Monday, April 17, 2023

BeFuddled Father Facing Four Females



I know you don't know the history at all with my step-daughters.

However, we gave out Easter candy to our 3 daughters (2 step-daughter and one is my own).  The 16 year old step-daughter ate a piece of candy and throws a candy wrapper towards me and proceeds to say, "throw that away", which I did.   Both step-daughters laugh at this action.      

A few minutes later, 16 year old throws another wrapper and it lands on the floor, and proceeds to say the same thing, throw that away, and again both step-daughter laugh.  The mother is sitting in the room and says nothing to the 16 year old.  I didn't say anything either, but later asked their mom about the situation, and she says, the 16 year old was "just joking", and asks why I took it personally.  The mother picked up the candy wrapper btw.  SMH. 

I'm curious to know what your opinion is of this scenario and how would you have handled this situation with me being a step-dad?


Honestly, I think you are in a situation where you need to invest in a Parenting Coach. This site can only give "surfacey" answers, because context is always limited.  I've looked at several of the questions/scenarios you have submitted prior on this site, and I see a pattern that has emerged which probably needs some direct outside assistance for a couple months--which I, or another Rosemond Parenting Coach, would be glad to provide.  You might need some detailed expert help on some of the following issues:

1. What is the role of a step-dad? Can I discipline and disciple my step-daughters?

2. What does it mean to be a loving authority figure ?

3. What if my wife (significant other) and I are not on the same parenting page?

4. What is the Art of Ignoring? And how do I employ that Art?

5.  How can a sense of humor be used when dealing with a  disrespectful teen?

6. Am I the head of the household, and if so, what does that mean? 

7. Do I make Mountains out of Molehills? AM I too sensitive?

8. How do I deal with issues related to my daughters' iPhone usage?

9. Can I demand chores be done perfectly, and rooms  picked up, etc?

10. Should I be "looking" for missteps on the part of my daughters?

11. How much independence should I allow my teen daughters?

So take time and mull over the idea of hiring a Parenting Coach. I think it will be well worth it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Distress at the Dentist's and Choosing Church



Question about The Godfather Principle:

We’re currently implementing the Godfather Principle because of a rather rough (that’s an understatement) dentist visit. We read your response to the question about temper tantrums at the doctor and dentist. Agree wholeheartedly. My question is what is considered a privilege… we are very active in our church and attend regularly. Our three young children go on Wednesdays, too - my husband and I lead a group, so they go to the children’s program. 

I want her to go to church, but I see Wednesday night as a privilege. Is it bad if we take that away? She is stripped of all privileges, but we’re having trouble deciding if Wednesday church is a privilege or a necessity (the inconvenience isn’t the issue - it’s going to be, but we’ll do what we need to in order to nip this in the bud). 


From your question, I can safely assume that you possess a strong penchant for instilling your religious faith and values into your children. And the biblical adages strongly emphasizing putting others' interests ahead of one's own can be a key theme here. Each time your child has a looming appointment upcoming, have her take the focus off herself and  ask her what can she do to make things easier for the dentist, doctor, grandma, etc., during a visit.... The idea of self-sacrifice on behalf of others' desires and needs is sorely lacking among today's youth. 

But to answer your question: I would not take away  a privilege that may hurt the growth of a child(mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, etc). I remember having this quandary when I was raising my four children several years ago. I had decided never to include anything in the "grounding" of a  misbehaving child that I felt was needed for the child to grow into a successful adult. If you feel that Wednesday night church is important for your daughter's spiritual growth, then I would NOT take that away. If your child loved vegetables, would you take those away as a punishment?? There are many other consequences that can be used as part of the Godfather Principle, without having to take away a necessary and valuable element in her life. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A Breathtaking Rescue




My son saved his teacher's life when she was choking during class. Should he earn a reward for this?


With the limit of only knowing little of the context of the situation, my answer is NO. One exception might be if the teacher somewhat vigorously offers a reward to your son, and you both sense  it might be a tad discourteous to refuse it---then maybe a reward could be accepted. But, if you and your son believe he SHOULD be given a reward for saving the teacher, then I believe you have fallen for our culture's new unspoken motto: "I am more important than you." The last few ME-first generations of selfies, MY rights, and a preoccupation with MY interests have usurped previous generations where self-sacrifice for the good of others was paramount. The greatest human being to walk the Earth washed the  feet of others, put the interests of others ahead of his own comfort and desires, and followed his own  mantra: " I come not to be served, but to serve; and to sacrifice my life for others." That needs to be OUR new mantra. 
Your son did a wonderful thing! And any commendation that comes his way is well deserved--that's for sure! What a great story! And he definitely did do the right thing.........But to ask for or demand  a reward gives the sense that he acted on behalf of HIMSELF, not others. So, in summary, if a reward is offered--I see nothing wrong with accepting it with all humility.  ACCEPT it---don't EXPECT it

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Nazi Reincarnated?


My son claims to be reincarnated from a man named Ion Antonescu.  First of all, Ion Antonescu was the Romanian dictator who aligned with Hitler and killed up to 300,000 Jews. Although my son said he takes a “neutral” stance on the fact civilians were murdered, he reveres Antonescu. He has also expressed fascist beliefs. He has no friends and it not influenced by peer pressure AT ALL. He also had an incomprehensible level on knowledge about World War II and history in general. I actually believe his claim, since I have always believed in reincarnation myself and the two do look alike, including the fact that they have identical ears. I would like to know if this is a cause for concern.  My son is fifteen. I believe his claim because he has a lot of amazing, intuitive knowledge about Antonescu. He was interested in Romanian history even before this. I am concerned because my son favors the Axis powers and is "neutral" towards the Holocaust on his best days. He is proud to be reincarnated from a mass murderer. My son says Antonescu was a "holy" man and that finding out he is reincarnated from him is the only thing keeping him from going into a deep depression (due to other circumstances in his life). He is a good student and has no behavioral problems. How should I handle this?


Not a typical run-of-the-mill parenting concern; however, every kid goes through bizarre stages at some point in their childhood and teen years, causing the parent to mentally voice, "what planet are you from?".......    The younger the child is, the more frequent and more bizarre the phases he goes through--and each odd stage is usually quite transient as well. His being a good student with no behavior problems--plus, you mentioned no other strange, malevolent idiosyncrasies related to his "reincarnation"-- then my advice is downplay it and don't give it too much of the "time of day." If a parent gives attention to an oddity such as this, this kind of phase may last longer. Negative attention is attention, nonetheless.  But I would keep tabs on ANY unusual behaviors.  If your concern remains, I would

1. Get  down on paper the things he says or does regarding his claim, and if he initiates a conversation, feel free to just listen and periodically ask open-ended questions;  in addition,  I would: 

2.  In confidence---email or meet with a handful of trustworthy adults who know your son and are in contact with him  (teachers, youth leaders, etc)--asking them to let you know if they have noticed any strange verbal or physical behaviors on your son's part. You may or may not share any more details than that with them.  If they do report back to you that they HAVE noticed several bizarre goings-on, you may eventually want to contact a trusted biblical pastor friend or a mental health professional, who has dealt with "past life memories" of children.

Friday, October 14, 2022

"Milquetoastness": the Bane of a Father; plus, a 15-Year Old's Enslavement



        I have a 15-year old son in a split living situation---one week with Mom, one week with Me. I am trying to figure out what to do with him and technology. Video gaming has become an addiction. I am okay with 30 minutes a day if everything else is done. He does not follow anything that I lay out for him in terms of boundaries. Cellphone (smartphone) has become a huge issue, too. He is violating boundaries as well and manipulating by saying I don't trust him because at Mom's house, she lets him make his own decisions regarding technology. I have a digital contract we are to go through, but I am extremely frustrated as he continues to lose interest in other things. He does school and year round swimming well, but has lost interest in most things. Friends are a pretty good group. He sees his phone and video games as ways to stay connected with them. He continues to withdraw at home. I recognize he is playing me against Mom. His sisters and my new wife are very concerned. Definitely showing addiction.


     The overwhelming preoccupation/enslavement to screens and "what's a parent to do", may be the most prevalent issue that I encounter as a Parenting Coach. Here are some thoughts, more specific to your situation:

1. We are living in a day of the Milquetoast Dad. Are YOU one? You know--the kind of dad where a child does not "follow anything I lay out for him in terms of boundaries"? When I read that quotation  above, I assumed that there may very well be a problem with parental authority. 

2. He is "manipulating" you? By saying you "don't trust him because at Mom's house, she lets him make his own decisions regarding technology"? Children of divorced parents play this game of Pit constantly---and sadly, nowadays it works more than ever. So does that ploy work on you? So again---are you a Milquetoast dad?

3.  "Losing interest in other things" is of major concern. Where teens used to participate in and even perfect their lifelong hobbies and interests---the theater, archery, bowling, veterinarianism, martial arts, politics, sports, music, Indian history----they now instead are found upstairs in their bedroom with an electronic device, which has now become the most common activity of teens, according to research. 

Suggested Responses:

     First--Your situation is most likely in need of the services of a Parenting Coach. I, as well as many others on this site, am well qualified to deal with your issue. It may be worth the few hundred dollar expenditure. 

     Second--Ignore any "mom lets me and you don't" manipulation attempts. Your response to those endeavors should be something to the effect,  " Son, I guess I'm meaner than your mom. Get used to it. In our home, we will have a peaceful, productive, interactive household, where all are contributing members." True authority provides secure boundaries for a child. 

     Third--When he says that you "don't trust him"--- ignore, or respond with " Exactly---I wouldn't trust myself as a 15-year old, either." Your son's exploitative attempts should not affect you in the least and should not prevent you from doing what is right. 

     Fourth--I referred to you as a possible "milquetoast" because he violates all your boundaries and contracts. Therefore, due to his violations, why does he still have use of a smart phone in your home? Or any electronic device, for that matter? 

    Fifth--Your son could become a doctor, a lawyer, a historian, a head coach at a college, a premier counselor/psychologist, a principal, a business leader, a karate instructor, a businessman, etc, etc.  But instead of learning about and honing his skills/aptitudes in these areas and many others while in his teens, he will ALWAYS default to his addiction--unless you put a stop to it. Disregard what goes on at the other household. You can't control that. 

     Sixth--He wants to connect with his friends? Consistently invite his friends over to YOUR house. Connecting in-person is the best way to connect, anyway.  Of course, it should be a screen-free situation. They should check the electronics at the door. 

And remember--if you "put your foot down"--as you should--get ready for Screams of Horror that will rend th' affrighted Skies! Once you survive that, you will gradually discover that the boy you used to know will start making a reappearance--once he has escaped the "unreality" of the Gaming/Electronic world. Be a Long-term Parent--by doing what is right and surviving the short-term. 

I want to add also that it is important during the intense teen years to be loving and affectionate with your son--during those times when the Iron is a little less Hot.

     "Milquetoastness" always hurts immeasurably the ones you want to help the most.

I do understand that there are many nuances to your situation of which I am unaware. That is why I do recommend the hiring of a Parenting Coach.

Mike Smart, CLPC

"Parenting OutSmarted"

Monday, September 26, 2022

Five Years Old: The Age of Fine Whine


        My youngest, who is 5 years old, is feeling left out, saying the neighborhood kids don’t want to play with him. However, I don’t blame them! He is very whiny, tattles constantly, and doesn't share well. The kids are kind and do try to include him, but prefer to play with his older sister. What’s the best way to handle this?


     To whom does your son tattle or whine? Who is this person who provides a listening ear for his irksome conduct? My guess is that person is YOU! The fact that your five-year old has a problem with "whining and tattling constantly" indicates to me that you may very well be constantly responding to his negative attention-getting behavior. You must stop "feeding the beast!" You must starve your maddening little monkey! Once he drops the excess weight of Undue Female Attention & Treatment(UFAT), your boy will then be free to learn how to handle frustration--on his own. Learn the creative Art of Ignoring; and if that doesn't work, levy a consequence--or do both. You need  respond only when he comes to you with more of a composed, self-controlled, respectful temperament--and no tattling(except in rare emergency situations, of course).

    Well-meaning mental health professionals have told parents to empathize with the deep feelings of their preschooler and to understand the WHY'S behind his constant tantruming, tattling  and whining. Empathy and Understanding are fine, but first, one needs to eliminate the negative behavior--Nip it in the Bud, so to speak; something previous mothers of previous generations would have done immediately. 

    So next time he comes to you with that behavior, send him to his room for 10 minutes(set your phone alarm or stove timer), and when his time is up, he can try approaching you again in a more self-regulated manner. If he commits another related behavior faux pas, send him up to his room for 30 minutes and then add a consequence. 

    Eventually, as his behavior starts to shape up, it will become much easier for his playmates to welcome him into the fold. 

    And as we know, nothing ages worse than a not-so-fine whine.


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Compass Points South: A 15-Year-Old’s Craving for Independence



I have a 15 year old daughter that I used to call my "compass" as she was such an easy child to raise. But, the last 2 years have been difficult. Now, I haven't spoken to her for 3 days because I know the result: she is grumpy, surly, rude and turns every interaction into an argument and complaint even if I am helping her. She even surprised me by being downright insulting to me when I wanted to ride a roller coaster with her. I am worried that if we speak, she will behave the same and just perpetuate the problem. She does not have social media, but does spend every allowed minute on her phone browsing Pinterest and watching Netflix (we set limits). We have now blocked her apps so that she can only call, text, and listen to music for 2 weeks and told her that until she can change her attitude and behavior, that will be extended and may lose the phone entirely. I have told her that I love her and want to restore our relationship, but don't know why she is acting this way.


Good news!  Based on what limited knowledge I have of your situation, I proclaim you to be a Good Parent! And I also bestow a Proclamation of Normalcy upon your daughter.  A teenage daughter's yearning for independence takes many forms--many of them unique, but most all of them normal. Unfortunately, much of the time this yearning manifests itself in bad behavior. Some minimal bad behaviors, we can ignore. But many of these uncivil manners may need a memorable consequence. You mentioned that there has been no communication the last three days-- so enjoy the freedom from her surliness, grumpiness, etc.; this will not last. At this stage, minimal engagement with her is probably best, anyway.  She loves you, but may very well not like you for much of her teenage years. No worries--your job is not to create a Wonderful Relationship with her, anyway. That day will come---and maybe not till her adulthood.  But now, you are definitely riding a roller coaster with her; albeit a metaphoric, extended ride.   I love how you have her off social media, and I wouldn't hesitate to relieve her of her phone--period. You're a Good Parent because you love her, and are willing to discipline her and stick to your guns.  I wouldn't concern myself with any form of parent guilt, or the idea that you must appease her so that she will like you. That is not your job. You have already told her that you love her and want to restore the relationship, but I wouldn't harp on that continually. The book of Hebrews says, "Discipline will be painful(for both of you) for the moment, but in the end it will yield the fruits of peace and righteousness." As her behavior heads south. keep doing what is right in a calm, poised manner--even though she may keep doing  what is wrong. 

With a loving, yet firm and unyielding, parental hand----this too, shall then pass.

BeFuddled Father Facing Four Females

QUESTION:  Hello, I know you don't know the history at all with my step-daughters. However, we gave out Easter candy to our 3 daughters ...