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Teenage Son Admits to Smoking Pot


What steps should a parent take when her adolescent admits to smoking pot and openly states he will continue to do so because he sees nothing wrong with it?


On the positive side, despite the challenging nature of an adolescent saying he's going to do what he wants and you can't stop him, is the fact that he was open about what he is doing. That shows a level of trust and honesty that is important to recognize and communicate. "I don't like what you are saying but I am glad you are being honest with me." Despite the alleged defiance, it does provide an opportunity for discussion. (I say "alleged" because often when adolescents are openly defiant about substance use or sexual activity, they are really asking for some limits to be imposed.)

The first stage of responding by the parent involves trying to understand what your adolescent is actually experiencing and to try to engage him in a helpful dialogue. Hold back on your admonitions and threats. Instead, approach your youngster as the expert and ask for a greater understanding. For example, what is it like when you get high? Is it easy to get pot? How much does it cost these days? What different types of pot are out there now? I understand that the current weed is much stronger than what was around in my day. Is that true? Why do you like to get high... essentially, what are the benefits to you?

This last question opens up some important areas to explore. For some adolescents, it is purely a social activity, not unlike having a few beers with their friends when they are hanging out on a weekend night. (I'm not suggesting that's acceptable either; but it identifies it as the less risky recreational use.) It's also interesting who he is smoking with. Is it his usual friends (you may be surprised to learn that some of your adolescent's friends that you like and thought were positive influences use as much or more)? For him to answer that question you have to pledge confidentiality.

Sometimes it turns out that the kids he gets high with are not his regular buddies and it's important to know if he's beginning to be influenced by some other adolescents that may be more of a fringe group who don't appear to share the values you and your adolescent have discussed as important. If there is such a shift taking place that in itself becomes an important topic for exploration. Why is he distancing himself from his usual social group? Are they "not cool", perhaps because they don't get high? Or, has his old group moved beyond him in some way?

How much of the pot use is based on filling some personal need? One of the most frequent driving forces behind abuse of pot is when it is a form of self-medication. This is when adolescents who have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder use pot to calm their jitters or the depressed youngster uses pot to shut off negative thoughts and feelings. This group of users is more likely to smoke alone as well as with peers and that's an important distinction to make. If there is an underlying problem driving the use of pot, it is important to identify that and encourage getting help for that problem.

One good question to pose is "How would you know when it's not a good thing to do?" This is easily asked when your adolescent is quick to point out he is not a druggie like so and so who's always high. This part of the discussion will touch on how often he actually uses pot and under what circumstances. Most important it clarifies his ability to acknowledge that there are risks of abuse and can he tell the difference? For example is he aware that chronic users, defined as those who smoke daily for a month or more, typically will become depressed if they stop using?

Also is he aware of the ways in which pot negatively impacts users? For example, because it tends to create a sense of apathy (the "What, me worry?" syndrome), the negative effects of pot are often subtle and easy to miss. Research has shown that adolescents who use pot on some degree of a regular basis usually get their driver's license significantly later than non-users. This reflects the tendency to put things off and not care as much about things that are usually important. The adolescent that remains focused on his schoolwork, after school activities, and other interests, is clearly at less risk than the adolescent that starts letting things slip.

Please note that all of these points of discussion are not meant to be covered in a single conversation! Most adolescents would find that intolerable. Raise a few of the initial points, say you want to think about it, and would like to talk further. As always, part of the challenge is finding those occasional moments when your adolescent is actually in the mood to talk. Typically driving somewhere together is one of the best times, which also implies that often it is better to have only one parent involved in the conversation so it doesn't feel like a 2-on-1.

But once moms and dads have a better understanding of the reasons for use and the patterns of use, you should both express your displeasure in the following ways. First, it is illegal. Your adolescent needs to be reminded that he can be arrested and – yes – while not much happens to first time offenders, it’s still no fun to end up on probation and to have to do community service. In addition, employers now routinely drug test all applicants. Since traces of pot remain in the system for about a month and it is not as easy to hide as commonly thought, your adolescent may be very disappointed when he gets fired from his local, part-time job because of a positive drug screen. Moreover, as moms and dads, you do not want an illegal substance in your home nor do you want your adolescent or his friends smoking in your home. That needs to be a very clear, zero-tolerance rule.

It is important for you to express your disapproval of his use of pot in a calm, firm manner, without hysterics or unreasonable threats. You do not approve of this and will not condone it. You understand you cannot control his behavior, that if he chooses to smoke, you can't really stop him (more about exceptions to this later), but you will set some firm rules about this. For example, if you suspect he is breaking the rule by bringing pot into the house, he is to understand that his right to privacy in his room will be suspended, that periodic room searches will take place, and backpacks may also be searched.

Another issue is driving. If your adolescent has his license, the same rule about drinking and not driving apply to smoking pot and driving. The research is very clear that it delays reaction times and, therefore, increases the risk of accidents.

While there is potential for physiological addiction, and, of course, the major concern of moms and dads is that using pot will lead to using more serious drugs, the reality is that the vast majority of pot users do not go on to use heavy drugs. However, there is the significant potential for psychological addiction, based on the need to reduce stress and /or the need to fit in with peers. The key is looking for signs that use is turning into abuse; that your youngster's behavior or personality is changing in negative ways. If you begin to believe that your adolescent is developing a serious addiction, then you can take much stronger steps, including involving the police, requiring routine drug testing, and insisting upon individual and family counseling with a specialist in substance abuse.

Fortunately, most of the time, this is not the case. What you want to do in this situation is open up and maintain a line of communication that is based on accurate information about the risks involved and encourage your adolescent to make good decisions. In the end, it is that psychological capacity to be self-aware and make good decisions that is really much more important than whether or not your adolescent smokes pot for a period of his life.

What To Do When Teens Won't Get Up For School


I have been following the programme as best I can for the last 5 weeks and have seen great success. My relationship with my son Thomas has improved immeasurably and that is such an incredible blessing. That improvement has also allowed us to make great progress with the problem areas which we are facing –

• Disrespect and anger
• Hanging out with the wrong group
• Drug abuse
• Failing academically

I feel that the progress is quite fragile and I’m probably worried that it will go backwards. I don’t feel as strong as I did at the start and I don’t know how to get this confidence back. I feel him backing off my authority and not respecting me again. I think he is trying to assert his independence more, maybe because we have made so much progress. I’m just a bit confused. I think I need to focus on finding more things to praise and I have maybe dropped the ball in this area. He has only got until June to finish school and then he is planning to join the army, but that might take until Jan next year. This new focus is good because for the first time ever he is interested in doing something constructive and he is excited and happy about it.

He is going to school but it is such a struggle to get him up and out in the morning. We have not given him a key of the house because of trust issues and therefore he needs to be out before we leave for work. He continually gets up late and it seems he is getting later and later. Going to school creates structure for him and I am worried that he will drop out and we will be left with a 16 year old with no structure in his day. How do I get him up in the morning when I don’t think he cares whether he’s attending school or not? I’m thinking I should be taking away something that he wants until he sorts out the mornings, but I don’t know what. And maybe I’m scared of going through an angry confrontation.

The improvements are fantastic and I just want them to continue.



Hi L.,

Stop taking responsibility for getting your son out of bed on time. If you repeatedly bang on your son’s door to get him up, or you drag him out of bed, you are working harder to wake up your son than he is. You are substituting your extra energy and effort for your son’s.

If you think about it, why should your son get up on his own when you are willing to do it for him? If he knows he doesn’t really have to get up until mom threatens to bring the ice water, why should he get up at the first ring of the alarm? Ten more minutes is ten more minutes, right?

In order to get your son to adhere to the morning routine, you need to give him the responsibility for getting up – as well as a consequence for not getting up (re: consequences - refer to session #3 in the online version of the eBook under the section entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid”).

Sit down with your son and have a discussion about getting up in the morning. You might say for example, “You and I have a hard time in the morning. I am no longer going to be responsible for getting you up on time. I will give you one wake up call, and then it’s up to you. If you miss the bus, I will not drive you to school. You will need to either find another way to get there, or you will need to call your teachers to get your assignments.” (You’ll need to customize the consequences and expectations to your own family situation. If you do have to drive them to school because they overslept, maybe the consequence is that they have to do an hour of chores to make up for the time you lost.)

The important thing to realize is that as long as you take responsibility for getting your son out of bed, he will let you do it. It may take a few days for him to get the hint, but once you stop working so hard, he will realize he has to change his behavior, or face certain consequences.

A natural consequence for oversleeping and being late to school is making up any schoolwork that was missed. You might also check with your school to see what the policy is for repeated tardiness or missed classes. Don’t protect your son from these consequences by making sure he makes that bus on time. In order to create less dramatic mornings, you have to let your son experience the consequences of not getting himself up and out the door.

Remember, teenagers are fighting against a physiological drive that tells them to sleep later than many school start times. In order to change their behavior, they need a plan, not just wishful thinking. If your son has a hard time getting up, have him come up with a list of things he will do to help himself get out of bed on time. Changing to an earlier bedtime may help. Putting the alarm clock across the room, instead of next to the bed, may also help. Have your son pack his school lunch, pick out their clothes and organize his backpack the night before so that he doesn’t have to do it in the morning. Remember to put the responsibility for getting up in the morning on him.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Daughter "Waging War" Against Mother's Fiancé

I believe my daughter (who will turn 15 on March 20th) has ODD. Defiant is a word that has always described her, however, she and I have always dealt well together - until this past year. My fiancé moved in last March, and in May, she went to school drunk. So drunk in fact, that she was taken away by the police to the children's hospital for evaluation. She has continued to drink on weekends and every month or so, something occurs. It might be her being brought home by the police, or us calling the police to help as she is violent and acts possessed when she drinks. 

She did spend a week in the mental unit at the children's hospital. She is waging a war to get my fiancé to move out and the two of them are engaging in a war. He employs some pretty consistent methods, and we usually agree, but she has wrecked and stolen some of his things, called him everything under the sun, written notes and put them all over the house telling him to move name it. Now he has no trust for her, nor do they like each other at all. They do not speak a word to each other, be in the same room or car with each other.

I feel that my choice is a very hard one. She is the only thing we really have any conflict over, but I am willing and prepared to say goodbye to what could have been my future with him if it will help her. The thing is, I don't want her to shove him out of the house and know she's got that power. I think he feels helpless and powerless and it makes him angrier.

I am trying to follow your eBook, and some of these things I was already doing, but we have a very major issue not addressed that I really don't know what to do about.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Hi J,

This is a tough one. From your daughter’s point of view, she has everything to lose if you have a boyfriend. She’s been the center of your life and your attention for her whole little life. Why would she want that to change? She’s not mature enough to be sympathetic to your needs. She’s terrified that if you love someone else, there will be less love for her.

My best advice to you is to go very slow. Unless you have been seeing this man for at least 6 months and are pretty sure the relationship is going somewhere, it’s not wise to push her into having a relationship with him. It’s confusing to children to have people move in and out of their lives. It also frightens many children. They wonder, “If you can fall in and out of love with men, can you fall out of love with me?”

There are really two sides to this dilemma. One argument would be as follows:

1. If it comes down to picking between a relationship with your daughter or the boyfriend, lose the boyfriend. Your #1 concern is your child. You can wait to date for another 3 years. You do not need a boyfriend, you need to be a mother to your child.

Another equally valid argument would be:

2. She needs to learn that you, her mother, also have a life – and a need for relationship with a significant other. Don’t cave in to her manipulation or send the message that “if you just act-up enough, you can control what mom says and does.”

Since she is now 15, I think you can have a frank discussion with her about your feelings about your fiancé. You can go on to tell her that your current partner and you are in love and plan to be married someday. And because you are in love, you will continue to see one another. 

Ask her if she thinks she's ready to get over it and accept your fiancé. If she indicates she can't get over it or accept him, then tell her you will be setting up an appointment for a therapist. If she says she's not going, tell her she will be going. 

When it's time for the appointment, you just tell her she is going - period. She may say she's not going to talk at the therapist's office. But that's okay. That's the therapist's problem. (Quite honestly, it sounds like she needs some counseling anyway, maybe in the form of drug and alcohol treatment.)

Mark Hutten, M.A.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Older Brother Picks On Younger Sibs

We have a 15 1/2 year old son who is defiant… possibly even ODD, although we've not gotten any diagnosis (even though we have seen two different therapists). Just to let you know, he is a straight "A" 10th grade student, in all Honors and AP Classes, who this school year alone, has received 3 "Student of the Month" Awards. We have been implementing your program and I definitely see some very positive results. There is one area where I am really not sure how to respond/act when he does this particular behavior: he will purposely touch/or say something to annoy/bother one of his three brothers, and then he will deny that he just did it, even when I am right there and actually see it. What should I do or say when this happens? He is very bothered when I address this and does not like to have to answer any questions regarding this issue. Do I impose a consequence for this behavior? How do I get him to admit what he has actually done? Because it really bothers his brothers, I cannot just ignore this behavior, it really affects his brothers negatively. I also am wondering, can a child like this actually turn on and off these behaviors at will?? When we did see the therapists, he absolutely refused to talk or admit that anything was wrong. The very few times he did say something, he was very rude and even hateful toward the therapists. If you could give me some advice on the few things I mentioned, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.


Moms and dads have been taught that they must be impartial when sibling-conflict issues arise… but this can be extremely difficult. It's inevitable that moms and dads will feel differently about kids who have different personalities with differing needs, dispositions, and place in the family.

While it may be common for brothers and sisters to fight, it's certainly not pleasant for anyone in the house. And a family can only tolerate a certain amount of conflict. So what should you do when the fighting starts?

Ever since we decided that sibling rivalry is normal, we've had a terrible time figuring out what to do about it. However, here are some do's and don'ts that may be helpful in dampening down sibling rivalry within a family:

• Don't dismiss or suppress your kid's resentment or angry feelings. Contrary to what many people think, anger is not something we should try to avoid at all costs. It's an entirely normal part of being human, and it's certainly normal for siblings to get furious with one another. They need the adults in their lives to assure them moms and dads get angry too, but have learned control - and the angry feelings do not give license to behave in cruel and dangerous ways. This is the time to sit down, acknowledge the anger ("I know you hate David right now but you cannot hit him with a stick") and talk it through.

• Don't make comparisons. ("I don't understand it. When Johnny was her age, he could already tie his shoes.") Each youngster feels he is unique and rightly so-he is unique, and he resents being evaluated only in relation to someone else. Instead of comparison, each youngster in the family should be given his own goals and levels of expectation that relate only to him.

• Don't put too much focus on figuring out which youngster is to blame. It takes two to fight — anyone who is involved is partly responsible.

• Even then, encourage them to resolve the crisis themselves. If you do step in, try to resolve problems with your kids, not for them.

• If you're concerned by the language used or name-calling, it's appropriate to "coach" kids through what they're feeling by using appropriate words. This is different from intervening or stepping in and separating the kids.

• Separate kids until they're calm. Sometimes it's best just to give them space for a little while and not immediately rehash the conflict. Otherwise, the fight can escalate again. If you want to make this a learning experience, wait until the emotions have died down.

• Try to avoid situations that promote guilt in siblings. First we must teach kids that feelings and actions are not synonymous. It may be normal, for example, to want to hit the baby on the head, but moms and dads must stop a youngster from doing it. The guilt that follows doing something mean is a lot worse than the guilt of merely feeling mean. So parental intervention must be quick and decisive.

• Try to set up a "win-win" situation so that each youngster gains something. When they both want the same toy, perhaps there's a game they could play together instead.

• When possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences. Sounds good but it can be terribly unfair in practice. Moms and dads have to judge when it is time to step in and mediate, especially in a contest of un-equals in terms of strength and eloquence (no fair hitting below the belt literally or figuratively). Some long-lasting grudges among grown siblings have resulted when their minority rights were not protected.

• Whenever possible, don't get involved. Step in only if there's a danger of physical harm. If you always intervene, you risk creating other problems. The kids may start expecting your help and wait for you to come to the rescue rather than learning to work out the problems on their own. There's also the risk that you — inadvertently — make it appear to one youngster that another is always being "protected," which could foster even more resentment. By the same token, rescued kids may feel that they can get away with more because they're always being "saved" by a parent.

Remember, as kids cope with disputes, they also learn important skills that will serve them for life — like how to value another person's perspective, how to compromise and negotiate, and how to control aggressive impulses.

"My Out of Control Teen" - Review

Discover Secrets of Mark Hutten About Regaining Control Over Strong Willed, Out of Control Teenagers

Mark Hutten has secrets about regaining control over strong-willed, out of control teens. And good thing, he has laid down all of his secrets in his My Out Of Control Teen ebook.

His secrets are basically just about regaining control over strong-willed, out of control teens. His secrets are about the techniques and approaches to use with strong-willed, out of control teens. The techniques and approaches are not like the conventional techniques and approaches that you most likely know and often do not work.

Strong-willed, out of control teens often lose their temper instantly, argue with adults, refuse to comply with rules and requests, blame others for own mistakes, and like to annoy others. And typically, they are resentful, vindictive and spiteful. It's really hard to deal with them. But good thing, because of the techniques and approaches Mark Hutten has in mind, there's a chance to regain control over these strong-willed, out of control teens and eventually turn them to better, controllable teens.

If you are a parent of a strong-willed, out of control teen, you must have something like a guide around. You must have something like My Out Of Control Teen ebook. You need something like a guide that will help you change your strong-willed, out of control teen.

Check out the ebook online today. It's at an affordable price. And the nicest thing, it comes with 100% "better-than-risk-free" money back guarantee. If ever you feel unsatisfied with it, you can have your money back but can still keep it for good.

You and I share common beliefs regarding the importance of informed and strategic parenting skills...

Thanks, Mark,

I am not a parent in the true sense of the word. I work with aboriginal children at a school run by the Bigstone Cree Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. One of my responsibilities is to provide support for parents and teachers who have children/students posing challenging behaviors. Therefore, the more knowledge I can gain and the more strategies we have available for parents and teachers, the better able we are to interact in helpful ways with our students. From watching the introductory video and reading through the preliminary pages, I can already see that you and I share common beliefs regarding the importance of informed and strategic parenting skills and it is very important that these carry over to teacher strategies at school. We’re doing fairly well with our kids at school but need to put a lot more energy into our work with parents. By the way, except for me, the grade 6 and grade 7 teachers, all the rest of the staff are Cree. Huge strides are happening at our school and I am privileged to be a part of it.

Thank you for providing these materials. I know already that they will be very valuable in guiding my work with our families.

Best regards,


Online Parent Support

What To Do When Your Child/Teen Physically Attacks You

Aggression or violence towards moms and dads (or other family members) by their kids or adolescents is more common than most people believe and it is something that is usually not talked about. It can involve abusive language, frightening, threatening or physically hurting a parent (pushing, shoving, kicking, throwing things), hurting pets, damaging furniture and property, or threatening with knives or weapons. Whether it is a one-off incident or ongoing, it must be dealt with.

Kids may be aggressive towards moms and dads for a number of reasons. None of the following reasons excuse violent or aggressive behavior, but they may help moms and dads understand why some kids, especially adolescents do it:
  • Drugs or alcohol, the loss of a job or a broken relationship can all be triggers that lead to violence.
  • They do not know of any other way to solve problems or get what they want (lashing out at someone or something is all they know).
  • They have grown up in a household where they have seen adults (sometimes moms and dads or partners) being angry, and using violence towards them or others (this behavior is seen as normal in their eyes).
  • They have not learned how to control or manage their feelings, especially angry ones and so just act out without using any self discipline.
  • They have not learned to value or respect other people or their property.
  • They may be going through a really difficult time and cannot cope with the stresses in their own lives.
  • They may have a disability and have not been able to learn other ways of behaving.
  • They may have an acute mental illness and be very frightened.
  • They may have used drugs that can trigger an acute psychosis and violent behavior.
  • They see the parent as weak and powerless (it is often the mother), or they think that this is how women can be treated.

Most moms and dads whose kids attack them in this way can feel very scared, very powerless, lonely, sometimes embarrassed, ashamed and guilty. They feel they have lost control in the home.

• Although taking a tough stand can be difficult it is very important to do. When a teenager is violent toward a parent, no matter how much she might excuse her behavior ("it was really mum's fault, she pushed me to it") she can never feel all right about it. If she is never made to stop, she will probably repeat the same pattern in other relationships or in the work place. It will continue to cause problems in her life and can even lead to problems with the law unless she is stopped and can learn other ways to deal with her anger.

• Be prepared to make some tough decisions, even though your confidence feels shattered.

• Decide on your 'bottom line'. You need to be very clear and carry out what you have said will happen when he has overstepped this line. This may mean your teenager leaves your home either by agreement or by using the police and/or a restraining order. You may find this very hard to do. Get support from someone who understands.

• If the behavior is out of character for your teenager and has started only recently, think about what else may have happened or changed lately. For example, has anyone new had contact with your family recently or have there been changes in the family or with his friends? Has anything happened in these relationships? Is your teenager depressed? See the topic 'Teenage depression'. Has your teenager been taking drugs?

• If your other kids are being harmed in any way by your teenager, you must do something to protect them.

• Look at the situation from your teenager's point of view, no matter how unreasonable it seems. Think about how your behavior (from his point of view) might be contributing to the situation (even if you don't think it could be).

• Notice what your teenager does well and talk to him about it. Adolescents especially do not need reminders of their failures.

• Remember that whatever has happened in your relationship with your teenager, there is no excuse for violence.

• Spend some time supporting what he likes doing if he will let you, eg watching him play sport or listening to his music.

• Taking a tough stand helps to force your youngster to face his violence - he then has the chance to learn other ways of dealing with anger.

• Think about what happens as a fight brews. What are the warning signs? When these signs are present, make sure you separate from each other (you may have to leave the house). If so, take your younger kids with you so they don't become the victims of violence. Talk about concerns only when you are both calm.

• Think about your favorite image of your teenager. Do you still think of her as she was when she was little? You may need to come to grips with the fact that she is no longer a youngster.

• Think what the fights are most often about. Work out what things you are not prepared to move your position on, what ones you are prepared to give way on and what you can leave for your teenager to sort out.

• You need to take some control in your home. You may not be able to change or stop your teenager's behavior, but you can take a stand for what you are prepared to put up with in your home. This is important especially if there are younger kids who may feel frightened and need your help to feel safe.

Violence towards moms and dads or other family members is unacceptable and is recognized by the police as a crime. It is very difficult to make the decision to call the police and possibly have your youngster charged, but you need to keep yourself and others safe.

• You are likely to feel guilt, anger, sadness and fear.

• You may feel that you are betraying your youngster and that this will put his or her future at risk.

Calling the police can help to calm the situation, support you to regain control and begin to rebuild a respectful relationship with your youngster.

What will happen? The police can help to calm an explosive situation or protect other family members. They will give advice and ask what action you want taken, if any.

What action can they take? If you would like the police to take further action the young person will be taken for a formal interview at the nearest police station. The police can the deal with the young person by:

• Arranging a family conference
• Issuing a formal caution
• Issuing an informal caution
• Proceeding through the Youth Court

If the offense is serious the young person can be arrested and taken into custody.
  • Kids under 10 years cannot be charged, but police can still be called for assistance and advice.
  • If the young person is between 10 and 18 years old, cases are handled within the Juvenile Justice system. The court will decide upon appropriate action if it determined that a crime has occurred. However this information will not be released when a criminal history is requested (eg by an employer).
  • If you do not want to take action, police keep the matter on file and it can be followed up at a later time.
  • Young people over 18 are considered adults and would be dealt with through the Magistrates Court. If convicted this would be recorded as part of a criminal history and will be released if a criminal history is requested. (An employer can only get a criminal history record if the person agrees to this, but not agreeing may affect employment opportunities).

Regardless of the future impact on your youngster it is important to take action to ensure the safety of yourself and other family members - you all have the right to feel safe.

  • Call the police is you or others in your family are at risk.
  • Deal with this problem... it won't go away.
  • Decide on your bottom line, make it known in advance, mean it and carry it out.
  • Find out what works for other people.
  • Look after your self esteem... you may feel you have lost it altogether or it needs repairing.
  • Speak to someone who understands this sort of behavior and who can support you.
  • Take some control.... for the sake of yourself, your teenager and your other kids.
  • You can love your youngster but you do not have to put up with all his behavior.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


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