Parenting --Teens/Kids are exhausting


I am 49 with 3 kids (22,19,14), married for 28 years and by all accounts have been successful but seem to be a failure in parenting.   My 22 yo is in college and will graduate in another year with his Masters.   Sounds good but he is incredibly socially awkward.   He has basically no friends and acts as though everyone is a pain.  Needless to say I'm concerned

My 19 yo went absolutely nuts when he graduated high school.  He started college locally but was arrested for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.  We have an upcoming appt in superior court since the lower court refused to plea.   His lawyer seems hopeful but I worry he is downplaying things. It kills me that he has a felony and can end up going to jail. It truly makes me sick.  I think I've lost 10 years of my life waiting for this process to end.  I could tell things were out of control and talked to my husband who disregarded what I had to say since he never expected our son to stoop so low.  We could have given him anything. He cared more about feeling like the big guy with his friends than doing what was right.  I'm really devastated.

My 14 yo daughter was adopted at a year old and she does absolutely nothing I ask of her.  She is sneaky and boy crazy. She lies constantly. I've yet to see her in her room with a book in her hand.  I've taken everything away from her and she finds ways around it.  I took away her phone and she just gets phones from other kids and uses those behind my back.  I told her a year ago she was not to have a Facebook acct   Well not only did she have one the things being said were awful   I don't like how she dresses either.  Going clothes shopping really upsets me.  She picks out things a 25 yo would wear.  Her mother was very young and I have absolutely no doubt she will turn out the same if I don't watch her.  

I feel like such a failure.  As successful as I've been nothing mattered more than having my kids to turn out as successful productive adults.  My sons legal issues are nearly too much to bear.  I'm sooo sad.  I've had him in counseling.  His last 2 drug tests have been negative.  College is getting better for him but to go to jail after the progress would be terrible. I hope to have the felony downgraded to a misdemeanor and have no jail time.  Being 19 with a felony would be a disaster.  But while he gets all this now (we always warned him of things like this but he never listened) I wonder if he will truly stay away from trouble.  I wonder if I will ever have  a life again. I'm so consumed with worry.  

What have I done wrong??   What can I do?  Thx

Hello Lisa,
I'm so sorry that parenting is having such an affect on you. Certainly, many parents can empathize with you because so often our children do not live up to our expectations. I think one of the hardest things about parenting is to adjust our expectations and accept who are children are instead of constantly being made miserable by their "failures."
I don't know that you've done anything wrong. You didn't say that you have, although I understand that you feel like you must have done something wrong. I think all of us parents can look closely at our parenting and find many things we wish -- in retrospect -- that we had done differently. However, no one can say with any certainty that something you did when your child was three, or eight, or 14 caused them to, say, sell drugs as an adolescent. Parenting is far too inexact as an art (it is probably not anywhere close to being a science). I think you can admit that probably you have made some mistakes (I definitely know I did), but that at some point our children have to take responsibility for their own mistakes.
If you have loved your children and done the best you could as a parent, then at some point you have to accept that you were the best parent you could be -- and that how your kids turn out is only in part (maybe even in small part) due to the kind of parent you were or are.
My best advice to parents of adolescents and young adults is to hang in there and continue to be loving and supportive, no matter what their behavior or their errors. Often what they are at ages 14, 19, or 22 is nothing like what they will be at ages 35 or 45. Accept that they will make mistakes (sometimes very unfortunate ones), but determine that you will show them support and that while you cannot always condone what thy do you can still love them and be there for them when they need to reach out to you.
I don't think we ever really stop worrying about our kids or thinking about them and the choices they are making. But it is important to let go of the guilt and remember you did the best you could.
I'd be glad to address some specific questions about how you can handle certain situations with your children. Just feel free to get back to me.

Best wishes,

James Windell  

Parenting --Teens

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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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