HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Help for Single Moms Raising Defiant Teens

Raising adolescents is challenging, and naturally so. As they become increasingly autonomous, so too can they become somewhat more oppositional. However, dealing with adolescent defiance can be even more challenging for single mothers. The most difficult situation with defiance may be the following scenario: a single mom with a male adolescent - especially if she has more than one adolescent male and there aren’t any father-figures around!!!

Some single parent statistics show the prevalence and challenges of single parenting in America:
  • 23% of teens live with only a mother, 4% live with only a father, and 4% live with neither parent.
  • 3% live with unmarried parents.
  • About 40% of teenagers are born to unmarried mothers.
  • Black teenagers are the most likely to be raised by a single mother, followed by Hispanic, then white teenagers.
  • Teenagers living with only one parent have financial and educational disadvantages compared to teenagers with both parents, especially if their parent is the mother and if she did not finish high school.
  • Slightly more than 1 in 4 teenagers in America is being raised by a single mother.

Parents may be single due to separation, divorce, or death, or they may have never been married. Also, some parents may have a partner who is not able to help with parenting due to a disability or a job that takes them away from their family most of the time. Parents in different situations face different challenges, but in all of these cases, it is hard for both the mother and her teenagers to parent alone.

Having a single parent can be hard on teenagers, who often wish they could have more of their parents' attention and may have emotional issues to work through. Though every situation is unique, here are some tips that may help a single mom with a defiant teen:

1. Be aware of signs of aggression, drug or alcohol abuse, gang affiliation, depression or suicidal thoughts in your adolescent. Talk to him about concerning behavior, and seek counseling if you are still concerned. Many communities have free or low-cost counseling for those who do not have insurance that covers the costs.

2. Be patient with your adolescent when you are starting to date again or getting remarried. This can be a difficult process, and it may take time for her to adjust to it. Keep talking to her about her feelings.

3. Do as much as you can to be supportive of your adolescent’s positive activities (e.g., sports or music). You may not be able to be there for every game or performance, but go when you can, and talk to him about his interests to show that you care.

4. Don't be afraid to seek outside support. Support groups like Online Parent Support can help single parents feel encouraged. Family and friends can also help, and being involved in community or church groups can relieve loneliness for single mothers and give adolescents positive role models.

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

5. Don't say negative things about the absent father. This may be very hard, but it's not good for teenagers to hear their mothers say bad things about their fathers, which may lead to feelings of anger and resentment. This doesn't mean the mother should “make up” good things, but they should refrain from saying bad things.

6. Emphasize the importance of education to your teenager. Get help if she is struggling in school.

7. Encourage your teenager to recognize and express his feelings. Younger teens especially may need help recognizing feelings (e.g., sadness, hurt, fear) that can come as a result of the loss of one parent. Even adolescents who grew up not knowing their other parent may at times feel a sense of loss over his absence. It's okay to get help from someone else to talk to your son or daughter, including a relative, clergy member, or professional therapist.

8. Have clear, consistent rules, and enforce the consequences when the rules are broken. It may be especially tempting for a single mom to "let things slide," but it’s very important for adolescents to have clear rules and consistent consequences.

9. If you work in the late afternoon and/or evening when your adolescent is out of school, make sure she has somewhere to go and positive activities to do. The time right after school is when adolescents are most likely to get into trouble, but if they are with a responsible relative or neighbor, or in an after school program, they are less likely to get into trouble. Summer programs are also available in many communities for times when the parent is working while school is not in session.

10. Let your adolescent ask questions and give him honest, age-appropriate answers. Be honest when you don't know an answer (there are some questions only the absent parent will be able to answer).

11. Tell your teenagers every day that you love them.

12. While you may be too busy working and trying to be both a mom AND a dad to spend as much time with your adolescent as you would like, make time for special activities together. Try to eat at least one meal together as a family every day, even if it's breakfast or a late dinner. Also, consider finding one time each week that you can set aside as family time to do fun activities together. Activities don't have to be expensive or elaborate to have a positive impression on your “defiant” teen.


 

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

Teens Who Ignore Curfews: Tips for Parents

“My 17-year-old son thinks that just because it’s Christmas break he can come and go as he pleases and stay out as late as he wants. Any thoughts on how I can get him to comply with his curfew (which is 11:30 P.M.)?”

Setting a curfew for an adolescent is one of those things that must be done carefully and enforced completely from the beginning. Being allowed to roam around with buddies is most definitely a privilege, and chances are if moms and dads aren’t remaining aware and informed at all times, their adolescent will get into some sort of trouble eventually.

Parents would do well to set early curfews in the beginning. Having younger teens come home around 9:00 P.M. ensures that they are given freedom, but are also expected to be home at a reasonable hour. This not only allows you to get your rest, but also allows them to display their trustworthiness.

As time progresses and your adolescent has adhered to curfews, you can begin to push it back by 30 minute increments. When you get to around midnight – it may be time to stop. No matter how old your son or daughter is, there really is no good reason to stay out past midnight. Most states have laws restricting adolescents to drive after a certain time unless they are coming to and from work, and most states do not allow adolescents to drive around with a car load of peers. If your youngster questions your curfew judgment, blame it on the law.

Most moms and dads feel pressured and cave-in to the complaining adolescent who asserts that all his buddies get to stay out later than him. Chances are the young people who can stay out are completely unsupervised, and those that are staying out later are not following their curfew. Don’t be afraid to ask other mothers and fathers what time their teens are supposed to be home in the evening, and always keep in the forefront of your mind that the longer your adolescent is allowed to stay out, the more trouble he can get into.

Adolescents are well equipped to know exactly how many beers they can have at a party and still make it home by curfew without their mom or dad noticing they have been experimenting with alcohol. Shorter curfews also ensures that your son or daughter can’t travel too far away from your home, town or neighborhood where he or she might be hanging out with groups of young people you don’t know very well.

As you begin setting a curfew for your adolescent, it is crucial that you enforce it. It’s absolutely necessary that some consequence be suffered for missing curfew - and even more important - that your adolescent knows the curfew is non-negotiable. Make adjustments for things like homecoming or proms – but nothing else. If your youngster is consistently late, ground her completely, or make her curfew so early that it isn’t worth leaving the house (although she still will).

The life of an adolescent gets more dangerous and tempting as time goes on. The young people that are allowed to stay out late are usually not the best influence, possibly have moms and dads who are out of town, and may be much older than your youngster (most adolescents don’t mention the 19-year-old boy who graduated last year, but still hangs out with them).

Although spying is not permissible in your teen’s eyes, YOU SHOULD DO IT ANYWAY! It’s your job to check up on your youngster to make sure he is telling you the truth, and so that you know for certain he is being responsible. Think back to when you were an adolescent. Remember? Don’t discount the fact that your adolescent will try the same tricks.

Another way to enforce curfew - and drive home the importance of it - is to ‘show up’ where your teen is if she is late coming home. Most adolescents would rather die than have their mother waltz into a party at 12:30 A.M, pulling them by the ear and taking them home. Do it once, and chances are your youngster will have incentive to abide by her curfew in the future.

If your youngster is going to be late due to an extenuating circumstance, make sure he calls. When he does, yelling, screaming or threatening on your part is not wise. Your adolescent needs to know that he can count on you and trust you to not overreact when he is trying to do the right thing. For example, there may come a time when your child’s buddy may get drunk and offer to drive him home. If you handle things right, your teenager will feel safe calling you for a ride instead. If something comes up that seems a reasonable excuse, make an allowance once – but don’t fall victim to constant issues. Remember the old phrase: “Fool me once – shame on you, but fool me twice – shame on me.”

Setting a curfew for adolescents is very important. The US Highway Safety Administration concludes that more adolescents are killed in car accidents after midnight than at any other time. Also, after midnight most establishments that cater to young people are closed. Insist that your teenager call you when she changes plans or moves locations, and if you don’t approve with what she is doing – require that she come home NOW! When adolescents begin to shift their plans and make excuses, your parental radar should be high – they are more than likely up to something. Even good teenagers, “straight A” students and athletes who have never given their mom or dad a problem are privy to peer pressure and ‘normal’ adolescent antics.

As a mother or father, the first responsibility is to keep teens safe and alive, and the only way you can do this is to remain vigilant and stay consistent in your rules, curfews and expectations – and back them up with enforcement.


 

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


COMMENT:

Mark – this describes my 17-year old son spot on.  In addition to not coming home on curfew (which used to be 12:00am) – he now pushes it to 2:30am – 3am – 3:30am.  That is not bad enough – when he does come home, he thinks it is his god given right to have a huge munch fest at that time of the morning (usually comes home “baked” and doesn’t even try to hide it anymore.  He is so inconsiderate – there is no talking to him about his behavior, his disrespect for myself, my husband, and my 20 year old son!  We all work and he totally disregards any calm or peace in our house anymore.   He has been in trouble with the law in the past and as a matter of fact, is back in the court system right now as my husband and I had to call the police on him back in April as he has gotten to the point of breaking things in our home.  He has stolen from us and has done damage to our home with his temper.  The case has been postponed twice already and I suspect the same will happen tomorrow.  His legal aid lawyer tells him not to worry, that nothing will come of this!!!  I cannot believe I am even speaking of my son this way – it sounds like I am describing a monster!!!  He has become the child that other parents do not want their children around!!!  How sad is that!!!  We have tried so hard to bring him up with good morals and values.  He is from a good home, with a loving family.  I have a large family, many of whom live in the same town that we do – as well as my husband’s family.  Both of his grandmothers live here in town.  Everyone is worried about him – except for him!  He thinks it’s ok to live his own life, he is 17 now and no longer needs rules or a curfew!!!!  What do we do or where do we go from here – life has become unbearable for us as a family …..

Teaching Children and Teens to Have Respect

We want our kids to develop respect for others. We want them to be honest, cooperative and responsible. The payoffs for encouraging a youngster to show respect are huge.

Below are some tips for promoting a respectful attitude in your child (some of these tips may seem obvious – others may not):

1. Respect for money: Giving your youngster an allowance is a good way to help him respect and understand the value of money. But you must decide how much the allowance will be, taking into account your resources, your youngster's age, and what expenses the allowance will cover (e.g., lunches, clothes, church donations, entertainment, etc.). An allowance can help your child learn how to save and use money wisely.

2. Respect for sacrifice: If a youngster sees her mom and dad making sacrifices (e.g., "We're buying a used car so that we can save more money for a trip to Disneyland"), she picks up the cues.

3. Respect for sportsmanship: If you accept a loss on the basketball court graciously, your youngster can learn that winning isn't everything.

4. Respect for the law: If you say "no" to drinking alcohol before heading out on the highway, your youngster takes note.

5. Respect for honesty: If you tell a sales clerk that he gave you change for a twenty-dollar bill and not a ten, your youngster sees honesty in action.

6. Respect for good will: If you volunteer at a soup kitchen, your youngster will be more likely to have compassion for others who are less fortunate.

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

7. Respect for differences: If your son senses that his mother and father appreciate people of all races, he is likely to become more open to peers of all races and backgrounds.

8. Respect for choice over chance: Many of the major threats to our kids today are not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice (e.g., drinking and driving, smoking, drugs, sex, dropping out of school, etc.). Research tells us that children and teens who engage in one risky behavior are more likely to participate in others, so moms and dads should help their kids understand the potential risks and consequences of their choices. Fortunately, most kids share the values of their moms and dads about the most important things. Your priorities, principles, and example of good behavior teaches your children to take the high road when other roads look tempting.

9. Respect for needs over wants: Of course, meet your youngster's “needs,” but also guide her to set them apart from her “wants.”

10. Respect for values: Talk to your kids about good values and why they matter. Just as kids need to be guided academically, so too must they be educated in the values of society (e.g., take responsibility for your decisions, love your neighbor, do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, tell the truth, respect others, respect their property, respect their opinions, and so on).

11. Respect for people over possessions: The way that you view money and material goods molds your youngster's attitudes. If you see your self-worth – and the worth of others – in terms of cars, homes, furniture, nice clothes and other possessions, your youngster is more likely to develop these attitudes as well.

12. Respect for marriage: When a youngster sees her mom and dad treating each other with respect, she is more likely to follow this example in dating and marriage.

13. Respect for life’s challenges: When you accept disappointments as a part of life, and when you pick yourself up and keep going through the tough times, your youngster stands a better chance of becoming a survivor.

14. Respect for humility: When you can laugh at your own mistakes, your youngster is more likely to accept her own imperfections.

15. Respect for work: When you stick with a tough job until it’s done, your youngster will be more inclined to finish homework and chores.

At some point in their parenting career, moms and dads find themselves disheartened and aggravated. (e.g., "I can't believe my daughter is so rude and disrespectful. Where did I go wrong?!") Generally, there is no reason to fall to pieces if your youngster behaves impolitely from time to time – as long as she doesn't do it repeatedly. Disrespect needs to be recognized and dealt with. But you, as a parent, would do well to remember your own childhood – you turned-out OK. Your child will too.


 

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

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