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The biggest problem that we are having is trust...

Dear Mark,

I've been listening and reading the program for four weeks, and doing the assignments. I have two daughters 18 and 16. This has been the most trying summer of my life. My husband has not been involved for most of their lives, although we are together. I am left to do all the parenting myself. The biggest problem that we are having is trust. I have caught my older daughter smoking, drinking, taking drugs, sneaking out of the house, stealing and lying to cover it up. It has now affected my younger daughter, who has decided to "gang up" against me.

My husband also blames me, and tells me to back off. Every time I do that, the same problems or others arise. I have issued the 3-day discipline, and the day it was lifted, there was another incident. This happened 3 times. My daughter was told no smoking. Is this something I can enforce? I told her I know that I can't stop her from smoking, but I can insist that it doesn't happen on my property. I also told her that when I find things like lighters, I'm going to assume that they are hers, and that she is smoking. I also told her no smoking in her car. She paid for the car, but it is in my husband's name. She "swears" that she is not smoking, but I am still finding lighters, and her car stinks. The stories that she tells me are very hard to believe. I told her that because of her track record of lying to cover things up, I'm having a hard time believing her. My younger daughter backs her up with every story.

They both resent that I don't trust her, but my gut feeling is that they are both lying. Her car has been limited to work only until she pays off the money she owes us from stealing. My husband allowed her to take the car to the beach the other day. I have begged him to also listen to the program, and he is always too busy, and basically doesn't care. I feel this is one of the main reasons why we are in this situation, because there is no unity. I really want this problem solved!

I have tried family counseling, and my daughter has been diagnosed with depression, and has started taking lexapro. I was against this at first, but am willing to try to see if she really is unable to control her emotions. I have always had a close relationship with both daughters, and have done most of the things that you suggest, before I started this program.

My older daughter's plans of living away at college were taken away when she didn't get the cheerleading scholarship that she was hoping for. When that fell through, we agreed to a year of community college and living at home was best for her, until she pulled up her grades, and matured a little. (She was not self-reliant enough to live away without answering to someone ie. coach, and also a network of friends). Instead of maturing this year, she regressed and rebelled, blaming me for not allowing her to live away.

My husband lost his job, and I couldn't pay for her to live away without the scholarship. She was only 17, and not eligible for a loan without my cosigning. She still cannot get a loan until 21 without our cosigning. I told her that living away at school is not out of the question, but it is a privilege that needs to be earned. Please advise? Sorry so detailed.


Hi M.,

Re: My daughter was told no smoking. Is this something I can enforce?

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

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

If your daughter smokes on the property, follow through with the consequence.

Re: I have begged him to also listen to the program, and he is always too busy, and basically doesn't care.

A weaker plan supported by both parents is much better than a stronger plan supported by only one.


My Out-of-Control Teen

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