Many parents, especially single parents weighed down by guilt, allow themselves to be harassed, bullied and abused overtly and covertly by their teenagers who have finished high school and are physically and mentally fine. They allow those big, toxic teens to hang out at home for free, doing nothing, while they wait on them and let the teens abuse them. Unless the parents change, they’ll allow this behavior to last into their children’s twenties.
No wonder these lazy, sullen, angry, sneering, sarcastic teenagers feel entitled. Nothing bad ever happens to them when they trash the house, demand to be catered to and abuse their parents.
Tolerating bad behavior only enables it and encourages these teenagers to act worse. No wonder these big brats don’t respect parents who don’t demand respect by having consequences when respect isn’t given.
These parents usually hope that if they’re nice enough to their abusive teenagers, someday the brats will like them and will wake up transformed. The spoiled brats will then be as nice and polite as when they were little. They’ll become self-supporting, hard workers.
This wishful thinking is wrong!
I’m not saying that the spoiled brats are bad people. I am saying that permissive parents encourage kids to act out of the worst characteristics of their egos and personalities. It’s always easier for these teens to sink down to the most lazy, selfish, self-centered, narcissistic parts of them.
These permissive parents are not setting high standards of polite and civil behavior. Their expectations are too low.
Many of these permissive parents are secretly afraid that their big brats are too fragile to succeed, even though they’re mentally and physically capable. They’re afraid that if they demanded good behavior and self-sufficiency, the teens will give up and fail. Maybe, if they coddle them longer, they’ll change. So they continue coddling and praying.
The same is true for brats who are juniors and seniors in high school.
Instead of giving in, assert yourself and protect your personal space, even against your precious flesh and blood.
- Set standards of polite, civil behavior that are not up for debate. Detail the standards and say that the list will be growing as you think of new ones. Your bullying teen’s agreement or disagreement with the standards is irrelevant. Stop negotiating endlessly over everything. Don’t let them wear you down in endless debates. Your standards are requirements.
- When they complain, keep saying, “That’s a real problem. I hope you can solve it before you’re on the streets.” You may make a suggestion one time, but after that, don’t accept responsibility for solving their problems. Their difficulties don’t affect your applying consequences.
- Have real and immediate consequences if your brat doesn’t live up to your standards. Only have consequences you’ll actually apply. Your explosions, rage and threats are not consequences. Most young adults think they’ve won when you’ve lost it. They know you’ll feel guilty and relent. Usually, effective, immediate consequences are that the big brat has to move out – no negotiation, no promises accepted. Performance counts; not promises.
- See the grown kid as a “guest” in your home. They have to behave like good guests or they can’t stay. They have a choice: Behave and stay, or resist and leave. It’s clear, straightforward and simple; just not easy for you.
- Don’t give them a second chance; do the consequences you said. Typically, since they’ve gotten away with being jerks for so, long they won’t believe you’ll really do anything. So, they’ll push the boundaries to test you – maybe doing something minor to see if you’ll really act. And they’ll have their reasons, excuses, justifications and promises. Or they’ll attack you verbally or physically.
- Be crystal clear: If they threaten or assault you or your possessions, you’ll call the police like you would on any vandal you didn’t know Document evidence and report them.
If they treat you mean, don’t let them stay with you simply by paying rent. Let them try treating a landlord mean.
The more you’re smiling, even-handed and matter of fact as you throw them out, the better. You have good reason to be happy; you’re getting back your peace, quiet and space. The moment they leave, get rid of their stuff; convert their room into something you can use.
It will do them a world of good to try living with a friend’s family or even with a bunch of friends.
What if they say you’re a bad mom?
You have to know who is wiser – you or a selfish, petulant, narcissistic 19 year-old.
What if their friend’s parents think you’re a bad mom?
You know what you know. Those parents just told you they can be conned by your kid and that he needed kicked out. He’s still trying to manipulate people to give him things, instead of working for them. Also, they just told you that you don’t want them as friends.
What if your baby has to live on the streets or fails at life?
We can never know what might be. But we do know that teens who don’t exert themselves, need to be kicked out of the nest. It’s the only way they have a chance to learn how to fly
After you throw them out, define the new relationship you want.
You get together with people who are fun, interesting and treat you nice. If they’re willing to do that, you’d be glad to meet them at restaurants or movies, and even treat them sometimes. Your needs and wants are at least as important as theirs.
Is this emotional and financial blackmail?
Definitely; you bet. What’s the problem? This is real adult life.
Stop trying to teach them life’s lessons but do continue to plant seeds.
They’ve already decided not to learn the lessons of life from you. They’ll have to learn them the hard way – from the world. Stop trying to teach those lessons.
Continue to plant seeds about what it takes to be with you:
- “If you fail, it’s your fault; I won’t be accepting guilt for your failures anymore. Your task is to create a wonderful future no matter how much you think everyone, especially, me, has wronged you.”
- “You’ll get more from me by being nice than by trying to beat me into submission. If you use anger or rage, I’ll automatically say ‘No.’”
- “If you make things fun for me, if you bribe me, I’ll consider doing some of the things you want.”
- “Now that you’re older than three, any authority and control over your life has to be earned by your being nice (or sucking up to me) or by your supporting yourself and living independently. You’d better have a skill so you can get a job to pay for a car, insurance, an apartment and food. Earn them and you’ll earn the right to be in charge of your life.”
Sixteen to twenty five year-olds need to stop trying to get what they want by beating their parents and start getting it from the world by their own efforts.
How do you feel when you see them living on your couch when they’re 42?
Since all tactics depend on the situation, expert coaching by phone or Skype helps. We can design a plan that fits you and your situation. And build your will and skill to carry it out effectively.