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"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Conclusion-Part V
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 31, 2009

The conclusion of our Five-part series: We continue with the last role-play from part IV.

The Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part I.

Approaches To Dealing With Teen Lying: Part II.

Guilting the Parent: Part III.

Doing Good Temporarily- Just to get privileges back- Part-IV

Teen: It’s like you’re giving me the bread, but you’re not giving me the peanut butter and jelly!
Me: I love it that you use analogies. You can really express yourself well. But look it- you find the peanut butter and Jelly yourself.
Teen: Where?
Me: Look inside.
Teen: When can I expect to have some of my privileges back?
Me: When we feel like we can start to trust you.
Teen: When is that and how can I get that trust?

Me: It would help if you took your recovery program seriously.
Teen: Then, if I start to go to meetings again, when can I expect to get back my privileges?
Me: When I feel like I can start trust you.
Teen: When is that?
Me: I don’t know but as long as I see you pushing like this, it makes me feel less and less like I can trust you.
Teen: What is that supposed to mean?
Me: Well, I don’t really think you feel any remorse for what you did.
Teen: I do. See, you just ALWAYS see the negative side of what I do. I could use more encouragement.
Me:Yes, I suppose you could use more support. You know, you could have killed someone through your drinking and driving…
Teen: I don't think so.
Me: ?So you think you can drive safe after drinking?

Teen: I wasn't that drunk, I could still drive.

Me: I'm glad you are telling the truth about how you feel about it. That's what I mean when I say you feel no remors. You don't think that what you did was that bad really.

Teen: [glaring again]

Me: Right now you could be in Jail for Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide. If that happened you wouldn't be pushing us to restore your privileges when we’re not ready. Also, [holding up hand in the universal stop traffic sign] I would hope that you had started going to meetings not just because that’s the way to get your privileges back, but because you realized that you could have killed someone over a relapse. But you see, that’s not what’s happening here is it?
Teen: If you don’t give me something to work for then I’m just going to give up and go back to doing whatever I can get away with. You’re kinda forcing me to do that; you know that don’t you?
Me: Thank you.
Teen: For what?
Me: You just helped me understand why I’m having so much trouble feeling the trust thing come back.
Teen: Why [glaring]?
Me: Cause if you are that ready to go back to getting away with whatever, then you aren’t feeling any remorse. You’re just feeling –angry, angry with us, like you’re really the victim here.
Teen: I didn’t say that. You’re putting words in my mouth.
Me: And if you’re that ready to return to your old ways, then I have no business putting trust in you.
Teen: [Glares.]
Me: I just wanted to thank you for being honest and I don’t mean that in a facetious way. You don’t feel any remorse or guilt for drinking, for violating your contract with us, or for putting others at risk over your drinking and driving. You’re just feeling angry and you just want your privileges back, cause let’s face it- you had it made! We trusted you. We trusted you to drive. We trusted you to make good use of a cell phone. We trusted you to only contact peers that were on your approved contact list. We recognized the good things you had done and we rewarded you for it. But things have changed; we don’t feel that now, not me, and from what your mother tells me, not her either. So, you deal with that the best way you can. You have lost our trust. Deal with it.
Teen: [glaring]

Analysis: When something like the above happens, the tension is so thick that everyone is uncomfortable. Everyone wants the situation resolved and as quickly as possible. But consider this. Your teen wants it resolved even more than you do. Or at least that should be the way it is. After all, you still have your car, your cell phone, etc. Now is the time to make the impact that you have wanted to make. Now is not the time to go soft, for by doing that we allow ourselves to be manipulated once again.

We all want to make an impact. How do we know that our message is being heard by our teen? Sometimes, we know that they hear us because they glare at us. They threaten us. They guilt us. They give us the silent treatment. They yell at us. They are angry at us. So they hear us. Finally, they hear us. That's a start.

A few days later, after this teen got caught by his mother with yet another shady suspicious deal, he called me to say this:

Teen: Listen; I just wanted you to know. I found my Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Me: You did?
Teen: Yes, I was so stupid.
Me: What do you mean?
Teen: Well, I had everything. I had the car, the phone, and my mother’s trust. Now I’ve been treating her like sh&t and I’m not getting anywhere. I know how to build trust back; I’ve got to be the best kid I can be, like I used to be. Well, I’m going to show her and you that I can do that again. I’m going to go to meetings again because I know that’s where I need to be. Eventually, you guys will see that I can be trusted, and I’ll wait till you're both ready. I just wanted you to know, that I get it now and I’m going to showing you both that I’m really changing.
Me: OK, well thanks for telling me that. I’m really glad to hear that you are seeing things this way.

Me: OK, we’ll be in touch- you just keep it up then. Oh and what about that therapist you said you can’t talk to, you know they guy you don’t like?

Teen: I’m going to give him a chance. I think it’s more me- not him. I was just trying to control things.

Me: OK, call me soon and let me know how that is going.

Teen: OK, later.

Analysis: Has he changed now or has he just finally just figured out what we want to hear? Time will tell. It’s important what he says, but it’s much more important to see if can follow-through with all this.

I know for many readers, this may bring up more questions than answers. Everything in an interaction can’t be recorded in a role-play and there are different sides to consider. But always give importance to your gut feelings. I started to feel better about this young man after that last interaction because I think if he has figured out what we want to him to say at least he is hearing our message. And it is important that he says these things without pushing for privileges back. Now let’s see if he can follow-though with anything. So far, this story is still continuing...

To summarize: we know that the biggest thing teens do to manipulate us is to lie. And yet, we often fail to point out to them the biggest consequence for lying: even when you are telling the truth we will probably not believe you.

When lies fail the teen is likely to revert to the second most effective way to manipulate us: make us feel guilty. They know us and they know us well. Therefore, they can make us feel the guilt like nobody else. When we allow ouselves to succumb to the guilt we allow ouselves to be manipulated.

When guilting us fails to achieve the desired effect, teens tend to revert to the third most effective way to manipulate us. They do good for a while so as to make us belive that they have changed. Of course, some teen really do change and we feel guilty when we don't restore privileges right away. Once again, we allow ourselves to be manipulated when we restore privilges back to soon especially if they are pushing us to do so. This becomes a double problem because when we give in to soon they also learn that by nagging and pushing us we will falter and restore the privileges back even though we really don't feel like we can trust them.

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Losing Your Teenager and Gaining an Adult - Part 1 of 6 Written by Lori (Reprinted from PSST blog 1-29-08)
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, January 29, 2009

I am a mother in a Middle-America, double income family that consists of my husband of 30 years, my daughter age 27 and my son age 21. I grew up in the inner city where I met my future husband in high school; we married after college and moved to the suburbs to start our family. This is the story of my son's drug addiction that started in his teenage years told in six parts.

I describe the events leading to my realization that I had lost my teenager to drugs and the steps I took to cope with that realization, get my son help, and rebuild my family with our new adult son in drug recovery. I am offering my story to help raise the awareness of the teen drug problem, to help destroy the stereotype of the drug addiction as being an inner city issue, and to share some of the lessons I have learned with the hope that they may benefit you and your family.

“So, when you think about your teenager or young adult drug addict, think for a second, how old is he? Of course, you know your child’s age. However, I am referring to that split-second between when you think of your child and when you remember his actual age. ."

Part One

If you have a teenager that has a problem with drugs, you are probably consumed with his drug addiction. In fact, you have probably been consumed with his addiction for years.

Most, if not all, of your energy and focus have been on your addicted teenager and his drug abuse. You and your family have not had much time to enjoy the typical things that teenagers do. In fact, you probably have no happy memories of the teen years of your drug-addicted child. And you have not had that typical parent / teenager relationship that you so much needed. You have not experienced being a parent of a typical teenager and you have not shared in all those events with your teenager that you just assumed would happen.

So, when you think about your teenager or young adult drug addict, think for a second, how old is he? Of course, you know your child’s age. However, I am referring to that split-second between when you think of your child and when you remember his actual age.

Let's do a little exercise. Sit back. Relax and take a deep breath. Now think about your child and try to force the image into slow motion. Now notice him for the first split-second.

What does he look like? And ... how old is he?

My son is 21 years old. That’s the reality. He is a recovering heroin addict and has spent time in behavior modification programs, drug rehabs, and halfway houses since he was 17 till he was 20 years old. He is a grown man now, living in Miami. He attends the University of Miami, does well in school, has his own apartment, has a job, and pays all of his own bills. And there is no sign of drug use. He doesn't do everything that he has been taught in recovery, but he does some of those things and is learning what recovery means to him. He is making some mistakes, none serious at this point, and he is building a new life for himself. He remains healthy, looks great, has a plan for his future, and we are very proud of him.

However, when I think of my son, for that split second before I remember that he is 21 years old, he is only 9 years old. There is a part of me that still sees him as a 9 year old little boy, and there is a piece of the mother deep inside of me that needs him to be 9 years old still. I don't know why it is 9 years old. I would think that logically it should be 13 years old, because that is when his drug use started. Or maybe 14 years old, because that was the last, and only, typical teenage event that he attended. That was when he went to homecoming during his freshman year in high school with his girlfriend from a neighboring school district. Or maybe 16 years old, because that was the last time he played varsity ice hockey. However, these events are plagued with the typical disasters that we all are familiar with and know is evitable with their drug use. So I guess it is understandable why I do not want to remember these moments. So for me, I picture my son as a 9 year-old.

I still need my son to be 9 years old, because I am still waiting for all those teenage things that have yet to happen. I am still waiting for a relationship with my teenage son. Helping him with high school projects, driving him to school because he missed the bus, talking about his friends, a girlfriend, seeing him at school events, helping him pick a suit for the prom, having those special moments with him when everyone else has gone to bed, hanging his senior pictures by his sister’s, talking to him about who to invite to his graduation party and watching him grow into a man. I picture myself spending time with him talking about life, talking about what he wants from life, spending weekends with him visiting universities, and watching him begin to realize his dreams. I am still waiting for those moments. And I continue to search my memory for these events, but they never happened. How can he be 21 years old?

And how can he be a man? He was just a little boy for his last family birthday party, at least the last one that I remember fondly … the last one that I remember easily. He was just a little boy for that birthday party. When I think of celebrating my son’s birthday, the picture that comes to my mind is that of my little boy blowing out the candles of his birthday cake on our back deck on the 4th of July. I have no easy memories of a birthday party with him as a teenager. In fact, I was often concerned about inviting the family for his birthday, because I was never sure he would be home. I never knew when his drug use would take him away from home, for a few hours or a few days. So, I stopped inviting the family. I have no good memories of my son’s birthdays during his teen years, and it is getting to the point that I will have no such memories at all. How can he be 21 years old? What happened to all those other birthday parties?

Certainly he cannot be attending college already! I have yet to attend his high school commencement! Our township just built a new Community Center, and we are planning to have his graduation party there. He plays on the High School ice-hockey team, so we will have many people to invite. I still need to plan for this party, determine the final invitee list, decide on the food, music, get the decorations together, order a cake, etc., etc, etc. There are so many things left to do.!

But wait! He has already graduated high school. He did so in placement. He was not home, and we were not there. There are no senior pictures; there were no graduation parties, and no friends to whom to say “congratulations.” Yet, my mind still waits for his commencement celebration. My mind still plans for his graduation party and my mind still waits to select his senior picture. I continue to slip back into these unfinished memories and a piece of me still expects them to happen.

To this day, years after he graduated high school, I still find it painful to attend an event at the Community Center. We should have been able to celebrate our son’s graduation, but he didn’t graduate from our school district. We should have been able to have the party I was planning, but he wasn’t home when he graduated. This just wasn’t supposed to be this way! And it still is physically painful when I remember how it truly was, and realize how it will never be.

And he certainly cannot be finished playing hockey! There are many games left, many play-off games left, and championship games yet to play. I have not seen his last game. That can’t be possible! And I have yet to attend his Senior Night at the High School hockey rink, because my son has yet to be a senior on the team. I haven't attended any of those planning meetings where all of us Moms plan a tribute to our seniors, when one of those seniors is my son. And where have these Moms been? I have missed them.

However, my son certainly is finished playing hockey and was so much too early. He has lost that special relationship that occurs when you are part of team, but I have lost that special relationship with all the mothers of the players. We were a special team too, and I miss that. I miss that ‘Mom’ time before the game, the excitement of watching our boys play as we all cheer together in the stands, spending weekends with the Moms as the team participates in tournaments, planning team dinners, working with all the parents for the team banquet, and many more countless events. There are many things that I have missed, many people that I still miss, and many memories that I still wait for. But these memories will never be.

My mind is full with so many memories that will never be; regardless of how much I try to force them to be, they still will never be.

End of Part 1 - Come back to read part two next week

A brief preview of next week...
“And at that moment I knew it was over. … The hockey player that lived in my son’s soul had died. And my son’s dreams died with him. And that realization began to rush over me leaving a hole in my life that will never be filled. “

Editors Note; With Lori's permission we are reprinting this six-part series that originally started on this blog on 1-29-08. If you are a parent who would like to tell your story please let us know.
(click here for part 2)

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Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part IV
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, January 26, 2009

Doing good temporarily (just to get privileges back.) This is the fourth of a five-part series. So far we’ve talked about the manipulative techniques of lying and guilting, and we gave examples of how to deal with it. This week we talk about the idea of Doing Good Temporarily (just to get privileges back.)

Part 4 Doing good temporarily (just to get privileges back.)

Here’s the problem in another way. If your teen starts to do the right thing you may feel that you owe them the return of his privileges. And you may feel guilty if you don’t comply with his expectations. Stop! You are feeling guilty again. And your teen is maneuvering for that effect. Remember, that is the Second Most Effective Way for Teens to Manipulate Parents. (See part-three of this series.)

You can reinforce your teen for doing the right thing without giving away the farm. Don’t feel that you have to restore all privileges all at once. Trust your instincts. Then, when your teen expects you to come up with a reason for not trusting him, when he has now cleaned out the basement or in some other way worked diligently to show how deserving he is, let him know that you are struggling with the trust thing. Let him know that you take responsibility for this but you just are Not Comfortable with returning his privileges yet.

Well now he may want to know just how long he has to keep doing good before he gets his privileges back. Tell him you don’t know. Tell him you are working on that. Tell him you will get back to him. But let him know that YOU REALLY APPRECIATE THE EFFORT HE IS MAKING. That’s the reinforcement.

Teen: I’ve done so good this week!
Parent: I know- I’m impressed and I’m very proud of you.
Teen: Then, why can’t I go out?
Parent: I’m NOT COMFORTABLE with that- sorry.
Teen: What do I have to do so that you feel comfortable?
Parent: Good question! Boy you know just how to go to the heart of the matter- I like that!
Teen: Well?
Parent: I might not have the answer that you want to hear.
Teen: Just tell me- quit beating around the bush.
Teen: OK, fair enough. I’m not comfortable with you going out right now- it’s a trust thing- the best thing you can do is just accept that I’m not feeling it yet. Don’t push me, OK?
Teen: That’s not fair.
Parent: You’re right. In many ways that is not fair.
Teen: Oh so this is the big pay-back?
Parent: Well, I didn’t think of it like that but now that you mentioned it- yeah I guess there is a certain amount of that going on- and I’m sure to you it feels like the big payback.
Teen: You’re messing with me.
Parent: Well, look, there are consequences for what we do and sometimes that feels like a big pay back. I’m Not Comfortable with you going out. I’m just not feeling guilty about that right now; if that's what you're trying to make me feel-do your worst.

Now at this point, his willingness to give you some time to work out the trust thing might be a good barometer as to how much changing he has done and also how much remorse he feels for what he has done. If he is really pushy, the barometer is pointing to “Not too much changing done.” If he is patient with you, continues to do the right thing, then the barometer might be pushing the other way.

the barometer is also pushing the wrong way if your Teen begins to make threatening statements, such as:

Teen: Well, if I do all this to show you that I’m changing, and you won’t give me anything back, then what am I doing all this for? I might as well go back to doing drugs if you aren’t going to give me anything when I do good.

Ok, this is not a good sign. If you restore any privileges to this teenager after he threatens you, then you have just taught your teen that threatening is a good way for him to get what he wants off of you. That is a dangerous lesson to teach and it will insure that he has the power in the future, not you.

Here’s an example of a teen that is grounded and not even allowed to go to 12-step meetings with his peers. His parents are responsible for all transportation to and from meetings. This followed a relapse. He also lost his cell phone that had (what seemed) to be a million texts in it, much of it of a suspicious nature. And finally, he lost the use of his car. Yes, he had earned a lot and he found out that after driving home in his car with alcohol on his breath, he lost it all. Considering that he might have killed someone drinking and driving, he got off light.

A month later he still has not had privileges restored. He has been restricted from going to meetings with friends because trust has run out. The following role-play involves the teen, me as his Probation Officer, and his therapist.

Teen: When can I start going to meetings with my friends?
Me: Not yet.
Teen: I thought this meeting was about restoring some of my privileges.
Me: Yes, I said that we would look at that today.
Teen: Well that was a lie.
Me: You think I lied to you and I should feel guilty about that?
Teen: Yeah, you said that if I did good that I would be able to start going to meetings with my friends.
Me: I did?
Teen: You said I couldn’t get that privilege back until this meeting.
Me: I guess I did say something about that, you’re right there!
Teen: So?
Me: Well, I have a problem with this, I’m sorry if you feel mislead.
Teen: What problem, I’ve done what I was supposed to do.
Me: I am having trouble trusting you.
Teen: Well, if you don’t give me a chance, how am I going to show you that you can trust me?
Me: Well I feel that I have given you a chance but I can see that you don’t think so- let me explain. Hold on. Have you been going to 12-step meetings?
Teen: Yeah.
Me: When is the last one you went to?
Teen: I don’t know. What is this all about?
Me: Well, I’m disappointed because your Mom told me that she offers to take you to meetings, and you have been refusing to go.
Teen: She doesn’t want to take me.
Me: That is not the way I hear it.
Teen: Well that’s the truth.
Me: Ok, well your In-home Family Therapist tells me that she has offered to take you to meetings too, but you have refused.
Teen: I don’t want to be “taken” to meetings; I want to go with my friends. Look, I’m ready to go back to meetings, I really am ready to start over, but you have to give me something back first, you know to make it worth my while.
Me: Well that’s a problem.
Teen: Why?
Me: I’m not feeling the trust. And I know from talking to your Mom that she is not feeling the trust either. You seem to just want to get out of the house, maybe to contact your friends that you were drinking with- I don’t know really, but I know this: I’m not comfortable restoring any of your privileges yet.
Teen: Then you shouldn’t say that you were going to.
Me: Ok, listen carefully ok? I [pause] said [pause] that [pause] we [pause] would [pause] look [pause] at [pause] restoring [pause] some [pause] of [pause] your [pause] privileges.
Teen: Well you shouldn’t have said it that way because I got my hopes up.
Me: OK, this is the Second Most Effective Way that Teens manipulate adults. Do you remember when we talked about that?
Teen: Sort of.
Me: Well, you are trying to make me feel guilty for how I am saying things to you- this is all starting to be about how to make me feel guilty, not about you doing what you are supposed to do be doing.
Teen: I just don’t feel that you are giving me anything to work towards, you know, you always point out how badly I’m doing, never telling me any good stuff. Do you even know that I’ve been cleaning the house for my mom? Do you even care? You know you could give me some encouragement, a pat on the back, something like that. That would be a better way to work with someone like me.
Me: OK, this is what I’m talking about. This is all becoming about me. About the way I say things, or about the way I don’t say the things you would like to hear. What you are doing is trying to make me feel guilty. I’m [pause] on [pause] to [pause] you. I see what you are doing. I don’t feel guilty. And I suggest that you start looking more at what you are doing, and what you are not doing, and stop spending so much time worrying about the way me or your mom are doing things. Just stop it. It’s not working anymore.

Silence (silence can be golden- this was one of those moments.)

[Due to the length of this last post, we have split it up into two parts. So, we have one more post coming soon on the Top Three Ways Teens manipulate parents. It will be the Fifth and final of the series]

The Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part I.
Approaches To Dealing With Teen Lying: Part II.
Guilting the Parent: Part III.

Conclusion: The Top Three Ways To Manipulate Part V

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No meeting this Saturday:
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's the Fifth Saturday in the month. We meet the First and Third and Eastern and the Second and Fourth at the Alliance Office.

Type rest of the post here

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Northhills PSST has seven parents: Body Language discussed.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 24, 2009

How do you give your teen the bottom line? Does it matter? Let your teen know you really mean it by using good strong body language. How you say it matters as much as what you say...

Keep these tips in mind when you have something important to say to your teen.

1. Stay calm. If you over react and start to yell and explode at your teenager then that does no good and that puts your teenager in a power place as he can easily point at your behavior as problematic. If you feel enraged, make sure you calm down before you approach him. Talk slow, lower your voice, and even take deep slow breaths. Do not allow anything he says to cause you to escalate your pitch and cause you to start yelling.

1. Good eye contact. He cannot take you seriously if you don't look him in the eye.

2. Use your hands to gesture. Use your hands but not in a threatening way. Shrug and extend your hands out in with open palms, not threatening, yet definitely not passive. It means you mean business.

3. Be the dominant speaker. Move closer to him. Even if it is only a half-inch, move towards him when you speak. This establishes territoriality, something that we understand on different level. It means you're the one in charge. You will feel the difference. If you are afraid that he will react and hurt you- then don't do this. On the other hand, if you are that afraid of him you may need to consider what's written on other posts. For example, read this. Usually, he will react in one of two ways to your assertive body language.

A. He will back up so that he is more comfortable with the distance. That's good. This symbolizes that he accepts your dominance. He may do this and at the same time say, "Get out of my fu$%^&g face. That is still good, just don't get out of his fu$%^&g face and you maintain your dominance. If you back up when he says that then you have admitted that he is dominant. That's not helpful unless you want him to be your boss. On the other hand, there is no need to keep moving in because now you have established that you are dominant.

B. He may not move backwards at all. He might stay right in your face. A Standoff. That's not as good but you can work with that. He is no doubt feeling uncomfortable but his instincts tell him that if he backs away he looses what he so desperately wants: control of your house. Keep eye contact and depending on how much of his space you took, move in a wee bit closer. If he maintains then this is going to be very uncomfortable but holding your position helps maintain your dominance. One good thing is that when you are that close to another person it is hard to yell, so if he was yelling at you before you moved in, chances are good that he has stopped that.

Restate you position while you hold the line. Use a calm voice and slowly keep repeating your position, e.g., "Never do drugs in the house. I will call the police if you ever use drugs in this house." Wait for some acknowledgment from him. When you are ready to break away from him end the conversation. Often it is good to say, "We'll talk about this later." Then walk away and make sure that you follow up with another conversation later. Note: avoid backing up first and then saying, "We'll talk about this later." Rather, maintain the closer distance and say, "We'll talk about his later,." and then retreat.

3. Look for humor. Humor can deflect the situation. Especially, when you are wrapping things up. Don't make less of the situation with humor but look for self-deprecating humor- teens love that. In other words, don't make fun of your teenager, make fun of yourself.

Father: You know me, I can take this job of being your Dad too seriously sometime. Duh! And I'm way concerned about a lot of stuff that you feel that I've no business doing, like where you go, and who you hang out with, right? Yeah, I know, nevertheless, never do drugs, don't hang out with anybody who does drugs, don't hold drugs for anyone, and don't bring anyone home ever who won't let me pee-test them!

Teen: What the, what are you talking about?

Father: OK, I was kidding on that last part [hopefully, someone laughs] but regardless, I'm not kidding about the other stuff. OK?

4. Hug you kid at the end of the exchange. If possible. He may not want that but try it anyway. It's more body language that says "I love you." Of course, if you feel that your teen is going to react violently if you try to hug him, then maybe not. Usually, you can sneak a hug in before he pushes your arms away. Even if he seems to feel worse because of the attempted hug, you may feel better for trying. Note: it's OK to let your teen push you out of a hug but if you're lucky to got a quick one in. By no means continue to force a hug on a teenager who is resisting.

Final Note: We are not trying to send the message that we are prepared to attack. We do not want violence. In fact, once we assume the assertive stance it frees us to say something to this effect: "You know, I really don't want to see anyone get hurt here," or "I don't want you to flip out or anything but, listen, I mean business here."

If he threatens you and says something like, "I'll f&*k you up," let him know that you do not want to be hurt. Try, "Oh I hope you don't do that to me," but maintain the closer distance when you say it. You see, having good assertive body language means that you now have the luxury of saying some nice things. Or you could say, "I really don't want to see either one of us get hurt and don't see any reason right now for the police to be called." When your body language is yelling, "I'm in charge," then it's OK to say nice things. A person will hear your body language first. Likewise, if your body language says, "I'm to scarred to get close to you," then your teen hears that first no matter how much tough-talk is going on.

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Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part III
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 23, 2009

Guilting the parent. This is the third of five parts:

Last week we talked about lying and gave several examples of how to deal with it. This week we talk about the manipulative techniques of guilting the parent.

It may be helpful to point out the ideas in this article or at least to point out the three most effective techniques that teens use to manipulate parents. After the teen admits to doing all three, you now have laid the groundwork for pointing out to them, by number, when they are doing this to you. For example, when you are confronting your teen about their behavior they may try to guilt you this way:

Teen: You know what bugs me about you?
Parent: What?
Teen: You only see the bad things I do; you never see the good things.
Parent: You know what I think?
Teen: What?
Parent: That sounds like the other day when we were talking about the Three Most Effective Ways That Teens Manipulate Parents, remember?
Teen: Yeah.
Parent: Remember, you said that you use all three sometimes?
Teen: Yeah.
Parent: Well, let me ask you, which one of the three do you think you might be using on me now?
Teen: None
Parent: Well, I feel like you are using one of them, can you guess which one I'm thinking of?
Teen: No.
Parent: The second most effective way. Do you remember what that was?
Teen: Guilt
Parent: Right! You remembered! That's great for me to hear that you really do pay attention and remember what we talked about. Yeah, you are so right! I feel like you are trying to guilt me into feeling bad that I never point out any of the good things you do! Right now I feel that way.
Teen: Well I'm not.
Parent: OK, well we have twenty dollars unaccounted for and I'm concerned about that so you are hearing some things you don't like today. But what about the day before yesterday when I told you how impressed I am that you started interviewing for a job? And how proud I told you I was when you brought that grade up in math? Remember? Yeah, today is not the day when you get to hear all about the good stuff, but I am impressed that you are not flipping out or anything when I question you about your money- that is good, now back to the money thing [and in this way you pointed out the manipulative tactic and brought the conversation right back to the real concern.]

In other word, pay attention to the fact that the teen is using guilt to manipulate you. Label it. Let them know it doesn’t change the price of tea in china!

At some point, we begin to trust; however, this happens only with the passing of some time and with us beginning to see that our teen is turning the corner. Remember, the third most effective technique for teens to manipulate is doing the right thing temporarily, so that one can get privileges back. Then back to business as usual. In fact, often you can see teens start with the lie, move to guilting, and when neither works, claim to be turning over a new leaf. Of course, number three is much better than numbers one and two so long as we parents realize that this might just be temporary. Let’s don’t jump to the conclusion right away that they have made significant changes.

However, they may have learned that their two most effective techniques just aren’t that effective anymore. That’s a step in the right direction.

(This is the third of a four-part series on Parent Manipulation. Next we discuss more about the third most effective manipulative technique-doing the right thing temporarily, so that one can get privileges back. You can find the complete series and more information at http://gopsst.org )

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What are the best ways to stop enabling teens?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, January 22, 2009

What do the teenagers and their parents tell us about enabling? I had opportunity to ask a large group of teenagers and parents in an outpatient D&A program. Three separate discussion groups debated this and the following is the results:

Top three:

1. Have rules and enforce them. Rules are worthless if you can't enforce them. If you only enforce rules sometime they are not helpful. You may wish to review Contracts here and here.

2. Don't bail teens out of jams, especially the legal problems. Don't put up bail money, don't buy high-priced attorneys, don't pay fines. Allow your teens to become motivated by the consequences of their decisions.

3. Don't key into negativity. Another way to say this is don't enter into debates with the teenagers. Don't have yelling sessions. Just say "no." Or just tell them the conversation is closed. (If you tell them the conversation is closed, don't start debating and prove that you didn't mean it when you said the conversation is closed.)

Runner Ups: Don't give money when you don't know where the money is going. Don't give freedom to your teenagers when you aren't sure where they are going. Don't believe everything you hear.

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When Teenagers Harrass Parents
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's 11:00 PM. A teen wants to get his mother, who in this case is a single parent, to allow him to go out with friends the next day. But he is grounded. She has to get up very early the next day. He knows that. He senses her vulnerability. He strikes.

He moves in on her with a methodical debate. "Why why why? Give me one good reason. No one will trust me. No one believes me. I can't prove that I can be trusted if no one will give me a chance." She parries with "why don't we all talk about it tomorrow."

He's not buying that. He knows he has her over a barrel. She can't get to sleep if he keeps the debate going. This is his leverage. He can keep her up for a long time until she caves-in. He knows this. He has seen her cave-in the past plenty of times; but she has been attending PSST, working with family therapist, and working with the PO. She is much stronger than before and she is getting angry too.

At one point, after about half an hour and thirty Go to Bed Right Nows, he challenges her with the old, "You want me to get sent away?"

She is frustrated and tired. She agrees. "Yes, I do." He is aghast. "You what? You do? She back pedals, stating, "I want you to be safe, if you can't be safe here then in placement."

But sometimes you can't get the Bad Genie back in the bottle once he is out. "Fuck you," he yells at her. "If I saw you choking right here in front of me I wouldn't help you." It's a threatening statement. The look in his eye is very scary and while he does not lay a hand on her, his reign of intimidation is secure.

"Fuck you, if you died I wouldn't go to your funeral." Then he starts throwing the Any-Way-I-Can-Think-of-to-Hurt-You Book at her. "I don't care about you at all. I don't love you. I never loved you. Even when I said I loved you I just said that to get something I wanted. I never cared about you. I wouldn't even go to your funeral. What kind of mother are you anyway? You just want to get rid of me!"

She replies with spunk, "I don't care if you come to my funeral, cause I'll be dead." But he is unrelenting, and continues to verbally assault her. He is the terrorist. She is alone and he refuses to leave her bedroom where this whole scenario is taking place. While he might not exactly say, "I will hurt you," he freely refers to her choking to death and he several times refers to her death by stating that he will not attend her funeral. He has succeeded in scaring her.

She phones the PO right in the middle of it. She tells him that he is on the voice mail of the PO and why doesn't he say "Fuck you" again, and continue being rude. He lies. He calmly states that she is the one who was rude and she is the one who said "Fuck you," to him! Intriguingly, he seems to be trying to get her in trouble with the PO. As if they are two equal children and the PO, acting as parent, won't know which one to believe. However, after calling the PO's voice mail, the situation calms down and after about five more minutes of debate he leaves her bedroom to get ready for bed.

Well, its' not an easy situation; however, there are some things that can be done to minimize the danger.

1. Make your house a safe place. Have a safe room, probably your bedroom, where you can retreat and lock the door. If your teen tries to break down the door, or if he starts destroying the house, you can call 911. If you call 911 tell the dispatch that you need an officer "to keep the peace." (Tip from Ken.) It means that you don't need to go into a long story on the phone with the dispatcher. "I'm locked in my bedroom and my teenager is breaking down the door," might also get a car over to your house pretty quick. Once the police come consider pressing charges. It may be the only way your teen will learn.

2. Once you take a stand that the conversation is closed, make sure that you stop the debate. You can't say the conversation is over and in the next sentence start reasoning with him. Choose. Is the conversation over? Then stop debating and continue to insist that he leave you alone. Remember, he wants a debate. Don't give him one under any circumstances.

3. This will sound like a contradiction with number one. Don't run from him. Face him. Present good eye contact and good body language. Are you afraid of your teenager? Why? Has he ever hurt you? Has he broke up things in the house? Has he made threatening statements towards you? If the fear factor is to strong, and you can't face him down, maybe his living with you is not a good idea. Who is in charge? If the honest answer to that question is that he is, and that he is, on top of that, a very scary teenager, then see what options you might have for more support from family, friends, PO, or at last resort, what other living arrangements are there?

4. Do you have younger children that are exposed to this kind of abuse? That may affect the younger siblings in bad way. Your older Teenager may have to go for the psychological safety of your other children, not to mention for your own psychological safety.

5. The verbally abusive teenager knows exactly what he is doing. He wants to punish you for not giving him what he wants. And at the same time he wants you to think that you are the crazy one. He wants you to doubt yourself. He condescends. He talks as if he knows what's wrong with you, and that everything is really all your fault. It's important to ground yourself by sharing this with someone you trust. If you have a PO please tell him. If you have a pastor, a family therapist, a close relative, tell them. Or come to PSST and share with the other parents. In this way you will receive support necessary to see that you are not the crazy one. We say this alot in PSST: Secrets Keep Us Sick.

6. If you cave-in once he starts the debating then you just taught him that this behavior is an effective way to manipulate adults. You can't afford it.

If you have other ideas for handling this tough situation, please leave your ideas in comments. Thanks.

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Meeting on the 17th well attended by 15 parents
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, January 19, 2009

Thanks to everyone for making this meeting work out. Regular members turned out to support the six new faces.

While are ability to hear updates from everyone was limited by the size of the meeting, we did allow for several role-plays and discussion about various techniques. Special thanks to Kathy from Wesley Spectrum who brought coffee and donuts and helped us set up the meeting. Also, nice to see Mary again who is terrific in and always willing to jump into a role-play. Several other parents also did a great job jumping into role-plays- you know who you are- keep coming back please because you enrich us all with your experience and wisdom.

We covered the top three most effective techniques to manipulate parents (see recent post for more information) and in our role-plays we demonstrated our verbal jujitsu of first finding something to agree with the teen about, and then putting our twist in it. Here is an example that is inspired by one that we did in group, although it is not the exact same role-play. In this example, the daughter has just been placed into inpatient long-term treatment and the father is visiting her for the first time.

Teen: What are you doing here? You f*&^ed me over by sending me here. You know I shouldn't be in a program like this. I'm not like these other girls; I'm no criminal.

Dad: You're right honey, I did have a lot to do with putting you in here.

Teen: If you hadn't stood up in court and asked the Judge to send me here, I would still be at home. I just hope you're happy now that your own daughter hates you!

Dad: Yes, I did take a big stand in Court.

Teen: Why did you send me to this hell? Do you know what it's like in here? Did you ever have to come to a place like this? No! You didn't, so you don't know shit about this place and yet you sent me here!

Dad: I have never been in a place like this and I asked the Court to send you here anyway.

Teen: That's f*&#d up. I can't believe you did this to me!

Dad: You know, I'm surprised by what I did too.

Teen: Then get me out of here if you sorry you put me here- get me home! I won't do drugs anymore- I learned my lesson now!

Dad: I'm glad you feel that you learned a good lesson from coming here. I'm glad you decided to quit using drugs. Good for you. I'm proud of you.

Teen: So, get me out of here!

Dad: Yeah, It would be nice to take you home; I wish it were that easy.

Teen: Why can't you? Call the Judge. Get a good attorney, not that lousy Public Defender you got for me in court.

Dad: Well, here's the thing. I don't feel like I made a mistake. And to keep you safe, I would ask the Judge the same thing- I'd put you here all over again if I had to.

Teen: [Glaring] How long am I going to have to stay here?

Dad: I'm not sure. As long as it takes I guess.

Teen: Will you tell them to let me come home at my first court review? I've learned my lesson and Dad, I'm done with drugs, you have to believe me. These girls could hurt me here.

Dad: Yes, it could be dangerous here- it looks like a tough place with some tough people in it.

Teen: So, i can come home at my first Court Review?

Dad: Well, we'll see. I want you to come home when your ready to stay away from drugs.

Teen: I am.

Dad: We'll see how you do here, and I'm going to want to know what Abraxas recommends too. It's not just going to be up to me but I'm sure they'll ask me what I think.

Teen: They don't let anybody go at the first review!

Dad: Well, I am looking for you to be ready- not for you to come home as quickly as possible, but for you to be ready. These people are experts here and I value their opinion and I value your Probation Officer's opinion.

Teen: I don't want that guy for my PO. I heard of him. I'm getting him changed!

Dad: Yes, I've heard he's a tough PO. I heard he's fair, but he is very tough. It's good you heard about him because I don't think it's very easy to get him switched. You'll have to deal with him I'm afraid. But your Mom and me- we like him.

Teen: You're a lousy father, you know that? You suck. You're just the worst father a girl could have, and you don't love me.!

Dad: Yeah, I've made some big mistakes, you're right about that.

Teen: You better believe you have!

Dad: For one thing, I should have acted sooner to see that you were safe from this Heroin problem. I waited longer than I should. I regret that. I wish I could have gotten you into a place like this sooner.

Teen: That's nice, thanks a lot! [rolling eyes].

Dad: And I know you can't hear me when I say I love you. And I know you don't believe me. But your Mom and I do love you and we will do whatever necessary to see that you are safe from this disease of addiction. This disease is trying to kill you.

Teen: [Glaring]Get out of here. Don't come see me anymore! [get's up and leaves visit area.]

Analysis: Dad tried to agree with everything he could agree with - without lying or misleading his daughter. Yet, he stood firm with his commitment to safety and with his willingness to own responsibility for his role in the Court placement. He didn't actually start Court proceedings but notice that he did not blame it all on the Police, the Judge, or the PO. It's like we say in group:

"If you want the power, take the blame. If you take the blame, you get the credit."

When kids blame us they are saying that we are powerful. We need to be more powerful in order to supervise these stubborn willful drug-involved teens. So, lets accept that we have some power when they blame us.

However, every time Dad agreed with his daughter, especially on the "You're a bad father thing," he took the wind out of her sails. She hoped to get an argument going. One that the father could not win because he had no way to convince her that what he was doing was right. Therefore, to agree with her kept the arguing down to a minimum and made it possible for her to pay more attention to his points, points that he was able to make after he agreed with her. Even when she said that she was going to get a new PO, he found some part of that in which he could agree. He said, "yes, I've heard that he's a tough PO." That was taking the part of what she said that he could agree with. Then, he put his twist in at the end, that he and her mother really liked the PO- she hated hearing that, but she was somewhat more able to listen because he already found some part of that in which he could agree.

For more information on talking points that we can use to make our points download the Talking points brochure here. (The one thing that needs corrected on this brochure is the Gateway Green tree meeting on Tuesday nights has been suspended until we can get more parents interested.) It will open up in Word and you can save it or print it out on your computer.

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Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part II
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 18, 2009

Approaches to Dealing with Teen Lying. This is the second of five parts:

Part 2 – Approaches to Dealing with Teen Lying

Last week we talked about the top 3 ways teens manipulate their parents:
1. Lying
2. Guilting
3. Acting really good temporarily

This week we provide some examples for how parents can deal with lying.

These manipulative techniques work well together. For example, if you lie and your parent does not believe you, then quickly revert to technique number two and guilt them. Say something like, "I knew you wouldn't believe me- you never believe me- you don't trust me. Why would I lie about that? Do you know how being called a liar makes me feel? I have feelings too." Or try this one, "you only see the bad stuff I do, you never see the good stuff."

These techniques work so well because as parents we want desperately to believe them and to be able to trust them. We are also afraid that we will find out that all the trouble our teens have is our fault.

The real consequence for lying is that no one will be able to believe them, even when they are telling the truth. That's what they need to learn. The consequence for lying is that you aren't believed. And we don't have to waste a lot of our hard-earned guilt on not trusting them. That is their problem. If they don't like that they aren't trusted then they should do something to change that- like start being honest- but don't expect it to happen overnight. It takes time.

Reinforce your teen when you discover that he has told the truth: Its' OK to make a big deal out of them telling the truth. One might argue that they should tell the truth, therefore don't make a big deal out of it. For teens that are honest this might be true. But for our kids who have made a habit out of lying, we can and should make a big deal out of catching them telling the truth.

For example, an 18 year-old girl has been manipulating her mother to let her out even though she is grounded to the house. Her mother thinks that she has been attempting to contact someone to get drugs. Consider how we can reinforce it when she tells the truth about something:

Me: You're mother tells me that you have been on the phone contacting boys to get you drugs.
Teen: No- I have not been.
Me: That's what I have been told.
Teen: Oh, that’s because I was contacting my boyfriend and my Mom thought I was contacting other people.
Me: Nevertheless, right now, you are not allowed on the phone.
Teen: Well I wasn't doing anything wrong, listen, I was blah blah blah.
Me: Hold on. You know that if you were trying to get someone to get drugs for you, you wouldn't tell me the truth about that, would you?
Teen: That's not what I was trying to do...
Me: Regardless, answer my question please. Would you lie if you were planning to get drugs?
Teen: [pause] Yeah.
Me: Yeah, what please?
Teen: I would lie to you if I was going to get drugs.
Me: THANK YOU! I'm so glad you told the truth about THAT!
Teen: OK, [seems a little taken-aback.)
Me: But you can see that telling me this story now doesn’t mean much because even if you were telling the truth now, I would have a hard time believing you.
Teen: Yeah.
Me: If you are planning on having someone get you drugs just stop it. Don't get drugs. You can't afford going in front of the Judge again.
Teen: OK, [sounds like she still doesn't know what to say about that.]
Me: Once again, thanks for telling the truth back there, and remember no rides with peers to meetings, and don't get drugs off of anybody, OK?
Teen: OK.

In this example, you will see first I did not allow her to tell the story. Secondly, I reinforced that she told the truth when she admitted that she would lie to me about that. Third I just encouraged her to stop it if she was planning to do something wrong. Finally, it gave me an opportunity to remind her that the consequences for lying are that people don't believe you even when you are telling the truth.

This last bit is important. It is the counter-point for the guilt that your teen is trying to make you feel because you don't trust her. Your teen says, "You don't trust me." You agree, "Yes, when you lie sometimes people don't believe you even when you are telling the truth." Just state that matter-of-factly as though it is not a big deal it just is what it is. It helps us as parents to not feel guilty because we don't trust and it helps frame the subject for the teen in the context that they can understand.

Parent: How's that going, what we talked about?
Teen: Talked about what?
[They may not be playing dumb. We tend to repress things that bother us.
Parent: Yeah, it is hard to keep remembering that- you know - how challenging it is for you to tell the truth sometimes.
Teen: "Yeah, oh yeah, that's going fine."
Parent: Well that's good; I was impressed you know with what you said yesterday.
Teen: What did I say?
Parent: You know, when you told the truth when I asked, 'If you were planning to get high, you wouldn't admit that to me.
Teen: Oh yeah
Parent: So you admitted that you would lie if you had to, that's being pretty honest. [Pause - This way you can revisit the issue in a positive way.]
Parent: "Now is there anything you would like to tell me that you haven't been honest about?

The same goes for stealing. Have you ever felt guilty because you misplaced something, accused your teen who has a history of stealing from you, and then found out where you put it and then felt horrible about it? How could you? Well, it's another teachable moment for your teen. "Yes, it's true” you say “that when you are known to steal that people will suspect you of taking things that you didn't even take.”

Quit feeling so guilty because as we just covered, making you feel guilty is the second most effective way for a teen to manipulate you. So, if you allow your teen to make you feel guilty, then you make it easy for them to manipulate you. If your teen persists in this "Why don't you trust me" mode, then it's sometimes a good idea to mention other consequences or traits of habitual liars. This tends to broaden the discussion so that things don't feel so personal. For example, habitual liars will lie even when they know that they will be caught.

Also, habitual liars lie when they don’t have to lie. Mentioning this can sometimes open up a conversation. Try to do this in a matter-of-fact way. Let’s not be too judgmental. Rarely, is anyone a 100 percent honest. Our teens have somehow allowed themselves to become very dishonest and we need to address that. However, we should save the holier-than-thou attitude because it’s counter-productive.

Habitual liars lie when they know that they will probably get caught. It’s helpful to point this out to your teen when they are trying to convince you that they are telling the truth.

Teen: Why would I lie? Do you think I want to get into trouble?
Parent: Why, I don’t think that would stop you.
Teen: What do you mean?
Parent: People who have a problem with lying often do it even though they know they will be caught! I don’t understand it, but I know it’s true.

While this approach won't cause an overnight change in your teen, it does accomplish some limited goals. The cherry on the cake for me is that I don't have to listen to the whole story. I believe that part of the motivation for lying is the pleasure of getting attention for telling the story. I want to take that reward off the table when I can. Anyway, if you're like me, those stories are so tiresome. It's part of how they wear us down. Of course, there are times when you need to listen to the story; but you can pick and choose.

One way to know if you need to listen to the whole story: As soon as the story under suspicion starts, one that you have a gut-level feeling is not the truth, point out that because of their past history of lying, you will have trouble believing it, even if it's true. Notice that we did not accuse them of lying at this point. Perhaps we really don't know. If at that point the teen says, "Oh yeah," and stops telling the story, then that is one that you can just take off the table. However, if after you point this out the teen persists in telling the story, and insists that you need to hear it, then you should give a listen as apparently something is going on that you might need to hear.

For example, sometimes there is a real point behind a made-up or exaggerated story. Perhaps your teen is telling you a tall tale about something that scared him at school. You don’t buy it and since it involves some pretty unbelievable stuff, you shouldn’t. However, perhaps the truth of this story is that your teen feels afraid. Maybe he wants you to know that. Sometimes a parent can reflect the emotional content of what is being said and side-step the details.

Parent: Wow that sounds pretty scary, you know, what you told me.
Teen: It is – I’m really scared sometimes.
Parent: Well, it sounds like you’ve done some things to make sure that you’ll be safe in school? Do you feel like you have? I mean you go to talk to Mr. Guidance Counselor man, and you stick with friends when you’re waiting for the school bus.
Teen: Yeah, well I guess I do.
Parent: Yeah, well I’m scared for you now that you told me some of this- is there anything I can do to help?

((This is the end of Part-two of a four-part series on Parent Manipulation. You can find the complete series and more information at http://gopsst.org - in the next part we discuss the manipulative technique of guilting the parent.)

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AccuTracking: Are you interested in monitoring your teens driving habits and not spending a fortune doing it?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 16, 2009

The following is posted anonymously by a parent who has used this tracking service. I post it here because parents in group have expressed interest. I have had no experience with this company and no guarantees are implied or expressed by PSST. As always we welcome comments from readers.

Giving a teenager access to an automobile to drive is always an interesting
proposition for parents. You want them to grow up, mature and learn
responsibility but, at the same time, you realize that mistakes in the
automobile can be expensive and life altering. How can you get an idea about
your teen’s driving habits since you won’t be there to watch them? Not only
how they drive but where they go can be an issue for some teens. Are they
really at school? Are they really on their way home? Access to an
automobile can create all kinds of new issues for parents of teens who have
stretched the limits in the past.

We see tracking devices in the movies and on TV all of the time. Are they
real? How much do they cost? Do they work? Is this a real alternative for

If you are interested in monitoring your teens driving habits easily, for a
reasonable price, you should take a look at http://www.accutracking.com/ .
They will sell you a kit for a little over a $100 that includes a cell
phone/GPS combo that can track your automobile for about $30 per month.

The phone comes with some simple activation instructions and a user name and
password for an associated web site. When turned on, the phone reports its
location and speed periodically to the web site. When you log into the web
site you can see the reported information in a grid format or a map format
that shows you the trail the car has been on since it left. It also shows you
the cars speed at each point.

The cell phone relies on Nextel for communication so you have to make sure
you are in a Nextel coverage area. If you want to monitor the driving in
“stealth mode” you have to find a place to hide the phone in the car where
the GPS can still get a reading. Try the glove box, center console or trunk
and do a couple of dry run tests. Battery life is a problem with stealth
mode – you can get 8 –12 hours of operation out of the phone.

Of course the alternative to stealth is the overt, “I will be watching you”
approach. Just put the phone out in the open and plug it into the cigarette
lighter outlet. Both options have their own benefits.

The web site offers additional features such as the ability to
set up fences on the map and send you an alert when the car crosses one of
these fences.

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My teen doesn't talk to me. What can I do?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 09, 2009

Many parents have difficulty trying to get their teens to have a nice chat. Here are seven tips. You might have some other tips and if so, please tell us about them by leaving a comment.

Tip. 1 Accept their silence. Don't querrie them to intensely. Try not to ask "why?" Teens don't know why, so they'll just make something up anyway. There is a knack for spending time with someone and accepting that they have little to say. Try to cultivate that knack.

Tip. 2. It's a great opportunity for you to talk to them. Rather than questioning them over and over or lecturing them repeatedly (see the mom song below) try modeling a little bit of what intimacy is like. In other words, tell them something about yourself. Share. Open up a little bit. Now keep in mind, don't start talking about your serious marriage problems. Your teen may not be able to handle that much sharing, but try telling them about the bad day you are having. Tell them about something at work that really made you angry and what you did about it. Tell them about some great victory you had somewhere or some recognition that you recieved

Tip. 3. Ask their advice on some small but important problem you are having. Everyone loves being asked for thier advice. Don't make it sound like a joke. You might be surprised to receive some good advice.

Tip 4. Find our what they are passionate about. Everyone is passionate about something. Ok, it's true that many of our teens are passionate about using drugs. They know a lot about it and they could talk about it forever. That subject might not work; there may be a time and place for that kind of sharing but that's not what i'm talking about here. What on earth besides drugs and alcohol are they passionate about? Often they won't tell you because they feel that you could not appreciate the music they love or the games they play or the relationships in which they are involved. But once they start talking about something that they are really passionate about, it may be tough to stop them. For example, my son is 22. Historically he doesn't say much to me although his finacee tells me he is a very talkative person. I have trouble getting into the music he loves. I try. But the games he plays on his X-box I can do better with. Boy was I surprised to find out how passionate he is about it. He loves it. He plays every night. And he loves to talk about his gaming adventures. In fact, he says that after he plays he really loves to tell someone about it. I find it a wee bit boring perhaps after all I'm not really a gamer, but I love to see him talking. That is the real pay off for me.

Tip 5: If your teen does begin to share something that they really feel passionate about don't ruin it by giving advice. Maybe they tell you how in love they are with someone. Wow, that's a really special thing they chose to share with YOU. Now if you start to lecture them about everything that could go wrong, because you feel that they just have to have this information, then you can be sure that they won't want to tell you anything next time. Just listen. Trust that they can figure some things out for themselves. You sort of have to decide. Do you want them to talk to you or do you want them to be in your class while you lecture. Usually, you don't get both.
Tip 6: Try some Active Listening Responses. Don't know what they are? Come on into group. We use them all the time. Active listening means that you make a statement based on this formulae. Also, check out this link to more about talking to teens...

Tip 7:  We always talk about finding something that your teenager says that you can agree with.  We mean really agree with.  Don't just make a quick agreement and then follow it up with a "but."  Really agree with something. 

Not There are other ways to get teens chatting. Maybe you have a good way to do it. Please tell us about it by leaving a comment.

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Meeting at Eastern on 17th is a special meeting.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 09, 2009

There is an Juvenile Court Education/ Assessment group that meets monthly at Eastern. That group will also be meeting on the 17th. In fact, for this experiment, PSST will not meet in our regular meeting room but instead we are going to meet on the Fourth Floor in a very nice meeting room. Just follow the signs from where we usually meet on the first floor towards the back elevator-make a left off the elevator and your're there.

Other parents that will be bringing their teens to the Education/ Assessment group, which will be meeting on the First Floor where we usually meet, will be invited to sit in on our PSST meeting!

Note: the Education/ Assessment group is by invitation only so don't bring your teens with you on the 17th. Just expect that we will have some new faces in group. And we love having new faces in group.

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Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part I
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 09, 2009

Recently, I had the opportunity to have 15 teens from a Drug and Alcohol outpatient program tell me what were the most effective ways to get their way with their parents. Their answers might surprise you. This article is presented in five parts:

Part 1 – How Teens Manipulate
Part 2 – Approaches to dealing with Lying
Part 3 – The Guilting of the parent
Part 4 – An approach to the teen that does good things temporarily.

Part 5 - The Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Conclusion-Part V

Part 1 – How Teens Manipulate

First of all we divided the teens up into three separate groups. Also, one parent sat in each group. We did not allow a parent to sit in a group in which their son or daughter was already sitting. Each group chose a group leader. Next, each group was given the task of deciding the top three manipulative techniques that help them get their own way with their parents. They were asked to form a group consensus, and we explained that a consensus is not taking a vote. It is debating and convincing each other so that the entire group agrees. The parents were not in the group to supervise, but to give their two cents and to function as a group participant.

After about 15 minutes each group had finished. After each small group gave it's report, the entire group engaged in group discussion to sort out the differences in the results. Funny thing is that there were not much differences. Each group more or less came up with the same three. Two groups came up with exactly the same list and one group had an almost identical list but in a different order. The following is the summary of our results.

3. Acting Really Good: The Third most effective technique is to begin to act responsibly. Convince your parent that you have really changed. After a while you will get what you want from them and you can go back to being irresponsible. One group added that while you are acting really good you can continue to sneakily be involved in the same unapproved activities.

2. Making a parent feel guilty: The Second most effective technique is to guilt your parent. Make them feel like it's really their fault or in some way make them feel that the reason that you have problems is because of them. We got examples of this from the teens who seemed to take pride in being able to push the right buttons so that their parents felt so bad that they just gave in. For example, tell your parent that they have lied to you in some way. You might have to stretch the truth a bit as to exactly what they said. If they think they lied they will try to make it up to you. Another way to make your parent feel guilty is to give them the silent treatment. They don't even have to know what they did at first but they will keep trying to find out and they will keep trying to make you feel better in any way that they can.

1. Lying: All the teens agreed that lying is the best way. One teen even offered some tips on how to be convincing when you lie. Stay calm he said. Look them in the eye. Just keep repeating the same story. Lots of discussion followed this as the teens talked about how quickly they could get their parents to believe them even if they had just gotten busted for lying. One of the bad things that can happen is that if you do this to much your parents might not believe you any more, even when you are telling the truth. Most of the teens in group agreed that lying is essential and that you have to be good at it.

(This is the conclusion of the first of a four-part series on Parent Manipulation. You can find the complete series and more information at http://gopsst.org/ in the next part we discuss How Can We Deal with Lying as Parents)


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Finding Hope in Recovery: Families Living with Addiction
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, January 08, 2009

This documentary will be aired on WTAE TV 04 ABC on January 18th 2009 at 1:00pm.

More details here.

I have not seen this documentary and I am not necessarily endorsing it. I think it helps us as parents to be as informed as we can be about this disease so I am sharing this information sight unseen with the risk that it is going be bad but the hope that it will be of some benefit.

Type rest of the post here

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