The devil only shows himself at home...

Mark, It's been a while since I updated you on our family. M is in intensive probation as you recall. He had his first court hearing yesterday. They couldn't bring up the fight or the driving past curfew since they did not have the completed paperwork from the prosecutor. He has started back to work, going to his counselor once a week, taking his ADHD rx (that I know of) is attending school every day (I am transporting to/from however) and he is maintaining all A's and B's with a C in psychology. Our home life, however is slower to come around. He is keeping himself very isolated in his room. He is either playing with his laptop, I-pod, etc. He will cook food for himself and leave a mess. Whenever he is asked to help out in the home, he either just says "no" or says "in a minute" and then never does it. The littlest thing will get him angry and then the F#*& come rapidly. They are aimed usually at me, and not just in conversation.

He misused his laptop the other day, I asked him to put it away, he didn't and the F bombs started, he threw his pillow at me (I believe he showed restraint here as his bedroom was recently painted and with new furniture), but I told him if the behaviour did not stop he would lose his laptop (we are blocking his Facebook page and he keeps trying to find a way around it, and was very mad that it was blocked again). He was out and about the next day, and I locked up his laptop. He immediately went for it (it was gone) and then starting trashing the house looking for it. He turned over my bed, upturned all the chairs, sofa, etc. He started throwing things out of my china cabinet, and when I warned him, he did show restraint and not break any dishes/glassware. I took my keys, told him to clean up his mess, and the 24hrs would start when it was clean. I left. When I got back, younger brother had put back all the furniture/bed but not the contents of china cabinets and some papers I had that were scattered. M was just laying on sofa. I calmly told him he had 5 minutes or I would take pictures and loss of computer would be 7 days. He chose to do nothing. Within a day or so, he was talking to me again, etc. and has NOT asked for computer. Husband however, told M "I would give you back your computer". He has not been backing me as he has done before. I feel he has given up. He gets angry, shows the anger, blows over the top, and then furiously back pedals. This is definitely not helping.

Last counseling visit, we parents were not called in (parents are usually included first or last 10-15minutes). Dad has only recently agreed to go with us, (it is VERY difficult) and the counselor did not call for us. Husband very upset, yelling, and probably will never go back. He says M is the one with the problem, not him, it is a total waste of time, etc, etc.

Mark, I realize that we probably won't see any REAL genuine improvement until M accepts responsibility for all of this, but how long before we see improvement in the home? His behaviour has been a real issue for almost 2 yrs now. Bosses at work, co-workers, teachers, etc. say he is polite etc. to them. The devil only shows himself at home. Counselor and PO say it will take time for him to "adjust". How long?

Also, husband and I truly believe M is just waiting until he is off probation and then he will go back to his old behaviors/old friends. He is 17 now and knows we don't have much "power" to control him anymore. We would like to ask the referee to keep him on probation until he is 18 if he continues to do well. Have you heard of anyone asking this before and how was it accepted?

I should mention that M doesn't talk to us. When we try to talk to him about anything other than superficial he gets angry and the F bombs start to fly. When do you think he will start to open up to us? Thanks, J.


Hi J.,

Re: How long before we see improvement in the home?

When significant improvement – at home or elsewhere - is not evidenced within a 3-month period, it is too often due to (you already know what I’m about to say – don’t you?) the parent(s) missing a few (or a lot) important pieces.

In the first week (when parents first join OPS), I simply want them to work only on the objectives outlined in Session #1 assignments – nothing more. The goal of week #1 is to re-establish the broken bond between child and parent. We, as parents, must build a bridge back to our kids FIRST – then, and only then will they accept discipline from us. Thus, concentrate on re-establishing trust and developing a renewed commitment to the parent-child relationship by reviewing Session #1 objectives and implementing Session #1 assignments again. There’s no shame in going back to the blackboard now-and-again.

The most common mistake I see time and time again is as follows:

The parent, out of a sense of desperation, (a) prints out a hard copy of the eBook, (b) skims through it in one sitting, (c) can’t find a magic bullet, and (d) says to herself – or to me – that she’s tried all this before and it doesn’t work. These parents will never, ever see success because they hop from one strategy to the next without giving any one strategy enough time to be effective. Please do not make this error. Be patient with the process, and you, too, will experience success with this program – sooner than later.

Bear in mind that the goals of this program are to (a) foster the development of self-reliance in the child and (b) provide intensity (e.g., attention, interest, energy) ONLY when the child is behaving according to expectations.

Below is a checklist for you:

If parents do not implement most of these assignments, it is often the "kiss of failure."

For example, the transmission in your car has hundreds of parts, but if just one little tiny part is not working -- the whole transmission does not work. The same is true with this "parent program." Omit just one strategy, and the whole plan runs the risk of failing.

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

2.Do you use "The Art of Saying - and Sticking With - No" whenever your answer is no?

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

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

5.Do you give him at least one chore each day?

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

7.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 son, 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!

8.Is he EARNING ALL of his stuff and freedom?

9.Have you listened to ALL the audio in the Online Version of the eBook?

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

11.Are you and your husband united and bonded on most issues (remember: a weaker plan supported by both of you is much better than a stronger plan supported by only one)?

12.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 -- you can't be expected to remember everything! But 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.

Re: Have you heard of anyone asking this before and how was it accepted?

Yes. Probation Officers usually want to get kids off their caseloads as quickly as possible. Thus, I doubt that anyone will want to work with your son any longer than absolutely necessary.

Re: When we try to talk to him about anything other than superficial he gets angry and the F bombs start to fly. When do you think he will start to open up to us?

You have bigger fish to fry than “talking.” Put this one in the “pick your battles carefully” file. Having said that, he’ll open up to you after he’s been out in the real world – on his own – for a while. Some time AWAY FROM home will be a huge change-factor. Are you preparing him for “the launch?”

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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