then he will be “court-ordered” to follow through with several objectives (e.g., comply with curfew, attend school, seek drug treatment, etc.).

DO NOT attempt to save him from uncomfortable emotions associated with his poor choices. Allow him to experience the full range of legal difficulties that result from with his defiant behavior.


Online Parent Support

Failure to Launch: Adult Children Who Don't Want to Grow Up

"Mark, How would your program work for an 19 year old who keeps leaving home and who isn’t motivated to work or go to college. He graduated last year and since then has been rebelling. He hasn’t spent time with his dad in months. We have always had a 50/50 custody."

ANSWER: It will work the same as it does for a 16 year old. Don't change anything.  The latest parenting challenge is dealing with emerging adults who have no intention of leaving the nest. Many 19- to 29-year-olds either return home after college or they've never even left home. The media refers to them as "Boomerang Kids." Parents are worried that their kids won't leave home. This new phenomenon is highlighted in the movie Failure to Launch.

Matthew McConaughey plays Tripp, 30-something bachelor whose parents want him out of the house. They've hired Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), an interventionist, to help him move out. Paula has a track record of successfully boosting men's self-confidence to cause them to want to be independent. Interestingly, this story line is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult to coax out of their comfy childhood homes. Since the '90s, the number of 27-year-olds still living at home has tripled! 

 ==> JOIN Online Parent Support

Here are the top 4 factors contributing to this change: 

1. They Are Unprepared-- They are overwhelmed or unmotivated to live independently. They would rather play it safe by occupying the family home, playing computer games and delivering pizza. These kids often grow up living the life of the privileged. Here, well-meaning parents provide their children with all the amenities congruent with an affluent lifestyle. 

The parents are focused on doing more for their children than what their parents did for them – at the expense of keeping them dependent. Kids don't move out because they've got it made! When your financial generosity isn't combined with teaching kids how to become self-sufficient at an early age, we cannot expect them to automatically possess adequate life skills when they reach legal adulthood. How will they gain the skills to confidently live their own life when they haven't had the opportunity to do things for themselves?

2. They Are Cautious or Clueless-- They are committed, but unsure how to discover their ideal career path. They approach college with the same trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out that it no longer prepares them for today's competitive world. Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions. In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this is much too late! It's best to start young, at age 13. 

This stage of development is the perfect time to begin connecting the dots between what they love to do and possible career options. It can take years to prepare for the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens maximize their opportunities in high school and make college a much better investment.

3. They Have Personal Problems-- They don't have effective life coping skills, have failed relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling with a challenging life event. In Failure to Launch, we learn that Tripp's parents indulged him largely because the woman he loved died, and he hasn't gotten over his loss. When Tripp falls in love with Paula – the new girl of his dreams – his self-sabotaging habit of dumping a girl before she can get too close gets reactivated. Finally, his friends intervene and Tripp eventually faces his demons, to everyone's delight. 

If your teen is struggling emotionally, don't make the mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better without an intervention. Tough love requires that you insist your adolescent get professional help so that he or she can move forward. If you don't know how to have that kind of conversation, consider getting help from a parenting expert.

4. They Have Mounting Debt-- They've accumulated significant credit card debt and moving back in with their parents is a way to pay it off. According to the National Credit Card Research Foundation, 55 percent of students ages 16 to 22 have at least one credit card. If your teen falls into this group, make sure you monitor spending together online. Helping your teen understand how to budget and manage credit cards will be important for handling a household budget in the future. 

Kids can't learn to manage money if they don't have any or if parents always pay for everything. If your offspring moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal amount for room and board. As an adult member of your household, it's important for your young adult to contribute to household chores and expenses. If the purpose of your child's return home is to pay off bills or a college loan, have a realistic plan and stick to the plan to make sure your young adult moves out of the house. 

Determine Goals and Stick to Them  

Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will consider offering some short-term help. However, indulging an adult child's inaction does not help your son or daughter begin his or her own life. If your child defaults on your agreement, be willing to enforce consequences to help him or her launch into responsible adulthood. 

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Active vs. Passive Parenting

How do parents who are divorced work together and stay consistent? My ex and I are equally worried and upset with our 17yr old boy. We however, have very different parenting styles. I'm more into boundaries and keeping the lines of communication open. My ex lets our son run the show. I cannot tell my ex what to do or how to handle situations because he doesn't like anyone doing this, especially his ex. He takes everything very personally. 
Click here for the answer...

We love him but sure don’t like him...

Hi Mark,
I’ve quickly reviewed your program and I think it will help.
My youngest (16) boy is not really that far out of control. My older boy (19) is just great.
Both are extremely smart and do great in school. Snag with youngest is mostly on the disrespect side. Which of course leads to lots of communication problems.
We’re kind of at the “we love him but sure don’t like him” stage.
Pretty sure his problems stem from my wife developing serious illness and almost dying when he was only in grade 5.
She’s now stable but some limited functionality.
We need to reverse what’s going on, otherwise I can see me booting him out in the future.
So we will follow your plan and see if it will help,
Online Parent Support

11 year old son with ODD...

My name is D___ i have an 11 year old son with ODD. My husband and i are a our wit ends and don't know what to do with him or where to turn he gets worse every day at home and school he got straight f's across the board in school and no one wants to sit next to him . the teachers don't know what to do with him and i don't know what to say to try to even help them help him. Here's my question is there any other way to get your book, like at the library or something i don't have any credit cards and i don't think i could get one if i tried at this point . but so far your site seems to be the only one that understands what we are going threw and we need help desperately ............thank you D___

Hi D.,

You can pay by check if you want. Click Here for more info. I really want you to get this material as soon as possible.


I've already learned new strategies...

Hey Mark,

I downloaded my printable version of your book yesterday. Uhhh...I couldn't print it out cuz my printer was out of ink!!! This is just a teensy weensy setback, which will be remedied today.

I spent a bit of time reading the first part of the book. I've gotta say - I'm impressed! Just from the small amount of reading I did - I've already learned new strategies. For instance...

Last night...my son decided to "do his thang!" Normally, this results in a verbal version of "Hell In A Cell" between him and I that could rival a Smackdown match featuring: The Undertaker vs Batista but nuh uh...I didn't react. Plain and simple. I understand exactly what you mean when you say that our kids want us to react. My poor baby was so disappointed...but guess what? I have one less gray hair - already!!! *two thumbs up!*

I am really looking forward to further reading and doing the assignments, once I print out the book. I will also listen to the online version of the ebook as you suggested. I'm up for getting all the knowledge I can. But I'm fully aware that obtaining knowledge and strategies are not enough. We have to utilize them if we want results. When you utilize knowledge and make it part of your life - it becomes wisdom. After all, it starts with me - then filters down to my kids.

Thank you Mark, for sharing your wisdom and showing me, as a parent, that there is always hope. That's a wonderful feeling - it's also very infectious!

I'll be in touch.



My Out-of-Control Teen

Son Collects Girl's Underwear


Boys often investigate their sexuality in strange ways around the age of puberty. I doubt that he’s up to anything other than typical post-pubescent experimentation. Talking openly with your son about sex may be one of the most difficult things you do. However, the insight you provide may be more valuable to him than you may think. 
It not only gives him information to help make healthy decisions regarding sex, but can provide the tools he needs to prevent disastrous mistakes as well. If talking with your son about sex makes you uncomfortable, consider these tips for overcoming your reluctance:
  • Answer your son's questions simply and directly.
  • Approach the discussions with a sense of humor.
  • Be honest with your son about your discomfort.
  • Practice what you want to say.
  • Read books or watch videotapes about ways to teach him about sexual issues.
  • Talk with a counselor or other professional.

Talking to your son about sex may be difficult, but it is far better to learn from a parent than other kids, television, or experimentation. Help him develop opinions that are shaped by your values and not by those of others.

==> 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...