Jane called me and said that her teenage daughter was rebellious, lazy, uncooperative, and withdrawn. As I listened to the details, it was obvious that Jane was trying to control her daughter in a great many unnecessary and even harmful ways. I suggested that she learn to love and teach her daughter—as outlined in the book Real Love in Parenting, for example—rather than control her.
But Jane chose to continue the anger and controlling with her daughter. She could not give up the feeling of power she had always enjoyed, even though it was destroying her child. The girl's behavior worsened, and eventually, she was admitted to a treatment center for bulimia and cutting (self-mutilation).
Within a week of Jane's call, I received a call from Myra, who also stated that her teenage daughter was rebellious, lazy, uncooperative, and withdrawn. Again I described the way of loving and teaching, and Myra chose to implement the principles she learned. Three weeks later Myra called me and said that she and her daughter were no longer fighting. In fact, she said, that morning her daughter had made breakfast for her, an event Myra could hardly have imagined previously.
Children have a profound need to be unconditionally loved and taught. When they can feel that love from their parents, they feel safe and whole. Their deep emotional pain disappears, so they lose their need to lash out and withdraw—which are only responses to pain.
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Eliminate confusion and conflict with your children.