Daughter just scoffs at parent...

Hi J.,

Please look for these arrows throughout your email: ===>

Hi Mark,

We are having trouble enforcing the 3 day discipline because my daughter has yet to complete it even though I keep saying that if you break the 3 day grounding, you will have to start it from day 1. She just scoffs at it and goes out whenever she wants. This has been going on all week. What can we do so that we don't end up looking stupid because she is not taking it seriously at all.

====> Say, "If you choose to walk out on your 3-day-discipline, you'll choose the consequence, which is we will call the police and file run away charges as well as go to juvenile probation and file an incorrigibility complaint." Then if she leaves, follow through with this consequence.

The other issue is that we don't seem to be able to have a normal conversation anymore without her shouting or swearing. As an example, yesterday I asked her to fold the washed towels and put them in the linen cupboard. She refused to do it. I said that if she didn't complete that task, she would not be allowed on the computer. My husband disconnected the keyboard but she just disconnected another one from a different computer and used that. When my husband told her that she did not have permission to do that, she just yelled at him but by then she had already done what she wanted to do which was to send her friend a message.

====> If this situation occurs again, simply make sure ALL the computers are disabled.

I've tried to talk to her to find out why she is behaving this way and have told her that it is really hard to function as a family when we cannot even talk to each other in a civil manner any more. All I get back is more yelling and bad language but never any hint of a reason as to why she is behaving this way. We feel like we're walking on egg shells.

=====> Trying to "reason with" your daughter is just another traditional parenting strategy. Simply state the house rule, then follow through with the consequence when the rule is broken.

She has also removed the door handles from her bedroom door so that we can't go in. I've told her that she is entitled to her privacy but she is not allowed to destroy property in the process. In fact, we haven't even been going to her bedroom because we've decided to give her some space in the hope that she will calm down and come to certain realisations about how her behaviour is affecting our family.

====> You are way off base here. She is NOT entitled to anything other than basic needs (e.g., clothes, food, shelter, education). Privacy does not fall into the "basic needs" category. Put the handles back on the door and tell her that if she chooses to remove them again, she'll choose the consequence, which is you will remove the entire bedroom door for a period of 3 days.

===> I can see that you are having great difficulty implementing "tough love." Also, I can tell that you are afraid of your daughter. Until you stand up to her, she will continue to be in charge.


She is now in the custody of DHS, and I'm afraid I won't get her back...

Dear Mr. Hutten,

My 12 year old daughter just went off the deep end and started defying, disrespecting, etc., etc. I did not know what to do, and did not turn to the internet for help. She is now in the custody of DHS, and I'm afraid I won't get her back. She has refused to talk with me or see me since she left in Sept of last year. DHS will want to decide on a permanent placement soon, and we haven't made one step toward each other this whole time. How can I convince her I've changed when she won't let me talk with her and DHS doesn't seem to be doing anything that has made a positive difference. I don't know what to do. When I saw your video, I was identifying with everything you said about my reactions to her bizarre behaviors. I am so sad, and my daughter seems to be forging a new way for herself, supported by DHS, and isn't looking back.

C. in Colorado.


Hi C.,

You may be surprised to hear that I often get parents in my parent program who are court-ordered to attend because they got into a physical altercation with their child, or the child called the cops on the parent. Then the parent is in the unfortunate position of being investigated by a caseworker.

They go through the program, get a certificate and show the certificate to the powers that be (e.g., judge, case worker, etc.). And in most cases, they get their child back.

You can have the same result.

Join Online Parent Support. Do the four-week program. Then I'll give you a short and simple quiz to verify that you actually studied the material. Then I'll email - or mail - you a certificate of completion.

This certificate will show others that you are an invested parent who wants a fresh start with your child.

Don't delay. There's too much at stake. Your child needs you!



My daughter stated that she does not like lacrosse...

My daughter was just recently diagnosed with ODD and today she shows up at my office and she should have been at lacrosse practice and I could tell when I said I would take her to practice that she was ready to explode. I diffused the situation but I am not sure really what to do as she quits everything she starts and I dont want her to think that is okay. My daughter stated that she does not like lacrosse, sucks at it and doesnt want to play. She only did so to please her dad who is very sports oriented and pushes her to do her best. Please advise.


If your situation is like most parents' situation, you have bigger fish to fry than worrying about Lacrosse.

I'm sure sports is an important activity to her father, but I would say this one falls into the "pick your battles carefully" category.

Save your time and energy for the more important issues that are likely to pop-up.

You asked,

My Out-of-Control Child

This was a huge step in the right direction...

Dear Mark,

I wanted to thank-you for revising your website to better reflect the 4 sections of the program. I had asked about this a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised when I noticed this change today.

I wanted to let you know we have completed the first section of program and are starting on section 2. Today I had the challenge of saying no and sticking to it when my son wanted me to make an exception to a consequence he was given for skipping school = (Car is parked) and dishonesty when he told me he would take my truck to the gym, only to find out he did not go to the gym at all = (Loss of cell phone). This morning he told me he hated me and that he wished I would get into a car accident on the way home from driving him to school. I was able to apply the art of removing my myself from his comments emotionally and better yet, when he called me later to ask again if he could go to his girlfriends (because he was doing better in school and really trying) I was able to say no, and that I am proud he is doing better in school, however, I gave the reason for the continued consequence. I was ready to say, I will not argue, and didn’t have to as he said okay and then apologized for saying what he said to me this morning. I then was able to tell him that he gets angry and says those things as he has trouble expressing emotions. (I had written ALL the points down today and they were in front of me when he called.) I said we would need to work on this and that I love him very much. We ended the conversation without further problems.

You have to understand that he has been out of control for almost a year now so this was a huge step in the right direction.

I know this is just a start, but it feels so good to have some tools to use that really work. Thank-you so much and I will keep you posted.


My Out-of-Control Teen

Is Tourette's a Behavior Problem?

Dear Sir,

My son is very hot tempered and cannot control his behaviour when he is angry or frustrated. He tends to throw things away away or kick on the wall. He always shout and always put the blame on me.

I have heard about tourette syndrome and I am not sure if his behavior is related to this problem. His father and grandfather had the same problem.

Could you pls give some information about it.

I am also interested in your book but am based in Mauritius. What is the easiest way to get access to your book?

Thanking you in advance,


Tourette's is not usually associated with the problems you are describing. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is however.

On another note, your geographical location is not a factor. This is an online program that can be accessed anywhere in the world.


I have decided to send D___ to a boot camp...

Hi Mark-

I have not been in touch for a while. I am still working the steps of the course but I still fall short. I almost need daily reminders of what I am supposed to be doing because its so easy to get caught up in the drama- I have to step back and think Ok what have I learned! I am doing better with sticking to what I say and not getting as emotional when he is pushing me. I am taking alot of time outs. But the bad behavior and defiance still continue just as strong from him.

A few weeks ago he shoved a boy into a wall at school this resulted in a bump on this kids head- his parents called the police and are pressing assault charges. D___ was sent to alternative school. While in alternative school he got in a fight on the school bus along with some other boys and was written a ticket for disorderly conduct and assault.

I have decided to send D___ to a boot camp ...its juvenile behavior modification program. i am a nervous wreck about it - but truly don't know what else to do. I know you work with the courts in your state and was curious if you have seen or had kids go thru these programs and how you feel it works or does not work with your program.



Hi S.,

Boot camps work well as long as the child is involved in programming, but the "positive behavior changes" do not seem to have longevity. That is, the child returns home from boot camp, then after a two-week honeymoon period in which the parent gets the impression that the child has actually made some improvement, the child reverts back to original behavior.

Boot camps are military-style institutions for defiant and disrespectful teens who have a problem with authority. They learn discipline and structure through military exercises, and rigorous physical training.

The theory of boot camp is that a swift "kick in the ass" will turn around a child who has probably been acting out for years. But in a lot of cases, just a short-term boot camp will not be enough for a teen to turn his or her life around. Boot camps work great if they are followed by a boarding school or other longer-term program.

Privately owned boot camps seem to have a greater affect on teenagers. Surprisingly, the recidivism rate of juveniles who attend state-run boot camps has been said to be as high as 94%, while overall privately owned boot camps have a much lower rate. Boot camps can also be long term (military based boarding schools) or short boot camps (summer boot camps).

Overall, boot camps usually have a definite impact on a teen especially the defiant and disrespectful ones. However, for a lasting change to take place, a boot camp usually needs to be followed by a longer-term program such as a boarding school.




This is a private boot camp (not state run) and D___ is most certainly the defiant type. This camp is for a weekend only but when the child "graduates" from camp at the end of the weekend, he is placed on a 3 month probation. They are given certain expectations and if in that 3 months they are messing up I can call his assigned counselor and they will come to my house or call and see if they can turn the situation around. If D___ continues the bad behavior I can have him sent back to camp for a refresher so to speak. The cost is only 200.00 or 100.00 if court ordered and if they have to go back in the 3 month probation period its 25.00. D___ was not court ordered but when we DO go to court for his tickets I can tell the judge what I have dont to try to help D___.

My hope is this boot camp will be an eye opener for him and then along with your program working on the long term changes in the family D___ can have success in changing his life around.

I have had a great deal of frustration lately that so many kids are falling thru the cracks. There just seems to be very little resources for parents in my area that have troubled kids. I am frustrated with summer coming and nothing for them to do that is positive to keep them out of trouble that parents can afford. I am seriosly thinking of approaching the police department or city or schools or all the above in my city to see if we can get some sort of program together that provides activities for kids -volunteer work - swimming whatever to help them belong to something good.

Parents like me that have to be at work have no way to get kids to and from stuff during the day and no money so I am hoping to maybe get volunteers to provide transportation.

I am just in the beginning stages of the idea. I dont know who/where/how/whats but I am growing a passion for it. I thought maybe a website too so programs (like yours) could possibly be referenced as resources for parents. Any thoughts or suggestions? All I know is it took 10 yrs to even find you or any thing like what you offer ..there are just too many people that dont know what to do where to go and we are losing the kids.



My Out-of-Control Teen

When You Think Your Teen Is Using Drugs

"Our son is 17 and out of control, we have noticed lately his rudeness is getting worse. I fully intend to implement your methods but I am worried at the moment that he may be experimenting with drugs. I have found something in his room and have organised to have some tested. I have spoken to a few organisations and have a meeting with one this afternoon but they are so wishy washy with their advice. If we confront him, he may lose trust in us and not communicate etc. I want to take your direct approach but the feedback I get is I need to be careful with that.

I know I need to find out what the substance is before I get too upset, but if I gather some more info and involve a family friend who has done counselling and run our approach by you, would you be able to advise if you think it is along with your methods? I am preparing a contract at the moment and trying to find out all the legalities within Queensland so I know my rights (as he is now threatening to be emancipated from us, and we will have to pay him till he is 18). Does this sound like I am following the method? If I push too hard and he runs on the streets and becomes involved in harder drugs, are there intervention programmes to rescue him? Please advise."

Click here for my response...

What to do about grandparents...


I am in the middle of session 1 and have done the parent quiz to find out that I am moderately indulgent.

My question is: What to do about grandparents or other family members who wish to indulge your child?

My son treated my Mother badly 3 days ago which really upset her, but she is now talking about paying for him to join scouts, which is something he wishes to do & my mother & I feel would be good for him. But I also feel that he should have to wait till he deserves a second extracurricular activity.

They have not spoken to each other since the incident; therefore there have been no apologies. I was brought up to think that this would be incorrect.



Hi C.,

As you will discover when you get a bit further in the eBook, you child should earn ALL privileges. Thus, it will be important for you to set some boundaries with other family members who may be working in the opposite direction. If possible, inform the others what your program goals are so that everyone can be on the same page.


Online Parent Support

Help For Resentment Toward Your "Hateful" Teen

"Assignment #1 in your program requires me to tell my daughter that I love her. I used to do this every day, but can't do it now because it's no longer true. I can't stand her. She is so rude and hateful to me. If I can't do this, is it worth me going on with the rest of the exercises – you said 'no half measures'?"

Click here for my response...

When Your Teen's Best Friend is a Negative Influence

"I am reading and reading your eBook, and I like it so far - makes a lot of sense - but the biggest problem for me with my teens especially the 16 year old girl is who her friends are. She has one best friend, and doesn't seem to hang around or call too many others - only one or two on the phone. But this girl is NOT one that is a positive influence in my daughter's life. While she is basically a sweet girl, she has had problems with drugs (in rehab type program) smokes (and now so does my daughter) has run away from home over night she is depressed and says she takes meds for her mood swings as well, and her parents that aren't as stable as would be preferred - and most sad is often accused by other kids of her "cheating" with my daughter's boyfriend, which kills my daughter but she always ends up believing her or at least saying so....."

For the most part she does what she’s asked to...

I've been using this program for about 4 weeks now. My 9yo DD is doing her chores with out much complaint. However she is escalating her behavior in other ways. She has broken about 5-6 things in the past month. At the rate she is going she should get her allowance back when she’s 16. Tonight she gave our poor dog a hair cut. He looks awful. She has been grounded most of the last 3 weeks. I give her lots of positive attention. We eat dinner together almost every night. I spend probably 10-15 minutes talking to her after school. She is a straight A student. For the most part she does what she’s asked to she just also does a lot of stuff she knows she’s not allowed to. She really doesn't seem to mind the consequences. How long does it take before it starts to work? Any ideas on consequences she might really hate?


I find that when a parent is still experiencing difficulty after 4 weeks, she/he has missed a couple important pieces.

Let's trouble shoot...

Below is a summary of all the assignments I gave you in the 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.

Referring to the Online Version of the eBook:

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?

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

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

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

5. Do you use "The Art of Saying No" whenever your answer is no?

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

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

8. Do you give her at least one chore each day?

9. Do you find something fun to do with her each week?

10. Do you use the "I noticed ...I felt ...Listen" approach when something unexpected pops-up?

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")?

13. Have you watched ALL the videos in the Online Version of the eBook?

14. Are you putting on your best poker face when “things are going wrong?”

15. Are you using the Fair Fighting Strategy?

16. And perhaps most importantly, are you doing things to take care of your mental and physical health?

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. 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

Teenage Tantrums and Destruction of Property

"Dear Mark, my strong-willed daughter seems to have a real hard time adjusting to the fact that if she chooses to leave the house during the 3 day grounding, the 3 days start over. On her second day of grounding she had a half-day of school but instead of coming home she went out with friends. When she came home I informed her that her three days would start over because she chose not to come right home from school. She had a HUGE fit - and preceded to trash the whole house. 

She left but came back two hours later and proceeded to continue her tantrum (turning on every light in the house, demanding that I give her stuff back NOW, hitting, and throwing stuff at me). I told her if she did not stop I would call the police. Well needless to say I had to call the police and had her charged with disorderly conduct and property damage. My question is who should clean up the mess. Should I make her do it, hire a maid, or just do it myself and make her pay me? During her fit I started taking things away. Does the three days start over again from the time she came home from the police station and do I keep her stuff until the three days are served."

First of all, I want to say GREAT JOB! You are a good example of the type of parent I can enjoy working with, because you are working the program as intended. And I know it was tough for you to call the cops on your daughter.

Re: My question is who should clean up the mess. Should I make her do it, hire a maid, or just do it myself and make her pay me?

Since she already received a consequence in the form of legal ramifications that she will have to answer to eventually, I wouldn’t heap on another consequence by insisting she clean up. If she hadn’t had the cops called on her and been charged – it would be a different story.

Re: During her fit I started taking things away. Does the three days start over again from the time she came home from the police station and do I keep her stuff until the three days are served?

Again, she’s already had a consequence. Of course the wheels of justice turn slowly though, so she will not feel the total impact of the consequence for some time.

Issue the following warning: “In the future, when you have a 3-day-discipline and you choose to break the law by throwing things at me and tearing up the house, you’ll choose the consequence – I will call the police again AND go to Juvenile Probation to file a complaint. Then you can answer to the Judge. Your choice!”

In the event she has another similar temper tantrum, follow through with your stated consequence.

I’m glad the tail is not wagging the dog in your house anymore.

Mark Hutten, M.A.


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

We have good days and not so good days...

Hey Mark,

We have been plugging along since M got out of the youth home 1/3/08. He is in intensive probation and meets with PO every week either @ school or @ our home. Also can't to go to counseling once per week. He is supposed to meet with the referee once per month also--more like every 6 wks though. He does have a court date May 6 for the fighting incident (btw, was charged with "robbery armed" since one on the boys picked up money off the ground that belonged to someone else. We decided to obtain the services of an atty for this, as we are fine with "assault with a weapon" or similar, but not robbery armed, which also is not dropped when an adult. This is his last assistance, as he was 16 at the time--[now 17 and considered an adult in MI] and we can feel good knowing we gave him every opportunity to try to turn his life around). He has not missed school (was late 2x I believe about 10minutes) and is now pulling 5 A's and 1 B+. Has a girlfriend that we like well enough, still has a job, and is usually home on time (if late usually less than 10 minutes). As you know and have taught us, we have good days/weeks and not so good days/weeks.

We have taken away his cell phone, computer, use of the car for misuse of these. This is when he still tries to bully us/swear/negotiate/threaten etc. but for the most part we have been very firm. He did sign a "contract" for both the phone and car use.

What I need help with though are the "get to it later" stuff and the not so major stuff. Examples:

1) swearing--I am getting VERY tired of the "F______ B____" used when he gets angry and now any profanity mixed in conversation. I would say this is increasing since we have not been reacting to it. We have a 10yr old and his friends over and this is NOT appropriate. I need some idea(s) of consequences for this.
2) having the girlfriend in the bedroom. Usually under blanket cuddling and tries to have lights out. I have come straight out and told them it is not appropriate/respectful and is uncomfortable for those around. (btw--20 yr old brother has his g'friend in room but usually not on the bed together and NEVER covered up, etc.)
3) eats in bedroom, cooks and leaves stuff everywhere,
4) very slipshod on chores
5) starting to NOT call when he gets somewhere like we've asked (he usually is where he is supposed to be but it is a safety issue)
6) joining us for some family time

Any ideas on consequences/motivators would be great.

Also, fyi--his "best friend" that he makes bad decisions with has been committed to a psych hospital by his Dad for 2 weeks, and last week a horrific accident claimed the life of a very close friend and 2 other friends, with the driver still in the hospital (all 4 together in the truck).

Click here for my response...

Teenage Son Refuses To Go On Vacation With The Family

"Our son is refusing to go on vacation with us (me, my wife, two other teenage boys). We have planned this for some time now. He says we can't make him go - he wants to spend the week with his friend (who is a bad influence). What can we do? I'm worried he will come up missing on the day of departure."

Click here for my response...

We have been ignoring behavours for 5 weeks now and still he persists!!!

Hi Mark,

I wanted to thank you for the programme that you have set out and the positive results we are having. I am finding that the "make them earn everything" is working very well. In the assignment for session 4 you recommend ignoring bad behaviours etc. Our child has always been one to want attention any way he can get it. I guess he has been getting it for negative reasons in the past. We have been ignoring these behaviours - the annoying, the disrespect, the swearing etc etc. Can you help me understand how long we have to ignore these behaviours before they start to die - the desire for the child to keep doing these behaviours lessons? We have been ignoring behavours for 5 weeks now and still he persists!!! It is like he realises he is not getting the attention he so much wants and so tries even harder to get our attention!! Some days it is very difficult to keep ignoring it!!

Our teenager also loves forming habits, which are not positive. He forms these habits very quickly and they are very hard to break. Last week he decided to start using every swear word he could think of as often as possible. It got to the point where I grounded him for a day with items removed because I could see how quickly these words would have become a habit. It's seems to have worked so far. The swearing has certainly lessened. He has this habit of making movements with his face. I took him to hypnotherapy and it did nothing to break the habit. Do you have any suggestions? We have been completely ignoring it. Apart from that he has only had 3 groundings in 5 weeks and we are noticing that his behaviour has improved in many areas. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.



Hi J.,

Re: Can you help me understand how long we have to ignore these behaviours before they start to die…

As I mentioned in the audio portion of the eBook, “ignoring misbehavior” is an over-rated parenting strategy, but when it comes to siblings bickering back and forth, it is probably the best strategy. I don’t suggest ignoring disrespect or swearing however. These behaviors need a consequence as outlined in the eBook.

Re: He has this habit of making movements with his face. I took him to hypnotherapy and it did nothing to break the habit. Do you have any suggestions?

You are describing motor tics (i.e., quick, uncontrollable movements or vocal outbursts, but not both). About 1 to 2% of the population has chronic motor tic disorder. The condition is more common than Tourette syndrome. However, it is not as common as transient tic disorder. All types of chronic tics are believed to be forms of Tourette syndrome (e.g., excessive blinking, grimaces of the face, quick movements of the arms, legs, or other areas, sounds: grunts, throat clearing, contractions of the abdomen or diaphragm).

People can hold off these symptoms for a short period of time, but they feel a sense of relief when they carry out these movements.

The doctor can usually diagnose a tic during a physical examination. Tests are generally not needed. To be diagnosed with the disorder, one must have had the tics nearly every day for more than a year, and one has not had a tic-free period longer than 3 months

Treatment depends on how bad the tics are and how the condition affects you. Medicines and psychotherapy are used only when the tics have a major impact on daily activities, such as school and job performance.

Drugs used to treat tics include dopamine blockers, such as pimozide and risperidone. However, these drugs are not always successful and can cause side effects.

Children who develop this disorder between ages 6 and 8 do very well. Symptoms may last 4 to 6 years, and then stop without treatment in early adolescence.

When the disorder begins in older children and continues into the 20s, it may become a life-long condition.

There is usually no need to see the health care provider for a tic unless it is severe or disrupts your life.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s just your son’s weird way of dealing with stress.


My Out-of-Control Teen

Poor Academic Performance Is A Different Animal

Dear Mark................my wife and I continue to refer to your notes over and over again. We are making progress with our 14 year old son. He has been more compliant lately. My wife and I are being transformed in the process as well. We hardly ever nag about chores or homework, etc. We are less confrontational. We have been encouraging each other as well as our son. We are more graceful and listen better.

Our struggle is not yet over. Our son is in the 8th grade and his grades have dropped significantly. He received (2) Ds and (1) F on the last report card a few weeks ago. The consequences were loss of his cell phone privilege Monday - Friday afternoon and loss of privilege to have friends over or go out with friends on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings. He can participate in our church teen midweek service which is mostly a fellowship activity.

Our son has accepted these consequences; however, there has been no noticeable improvement in his grades and we are holding him totally accountable. We have made it clear that we are available to help. We have told him that his poor grades are hurting him and no one else.

Yesterday, he started using the Instant Messenger feature on the internet to stay connected with his friends. I had blocked his access to the AOL instant messenger but he is now accessing it via Internet Explorer. I can remove the wireless adapter on his computer and he will not be able to access the internet if I choose to take this step. I can use the security password feature on the two other computers in the home to prevent him from accessing them if I choose to do so.

Question: We are expecting a progress report in the next few days and we do not expect much improvement. What should we do to help our son realize that his poor academic performance will only hurt him in the long run? Apparently the consequences are not changing his behavior or attitude? Apparently his ODD tendencies have created a technology contest that I prefer not to engage in.

Many thanks in advance.



Hi J.,

Grades are kind of a different animal (as if we didn't have enough twists and turns).

Please refer to the page entitled Emails From Exasperated Parents [Online Version of the eBook -- Session #4].

On that page, scroll near the bottom and look for where it reads:

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

NOTE: If your teen has a history of poor academic performance, and if poor academic performance is an ongoing source of conflict, then follow the recommendation.


Online Parent Support

Child abuse rises when dad is away at war—

Mothers are twice as likely to physically hurt kids, government study finds.

Murdered woman’s husband: 911 botched call

Neighbor saves three after plane hits house

A killer's 26-year-old secret may set inmate free

Govt. acknowledges accidents at virus lab

The bottom line on Iraq

Most viewed on msnbc.com

Children in some Army families are vulnerable to abuse and neglect by their mothers when their fathers are away at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large Pentagon-funded study finds.

Mothers were three times more likely to have a substantiated report of child mistreatment when their soldier husbands were deployed than when the fathers were home, according to the research. Mothers at home were nearly four times as likely to neglect their children and nearly twice as likely to physically abuse them during deployment periods.

Army officials said the study confirms what they’ve seen at large military bases for nearly two years, overwhelmed and depressed mothers neglecting their children.

This is another recognition of the stress that families are experiencing with multiple deployments, and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Army to hire more people to support families—

The Army recently announced it will hire more than 1,000 additional “family readiness support assistants” to help families of deployed active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard units. The Army also recently added $8 million to its respite child care program and increased home visits to parents of young children at 13 bases with the highest rates of neglect, said Delores Johnson, the Army’s director of family programs.

The study appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Army staff reviewed the manuscript before its submission to the medical journal.

The researchers analyzed information from two large Army databases from 2001 through 2004. Since then, the pace of deployments has increased, making the findings even more important.

Only families with at least one report of child mistreatment were part of the analysis, so the findings apply only to families with some underlying risk.

The researchers found reports of abuse and neglect for nearly 3,000 individual children. The mistreatment included neglect, abandonment, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

Dads at home may be more likely to get help—

Women accounted for about nine out of 10 incidents by civilian parents during deployments. For fathers at home while their soldier wives were at war, the effect of deployment on the likelihood of abuse or neglect was insignificant, suggesting men may be more likely to get help from extended family or other resources.

Overall, the study of almost 1,800 Army families worldwide found that reports of child abuse and neglect were 42 percent higher during times when the soldier-parent, regardless of gender, was deployed.

Experts cautioned that situations not generally considered neglect by most city child welfare workers would be called neglect by Army social workers. Robichaux, a former Houston child welfare worker, said Army families tend to get help sooner than civilian families.

Two previous studies have found increasing rates of child neglect in Army families between 2001 and 2004, and increasing rates of child mistreatment in Texas military families during a time of large-scale deployments.

The new study was hailed by a researcher involved in the Texas study. It is important, especially given the current military and political situation in which deployment occurs more frequently and deployments can be longer.

Stacy Bannerman, a member of the anti-war group Military Families Speak Out and the wife of a National Guardsman who fought in Iraq, said she’s seen mothers neglect their children while their husbands are in Iraq.

“We pretend the trauma of war can somehow be isolated and contained,” Bannerman said. “Nobody’s really taking care of the caregivers.”

Online Parent Support

It has helped reduced our level of "freak-out"...

Mark -

We are studying your web presence and it has helped reduced our level of "freak-out" with our 16 year-old, "out-of-house," but still near-by daughter.


Online Parent Support

Fear Of Going To The Bathroom

Thank you, your book is great and it's helping us with our 10 year old son. One thing I need to know. Our son holds on to his number 2 for weeks because he's afraid of going to the bathroom. How do we handle that?



Hi A.,

Children fear elimination for a variety of reasons. For example:

Some kids don’t like the splash...

Some see the toilet as a trap and they are afraid they will fall in or that something will pop out of there and get the... get them a smaller seat to go on top of the adult seat

It’s scary to be sitting on a throne in the middle of a room doing something so private...

Some kids say it’s like a part of them is falling off...

Sometimes it’s because their feet can't rest on the floor (ever try to poop with your feet off the floor?)... get them a stool

Some kids don’t like the bathroom because the toilet seat is cold... get seat liners / covers

In some cases, they simply have stage fright (you're staring at him, waiting, waiting, "you can do it", "come on big boy", etc.)...

A lot of times children hold it in because it's a form of control for them. They feel the rest of their lives are controlled by their parents - or other outside influences - but they can hold it in and control that one thing.

We may want to investigate the possibility that your son has Obsessive Compulsive tendencies (OCD):

OCD is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that cause severe discomfort and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are unwanted and cause marked anxiety or distress. Frequently, they are unrealistic or irrational. They are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems or preoccupations.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals (like hand washing, hoarding, keeping things in order, checking something over and over) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding).

In OCD, the obsessions or compulsions cause significant anxiety or distress, or they interfere with the child's normal routine, academic functioning, social activities, or relationships.

A younger child with OCD may have persistent thoughts that harm will occur to himself or a family member, for example an intruder entering an unlocked door or window. The child may compulsively check all the doors and windows of his home after his parents are asleep in an attempt to relieve anxiety. The child may then fear that he may have accidentally unlocked a door or window while last checking and locking, and then must compulsively check over and over again.

An older child or a teenager with OCD may fear that he will become ill with germs, AIDS, or contaminated food. To cope with his/her feelings, a child may develop "rituals" (a behavior or activity that gets repeated). Sometimes the obsession and compulsion are linked; "I fear this bad thing will happen if I stop checking or hand washing, so I can't stop even if it doesn't make any sense."

If you need more info on OCD and its treatment, just let me know. I’m out of time for now.


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Is he depressed or extremely manipulative or a combination of both?

"My 14 (almost 15) yr. old son is dating a 17 yr. girl. Just about the time he started seeing her, my almost 17 yr. son came to me because he felt his brother was showing signs of depression. The oldest son is very mature, kind, very religious, and sensitive towards others, particularly his brothers. He showed me how to access his brother's instant messaging e-mails. I was then able to get into my son's head (he's not very talkative) and find out what is going on with his girlfriend because I had some concerns about their relationship. Also in his e-mails, he told his friends that he was very sad but didn't know why and that he doesn't believe in God. I kept on eye on it and didn't see anything more in the e-mail about him being sad nor did I notice him looking down until I grounded him. The younger one has had his moments of bad moods over the years, and with the combination of hormones and having a girlfriend in the picture, I decided to monitor it....."

==> Continue...

My son gets straight F's across the board...

Hi Mark,

The things that I’ve read about kids and school are great when the kids are trying or want to try, what if they refuse to do anything in school? My son gets straight F's across the board. No matter how hard the school seems to try he just won't do traditional schoolwork. Do you have any ideas?




Hi D.,

Please refer to the section of the eBook entitled Emails Form Exasperated Parents [Session #4 – Online Version].

When you get to that page, look for where it reads:

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


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Should you discipline a defiant teen who is also suffering from depression?

"Thanks…finally hope at the end of the tunnel, but need some help on dealing with a son who is also depressed. Should I change anything about the program, or just try to follow the first week and see what happens?"

Click here for my response...

The adults are back in Charge!

Hi Mark,

Thanks again for your speedy reply, sorry I did not get back to you yesterday. Things have been moving fast around here in a most unexpected way.

Thank you for the advise for both our Sons.

J___, the angry child, is responding wonderfully to our new methods. No arguments, very loving and receptive. He will be thrilled with our Plans to move into the driving phase. He won't hear about them until he finishes his Project, which will end his grounding. At this point we will start anew. He has accepted our terms of use on the computer with the understanding that any abuse will result in a 3-day ban. He came home from school yesterday in a pissy mood, I would normally try to find out what was bothering him, but I just asked about his day and went on like nothing was wrong and he pulled himself out of the mood and the rest of the evening was great.

P___ on the other hand is the one not adjusting too well. Of course he is the one who after our apology, felt no apology was needed.... He was just fine with everything staying status Quo :) Sorry... Things are changing and we don't know exactly what his reactions to that are going to be. We realize we have held him back with our past parenting and that is all about to change.

We always felt that as long as they went with the flow of the family they were welcome to stay at home... We have had a change of Heart and Mind :) It is time for him to be out on his own. This talk will be coming asap and his reaction is going to provide a growing season for us all. Mike and I both are prepared for some hurt feelings that may take awhile to get passed but we now know it is for his and our benefit.

Thank you again and again...... The adults are back in Charge!

A. & M.

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Gang Problem Hits Home

Elwood, Indiana—
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
From a very disturbed parent:

What’s with 9 people being killed in a week up there? Doesn’t sound like the safest place to be.

I wondered if that would make state or national news. NO, it is very crazy around here right now. Some of the shootings have been gang-related…others drug-related. There were actually six shootings in just two days last week…several of which occurred right during the day not far from my office! We have a HUGE gang problem here. A gang unit was established with the police dept last summer and just recently our probation dept. started a gang program where the court is identifying dangerous kids (gang) and putting them in this intensive program. There were about 200 threats received in the past week that some of the local schools are going to be targeted today. I’ve already had calls from parents saying they are not sending their kids to school today. The newspapers say none of the shootings are related, but there definitely were several related and have been rival gangs in retaliation for other shootings….

Any suggestions?


Many communities have serious problems with gangs. There are many kinds of gangs, but whatever kind you community is dealing with, gangs spell trouble. They cause fear, destroy property, threaten or hurt peaceable residents, and drive out businesses.

Parents can do a lot to prevent gang problems or top reduce gag problems already in place. Most important, there’s a lot that parents like you can do to keep your own children from joining gangs:

· Join with others to make or keep your neighborhood gang free.
· Learn about gangs and signs of gang activity.
· Sharpen your skills as a parent and use them.

Young people (as young as nine or ten) join gangs for reasons that makes sense to them, if not to adults. They give reasons like these:

· for excitement
· to be with friends
· to belong to a group
· to earn money
· to get protection

Gangs leave signs of their presence. Your child may adopt some of those signs as either a gang member or an imitator:

· gang symbols on walls as graffiti or on books or clothing

· major and negative behavior changes, such as worse grades, staying out without good reason, "hanging" with known or suspected gang members, carrying weapons, wearing certain kinds and colors of clothing in very specific ways, and possessing unexplained relatively large sums of money

· special hand signals

· specific colors or emblems

Many gang members say they joined because the gang offered them support, caring, and a sense of order and purpose - al the things that most parents try to give their kids. The odds are that the better you meet these needs, the less need you children will see for gangs.

Here are some parenting skills that are especially important:

·Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities

·Do everything possible to prevent dropping out

·Help your kids identify positive role models and heroes - especially people right in your community

·Know what your children are doing and whom they are with. Know about their friends and their friends’ families

·Praise them for doing well and encourage them to do their very best - to stretch their skills to the utmost

·Put a high value on education and help your child to do his or her best in school

·Talk with listen to your child. Spend some special time with each child

Don’t forget to talk about gangs. The best time is before there’s a major problem.

Tell your child that:

· family members don’t keep secrets from each other
· you an other parents are working together against gangs
· you disapprove of gangs
· you don’t want to see your child hurt or arrested
· you see your child as special, and worth protecting
· you want to help your child with problems

Everyone (except gang members) wants a gang-free community. Parents stand to lose the most -- the well-being or even the life of a child -- if gangs take or keep hold. But gangs are often violent and intimidating.

What can you do in the face of this?

· Develop positive alternatives. Are there after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Can the school offer its facilities? Can parents organize clubs or sports? Can older kids tutor or mentor younger ones? Can the kids themselves help with ideas?

· Get organized against the gang organization. Use your neighborhood association or a new group. Get help from a variety of sources right in you community. Try these kinds of people in addition to the police, priest or minister, family counselor, community association, school counselor or principal, athletic coach, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA / YWCA, Scouts, drug abuse prevention groups, youth-serving agencies, and community centers - just to name a few.

· Talk with other parents. For one thing, you’ll find out what everyone else’s parent really said. For another, you can support each other and share knowledge that will help spot problems sooner than you can on your own.

· Work with police and other agencies. Report suspicious activity, set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol; let the police know about gang graffiti, get (and share with other parents) the facts on the gang problem in your community, find out what local services - nonprofit as well as government - will work with communities against gangs.

Online Parent Support

Behavior Problems at School

Recently my husband and I started your program. We started the program because of the problem of constant In School Suspension for my 13 yr old son. He is defiant. His last time in ISS was because of chewing gum in Music class. He was told to spit it out and then was later seen with gum again. He spent 3 days in ISS. Yesterday he somehow exploded his milk at lunch and wet himself and his food. This resulted in him loosing lunch, it was not replaced at school, and the school gave him one week in the back of the lunchroom by himself. 2-3 hours later my husband was able to take him dry clothes. I try very hard to support the school in order to show my son my support for their decisions. However, I find some of the consequences from the school as excessive. Am I wrong and just being over protective? What sort of punishment should I do at home for his trouble in school? The school is threatening to send him to a behavior school that even they think may do more harm than good. He was in 1/2 day ISS today for arguing with his teacher about a complete sentence. What can I do? ~ J.

Click here for my response...

Wilderness Programs?


I've been browsing through your website in particular "Help for Struggling Teens".

I have in the past looked at wilderness camps in Canada and also a military academy in Canada (with him having a juvenile record would prevent him from traveling to the U.S). I'm not sure if these would be options for Jordan after he is released from the young offenders centre. He does receive help there as well. Would a private facility or a government run residential or wilderness be beneficial to him after he is released (which is May 30). A government run facility would be accessed through Children and Family Services (this was something the judge had ordered they be involved prior to his release for further assessment and treatment). When I contacted them a month ago I got the impression they aren't too willing to be involved.

We did speak to J___ about this possibly happening this weekend when we saw him. We told him his behaviours have to change. Do you know of any reputable programs in Canada? We had sent J___ to a boarding school when he was in grade 7 and he was expelled after 4 months and we ended with non-refunded tuition, which was expensive, so I'm apprehensive about this.

There are 2 wilderness programs I've researched some - one is private and is about a 2 hour flight away – it’s on Vancouver Island. The other one has to be accessed through Child and Family Services or AADAC and is a 2 hour drive from our place. Both are in the mountains. The website for Vancouver Island is www.canadventure.ca and the other is Enviros Wilderness School Association - Base Camp. I'm not sure if these should be alternatives to follow-up after his custody part. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,



Hi E.,

I’m not a big fan of Wilderness Programs, Boot Camps, or Brat Camps. Research suggests they are not very effective in the long term. Boarding schools, however, do have a much better track record. The ones I’m familiar with in Canada are:

· Brentwood College School
· Bronte College of Canada
· Havergal College
· Ridley College
· Rosseau Lake College
· Sedbergh School
· Shawnigan Lake School
· St. Andrew's College
· St. Michaels University School
· Stanstead College
· The Bishop Strachan School

I cannot comfortably recommend any other alternatives.


Online Parent Support

Boarding Schools?

We are considering boarding schools. Do you know or can you recommend a school that could help and may be able to work with me concerning finances? My financial situation does not allow me to apply for loans or credit cards. Thank you.


Here are some important considerations when looking at the boarding school option:

You can eliminate some of the hundreds of choices by determining the factors that are most important to you and your child. Your child should be an integral part of this decision making process. Some of those factors are:

· Climate and environment? Just must have a beach? Horses? Skiing? Summer year around? Four seasons? A place of solitude or urban sites and sounds?

· Co-ed or single sex?

· Cost? Your allowance may not cover all the expenses. Most expenses will be paid if you are eligible for an away from post (boarding) education allowance, however, if the school of choice exceeds the average boarding school, or the school has many additional expenses not included in the basic cost, you may find yourself with lots of out of pocket expenses. Distance from the post may also add airfare costs if further than the distances priced. (See FAQ's for more information on how the allowance is calculated.) You can find the current away from post education allowance in the table of allowances (section 920).

· How many of the students are international? You will discover that the child who grew up in an international environment will often seek out contact with other children who feel not entirely comfortable with the American culture. Whether they are American children brought up overseas or not even American at all; these TCKs (Third Culture Kids) are a unique culture. Not quite American, not quite anything else!

· Level of support for boarders? How accessible are counselors and staff? How does the communication system work to parents? Who notices that a student needs assistance?

· Level of technology provided? Many boarding schools are very much a part of the technology age and wired for computers and email. Others are not.

· Mostly a day school or mostly boarding? It can make a difference to a child if most of the students are day students or five-day boarders and leave for most weekends. Full-time boarders could be left with few activities and no where to go. If you will not have relatives or friends committed to being available for weekends, be sure you choose a school with lots of weekend activities. Some schools have Saturday morning classes and few weekends or holidays on which they are closed. Some schools have few boarders while others are 100 percent boarding.

· Range of academics? Every type of school is available, from the most competitive college prep to the more average or supportive environments.

· Size? Some schools are intimate, less than 100 students, while others can be 500-1,000, or more.

· Special offerings for the arts? Performance or enjoyment level?

· Specialties? Military? Religious preference? Special needs?

· Sports available? Somewhere, everything is available but the level of play will vary. Are you hoping for an athletic scholarship to a college or pure enjoyment of a lifetime sport?

· Uniforms or special codes of conduct? Dress codes, honor codes, drug testing. Under which guidelines will you and your child be comfortable?

· When to make the move? There are a few schools in the U.S. which offer junior boarding (eighth grade and lower) but that is more common in the UK or Europe. Schools in the northeastern U.S. often have the largest influx of students at tenth grade (children attend private day schools through grade nine) while others generally have most students entering at ninth grade. Some schools do not admit seniors. Some schools will accept new mid-year students at any level. One can always ask.

· Where? Though it is always important to be near a source of support, either close friends or relatives, consideration should also be given to connections to airports. Many boarding schools will help with transportation to and from the airport. Do you want your child to be in the U.S. or in Europe or some other location in closer proximity to where you are?

The Application Process— The application process for a boarding school can be similar to college. There are forms to fill out, fees to pay, tests to take, transcripts to send, and letters of references required. An interview may not be required or you may be able to do it over the phone. A visit to the school is certainly recommended so you know if the school is a good fit.

The SSAT, an SAT for secondary school admission, is often required. You can receive information from their web site: http://www.ssat.org. Flexible (flex) test sites and times can be arranged, if necessary, in addition to the regularly scheduled dates and locations. Ask your CLO or the FLO for more information on this.

Many schools will offer some level of financial aid but this too must be competed for at an early point in the application process. Most schools have limited funds for tuition assistance. If you find your circumstances have changed, such as if you no longer qualify for an education allowance when you return to the States for an assignment but would like your teen to continue at the boarding school, let the school know. They might be able to assist with more financial aid.

Ask the schools or FLO for student referrals at a particular boarding school so your child can begin an email communication with someone there to ask those questions that the admissions people might not answer as easily.

The same advice holds true for boarding school visits as you might have for colleges, if you know a boarding school is in the future try to visit a few. The visits will give you a baseline to compare others. It will help you prioritize the various factors and choices that are important to you and to your child. You can see if that dorm room or cafeteria or mountaintop setting will be as important a factor as it seemed at first.


Online Parent Support

Parents' Tips for "Sibling Bullying"

Dear Mark. My daughter is using your advice and is very happy and has gained a new confidence already. It is a great relief for all of us. My daughter J___ today called me down (she lives close by) because of a problem associated with her daughter (my grand-daughter). The grand-daughter refused to do as she was told and so J___, as a punishment, took her computer from her. Which was OK but then the problem-daughter B___ started bullying her little sister, taking her venom out on her. That's when J___ called me down because some violence erupted as a result of J___ trying to keep the younger sister out of it all. B___ is 13 years old. She is adopted and her step-father will have nothing to do with her. In fact the step-father is prepared to show hatred if the opportunity arises. So B___ has had a bad time in her youth and we have all been trying to help her because our sympathy is with her. Still, she cannot keep getting out of control. What do you suggest about B___ bullying her younger sister when she is being punished herself. My compliments. ~ A.


Hi A.,

Bullying should only be verbal. Physical aggression or real meanness between siblings is a sign of displaced angry feelings.

Although the child being victimized appears to get your sympathy, that child needs to learn an effective defense, which you can teach.

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Implementing what is known as the Talk-Walk-Squawk rule in your household can be effective, especially in empowering younger children who are being bullied.

Talk - The child being bullied should be taught to use words of empowerment to their siblings such as “stop” and “I’m not afraid of you.”

Walk - The bullied child should then walk away from the scene.

Squawk - The bullied child should tell a parent or a trusted adult about the incident. It’s important to make sure they know this is not “tattling” but a way to work on a solution to their problem.

Countering the bullying-behavior includes:

· Help each child learn skills for handling their emotions – They may not understand or know a better way to express their disappointment, hurt or anger.

· Making sure each child adheres to the rules – There must be clear consequences when breaking the rules and you must be consistent in your enforcement of these consequences.

· Making sure each child knows the household rules – There should not be any hitting or pushing.

Here are a few questions that may help in that process of understanding the bullying behavior:

· How is the child’s home life? Children do learn by example and even though it may be difficult for some parents, an honest assessment of their home environment is necessary.

· Have your child’s circle of friends changed? Any new friend in the picture? Never under estimate the influence of other children. Your child may now be newly exposed to the power of bullying – on the giving end or receiving end. This includes cyber-bullying.

· Has your child had any major lifestyle changes such as moving to a new neighborhood/school, death of close relative, parental divorce or remarriage? Your child may be acting out his frustration and difficulty dealing with their emotions on anyone they can.

· Does the bullying sibling focus on only one child? This may be sibling rivalry gone awry and it could have more to do with you (getting your attention) than with the child he/she bullies.

Given the normal amount of teasing and bickering in any family, it can be difficult for parents to know where to draw the line. Ideally, we want our children to learn to work out disagreements among themselves. But when is adult intervention necessary?

Here’s a good rule of thumb: 

Behavior that would be unacceptable between two unrelated children is unacceptable between two siblings. When one child intentionally and consistently hurts or frightens a smaller or less powerful sibling, that’s bullying — and it needs to stop.

Refer to the strategy entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid” [Anger Management Chapter – Online Version of the eBook] for specific steps.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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More articles.....

One day you wake up and find that life has changed forever. Instead of greeting you with a hug, your little boy rolls his eyes when you say "good morning" and shouts, "You're ruining my life!" You may think you've stepped into the Twilight Zone, but you've actually been thrust into your son's teen years.

During adolescence, teens start to break away from parents and become "their own person." Some talk back, ignore rules and slack off at school. Others may sneak out or break curfew. Still others experiment with alcohol, tobacco or drugs. So how can you tell the difference between normal teen rebellion versus dangerous behavior? And what's the best way for a parent to respond?

Click here for full article...




Many families of defiant children live in a home that has become a battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected. After all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be so subtle that we lose sight of a war, which others do not realize is occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems.

Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally unhealthy way of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

Click here for the full article...




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

Click here for the full article...

Does your material work on kids who don't live with you...?

Hi Mark,

I found your website in my search for guidance on handling rage-filled, rebellious teens. I am sure I'm not in a unique situation, (though it feels like it) and wondered if your information would help when it's a divided home setting.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, my husband got custody of his 4 children when his youngest was 3. Their mother walked out on them. I married him when she was 5, and was mother to all of the kids. The 2 oldest refused to see their bio mom (at about ages 13 and 14 - she mentally and physically abused them, alcoholic, addicted to prescriptions due to a back injury, you get the picture). The middle child saw bio-mom about 40 days a year (per parenting agreement) until she was 13 then refused to see her (drunk, bringing strange men over, etc.). Our youngest, out of all the children though, has steadfastly seen bio-mom, and 2 years ago wanted to start living there 1/2 time and with us 1/2 time when she was 11. She is now 13.

She has been struggling with her sexuality, and has had major upheavals with her friends. She is full of anger and if anyone (family or friend) does something she doesn't like, or agree with, she explodes. A "girlfriend" apparently liked another girl, and that set her off and she downed 10 Tylenol, then told us, so she was taken to the ER and then to a psychiatric hospital for a few days. During that stay, she announced she wanted her mother to be her legal guardian and to live there full time. This was at the end of November of last year.

During this whole timeframe, and months previously, she's been in therapy for counseling. It's not doing any good. The therapist will say she won't accept responsibility for any of her behaviors or any of her actions. And if she doesn't want to get better, she won't.

About 10 days after she got out of the psychiatric hospital, she was at our house. And she lied one lie too many. My husband and she had a major blow-up and he was tired of the disrespect. She threatened to run away, and he thought "take her to her mother's or have to call the police". So he took her to her mother's. And though we've tried repeatedly to have sessions with her, with the counselor, trying to arrange family dinners (she has siblings that she is also not seeing and rarely talking to as well), all she does is blame us. We kicked her out. We don't love her. Yadda. But we also know that she is at her mother's because there is no discipline at all. She hangs with the wrong crowd over there, her mother is on morphine and about 4 other "prescribed" meds so is in zombie land most of the time, her grades are the worst they've ever been (currently flunking 4 classes), and of course, we're to blame because we kicked her out of the house. She's getting into in school suspensions, being disrespectful to her teachers, etc.

The therapist says for my husband (as our daughter's rage is directed at him personally) to continue reaching out to her as it takes away her excuse -- if we are trying to see her and she's the one refusing, then she can't blame us. I guess that is the theory anyway.

My dilemma is this: Does your material work on kids who don't live with you, and who are being (I think brainwashed) by the ex-spouse who is just as angry and bitter at being divorced, and having 3 of her children do to her what this last one is doing to us? To me, our youngest daughter is a possession for her. A prize. A way to get additional monies from us each month. The bio mom wants to be the cool mom. The friend. The come hang at our house mom. The mom who lets high school kids take her child in their car and our daughter doesn't even know them -- but hey, they are a ride to a school event because zombie mom can't drive her. Sorry, I digress.

Can one-sided attempts by us using your information somehow get through to our daughter? All we can do is email or text her, and she doesn't respond. She is sinking fast, is on medication herself for depression, and I'm just at my wits end. Therapy is a joke and she's heading for disaster. Her sisters say she's a punk and they are tired of her b.s. and don't want to even talk to her. And if they do, it's all about safe subjects.

If you have any ideas, or even direction you can point me to for help, I'd SURE appreciate it.

Thanks so much in advance for your time and help,



Hi Beth,

Re: Does your material work on kids who don't live with you...

If your child does not live with you, but is dependent on you financially, partially or fully -- the program will work. Otherwise, it probably won't.


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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...