Jane’s 16 year-old son had the power in their home.
He did whatever he wanted at the moment; he never cleaned his room, did his laundry, washed dishes or picked his stuff up from the living room. After Jane allowed him to get away with that and more, he started telling her he hated her cooking, especially when she made a lot of effort, she was a rotten mother and she’d caused all the problems he had. Then he broke her favorite lamps and vase, and kicked a hole in one of the walls. Then he shoved her and slapped her.
Jane and her husband had never done anything particularly bad to their son. In fact they’d given him everything he’d wanted. He’d been a wonderful child, except for occasional tantrums until he’d become 15.
Jane didn’t know what to do, but she’d never allow her husband to discipline their son.
Jane wailed, “Is it too much to ask him to be nice once in a while?”
That was Jane’s problem. She limited herself to begging their son to be nice to her. There were never any consequences for her son’s tantrums, bullying, abuse or violence.
Why did her son treat her that way? Every situation in unique but there are some typical reasons:
- Jane and her husband had abused their son and his present behavior was payback. Or Jane had not protected him from trauma when he was younger and he was now paying her back. This was not the case.
- Something was mentally or psychologically wrong with their son – sociopath or psychopath? This was probably not the case since he could be charming in public and was a model student, academically and behaviorally.
- He knew he could get away with doing anything he wanted so he vented his worst feelings on Jane. He was too lazy and uncaring to make himself be better.
Why didn’t Jane stop their son? Why didn’t her husband stop their son despite Jane’s commands forbidding him? Again, every situation is unique but there are some typical possibilities:
- Jane didn’t want to go to lengths she thought were extreme, like calling the police when damaged the furniture or he hit her.
- Jane didn’t want to ruin their son’s future by giving him a psychological or a police record.
- Jane was afraid if she did anything strong to stop their son, he’d run away and ruin his life.
- Jane hoped that, magically, one day her son would wake up and be the wonderful person she’d hoped he would be. She believed that if she gave him enough or loved him unconditionally and completely, her son would become a wonderful person.
- Jane’s parents had either ignored and deprived her, or punished and abused her, and she’d decided to be a totally caring, giving and forgiving parent.
- Jane’s husband loved her and didn’t want to risk being the focus of her wrath. He figured he’d endure for a few years more until the boy left home and then he’d be rid of him.
What can Jane and her husband do? Again, every situation is unique but there are some typical possibilities:
- Jane can continue giving in to the selfish, entitled monster she encouraged and enabled. I’ve never seen this approach change these horrible teenagers.
- Jane can start applying consequences. Her approach was that their son had to please them in order to get anything he wanted or to avoid the police. Any nastiness or violence would have strict consequences. If their son escalated, they’d call the police. And they would be thrilled at being in charge again. They were challenging their son to develop self-control and self-discipline, to take charge of his behavior or to fail. If he ran away, he could blame them but they wouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. They’d be heartbroken because he was a failure but they’d have a wonderful time together. This is the only approach I’ve ever seen work. And it did with Jane’s son.
Basically, Jane put burden of proof on their son. She kept asking him, “What have you produced, earned, deserved? What have you done with the gifts that have been given you?” And she kept encouraging him by telling him he was too old to continue being a narcissistic, spoiled brat and she was sure he could take charge of himself. .
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.