Message to Mom and Dad: Drop the Curfew After College

Emily is dreading going home for the summer after her first year in college. It’s not that she doesn’t want to be with her family, it’s that she doesn’t want to give up the independence and freedom she had while at college. Specifically, she doesn’t want to go back to having to always check in with her parents when she goes out with her friends and she DOES NOT want to have to be home at midnight! Seriously, Mom and Dad, listen up! Once your child enters that young-adult-zone, and they have had a taste of getting to set their own rules, there’s no going back. But, you are still the parents, so you may be wanting or needing a new guide-map for parenting, one that allows your college age child to thrive and grow toward independent adulthood. Having an adult child move back home for a period of time poses unique challenges. Word is that 75 percent of college graduates move back home for various reasons: they run out of money, they can’t find a job, maybe they flunked out of college or got into legal or financial trouble. Sometimes they move back home with a child, or romantic partner in tow. Whatever the reasons, now is the time to re-evaluate the family rules. As adults living in your home, it might help to reframe your notion of them not as your children but more as roommates. They need to pull their own weight and take responsibility for themselves. You wouldn’t do a roommates laundry or pick up after them. You wouldn’t let a roommate lie around the house all day then not help pay the rent. You wouldn’t put gas in their car or pay their cell phone bill. This is not to say that your children who

Read more

Parenting the Child You Want to Give Up On

Karen is ready to give up on parenting her 14-year-old. She feels like she has tried everything with this defiant child. It’s easier to just let him do his thing and count the days until he’s 18 years old and no longer her responsibility. The yelling and disrespect she gets in her home is destroying her peace and her mental and physical health. She’s had it with his lying and disobedience. She’s tired of trying to get him to do his homework and get to school on time. He’s a brilliant kid, but his grade card says otherwise. She’s tried disciplining him by taking away his things and privileges but he doesn’t seem to care. Karen, who is a single mom, even sent him off to stay with the relatives for a while. In short order, they literally “dumped” him back on her doorstep saying that they too give up. What’s a parent to do? Whether or not Karen’s son is diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), the principles of managing a child with this type of behavioral problem can benefit any parent who, like Karen, feels like giving up. Oppositional Defiant Disorder, as described by Janet Lehman, MSW, in her article “4 Ways to Manage Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children”, is a childhood disorder that affects from 6-10% of children. It is characterized by a negative set of behaviors in a child directed toward the adults in their life.  As Ms. Lehman writes, the diagnosis of ODD is given by mental health professionals to describe a set of behaviors a child is exhibiting that include: Often loses temper Argues with adults and authority figures Refuses to comply with adult requests Blames others for his mistakes Deliberately annoys people Is easily annoyed by others Is angry/resentful and spiteful/vindictive Kids with

Read more

Forgiveness for Abusive Parents

When is it wise to forgive abusive parents for their past neglect and abuse?  When is it wise to mend these painful relationships from our past?  When is it not?  These are the questions adult children who are the products of an abusive, neglectful childhood have to examine.  These questions are made even more important when you have to decide whether or not your parents, the grandparents to your own children, are safe to leave the children alone with.  Daunting questions and decisions, to be sure. When is forgiveness not an option, or poses a greater challenge? Their past abusive behaviors were severely violent Their abusive behaviors are evident today Their abusive behaviors are not a thing of the past They do not admit how their past behavior was damaging and hurtful to you They tell you their abuse of you, the innocent child, was all your fault…I HATE this excuse!! They do not accept ownership of how they mistreated you They apologize, but it seems insincere Their apologies carry with them big fat excuses for why they treated you like they did They pretend it never happened They tell you you’re just making it all up They tell you you’re exaggerating how bad it was They haven’t worked hard to heal their own inner demons that caused them to react in abusive, neglectful ways Do dysfunctional parents change with time? My research tells me that, unless they admit that they were abusive and spend focused time working toward personal change, sadly, they do not.  Their negative ways of relating to their adult children don’t change.  It also carries over to how they interact with their grandchildren.  Even though some of their volatile, dysfunctional behaviors settle down and mellow with age, if your dysfunctional parents haven’t done the hard work

Read more

Baby Bree Taken from Parents over Medical Marijuana

Steve suffered from uncontrollable seizures, at their worst he documented having up to one hundred per year. He and his Doctors had tried every medication available with unsatisfactory results. The next step was either a risky surgical procedure with uncertain results or medical marijuana. Considering his options, marijuana was an obvious choice. To hear Steve talk about it, when his Doctor first recommended medical marijuana he laughed. That was, until he saw that his Doctor wasn’t laughing. Steve had tried marijuana back in high school but wasn’t a regular user today. He was a family man. He wasn’t looking to get high off marijuana, in fact, the chemical compound found in marijuana that worked to control his seizures was not the THC sought after by recreational users. His Doctor had him fill out the paperwork, then, with the support of his wife working in their makeshift home laboratory, Steve was able to extract the chemical compound that worked to provide relief from his seizures. Hallelujah! Marijuana worked where no other prescription medication had helped. Steve was so enthusiastic about his positive results that he began to speak publicly about his experience. Did his advocacy make him a target for authorities? Those authorities who didn’t agree with the medical marijuana laws in his state of Michigan? Steve shared his own ideas on how he and his wife came under the watchful eye of Child Protective Services and how it came to be that their six-month-old baby, Baby Bree, came to be taken away over allegations that she was at risk for exposure to marijuana. This is a story you need to hear. It’s a Father’s anguish over missing two months out of his baby daughter’s life for simply trying to legally medicate a serious medical condition. The attorneys were on his

Read more

Over Controlling Parents Irritate Adult Children

Once children grow up their parents let them live their own lives.  Or so one would think. Yet, there are many adult children who are fed up with their parents still trying to run their lives.  Amanda, my Life Coaching caller, tells us it’s important to do what you love regardless of what your parents and family are telling you to do. So, how do you know if your parents are too involved in your life and it’s time to confront them and ask for change? The hallmarks of over controlling parents are that they feel the need to micromanage everything in your life.  They push you toward the career path that they want versus allowing you to pursue your own dreams.  They critique, or should I say criticize, everything you do.  They have an opinion about whom you date, how you dress, what you eat, and what you do with your free time.  That was OK when you were 5, or even 15, but not when you’re 35! Lets not be too harsh on mom and dad.  In their minds they just want the best for you, but what the literature shows is that they are having trouble letting go.  Maybe they were the parents who not only attended your ball games, but practices too?  Over-controlling.  Or maybe they never allowed you to have your own opinions on things, or make your own mistakes in life?  Over-controlling.   Some feel that you are an extension of themselves and that they have a right to dictate everything about your life to the point that they treat you almost like you’re property?  Seriously over-controlling! The scariest over-controlling parents think that they are always “right” about how you should live your life. They know what’s best for you and you are neither to argue

Read more