Parenting --Teens/Difficulty with older teen.


QUESTION: Our second daughter (18) has been giving us 4 years of heartache. When we gave her freedom she abused it, issues involved boys,alcohol,lying,shoplifting, running away.
We asked her not to get tattoos yet and she now has three large ones,one of which she already wants off.
She does not want to be part of the family, but does not have enough money to move out. She does not help around the house unless asked and spends all her free time on the computer.
She has a part time job, but is not trying to get a full-time job.
We have been to counseling when she was 14, but she says she doesn't have a problem and will not go again.
We don't want to throw her out, but our marriage and family life
is suffering.
We have only minor issues with our eldest (20) and do not have extended family around to help.

ANSWER: Hello Lucy,
 Certainly, we know she does indeed have problems. But at 18, you perhaps can't require her to go to counseling.
But since she chooses to live at home, then she is subject to rules at home. You are supporting her, so support she gets from you should be contingent on her following some basic rules. Those basic rules should involve regular household chores, personal hygiene, courteous behavior to others, and (perhaps) obtaining a full time job.
If she chooses not to follow your basic rules, then she must consider leaving the home. The rest of the family should not suffer because of her. While you love her and want to help her, there is a limit as to what you can do to help out a young adult daughter. When that limit is reached, then you have to do what is best for the rest of the family.
Any questions?
James Windell

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your repsonse!
My teen was asked to leave, but came back after 8 days- with a similar attitude.
While she was away I felt very guilty and couldn't sleep for worrying.
What I would like to ask is if whether in most cases, you have seen a change of behaviour, or is it just the case that she will only appreciate us once she has been away for a while?
Is it acceptable to restrict her computer use as a consequence or is she to old for that?
I do not understand why she is not doing more with her life, I imagine that her emotional issues are holding her back.

Hello Lucy,
Sorry for the delay in responding.
There is often guilt for some parents when they ask an older child to leave -- along with anxiety. Typically, parents ask a teen to leave because they are not functioning well. So there are risks. That is, the child may get into more trouble, may engage in self-defeating or self-destructive behavior, or may ask to return home only to show that no change has taken place.
Some young adults who have been asked to leave do find themselves and make some positive changes; others do not. She may appreciate you in the future when she matures -- but there is no guarantee this will ever happen.
If you allow her to live in your house, you can set the rules. You can set as rule, for instance, that she cannot use the family computer, or that she can only use it at specific times for specific purposes.
I'm not sure why she is not able to do something more productive with her life; I suspect she doesn't know either. We can guess it is related to emotional issues.

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James Windell


I am a parent trainer, psychotherapist, and author specializing in parenting issues.During the past 40 years I`ve worked with parents with discipline problems and challenging children. I give frequent lectures and workshops related to discipline, social skills, and aggressive children. I consult with various agencies and schools where there are child behavior problems. I am listed in the American Psychological Associations` media panel as an expert on parenting and am frequently quoted in leading magazines and newspapers.


I have worked in a juvenile court as a clinical psychologist and as a psychotherapist in private practice. In the Oakland County (MI) Juvenile Court, I developed an award-winning parent training program for parents of adolescent delinquents. In addition I have done group therapy with adolescent delinquents using a social skills-building model. I have consulted with courts, schools, churches, preschools, and domestic violence shelters in areas of parenting.

I received my BA with a major in Psychology in 1963 from Wayne State University. I got my MA in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University in 1972.

I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Michigan Psychological Association. I have written pamplets, newspaper articles, and professional journal articles. I have been the Coping With Kids columnist for several newspapers for 26 years, and my columns appear weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been the author or co-author of 16 books. My books include, 8 WEEKS to A WELL-BEHAVED CHILD, CHILDREN WHO SAY NO WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SAY YES, 6 STEPS TO AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEENAGER, and THE FATHERSTYLE ADVANTAGE. My most recent parenting book (2012) is THE EVETYTHING CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BOOK. I have appeared on over 180 radio and TV shows related to my books and parenting. For more information about me, my books and columns, go to my website at

I have an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University.

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