Changing Tactics...


Psycho Gorilla Dad
Well, McWeedy had it coming. Not anything he's done recently, just from his normal "actin' the fool". My older son Sarge made a wry comment a few months back about how McWeedy "handles" us. "You guys are so well trained. He goes out and acts stupid, and then when he occasionally acts the way he should, you go out of your way to reward him. Shouldn't it be the other way around?"
He was right, of course, but wife and I couldn't ever figure out how to use that constructively, since we were terrified by what he might do if provoked. Well, after months of practicing "detachment", and making some hard choices, that's changed.

While I was gone, wife calmly informed McWeedy that he was NOT going to act the fool while I was out of town. There would be no sleepovers. There would be no breaking of curfew. If he broke curfew, he would be reported as a runaway to the police. If he came home stoned or drunk, he would be reported to the police. He said "you can't do that for 24 hours", and wife replied by showing him the business card of the sherrif's deputy I had talked to at Juvie the week before, and invited him to call and confirm what the police would or wouldn't do...

Funny, she didn't have a bit of trouble out of him while I was gone. That doesn't mean he didn't find a way to sneak in a bowl or two, but he was home early or on time, never came home impared at all, and even voluntarily made another payment against his debt to us without being asked.

Sarge was right. Instead of rewarding occasional good behavior, expect good behavior, punish bad behaviour in a meaningful and constructive way, and reward him in the same manner and level as any other family member who acts like a family member.

Yesterday, I took it one step further. McWeedy said that he'd been trying to decide whether he wanted a new stereo for his car or money for a birthday present. I just looked at him, and said "Money? You mean the 10 dollar gift card to McD's I was going to get you?"

I was serious, and the look on his face was priceless, since we normally spend quite a bit more than that on birthdays.
I said "How about this instead. You know your mom and sister will be leaving us for a few weeks, and that I'm not looking forward to having you out and own your own while I'm at work. And I don't want to deal with your acting out in the evenings, either. So you have two options:

(a) No sleeping over while your Mom is gone. You don't stay out past curfew. You answer your phone when I call. You do your best to stay clean. You don't come home intoxicated in any way, and you go to every substance abuse counselling session in the medical study.

(b) Continue to act out, ignore my calls, break curfew, and smoking pot/drinking.

The choice was clear: act like a normal, responsible member of the family, and reap the benefits (i.e. he gets his stereo for his birthday). On the flip side, act the fool and I immediately lower the boom with the police.

Again, Sarge was right. He went away, thought about it, then cam back and said "okay, but I may want money to help by an even better stereo!".

Instead of rewarding him for acting out and occasionally doing the right thing, he's being offered a normal reward for acting like a normal member of the family. Nothing special, just what he (or anyone else) would get for keeping with the family plan. And the choice isn't to act normal and get rewarded, or act out and get away with it. It's act normal and get rewarded, or act the fool and get the paddle.

For all his other quirks, Sarge is a pretty smart guy. We'll see how it works out, but for now it looks promising, and is fully in keeping with the larger plan wife and I laid out. Since McWeedy is going to give the SA treatment a chance, I'll give it a chance, too.


PS: Before anyone reminds me of it, I readily acknowledge that others here suggested this tougher stance months ago. However, I respectfully offer that (a) neither I, wife, or McWeedy were in a position where such a tactic would have worked until now, and (b) Sarge is pretty darn convincing - the kid should be a lawyer or he'll miss his true calling in life!


Well-Known Member
Be prepared to stand tough. You are getting ready to walk a difficult walk. As a parent our first instinct is to give them one more have to set in your mind that his one more happened ages ago...Calling the cops on your child is one of the hardest things you will ever do. I've done it more than once. I've also let him spend 23 days in lockup and not talked to him or seen him the entire time. I cried a little everyday. But I know if my son is going to be saved, he has to save himself. I have done everything within my power and I am powerless against his choices except when they affect me. Then I go into action. Be willing to stand firm. There is no help after 18.


Warrior Parent
Good for you & wife, Mikey!! I totally agree with BBK, "Timing is everything" and you know now the time is right.

I think we can also refer to this phase as "Detachment 201" :smirk:

I'm sure we've all heard RM's comment, I know I have, a million times
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Kids like limits and consequences to be set clearly in place </div></div>
And this morning, a new thought struck me on that: Sometimes, it's the parents who have trouble with limits & consequences. I know I did, and still do at times. I want to give my children the best, even when they don't 'deserve' it.

Where is wife going? I missed that post.



New Member
Hi Mikey:

I call it an "Epiphany"! Realizing when you are ready to take action is the most important thing. I guess a parent has to get to a certain point, especially with difficult child's, that we can take the action necessary. This is why, I believe, we struggle so much to attain "detachment with love" from our kids. They are so vulnerable, yet destructive to themselves. It's so hard to watch someone self destruct. It takes different things for different parents to come to a point of making a clear decision. We've gone thru jail, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), Rehab, Detox, Running Away, living on the streets, defiance, violence.....We are not the average parents.
I think you are handling this great with your difficult child. I also think he wants those rules, they all do, they need them. Your difficult child seems still pliable.....I am sure you and wife have a chance with him. Just remember, you can't save him, only yourselves.



Well-Known Member
Ditto, Karen.

Ditto the others who gently remind have drawn the line
and you can not back away. Scarey, but true. DDD