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Parent Employs "Half-Measures" in the Discipline Department

Mark, My husband and I have been taking your online course and it has been very helpful. Our son is about to turn 18 and has all but dropped out of school. We feel that our next step should be to give him a few choices: either he goes to school regularly or gets a job by the time he turns 18 or he’ll have to move into our garage. If he moves into the garage, we won’t support him in any way except to provide food and a garage couch for him to sleep on. He won’t be allowed in the house except to use the bathroom. If we actually kick him out of the house now, I’m sure he’ll just get into more trouble. I know eventually it may come that, but the garage is my last step before kicking out. Does this make good sense to you? Do you have any other recommendations? Thanks so much for your input. K.


Hi K.,

Please don’t get upset with me, but I think the garage idea is a poor one and borders on ridiculous. Keeping him in the garage is a classic example of employing “half-measures.” If he knows he can only come in the house to use the bathroom, he will simply “need” to use the bathroom about 15 times per hour.

First of all, be sure to read the recommendation re: poor school performance in the section of the eBook entitled “Read these Emails from Exasperated Parents” [session #4 - online version].

Second, you cannot legally kick him out of the house now – so forget that one.

Third, you’re right that you need to give him a few choices. They should go like this:

He can (1) attend school regularly, or (2) drop out of school and get a GED – and work full time, or (3) continue to do nothing (or very little).

In any case, the day after his 18th birthday, he will need to either (1) begin enrolling in a college or trade school, in which case he can continue to live at home (in the house – not the garage), or (2) find full time employment and live in his own apartment or elsewhere (there’s no need for him to continue living in the “nest” if he’s making his own money).

Now K__ …if you have a sick feeling in your gut right now, then you clearly have a lot of work to do yet in the “tough love” department.

You should prepare him - now - for his launch from the nest and into adulthood. Do you really want an adult child living in your garage for the next 10 to 15 years? I didn't think so.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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

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