Online Parent Support Chat

What do I do when my child just blatantly walks out the door?

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My 14 year old acts out by just walking out of the house, even if he is grounded. How can I enforce discipline if he just walks out? What do I do when my child just blatantly walks out the door?

My 14 yr old is on probation for battery and trespass...

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My 14 yr old is on probation for battery and trespass, his drug use is more my concern and those teens he choses to hang with. He failed his first drug screen at behaviour health, he dosn't seem to have a clue how serious this all is. He is failing at school and argues about everything. I am having some success with the e book and utilizing the juvenille justice system, but am really worried about him. Two of his best friends just got caught at school smoking pot and ran from home.

My granddaughter is before the juvenile courts next week...

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My granddaughter is before the juvenile courts next week for drunk and disorderly in public place and assaulting a policewoman. When I went to pick her up at the police station she was so drunk she could not stand up. I took her home that night but did not say much because of the state she was in. I just hugged her and made her warm and cosy in bed. But when I went out of the room she swallowed some pills and I took her to emergency at the hospital. She was hospitalised for two days but was fine to leave. I grounded her until her court case came up in a weeks time. The police said she was hanging out with much older boys who were really dangerous lot. Last night when she was at her mothers place she got out the bedroom window and went to a party. She walked all on her own into town found some friends and went to the party. When we found out we went out looking for her. We were just about to give up when we found two of her 14 yrs. old friend walking home from the party she was at. This was at 2 am. They both had alcohol on their breath. When we found my granddaughter she refused to come home at first but she was so drunk that it was easy to get her in the car. She threatened to kill herself that night. This morning we asked her step father to take her out for a few days out of town and she kicked holes in the wall. We have already taken her mobile and ipod. What else and were do we go now. We have tried a psychologist and counselling and she treats it like a big joke. She has always been a sweet lovely girl and is small for her age and dresses very provocatively. i feel she is in high risk category but am exhausted with trying to find a solution.

I am a single father with 2 teenage children...

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Hi I am a single father with 2 teenage children 10 years ago my marriage come to the point where it was a war zone I had had both of my children living with me at the time a little girl who is now 15 & a little boy who is now 13. Well my girl was a screamer and toss things and could not understand No well she went back to her mothers while i was living in the same town as my wife but the marriage got worse and I had to by choice leave the town I could not bare to be in the same town as my wife. Having my boy was great he is a slow school learner and can drive me up the wall a bit does not push me to breaking point. Well I made the choice to also have my little girl as she was a screamer I did not want to leave her with her mother that drank to much & had already had men friends I knew taking my little girl would be very hard but i did not thing it would be so hard almost impossible she had and still has learning impairment Well at 15 after many different course my girl is still not Listening to me 7 is trying to understand me still screams and toss & breaks things & does not like to hear the word No she also feels rejection & I feel blaming me for her feelings. With her mother she did not see her for some years as I went though unforgiveness but got over it and she as slow her drinking down and my girl now goes and sees her as just come back after spending a least 7 weeks with her. Due to my Anger I say she can go & live with her mother & other things so I feel I have been a bad parent as a good parent would not have allowed this to happen. What is the view of others on single fathers? Am I a bad parent or did I just not do a good job?

My daughter has returned after running away...

My daughter has returned after running away. Now she thinks she can live an adults life but at home. We have told her its not on. Her father wants to kick her out. She is 15. Her aunt in another state says we can give her a choice of out on the st or to go to her place for time out. She wont live by our rules and her father at this stage wont let her stay. What should i do?

My son who 17, left the house last night...

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My son who 17, left the house last night... mostly from me telling him too... ( the guilt is eating me alive). Do I get a hold of him to let him know ( if I can, he doesn't have a cell phone) that I do love him, but need the space from all the anger, and will always be here for him???

My daughter has become defiant...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue: My daughter has become defiant to rules of behavior especially talking back and disrespect to parents. Taking away privileges does not seem to help. What else can I do?

Can I keep her away from these friends?

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:  I'm just starting this program and my daughter is so out of control that I can't even have a normal conversation with her.  Whenever I try to talk, or discuss something, as soon as she hears something she does not like she tells me to shut up, she's not listening and talks over me or just says blah, blah blah.  How do I talk to her without getting this response.  Also, I can't stand her friends.  They are all like her, they have no direction in life and I know they do drugs which means she must also.  I have more but I think this is enough for now.  Question, can I keep her away from these friends?  I am at a loss.

Keeping my child on track with school...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue: keeping my child on track with school and trying to teach him to make good choices with friends and activities - at the moment he's on a downward spiral - in his 3rd school this year,in trouble at school all the time, refuses to do any schoolwork, is abusive etc etc Having said all this I've only just started Mark's programme, so I'm hoping his techniques will help me.

My sixteen year old got caught smoking cigarettes...

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My sixteen year old got caught smoking cigarettes and tried for 2 hours afterward to have me agree that he can smoke pot once in a while at parties so he doesnt feel guilty about it... agreed that smoking is bad but marajuana isnn't of course I did not give in but how crazy is that?

My 11 year old daughter is fine until I try to get her to work on her homework...

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My 11 year old daughter is fine until I try to get her to work on her homework, then she delays, refuses, resists, then eventually turns to beating and kicking me, when i invoke punishments for it, and i have to literally defend myself. Punishments and consequences don't mean much. There's little I can take away from her now that i haven't taken away already. what can I do? Let her continue to fail in school?


The First Law of Homework: Most children do not like to do homework.

Kids do not enjoy sitting and studying. At least, not after having spent a long school day comprised mostly of sitting and studying. So give up your desire to have them like it. Focus on getting them to do it.

The Second Law of Homework: You cannot make anyone do it.

You cannot make your child learn. You cannot make him hold a certain attitude. You cannot make him move his pencil.

While you cannot insist, you can assist. Concentrate on assisting by sending positive invitations. Invite and encourage your child using the ideas that follow.

The Third Law of Homework: It's their Problem.

Their pencils have to move. Their brains need to engage. Their bottoms need to be in the chair. It is their report cards that they bring home.

Too many parents see homework as the parent's problem. So they create ultimatums, scream and shout, threaten, bribe, scold, and withhold privileges. Have you noticed that most of these tactics do not work?

Our responsibility as parents is to provide our children with an opportunity to do homework. Our job is to provide structure, to create the system. The child's job is to use the system.

Tip # One

Eliminate the word homework from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word study. Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child saying, "I don't have any homework." Study time is about studying, even if you don't have any homework. It's amazing how much more homework kids have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.

Tip # Two

Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. Let your children have some input on when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. It may take several weeks for the routine to become a habit. Persist. By having a regular study time you are demonstrating that you value education.

Tip # Three.

Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their back pack of books and supplies, then beginning.

Tip # Four

Allow children to make choices about homework and related issues. They could choose to do study time before or after dinner. They could do it immediately after they get home or wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite them to choose the kitchen table or a spot in their own room. One choice children do not have is whether or not to study.

Tip # Five

Help without over-functioning. Only help if your child asks for it. Do not do problems or assignments for children.

When your child says, "I can't do it," suggest they act as if they can. Tell them to pretend like they know and see what happens. Then leave the immediate area and let them see if they can handle it from there. If they keep telling you they don't know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking than on telling.


"What do you get?"
"What parts do you understand?"
"Can you give me an example?"
"What do you think the answer is?"
"How could you find out?"

Tip # Six

If you want a behavior you have to teach a behavior. Disorganization is a problem for many school age children. If you want them to be organized you have to invest the time to help them learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach them the system. Their job is to use it. Yes, check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary.

If your child needs help with time management, teach them time management skills. Help them learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach them to create an agenda each time they sit down to study. Help them experience the value of getting the important things done first.

Tip # Seven

Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades and going on a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage children to develop a lifetime love of learning.

Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage.

"You followed the directions exactly and finished in 15 minutes."

"I notice you stayed up late last night working on your term paper. It probably wasn't easy saving that much to the end, but your efforts got it done."

"All your letters are right between the lines. I'll bet your teacher won't have any trouble reading this."

"I see you got the study table all organized and ready to go early. Looks like initiative and responsibility hooked together to me."

Tip # Eight

Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, or write thank you notes. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time children will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won't commit to it, don't expect that you children will.

Special Note: tonight when your child is studying, begin on your homework assignment, which follows. Reread this article. Decide which parts of it you want to implement. Determine when you will begin. Put it in writing. Then congratulate yourself for getting your homework done.

He seems to hate his 12 year old sister...

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My son is 14, always angry and always feels sick in the morning. I really can't tell anymore if he's faking it. He never wants to go to school. He seems to hate his 12 year old sister - cannot even be in the same room with her.

My 13 year old son refuses to go to school...

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I am new so I hope I do this correctly....

My 13 year old son refuses to go to school. When I went to the school for help they told my son that if he missed so many days (10) with no excuse they would send the SRO (policeman assigned to our middle school) to come get him. My son missed many more days than 10 and the school never followed through with anything. We do take away privledges but nothing we have done so far has any impact on him at all. Do we call the police? Do we charge him with an "undiciplined minor" through our court system? Do I just do nothing and let him take whatever consequences come his way (failing, etc.)? He doesn't do homework or study either and just has no interest in school. He just doesn't care at all (on the outside) and he starts school again tomorrow for his 8th grade year. I want to be able to do things consistently and I want to know what to do if he refuses to go. I can't physically force him at his age. Please help.

My son was suspended for pulling fire alarm at school...

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My son was suspended for pulling fire alarm at school in the main gym. He has 1:1, the alarm was pulled 3 times over multiple weeks, no adult ever saw him do it. Besides the aide, there is a gym teacher and assistant. There are 3 fire alarms in the open main gym. The class is small (20 kids). He is 12. A girl who is "a tattler" per my son said he did it the last time. The other times, no kids knew who did it. My son is high functioning autism, can't speak quickly, is 12/going through puberty. The gym teacher called him a brute and the assistant principal claims he "confessed". They sent the police to house and they grilled him for 1/2 hour. He was consistent and cooperative in telling what happened, where he was, that he didn't know who did it, that he did not do it himself. He ran away from the school at 3 p.m. just after the incident because he was afraid they would send him to juvenile hall. The assistant principal called me and screamed abuse that I was a horrible mother because I asked her to release him to walk home as per norm since it was time for school to let out and I was stuck on conference call where I was the host. My son showed up as I picked up keys to go to school to get him after breaking up the meeting early. The police showed up shortly thereafter. The claim was that I "happily laugh while spanking my son", which caused my son to snort and choke on glass of water while laughing, and that I'd "refused" to get him, which was not true. I merely said I couldn't come immediately.

The officers concluded that the school was clearly off in their judgment and suggested I put my son in private school as solution!

Seems to me my son has a right to an education without harassment and I have a right to raise my family without false accusations being thrown at me and in being treated in such a fashion by school personnel.

What can or should I do now? My son started to act out and actually held a chair over my head and restrained himself from hitting me with it after the incident even though I merely told him that it was best to not blame others if one did something wrong, it was best to just 'fess up, make amends and move on, and that I didn't know if he did it or not, it seemed a bit strange, but he should have stayed away from the fire alarms since he knew that it was a sore point with the school at that juncture anyway.

Suspension was for 3 days so obviously my contending it wouldn't accomplish much. He missed the last 3 days of school. He missed the school party because the aide told him she'd be there so he didn't want to go. She harasses him, but school refused to remove her.

Ideas on what to do now? Situation is broken, my son will get in trouble whether or not he is doing something wrong, it’s an unhealthy set of relationships that can't be good for his schooling.

I am a single, sole supporting Mom and I just finished winning a major legal battle with regional centers for him that maxed out my finances, my strength, so I need to move on in caring for my family and working, getting healthy again.

Appreciate tips. This is all beyond me.


We recommend that your child get an IEP. An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is an educational plan for your youngster. If your youngster receives special education services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that your youngster have an IEP!

If you are like many moms and dads, when you receive a telephone call or letter inviting you to an IEP meeting, you respond with anxiety. Few moms and dads look forward to attending IEP meetings. You may feel anxious, confused and inadequate at school meetings. What is your role? What do you have to offer? What should you do? Say? Not do?

Because they are not educators, most moms and dads don't understand that they have a unique role to play in the IEP process.

Moms and dads are the experts on their youngster.

Think about it. You spend hours every week in the company of your youngster. You make casual observations about your youngster in hundreds of different situations. You are emotionally connected to and attuned to your youngster. You notice small but important changes in your youngster's behavior and emotions that may be overlooked by others. You have very specialized knowledge about your youngster. This also helps to explain why your perspective about your youngster may be quite different from that of the educators who only observe your youngster in the school setting.

Why do moms and dads feel so anxious, inadequate and intimidated in school meetings? Most moms and dads seem to believe that because they are not "trained educators" -- and don't speak "education jargon" -- they have little of value to contribute to discussions about their youngster's education.

The "Parental Role"

Perhaps we can explain "parental role" more clearly if we change the facts to illustrate our point.

Think back to the last time your youngster was sick and you saw a doctor for medical treatment. You provided the doctor or nurse with information about the youngster's symptoms and general health. They asked you for your observations -- because you are more familiar with your youngster.

Good health care providers elicit this kind of information from moms and dads. They do not assume that unless moms and dads have medical training, they have little of value to offer! When health care professionals diagnose and treat kids, they gather information from different sources. Observations of the youngster are an important source of information. The doctor's own medical observations and lab tests are added to the information you provide from your own personal observations.

Do you need to be medically trained before you have any valid or important information to offer the doctor about your youngster's health? Of course not.

Decision-Making: Medical v. Educational

To diagnose a youngster's problem and develop a good treatment plan, doctors need more than subjective observations. Regardless of their skill and experience, in most cases doctors need objective information about the youngster. Information from diagnostic tests provides them with objective information. When medical specialists confront a problem, they gather information -- information from observations by themselves and others and from objective testing.

Special education decision-making is similar to medical decision-making. The principles are the same. Sound educational decision-making includes observations by people who know the youngster well and objective information from various tests and assessments.

In both medical and educational situations, a youngster is having problems that must be correctly identified. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is similar to a medical treatment plan. The IEP includes information about the youngster's present levels of performance on various tests and measures. The IEP also includes information about goals and objectives for the youngster, specifically how educational problems will be addressed. The IEP should also include ways for moms and dads and educators to measure the youngster's progress toward the goals and objectives.

Evaluating Progress

Now, think back to that last time your youngster was sick and needed medical attention. You left the doctor's office with some sort of plan -- and an appointment to return for a follow-up visit. When you returned for the follow-up visit, you were asked more questions about how your youngster was doing -- again, you were asked about your observations. This information helped the doctor decide whether or not your youngster was responding appropriately to treatment. If you advised that your youngster was not responding to the treatment and continued to have problems, then the doctor knew that more diagnostic work was needed and that the treatment plan may need to be changed.

Special education situations are similar to medical situations - except that these decisions are made by a group of people called the IEP Team or IEP Committee. As the parent, you are a member of the IEP team. Before the IEP Team can develop an appropriate plan (IEP) for your youngster, the youngster's problems must be accurately identified and described.

To make an accurate diagnosis, the IEP team will need to gather information from many sources. This information will include subjective observations of the youngster in various environments - including the home environment and the classroom. The information should also include objective testing. Objective testing needs to be done to measure the extent of the youngster's problems and provide benchmarks to measure progress or lack of progress over time.

If your youngster receives special education services, you know that a new educational plan or IEP must be developed for your youngster at least once a year. Why is this?

Kids grow and change rapidly. Their educational needs also change rapidly. In many cases, the IEP needs to be revised more often than once a year. Moms and dads and educators can ask for a meeting to revise the IEP more often than once a year -- and new IEPs can be developed as often as necessary.

The youngster's educational plan, i.e. the IEP, should always include information from objective testing and information provided by people --including the moms and dads and educators -- who observe the youngster frequently.


The IEP should accurately describe your youngster's learning problems and how these problems are going to be dealt with.

Present Levels of Educational Performance

One of the best and clearest ways to describe your youngster's unique problems is to include information from the evaluations. The IEP document should contain a statement of the youngster's present levels of educational performance. If your youngster has reading problems, the IEP should include reading subtest scores. If your youngster has problems in math calculation, the IEP should include the math calculation subtest scores. To help you understand what these scores mean, you should read our article '.

Goals and Objectives

The IEP should also include a statement of measurable annual goals, including benchmarks and short- term objectives. The goals and objectives should be related to your youngster's needs that result from the disability and should enable your youngster to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. The goals and objectives should meet other educational needs that result from your youngster's disability.

The IEP goals should focus on reducing or eliminating the youngster's problems. The short term objectives should provide you and the teacher with ways to measure educational progress. Are reading decoding skills being mastered? How do you know this? An IEP should include ways for you and the teacher to objectively measure your youngster's progress or lack of progress (regression) in the special education program.

In our work, we see many IEPs that are not appropriate. These IEPs do not include goals and objectives that are relevant to the youngster's educational problems. In one of our cases, the IEP for a dyslexic youngster with severe problems in reading and writing, included goals to improve his "higher level thinking skills," his "map reading skills" and his "assertiveness" -- but no goals to improve his reading and written language skills. This is a common problem -- IEP goals that sound good but don't address the youngster's real problems in reading, writing or arithmetic.

If you take your youngster to the doctor for a bad cough, you want the cough treated. You won't have much confidence in a doctor who ignores the cough -- and gives you a prescription for ulcer medicine!

Measuring Progress: Subjective Observations and Objective Testing

Let's return to our medical example. Your son John complained that his throat was sore. You see that his throat is red. His skin is hot to the touch. He is sleepy and lethargic. These are your observations.

Based on concerns raised by your subjective observations, you take John to the doctor. After the examination, the doctor will add subjective observations to yours. Objective testing will be done. When John's temperature is measured, it is 104. Preliminary lab work shows that John has an elevated white count. A strep test is positive. These objective tests suggest that John has an infection.

Based on information from subjective observations and objective tests, the doctor develops a treatment plan -- including a course of antibiotics. Later, you and John return -- and you share your ongoing observations with the doctor. John's temperature returned to normal a few days ago. His throat appears normal. These are your subjective observations.

Subjective observations provide valuable information -- but in many cases, they will not provide sufficient evidence that John's infection is gone. After John's doctor makes additional observations -- she may order additional objective testing. Why?

You cannot see disease-causing bacteria. To test for the presence of bacteria, you must do objective testing. Unless you get objective testing, you cannot know if John's infection has dissipated.

By the same token, you will not always know that your youngster is acquiring skills in reading, writing or arithmetic -- unless you get objective testing of these skills.

How will you know if the IEP plan is working? Should you rely on your subjective observations? The teacher's subjective observations? Or should you get additional information from objective testing?

Your Youngster is "Really Making Progress"

We have worked with hundreds of families who were assured that their youngster was "really making progress." Although the moms and dads did not see evidence of this "progress," they placed their trust in the educators. After their youngster was evaluated, these moms and dads were horrified to learn that their suspicions were correct -- and the professional educators were wrong.

In one of our cases, Jay, an eight year old boy with average intelligence, received special education services for two years -- through all of kindergarten and first grade. Jay's moms and dads felt that he was not learning how to read and write like other kids his age. The regular education and special education educators repeatedly assured the moms and dads that Jay was "really making progress." The principal also told the moms and dads that Jay was "really making progress."

After he completed first grade, the moms and dads had Jay tested by a private sector diagnostician. The results of the private testing? Jay's abilities were in the average to above average range. His skills in Reading and Written Language were at the early to mid-Kindergarten level. After two years of special education, Jay had not learned to read or write.

When educators tell you that your youngster is "making progress," that teacher is giving you an opinion based on subjective observations. As you just saw in Jay's case, opinions and subjective observations may not give you accurate information.

If you have questions or concerns about whether your youngster is really making progress, you need to get objective testing of the academic skills areas -- reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling. After you get the results of objective testing, you will know whether or not your youngster is really making progress toward the goals in the IEP.

The IEP: The "Centerpiece" of Special Education Law

The IEP has been called the "centerpiece" of the special education law. As you read through this article, you will learn more about the law -- and the rights that insure that all kids who need special education receive appropriate services. You will read about cases that have been decided around the country. Each of these cases is having an impact on the special education system today -- improving the quality of special education services for all handicapped kids -- including your youngster.

After you learn about the law, regulations and cases, you will know how to write an IEP. If the IEP is written properly, you will be able to measure your youngster's progress.

We said this earlier -- and it bears repeating. If you measure your youngster's progress -- using objective measures -- you will know whether your youngster is actually learning and benefiting from the program. If objective testing shows that your youngster is not learning and progressing as expected, then you know that the educational plan is not appropriate and your youngster is regressing.

If your youngster is not learning and making progress -- with this progress measured objectively -- then the IEP needs to be changed.

It will help you to read this article several times. You should also read our companion article: Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate. After you understand the information contained in both of these articles, you will be on your way to developing good quality IEPs for your youngster.

Online Parent Support

She physical attacks me...

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I need help with the following issue: I have my 13 year old daughter staying with relatives till I work out two legal issues being she physical attacks me. She doesn't like being there and keeps calling me and texting me to come home. What type of communication should I establish?

Our 14 year old keeps sneaking out in the middle of the night...

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Our 14 year old keeps sneaking out in the middle of the night. We've screwed the windows shut, called police. She says she sorry...but she can't be that sorry if she keeps doing it. What is the best way to handle this? We've told her it is a safety issue more than anything else.

17-year-old Daughter is Out-of-Control

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Our son does not listen at all...

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Our son does not listen at all and now he is basically doing anything he wants including staying in someone’s house spending a night or the weekend and not telling us where he is.

School has become unimportant to him, so far he fail his academic year and he seems not to care a bit. He is also smoking weed frequently and he allows his friends to come into the house and do it in the basement while we are away.

Our house has become their hang out station for everything they want to do, of course all these happen when we are not around.

We are desperately in need for some guidance, I (dad) am about to lose self control and start going crazy in which my next step will be to beat him up....this is the last thing I want to do but I do not see any other choice.

Please help!

Our son is 14 and is getting poor grades...

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Our son is 14 and is getting poor grades since the beginning of this year, is using marijuana and is openly defiant with us at home and with teachers at school. We are doing the assignments in session 1 but we know that his sister who is 2 years older (and not defiant) supports him when he speaks poorly of authority figures. What can we do?

13 year old daughter dates 17+ year olds...

My 13 year old daughter dates 17+ year olds. Any advise????


Hi Our 17 year old son has suddenly changed from a pretty good teen to a kid that fits the description of ODD in the space of 5 weeks. We had to take him go to a Youth Hostel because the school counsellor said his behaviour at home was too much to handle and was escalating (wanting to fight his Dad, calling us 'f'ing morons, telling me to shut up, not telling us where he was going, hanging up on us all the time - all out of character). He got really good attention and help from the staff there (how to iron, wash, do chores, still attend school etc). But our son rebelled against it and convinced his friend's parent (by lying) to get him out. He has been living with her and her son for 2 weeks and he's starting to not like her rules either and acting like the boss in her house now. He won't have any contact with us and we don't know what to do. I'm sure she is going to ask him to leave within days but he has no money so where will he go? He is still going to school but for how long I don't know. He has always been a willful child but was doing well in school and wanted to get a good job but now he has just 'lost it'. Don't understand how this happened. Do we try to contact him again (he always tells us to 'f' off though) and ask him to come home or do we let him 'hit rock bottom' so he appreciates what he had and wants to come back? Then maybe we could get some counselling. (I doubt he will admit he was wrong - it's always someone else's fault). Sorry to ramble but things are spiraling out of control.


All children are oppositional from time to time, particularly when tired, hungry, stressed or upset. They may argue, talk back, disobey, and defy parents, teachers, and other adults. Oppositional behavior is often a normal part of development for two to three year olds and early adolescents. However, openly uncooperative and hostile behavior becomes a serious concern when it is so frequent and consistent that it stands out when compared with other children of the same age and developmental level and when it affects the child’s social, family and academic life.

In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning. Symptoms of ODD may include:

* Frequent temper tantrums
* Excessive arguing with adults
* Often questioning rules
* Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
* Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
* Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
* Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
* Frequent anger and resentment
* Mean and hateful talking when upset
* Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking

The symptoms are usually seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home or at school. One to sixteen percent of all school-age children and adolescents have ODD. The causes of ODD are unknown, but many parents report that their child with ODD was more rigid and demanding that the child’s siblings from an early age. Biological, psychological and social factors may have a role.

A child presenting with ODD symptoms should have a comprehensive evaluation. It is important to look for other disorders which may be present; such as, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder) and anxiety disorders. It may be difficult to improve the symptoms of ODD without treating the coexisting disorder. Some children with ODD may go on to develop conduct disorder.

Treatment of ODD may include: Parent Management Training Programs to help parents and others manage the child’s behavior. Individual Psychotherapy to develop more effective anger management. Family Psychotherapy to improve communication and mutual understanding. Cognitive Problem-Solving Skills Training and Therapies to assist with problem solving and decrease negativity. Social Skills Training to increase flexibility and improve social skills and frustration tolerance with peers.

Medication may be helpful in controlling some of the more distressing symptoms of ODD as well as the symptoms related to coexistent conditions such as ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders.

A child with ODD can be very difficult for parents. These parents need support and understanding. Parents can help their child with ODD in the following ways:

* Always build on the positives, give the child praise and positive reinforcement when he shows flexibility or cooperation.
* Take a time-out or break if you are about to make the conflict with your child worse, not better. This is good modeling for your child. Support your child if he decides to take a time-out to prevent overreacting.
* Pick your battles. Since the child with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles, prioritize the things you want your child to do. If you give your child a time-out in his room for misbehavior, don’t add time for arguing. Say “your time will start when you go to your room.”
* Set up reasonable, age appropriate limits with consequences that can be enforced consistently.
* Maintain interests other than your child with ODD, so that managing your child doesn’t take all your time and energy. Try to work with and obtain support from the other adults (teachers, coaches, and spouse) dealing with your child.
* Manage your own stress with healthy life choices such as exercise and relaxation. Use respite care and other breaks as needed

Many children with ODD will respond to the positive parenting techniques. Parents may ask their pediatrician or family physician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or qualified mental health professional who can diagnose and treat ODD and any coexisting psychiatric condition.

My Out-of-Control Child

I am so mentally exhausted from dealing with my teenage son and his friends...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

I am so mentally exhausted from dealing with my teenage son and his friends. While I am glad in a way that they hang out at our place, they tatally disrespect our space and my son will say "my bad" and say stuff like "we're teenagers, Mom" It takes 5 or 6 times of first asking, then yelling for him to clean up the dishes, etc. We've already said no one in the house unless one of us is home, but now the outside looks like we've become hillbillies!

12 YO has become increasingly defiant...

Parents Support One Another @ = We are pulling our son out of PS in the Fall and teaching him and my daughter from home. #1 because that is what God instructs us to do, #2 because our 12 YO has become increasingly defiant and his grades are falling fast. There is no drug/alcohol abuse, just a sense of the world revolving around him and lack of empathy for others. Lack of motivation and lack of desire to do antything if it doesn't concern him, his friends, girls and skating. (in that order). Just wondering if anyone out there has taken their child from a PS and had a good experience homeschooling. We have tried everything and view ourselves as reasonable parents with reasonable expectations. Thank you!

How long do I issue consequences at home?

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue: My son was suspended for 2 days from school. How long do I issue consequences at home? I have taken away video games and computer privileges (how long?) He also has physical work assigned for the second day of suspension. I am just not sure how long it is appropriate to with hold other privileges.

My teen has been stealing money from our wallets...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My teen has been stealing money from our wallets, we have to lock up our purses and wallets and its driving me crazy. I don't know what to do but scream and that's no way to handle it? HELP!

Insist on the father doing ongoing marijuana urine screens...?

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

Hi, I have just emailed mark about a complicated situation to do with Family Court and my children's father seeking nearly half custody of our son. Their father has had a 10 year drug and alcohol problem with escalating physical and emotional violence which has severely affected the children. I would like to know if it is the right thing to be insisting on the father doing ongoing marijuana urine screens and hair follicle alcohol testing as well as insisting on ongoing addiction programs and support? Also would you be able to tell me what you know about the testing and in particular the hair follicle alcohol tests?

My daughter is 15 and runs away overnight...

My daughter is 15 and runs away overnight without letting me know where she is going. I know she drinks alcohol husband yells at me for crying and then goes fishing... I am so alone... I am trying to have faith but I have no one to talk to you... I am feeling so isolated, lonely and depressed.

My Out-of-Control Teen

Does paying for activities such as Scouts and music lessons count as over-indulging?

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

I have just finished learning the material in Week One. Does paying for activities such as Scouts and music lessons count as over-indulging? I like my kids to do these things and there's no way they could earn enough to cover the cost with their allowance. They are aged 11 and 13.



I would say Scouts and music lessons fall more into the "education" category rather than the "fun and games" category. I don't think you should pay them for these things, but it's certainly o.k. for you to fund these activities.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

He's very strong and that scares me...

I have a 15 yr old son who is relatively calm and quiet. He's very strong and that scares me... when something makes him mad, he totally looses control... tonight I took his I pod away and he grabbed my arm and repeatedly punched me in the back. That happened after I heard my younger son screamnig because he threw him out of the room hurting him. I am very afraid of him now and he hasn't even apologized. My younger son is very frightened. My husband is on business and if I were to tell him, he'd react with violence, causing my son to become more violent. The police came and said they should arrest him but I felt he would be devastated and become very depressed if that happened and make things worse. I feel so helpless.

My Out-of-Control Teen

What do I do about disciplining the current problems?

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

I am just starting my first week of assignments on MOOCT. I understand I am just supposed to implement only this weeks assignment. What do I do about disciplining the current problems? i.e. lying, drinking, missed curfews?



Good question. Continue doing what you would ordinarily do - until instructed to do it differently.


He has a history of lying to us, stealing from us, verbally abusing us, and blaming us for all of his problems...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My son just returned home from college due to poor grades. He has a history of lying to us, stealing from us, verbally abusing us, and blaming us for all of his problems. I am so afraid of the peace in our home being destroyed once again...not fair to his brother or us. HELP!!

My twins are out of control!

Parents Support One Another @ =

My twins are out of control! Their doing everything from drugs to drinking to skipping class and leaving campus. I've just started this program and need feed-back to issue appropriate discipline right away as Im not to this section of the program yet. One is already grounded and yesterday she cut class and went shopping. It just goes on and on. I have found that it just goes from one to the other with twins. What one doesn't think of the other does. HELP!

We have a defiant 15 year old son...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

We have a defiant 15 year old son who will not admit when he has done something right in front of us. How do we approach him correctly and get him to admit that he has done that and how do we get him to stop doing his purposeful annoying/bothering to his younger brothers?

He went into a rage, slamming stuff, punching the wall, and cursing at me...

Parents Support One Another @ = I am starting week one, last night I talked with my 17 year old son. I told him that changes are coming, with that he went into a rage. I did say no to him in regards to playing his video games, since he did not do homework. I explained to him that he can play the same amount of time that he does his homework. Again, he went into a rage, slamming stuff, punching the wall, and cursing at me. He has so much anger… am I doing the right thing?

Son threatens to be truant...

Parents Support One Another @

I need help with the following issue:

My son requests to be awakened early for school, and every morning my wife and I will go to wake him, he becomes upset. When he finally gets up he wants to argue on why we did not get him up on time and threatens us with not wanting to go to school. It happened this morning and we just were yelling and arguing (i now know was wrong). It ended with me just saying get ready for school and I walked away. Shortly I went to check on him and he was getting ready and he became very angry and defensive that I went to check on him. Any advice on how I could have handled differently. This is a daily morning ritual with him.



Getting children up and ready for the day...whether it is for school, daycare, or even a sport or enrichment activity is a sure-fire stress builder and typical cause of morning madness. What can moms and dads do to start each day in a positive fashion? Here are seven ideas.

Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear and shoes, and even matching hair accessories should be laid out each night before bed. Children can play a role in choosing the outfit, but no changes are allowed once their head hits the pillow. And, then stick with it! The only exceptions should be an unknown tear or stain, or surprise change in the weather. This avoids missing socks, unmatched shirt and shoes, and keeps getting dressed a simple step in beginning the day vs. a looming battle.

Designate an area for all essentials that can eliminate the crazed morning syndrome when you're trying to leave. Shoes, backpacks, car keys, cell phones, purses, etc., should be placed in this area every day, always, so they are always in place and ready for action. Keep a cell phone charger in this area so your phone is charged for the day. Not having to hunt down keys or other last-minute essentials is a time and blood pressure saver, for sure!

If you've got more than one kid in the house, and especially if you have a large family, consider staggering wake up times for greater efficiency. Start with children who need assistance first, or the ones who are real sleepyheads who move at a snail's pace come mornings.

It's just not enough to get dressed and eat. How many times have children missed the bus because they couldn't find their homework sheet or didn't have their backpack put together? If you drive your children, then put their organized backpacks in the car the night before. Lunches should also be prepared just before bed and easily grabbed from the fridge ready-to-go. Jackets should be in a central location. The "snatch and go" theory really does work in the mornings.

One mom swears by weekly breakfast menus; other adheres to cereal and fruit. Yet another has her children eat the $1 breakfast at school each morning. Some day care centers offer breakfast for children; others allow moms and dads to bring in a morning meal. Breakfast is important--some experts argue that it is the most important meal of the day, so your children need a nutritious start each a.m. However, that start shouldn't put moms and dads in a work bind or make children late for school.

One way to make it easier for children to get up in the mornings is to create occasional "children get up...NOT" day on occasion as a reward. If it's a school holiday, lazy weekend opportunity, or just about any reason at all, moms and dads can make a special celebration out of the exception. The "not" day also serves to reinforce the lesson that normal mornings have a schedule and expectation; and that occasionally everyone gets a break from the routine.

Moms and dads really can help to determine whether their children become morning risers or morning whiners. If moms and dads moan and groan, are always frantic, grumpy and running late themselves, then how can they really expect anything more of their own children? Good advice is to get up earlier yourself, start that coffee or do 10 minutes of exercise, and then show that Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and really mean it when you greet your children with "Good Morning!"

Moms and dads unwittingly cause morning madness by not instilling that the routine is a family requirement and not an option. A non-negotiable routine must be established, and consequence discussed and determined (i.e. “If you don't get up on first call, your bedtime is 15 minutes earlier tonight”). It's the "wiggle room" that causes melt-downs and tantrums on the very morning moms and dads have a "must make" meeting.

Some moms and dads unwittingly set their children to fail with their morning routines by tackling on unexpected chores and duties, which causes whines and a mad rush to end up on time. Consider creating a checklist of what absolutely must be done each morning, and then forget the rest. If you want your child to make his bed every morning, then make that a requirement. However, cleaning the cat box can surely wait until a child gets home.

Why does a parent have to wake children up anyway? Except for very young kids, children can learn to awaken by an alarm clock and get themselves up without mom or dad hovering and yelling, "Are you up yet?" Let them decide what is the best time for the alarm to go off and get ready on time. If this means Erica doesn't get her hair braided or Sam doesn't get second helpings on cereal, encourage them to set their alarm 15 minutes earlier tomorrow. Cause and's a good lesson to learn!

We just want our daughter back...


I would like to ask a question about my teen. We were having some major issues that I talked to you about before. She was staying out for days at a time, skipping school, anger and defiance,etc. We finally felt we needed to get her an intervention and get her away from the situations here. We took her to a behavior treatment program where she could also take school work. She did great at the program and they said she was one of their leaders. We went for her mid-term and she was really good. She wanted to come home but knew she had to complete the program. She completed it and we picked her up and within hours, she was having her anger issues all over again. We hoped it was just anxiety. When we got home, she went out without permission two different times and as not pleasant to us as all. We didn't want to go down that road again as it was all very painful. We told her she had to have respect for us and our rules or she had to find a new place to live. She chose the latter and is living with her boyfriend at his aunt's place. They are both 16. She will not see any of the family which is exactly what she did before when she was seeing this same boy. They become so enclosed within themselves that can't seem to find a balance with friends and family, etc. We want her back home so bad but just don't know what to do from this point on. She doesn't want to come home as the aunt continues to let her live there. We just feel so saddened by everything and in hindsight, should not have given her a choice of leaving or staying as we should have known what she would do. We were told by the program where she was at that we could not allow her to come home and run the show again. We had to lay down the rules immediately. She didn't like the ruls and would just laugh at us when we even mentioned them. We had tried some of your program before but it wasn't of much use when she wasn't even home at all. We'd see her maybe 2 hours per week and not even to talk to her as she wouldn't speak with us. At this program she was at, she couldn't uncover where her anger is coming from. She is adopted so we wondered if that played into it at all.

We desperately need help in this situation! Any suggestions? We just want our daughter back.



I don't see much that you can do. You could text her and ask that she keep informing you that she's ok...the less you try to demand things or control the situation, the sooner you'll get her back. Promising (via text message), that she will not be punished when she comes back might help, but I would suggest that you not do that unless you mean it.

I agree with the above post. You can't make her come home. I also left home at 16, although I'm sure the circumstances are different. All you can do is let her know that you love her and want her to be safe, whether you leave a voice-mail or text her. Just in case she ignores you attempts at contacting her, though, I suggest calling her friends and/or their parents to relay the message to her. Even if she won't tell you where she is, ask her to at least let you know that she's safe, that she has a roof over her head and food to eat. If you don't hear from her, call the police back and tell them that you've lost contact. I know it ***** that the cops don't want to/can't do much. Did you two have a fight before she "took off"? Is there any indication as to why she left home? Feel free to PM me is you want to discuss that in private.

The biggest problem I think everyone is missing here is this... you as her mother are 100% responsible for EVERYTHING she does, it’s easy for the police to tell you there is nothing they can do as she is technically not missing, but you can guarantee they will be banging down your door if she breaks the law.. ughh .. anyway there is not much you can do at this point, hope to god I am never in this situation.

I know what you are feeling my 15 yr old son has done this repeatedly to me you worry and can't sleep...this will not be the last time. I found useful to try to be calm ( which is extremely difficult when you are so worried) but I throw back my at my son how he has made me feel such as you have hurt my feelings, you have disappointed me that you don't think of how I feel when I don't know where you are, how would you feel if you couldn't find me??? This is the only thing that works with my son.

What point is it that you feel she doesn’t understand? The fact is, that you may well -have- lost control of her. If she considers whatever she experienced while she was away to be proof that she can survive without you, then she won't see any reason to defer to you anymore. At her age it's normal to need to try and prove, both to herself and everyone around her, that she is independent, and doesn't need you. This is part of a differentiation process that begins around puberty, peaks around 15, and continues, albeit with progressively less contention, until she either moves out or starts feeling like an adult member of the household.

I have a 16 yr old daughter that has decided to not come home for the past 3 days. She has been going out with a guy that we thought was good for her who is almost 18. They have been together just over 2 months and claim total and undying love. Problem is she has been cutting classes, not going to school at all claiming a mental breakdown. She has a mental health counselor that I haven't seen much help from at all. She is fine around lots of other people. Goes to classes when she feels like and basically has blown off her first semester of grade 11. She used to be an honor roll, principals list student until grade 10 that is when things started to go wrong. She has already gone through the drug counseling issues. I am praying to the Lord for help, but wonder should we tell her to come and get her belongings, and kick her out or should we wait for her to possible come home. She texted me saying she wasn't sure when she was coming home, but her phone is dead now. There is a phone where she is staying. HELP. DO I JUST WAIT???

I have an out of control stepson aged 16 who goes out every night and sometimes doesn't come back for days and treats the house like a hotel never doing anything at all. When I confronted him recently and insisted he stayed in he beat me up. He doesn't go to school and just lies about all day watching TV or playing games with me. I have now reached the conclusion that it is better to let him work his way through this stage of development and he hope he becomes more mature.

When I ask my 16-year old son why he doesn't want to be home, he says it's because he's a teenager. He at least now has a job, since he drives and is costing us money in car insurance and gas (he'll now be paying some of.) He failed a class for the first semester, and that's bad. He used to be a straight A student until middle school, but at least B's and C's. Now all C's and failed the Spanish first semester. I do think he's doing some kind of drug, even though is says he quit. It has been very hard.

I think back to when I was 16. The only thing that I would listen to is myself. I knew it all and nothing anyone else would tell me was going to make any difference at all. My 16 year old decided she was going to start making the rules, therefore it's time for her to have her own place where she can apply these rules. These rules will not take place in my house, and I wish her nothing but the best. I will always be here for her, but I refuse to be lied to, walked on, and made out to be the bad guy. I hope she has a warm coat because it's cold outside.

I also have a 16 year old daughter, and she has disrespected me for the last time. On Tuesday she got caught in my house having sex with her so called boyfriend, of two months. Knowing my number one rule is no one in the house when I’m not there. When I confronted her she had no remorse and said that she did nothing wrong this is her house. I said no honey this was your home, not your house. I did kick her out. made sure she has roof and food on the table. Some of friends do not agree with my decision. But I believe that just because we are the grown ups/adults why should we take the disrespect from them? Yes they are only 16, but if you are old enough to do drugs have sex, then you should be old enough to realize that having sex in your mother’s house is a BIG NO-NO...

My Out-of-Control Teen

She told us she was not going to college...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My wife and I started this program with our daughter several weeks ago.  Last week she told us she was not going to college next year and was going to travel with two guys and couch surf around various parts of the country. 

We told her we didn't support it and that she had the following choices:
1.  Join a program like AmeriCorps for th year.
2.  Work PT and go to college PT locally.
3.  Go to school FT.

She refused all three and said she was going to do what she wanted.  We told her that if this was course she insisted on following, then when she turned 18 in two weeks, she needed to find another place to live.  We took back her keys to a third car we let her us, took back her laptop we gave her for college, took back her cell phone that we pay for.   She then said I'm leaving now and left the house and is staying with a friend of hers.   She gets good grades, doesn't drink or do drugs, but in the past year has become so defiant, radical (we think she's been brainwashed by this guy friend she wants to travel with) and disrespectful that we are at our wits end.    We love her dearly and only want to get a good start with her life, but she seems determined that she wants it to be difficult and dangerous.

Please help with any advice.

L & D.



Back in the old days, a kid could get by with a high school education; even dropouts fared well, usually following some sort of trade path or apprenticeship. Then, too, in those days, a handshake was as good as a signature on most contracts, such as home buying, and credit was extended based on personal references versus an arbitrary decision made by faceless credit bureaus.

Today, things have certainly changed. Many kids still drop out of high school; some obtain merely a GED and even those with diplomas have difficulty finding a job, let alone a career. The airwaves are filled with ads for second-class trade schools, promising certification in a number of fields in a matter of months. Part of the issue, too, is the sense of entitlement and instant gratification that permeates our culture.

The problem with many of these types of schools is the lack of support after graduation and the realities of the fine print, which most students don't bother to read - they see only that, in a few short months, they can be "certified" to do a job. It doesn't occur to them that many, many others are qualified and that some, even, have a much fuller, more well-rounded college education. This is their competition.

Adolescents being what they are, they don't listen overly well to older, wiser voices. They think they know what is best, and college may not be it. How does a parent cope with refusal to attend college? Well, there are several components to this question.

To begin, speak of college occasionally throughout your youngster's life - make it a given, understood that college follows high school, and treat it as a fact. Your youngster will attend college, period. This is a good strategy, especially if the comments increase as the youngster ages and are accompanied with offhand remarks about location, news, degree programs, interests, and so forth.

If you haven't done this, and even if you have and it doesn't seem to be working, all is not lost. Just remember that, even if your teen has college-age friends, they may still be pretty clueless about the ins and outs of college life and the opportunities available. Take some time to talk to them about their interests, and time to impart some basic information on these things, such as living in the dorms, class schedule and credits, extra-curriculars and of course, financial aid.

Suppose either or both strategies are successful; your youngster enrolls in college and starts classes. You may very likely never know how your youngster is doing, or whether or not he's even consistently attending class. US privacy laws today are so stringent that, most freshmen being eighteen years old and considered "adults", even a parent is unable to be informed about their academic progress or lack thereof - in spite of the moms and dads usually footing the tuition bill and providing other things like housing, food, and so forth.

If your youngster doesn't keep you up-to-date, enjoy your state of blissful ignorance as long as possible. At the end of the semester, you'll find out and you'll likely be disappointed or even angry that your youngster has "failed". Please keep in mind that it is your youngster who has failed, not you personally and not you as a parent.

Remember when your toddler first began to walk? You spread the news, basking in the knowledge that you, as a parent, must be doing it right! Then came temper tantrums, in public places, and you were mortified that everyone must think you were a horrible parent. Ah, the light begins to dawn - we are quick to take credit, slow to take blame. However, remember always this one important point: your youngster is an individual, not an extension of you. You can do everything "right" and still not have things turn out the way you want or expect.

Try to find out why your youngster failed: lack of preparation, academically or emotionally? Laziness? Inability to do the work? Depression or some other mental or emotional issue? Perhaps, just maybe, your youngster is not college material - he might not, really, be smart enough, or dedicated enough, or interested enough.

Again, this is no reflection on you, it's all on your youngster, the individual who must do the work - or not.

At this point, you have several choices. You could toss him out on his behind to make his own way in the world; you could insist he return to college; or you could sit down and work with him to help him determine the best choice for his future.

Many moms and dads are so disappointed and upset that they choose the first one. This may not be all bad, because some kids just can't be reasoned with or instructed at all - they need a taste of reality. Some moms and dads insist on enrolling their youngster in the next semester, willing to do anything to get them to attend college. Most are likely crushed at the resultant failure of yet another 4-5 classes.

The third choice is the best.

Swallow your disappointment, keep your anger in check at least around the youngster in question, and formulate a plan. It's probably best to do this with your partner, make sure you are both on the same page, do some research, and take notes. Present a plan, or several possibilities, to your teen and have an honest, open discussion.

Keep in mind how involved you wish to be in this decision. You may provide a financial start, room and board, help find information, or all of these things. Or maybe none of them. You may give your teen a time limit to decide where to begin, or you may leave it open-ended. The danger in this latter is that, unmotivated, your teen may end up being a fixture in your basement for several years. Some moms and dads are okay with this, most are not. The end-goal of raising a youngster is just that - raising - and once that's accomplished, the youngster becomes an adult and should be responsible for himself, completely.

Your job is to give him the skills and knowledge to do this, and by the time college rolls around, whether he attends or not, he should be in possession of these. If he isn't, if college isn't working out for him, help him with planning and fill in any gaps that you may have missed over the years - or that he may have ignored - and prepare to boost (not boot!) him out of the nest.

College isn't for everyone, or even for immediately after high school. Take a deep breath, realize your youngster is an individual, and help him prepare to take the plunge - regardless of his choices.


We all want what we feel is best for our children. However, sometimes our children disagree. Going to college or on to any further or higher education comes at a point in many adolescent's lives when they are already feeling overwhelmed by advice and assumptions. A refusal to go to college can be cause by several things, but in many cases is it an assertion of your adolescent's individuality.

It is easy as a parent to get carried away with what you think your adolescent wants or should do, based on your own aspirations and not theirs. If you never had the opportunity to further your own education, it is natural to want your offspring to achieve more academically than you were able. If you have been paying into a college fund or savings account since your child was small, and your child knows this, it may feel like a bitter blow when they announce they do not want to go to college. It feels like all the financial sacrifices you have made are being thrown back in your face. There are other ways of seeing their decision than simply a willful refusal.

The first thing to ask when your adolescent refuses to go to college is, why? Try to sit down with them and have a reasoned discussion, not to convince them that they are wrong, but to simply find out what their reasons are. It may be that they have certain fears about moving to a new city far from home, or a fear of not living up to your or their own expectations. It could also be that they do not really know what subjects they want to take, or that they are feeling study fatigue after spending a good portion of their lives already in formal education. Whatever reasons they give, as a parent you need to listen to them without trying to change their minds at that point. Make sure they know that you are taking on board everything they have said, and that after giving it all some thought, you will want to discuss what options they have at a later (but not too much later) date.

The very worst thing you can do is to tell your adolescent that they are going to college no matter what they say or do. This will cause your adolescent to put up all their defenses and even if they do end up going to college they will resent being there and are unlikely to perform to the best of their ability. Blackmail is also not a good approach to take. By telling your adolescent that they owe it to you to go because you have saved for years on their behalf for the fees will just add to the pressure that they already feel under.

Approaching the situation with a calm and rational outlook is not easy, but will pay dividends in the long run. After considering what your adolescent has told you in your initial discussion, try to find some answers to their fears. If it is the distance away from home that is bothering them, are there any similar courses they can take that are closer to home or that will not mean them having to move out? If they are worried about making new friends, you could suggest that they investigate social media networks to chat to others in a similar situation and perhaps make friends before they arrive on campus. You could also suggest a mini vacation as a family to one or other of their original preferred destinations, to explore the area and get a feel for the local culture.

Another approach is to ask your adolescent what they propose to do instead of college. This puts the ball back in their court, gives them a feeling of control and may even surprise you with their answer. It may be that they want to get a job: in uncertain economic times, this may be a noble yet unattainable goal. Compromise by suggesting they put in their college application for the following year, and spend the interval looking for work. If they land a good job then they can always withdraw their application, and if they are unable to find work then they have their college place to fall back on.

Taking a "gap year" as it is known in Europe is a very popular way for those leaving school to break up their studies. It gives them the opportunity to gain some paid work experience, or to just volunteer, before focusing on their studies once again. Many adolescents spend part or all of the year travelling and broadening their horizons that way. Whatever they choose to do, it will give them an edge when it comes to applying for jobs or postgraduate study in the future.

If your adolescent's fears centre on not being good enough to succeed at an academic course, perhaps they would be better suited to a more vocational course of study. It may be possible to secure them an apprenticeship position, whereby they study for just one or two days or evenings each week, while working in a practical trade during the day. This often suits adolescents who have shown as aptitude for mechanics, cookery, childcare or animal husbandry. Investigating the part-time and evening study options available in your local area may help them decide if this is the right path for them to take.

Whatever reason your adolescent gives for not wanting to go to college, it is not the end of the world. Many thousands of people return to study later on in life with good results, even though they did not want to continue their education at the end of their schooling. Making sure that your adolescent is happy and focused is more important to their success as adults than pushing them into a college experience that they do not feel ready for or engaged in.


"I'm sick of school! I'm not going to college and you can't force me to!"

Your adolescent is right, you know. At the age of eighteen he or she is legally an adult...old enough to sign a legal document, old enough to join the military and old enough to refuse to go to college.

He now has the right of self-determination, and no matter how you feel about the decision your young adult has made, it may seem that there is not much you can do about it.

You, as a parent, are probably feeling anger, disappointment, and frustration. This young person may have always earned good grades. You have envisioned a bright future for him. Now your teen seems determined to throw it all away.

He is rebellious, defiant and unflinching. There will be no college in his immediate future and that is that!

The atmosphere after discussions of this type is usually tense and heated. Follow-up negotiations are best left until a later time when tempers have cooled.

While you're preparing for Round Two, review your position. You also have the right of self -determination and you are in a much more favorable position. You have age, experience and resources on your side. In contrast, the teen has only youth, inexperience, lack of training or skills for making a living, and few resources at his disposal.

Your best option is to accept his decision graciously, while making clear that you do not think it is the wisest choice. Then you will present these conditions:

• He must do his own washing. Mom no longer provides laundry service.
• If the young person wishes to be treated as an adult, so be it. However, sitting around home watching TV is not an option for a responsible adult. If he wishes to live at home, he or she must get a job and start paying board. Check the local paper for fair rates for room and board in your area.
• Meals are served at specific times in your home. Anyone missing one mealtime must wait for the next one.
• No in-room guests are allowed after 11:00 P.M.
• No more use of the family car. There will no longer be chauffeur service by a parent. When the teen needs transportation, a taxi or public transport must be utilized while he saves up for a car of his own.
• You may share that you have money saved for college, and it will be used only for that purpose. If this youngster does not wish to take advantage of it, it will be put away for the use of the first grandchild, (or niece or nephew) who attends an institute of higher learning.

After that, all you have to is stick to your resolve. Chances are, your young rebel will be in college within a year. Contemporary life is not easy for an unskilled worker with only a high school diploma.

It will not be easy watching your teen struggle to survive under the strict conditions you have imposed. Many parents find applying tough love principles are just as challenging for them as for the adolescent.

It is important that you have remain resolute and unyielding. Just remind yourself that your youngster's future well-being depends on your steadfastness now.

Someday, when he is settled, with steady, profitable employment, and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, he will reward you with sincere and heartfelt thanks.

However, your ultimate reward will come when you watch him using the same tactics on his own adolescent.

I finally have had PEACE in my life...

Parents Support One Another @ = I have been using your program for about a month now, I am on chapter 3, and I have to tell you----THANK YOU!!!!! I finally have had PEACE in my life.  My children are doing their chores.  I have not argued with my teenager (15) during all this time. Life is good again, and I feel confident and supported. My husband and I were making mistakes without even knowing.  I'll keep you posted. So far ai good!!!

My son has dropped out of school...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My son has dropped out of school and does not want to go to Tafe or get a job, he is so busy socialising, he gets home most nights at 5am. He is sleeping most of the day and goes out all night, he is not interested in spending any time with us,he is mixing with kids I do not approve of, and  basically is doing as he pleases, if I start enforcing discipline he disappears for day's and I don't know where he is, It's really worrying me as to their activities all night. I feel helpless.


Any parent who has had a similar experience will remember their initial disbelief, anger and helplessness. Most will also recall shame and self blame and how difficult it was to tell anyone that their teen was a dropout.

I know. One of my kids made the decision to quit school three weeks before graduation. A classic bright underachiever, he had delayed doing necessary course assignments until it was too late to turn them in. His adolescent solution was to simply leave the system.

I don't know if he thought school officials would extend the deadline if he threatened to quit or whether he just wanted to avoid the embarrassment of not attending graduation. Or if he truly believed that school was "irrelevant to his life" as he had been saying for a long while.

What I do know is that my reaction to his demand for my signature on the withdrawal forms was intense.

At first, I simply didn't want to sign. I thought if I just said no to his request he would change his mind, attend summer school, and graduate in August. He made it clear he was leaving school whether the papers were signed or not.

Then I lectured him about the statistical fact that most kids who drop out do not continue their education. That they had significantly lower lifetime earnings -nearly 50 percent less than their non dropout peers. He said he knew and that would not be his future.

Next, I got angry and accused him of not following through on commitments, being lazy, and other negatives that I am not proud of. He listened quietly and asked me again to sign the forms.

At that point, I realized his decision was not about me and that he was entitled to learn his life lessons just as I had learned mine. I signed on the dotted line even though I felt awful. He thanked me and left to file the papers.

Two weeks later, he took the General Education Development (GED) test, passed it with flying colors, and received a state diploma at the same time as his friends. He has since gone on to obtain a wonderful managerial job and gift me with two delightful grandkids.

He is bright and witty, an excellent employee, a loyal husband and father, and a child that I am very proud of. He just did not fit into the standard academic lockstep. His learning style is creative and visual and he needs autonomy.

Actually, he is a lot like his father and mother.

The following are some insights that I wish others had shared with me during this difficult time. If you are dealing with a dropout situation, I hope that they are helpful.

Many moms and dads feel ashamed and isolated when their youngster drops out of school. It would be good for these adults to know that they are not alone.

National statistics indicate that over the last decade between 347,000 and 544,000 students in grades 10 through 12 left school each year without successfully completing a high school program.

In simpler terms, five of every 100 teens enrolled in high school in October 1999 left school before graduation. That is one out of every 20 students.

This makes for a lot of moms and dads from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds wondering why their youngster can't just stay in school and graduate like all the other kids they know.

I know it would have been helpful to me to be part of a support group for moms and dads of dropouts or moms and dads of adolescents who want to drop out. Perhaps it is time that such groups were started in schools and communities.

Although many adolescents drop out of high school, most do not drop out of life.

Whether they enroll in a GED program, go directly to college without a diploma, start their own business, or become productive artists, many are quite successful in careers that do not depend upon a traditional academic path.

Still others will later resume a traditional academic path and become doctors, lawyers, and teachers just as we had wished for them during their rebel years.

Just because your teen has taken an adult like step to drop out of school, it does not mean that he has the maturity to plan a happy and productive life. It does not mean that she does not still need parental guidance, consistent rules, and unconditional love and support.

To the contrary, left without the structure of a six hour school day, your youngster may need personal and professional help with time management, goal setting, and creating a positive identity. Just as you may need help releasing any disappointment and anger that you feel over the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies.

Counseling gave me a chance to look closely at my own expectations with regard to high school and how they differed from my child's.

I wanted him to graduate with high honors, get a full scholarship to a prestigious college, and become a successful artist. Those were three things that I had never done because I was a bright underachiever.

My child's often articulated expectation for high school was that it would help him "invent" or find his unique self. He knew that process wasn't happening in a classroom setting. Even the alternative school program he attended was designed to help kids stay in school.

Intuitively, he knew his identity had to first be defined by what he was not. And the passage of the years has proved him right.

Sometimes a dropout is also testing the relationship waters. The question of "will you still love me if I quit school" may be unconsciously directed at moms and dads, friends, and dating partners. It reflects a deeper question of "do you love me for what I do or for who I am?"

We as moms and dads get the unique opportunity to love our kids unconditionally during the dropout process and after. And we get to watch as they find their own solutions in life.

One of the lessons I learned from my child's dropout experience is how to be a detached cheerleader. I root for him finding and growing into his identity. If he asks for help, I respond. If not, I simply cheer in prayer and meditation.

There are many lessons learned in the high school years. My child, in dropping out of the system, taught me some very valuable ones.

I have called the police three times now...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

Last night my daughter who is 13 got angry because she couldn't get on the computer. I had taken away her privilege for being disrespectful. She continued to raise her voice. I detached and went about my business. She began throwing things and eventually was so out of control she smashed the front door window as I was leaving the house to go food shopping. This is her pattern. I have called the police three times now; she has gone to court and has to do community service but she seems unfazed. I feel unsafe, angry and hurt.

"He has poisoned our family..."

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

I have 2, 15 year old sons. My oldest son (by 20 mins) is great. He is kind and gentle and sweet. My other son is trying to stand out by being different. We have always supported the idea that the boys are special because of who they are and not because they are twins Unforunately my younger son has taken it to the point that I feel guilty being a good parent to my other son and his sister. He has poisoned our family. I have a "normal" healthy relationship with my two children and Z (younger son) can't handle it. I am trying to deal with my sons differently but Z will interfer to the point it ruins things and makes my older son uncomfortable. I have been to counselling and can difuse things usually, but I am tired of having my every waking thought being about how I will deal with my two good children around my disruptive son. Z has an issue with authority with me and is arrogant and rude. he has threatened my two other children and my daughter will lock herself in the bathroom for fear of her brother if my husband and I are not home. any thoughts would be appreciated.



While many children are lucky enough to become the best of friends with their siblings, it's common for brothers and sisters to fight. (It's also common for them to swing back and forth between adoring and detesting one other!)

Often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second youngster is born, and continues as the children grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As children reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly affect how they relate to one another.

It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your children fight with one another. A household that's full of conflict is stressful for everyone. Yet often it's hard to know how to stop the fighting, and or even whether you should get involved at all. But you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help your children get along.

Many different things can cause siblings to fight. Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into squabbles and bickering. But other factors also might influence how often children fight and how severe the fighting gets. These include:

• Special needs/sick children. Sometimes, a youngster's special needs due to illness or learning/emotional issues may require more parental time. Other children may pick up on this disparity and act out to get attention or out of fear of what's happening to the other youngster.

• Role models. The way that parents resolve problems and disagreements sets a strong example for children. So if you and your spouse work through conflicts in a way that's respectful, productive, and not aggressive, you increase the chances that your children will adopt those tactics when they run into problems with one another. If your children see you routinely shout, slam doors, and loudly argue when you have problems, they're likely to pick up those bad habits themselves.

• Individual temperaments. Your children' individual temperaments — including mood, disposition, and adaptability — and their unique personalities play a large role in how well they get along. For example, if one youngster is laid back and another is easily rattled, they may often get into it. Similarly, a youngster who is especially clingy and drawn to parents for comfort and love might be resented by siblings who see this and want the same amount of attention.

• Evolving needs. It's natural for children' changing needs, anxieties, and identities to affect how they relate to one another. For example, toddlers are naturally protective of their toys and belongings, and are learning to assert their will, which they'll do at every turn. So if a baby brother or sister picks up the toddler's toy, the older youngster may react aggressively. School-age children often have a strong concept of fairness and equality, so might not understand why siblings of other ages are treated differently or feel like one youngster gets preferential treatment. Teenagers, on the other hand, are developing a sense of individuality and independence, and might resent helping with household responsibilities, taking care of younger siblings, or even having to spend time together. All of these differences can influence the way children fight with one another.

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?

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 children 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 children may feel that they can get away with more because they're always being "saved" by a parent.

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

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

When getting involved, here are some steps to consider:

• 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.
• Separate children 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 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.

Remember, as children 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.

Simple things you can do every day to prevent fighting include:

• Be proactive in giving your children one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs. For example, if one likes to go outdoors, take a walk or go to the park. If another youngster likes to sit and read, make time for that too.
• Don't let children make you think that everything always has to be "fair" and "equal" — sometimes one kid needs more than the other.
• Have fun together as a family. Whether you're watching a movie, throwing a ball, or playing a board game, you're establishing a peaceful way for your children to spend time together and relate to each other. This can help ease tensions between them and also keeps you involved. Since parental attention is something many children fight over, fun family activities can help reduce conflict.
• If fights between your school-age children are frequent, hold weekly family meetings in which you repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. Consider establishing a program where the children earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling.
• If your children frequently squabble over the same things (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which youngster "owns" that item at what times during the week. (But if they keep fighting about it, take the "prize" away altogether.)
• Let them know that they are safe, important, and loved, and that their needs will be met.
• Make sure children have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.
• Recognize when children just need time apart from each other and the family dynamics. Try arranging separate play dates or activities for each kid occasionally. And when one youngster is on a play date, you can spend one-on-one time with another.
• Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. Tell the children that there's no cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, no door slamming. Solicit their input on the rules — as well as the consequences when they break them. This teaches children that they're responsible for their own actions, regardless of the situation or how provoked they felt, and discourages any attempts to negotiate regarding who was "right" or "wrong."
• Show and tell your children that, for you, love is not something that comes with limits.

Keep in mind that sometimes children fight to get a parent's attention. In that case, consider taking a time-out of your own. When you leave, the incentive for fighting is gone. Also, when your own fuse is getting short, consider handing the reins over to the other parent, whose patience may be greater at that moment.

In a small percentage of families, the conflict between brothers and sisters is so severe that it disrupts daily functioning, or particularly affects children emotionally or psychologically. In those cases, it's wise to get help from a mental health professional. Seek help for sibling conflict if it:

• creates a real danger of physical harm to any family member
• is damaging to the self-esteem or psychological well-being of any family member
• is so severe that it's leading to marital problems
• may be related to other significant concerns, such as depression

If you have questions about your children' fighting, talk with your doctor, who can help you determine whether your family might benefit from professional help and refer you to local mental health resources.