Portrait of Greg Baer

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Where Does This Lead?

Do you have an impossible child who REFUSES to listen as you love and teach? Watch as Greg explains how a father lovingly and calmly helped his teenage daughter realize that what she was doing was leading to unhappiness.

Timestamps: 

00:00 Teenage daughter refusing to listen to her dad in spite of consequences.

03:26 Dad tells her no more basketball due to her bad behavior.

06:24 Dad shows Chrissa on the computer what her goals are and how her present actions aren't getting her there.

11:23 Chrissa finally understands.

13:28 Dad explains where her present actions will get her.

16:44 Chrissa decides to do better, dad lovingly sets rules.

19:36 Dad changed by taking Parenting Training. 

Transcript:

I know a father—we’ll call him something novel, like Dad—who had been studying and living the principles of the Parenting Training for months, but his teenage daughter, Crissa, simply wasn’t listening. Refused to listen.

Dad Tries to Help His Daughter Change her Choices and Actions

He had loved and taught her, over and over. Occasionally a brief light of understanding would gleam from her eye, but it never lasted long. She continued to neglect homework, household chores, and simple instructions. She teased and bullied her siblings, and she used a condescending and angry tone with them and her parents.

Dad recognized that even though he was doing everything he knew, it wasn’t helping Crissa change attitudes and behaviors that he knew would cause her great pain over the years.

I explained to Dad that I understood that it was not fun to apply consequences to his daughter. No parent likes to see the look of disgust and anger that appears on the face of a child who has just been given an inconvenient consequence because of their own behavior.

I further explained that some kids—as well as many adults—don’t learn the intended lesson until the consequences become so inconvenient that the child “bottoms out,” as they would say in twelve-step programs.

They get to the point where they hate the consequences so much—sometimes they’re broken by the consequences—that they’re finally willing to consider making the right choices, which is the whole purpose of consequences.

Running Out of Consequences

But Dad was running out of consequences. He used all the usual consequences found in the Parenting Training—removal of phone, restriction of non-essential activities away from home, no electronics, extra jobs around the house, and more.

For heaven’s sake, one night that Dad called me, he said that she had been extra snotty, so he’d required her to sleep in the backyard for the past week. She still refused to be humble and learn. And I have to say that never during all this did Dad sound angry. He was really being loving toward his daughter.

Choosing a Consequence with Real Impact

Finally, Dad said that Crissa couldn’t go to basketball practices or games anymore. THAT got Crissa’s attention, because (1) she loved basketball and (2) she had been offered a basketball scholarship at a university not far from home. But the scholarship didn’t cover everything that college attendance involves. 

Crissa still had expenses for some of her housing, food, travel, and other things that would total several thousand dollars a year. Years ago, Dad had told Crissa that he would pay these additional expenses for her first year of college, until she had time to get a job and settled in, but now Dad told Crissa he was changing the deal, because everything he had given her had produced only entitlement, defiance, and a lack of responsibility. 

Dad was not willing to continue to essentially PAY Crissa to learn to be irresponsible and snotty. Dad realized that he was running a School of Life, which is far more important than any subject that might be taught in college.

(For more on the School of life see here and here.)

Dad's Courage to Help Daughter Make Better Choices and Actions 

After her conversation with Dad, Crissa was grief-stricken that she might not have enough money to go to college, and that because of missing basketball games, she might even lose her basketball scholarship. She might not be able to go to college at all.

To his everlasting credit, Dad did NOT remove the consequences. He knew that Crissa learning to be a happy human being—loving and responsible, not with a nasty attitude—was far more important than her going to college.

I gave Dad some suggestions, and he chose to follow them, adding his own creative elements. He arranged a meeting with Crissa, where they gathered around the computer.

Dad's Plan to Help Daughter Understand the Impact of Her Choices and Actions

Dad said, let’s go on an adventure, the adventure of your life. Dad asked Crissa what her life goals were, and Crissa came up with the following, which she wrote down:

  • Go to college, majoring in nursing, funded mostly by basketball scholarship
  • Get a career that would provide a good living, which nursing could do
  • Have a happy family
  • Go on vacations and other fun activities

Dad knew his daughter, so he had planned for these answers. He said, “Let’s look at each of these goals.” He had pulled pictures off the Internet of each of the four goals above, and one at a time he put them at the top of a different word-processing page on the computer.

Let’s look at just the first goal: Go to college, majoring in nursing, funded mostly by basketball scholarship

Beneath the picture he put two column headings:

            Requirements                          How are you doing?

Then they discussed what to put under each column heading:               

Requirements  

Sufficient grades for admission to Nursing School.

Study habits to succeed in Nursing & basketball.

Basketball scholarship

Additional money for living expenses

   How are you doing?

Grades barely sufficient to get admitted to Nursing School

Have to be pushed to do homework every day.

No more basketball practice or games.

No research into these necessary sums

Initial Impact to Choices and Actions Talk

Dad to Crissa: Can you see the difference between what you SAY you want and what you are PREPARING yourself for?

Crissa looked like she’d been hit by a car. She’d always just been defiant and difficult, and in the process she had felt powerful. She had tended to get what she wanted, because everybody gave in to her angry demands.

When Dad began the Parenting Training, he had admitted his past mistakes—his enabling, his anger, etc—but for nearly a year there had been no yelling or criticism from him, only attempts to help her succeed. Crissa had never really seen so starkly—so black-and-white—where her present behaviors were leading her. She cried.

Dad: I’m NOT trying to make you feel bad about this. I’m trying to help you avoid where the second column—how you’re acting now—will get you.

Where Her Actions are leading

Do you know where will your present behavior will lead?

(Picture of McDonald’s with arches occupying upper right-hand corner, next to the one of kids going to college.)

It will lead you here. For life.

NOT criticizing a career at McDonald’s. I’ve worked burger places, Kentucky Fried Chicken scrubbing pots (90 cents/hour), and working in hospitals, where I wiped people’s bottoms and took them for walks down the hall.

I enjoyed all those jobs, but I decided that I didn’t want a career doing them. I realized that I would find myself limited in expressing myself in many ways.

Dad continued: If you work at McDonald’s, continuing with your present attitude, starting this coming summer, what are the odds of your getting into college at all, much less nursing school?

Crissa: Now sobbing. “Terrible.”

Dad: True. And if you continue working at McDonald’s or other entry-level jobs, what is the likelihood of your achieving your SECOND goal:

Get a career that would provide a good living

Crissa, still crying and shaking her head NO.

Dad: And if you don’t go to college, and you have no job with a future, what are the odds that you would meet the kind of man who could be a good husband and father?

I ask because of your third goal of having happy family

Crissa: Terrible

Dad: IT’s POSSIBLE that you COULD find a life partner working at McDonald’s with you, but life would be much more limited. Not likely that you could afford children (want those?)

Yes.

Dad: So if you continue as you are, the likelihood of your first three goals becomes very limited. And the fourth goal—vacations and fun stuff—even more limited.

See the point I’m making?

Nodding.

Dad: You have been thinking that I was just demanding, controlling, and strict. Not at all.

Pointing to the picture of nursing class, “I’ve been trying to help you achieve this goal (the first one about school), which tends to naturally lead to the rest, rather than THIS (pointing to the second picture, with government assistance and government housing and all that goes with it: increased crime, drugs, prison, much less chance for education for your children, and on and on)

Dad: So which choice would you prefer?

Crissa: the first one.

Dad: If you are really willing to change your attitude completely, and believe that I’m helping you reach your life goals, then we would both SEE that attitude PROVEN by your behavior. 

There would be no more sassing, no grunting in response to questions, no teasing your siblings, no anger, no arguing, no resistance, no defiance, no being told to do homework and other stuff you’re supposed to do, again and again. 

And if you really do this, I think we can get you back into basketball, and I’ll help you get to college. But that would require a complete and lasting turnaround.

Crissa jumped into her father’s lap and threw her arms around his neck. “I’ll do it.”

Father stroking her back: “Honey, we’ll see. I’m not being pessimistic, but words don’t mean anything. You’ve said cooperative words before, but then your attitude was back in minutes. So from now on, I won’t remind you of your chores, or homework, or attitude.

Dad's Plan to Help Her Make Better Choices and Actions

What I WILL do is that EVERY time you are making choices that lead to THIS (McDonalds), I will ask you where your behavior is taking you. And you will answer either, “Happy” or “NOT happy,” meaning that you’re headed toward your goals, or you’re just going to suffer whatever will just HAPPEN to you.

Then Dad pulled up the pictures of her other goals, and they did the requirements and how Crissa was doing. It was very obvious that she wasn’t going to reach any of her goals at the present rate.

Dad: So I’m not going to tell you to stop wasting time with Facebook and YouTube. I won’t tell you to stop being snotty to your brother. I’ll just ask you where you’re heading, Happy or Not. 

Or I might say, “Are you shutting doors to where you want to go, or are you opening them?” And if your behavior keeps saying that you don’t want to be loving and responsible, Unhappy is what you’ll get, no matter what your words say.

I won’t support you with finances that would support you making a choice to be entitled, angry, and miserable.

The Effect of the Choices and Actions Talk

Crissa changed faster than imaginable. Bit of a miracle. Upped her grades. Played basketball. Got a scholarship. Had to take a year of college NOT in nursing school—grades not good enough—before she could persuade nursing program with her NEW college grades to admit her to their program. So it took her an extra year of college.

So what? Easily worth it, because she finally LISTENED to Dad telling her that he was HELPING her. She finally FELT the love he had been giving her for the year of studying REPT. And she became happy and loving and responsible.

In her defense, he hadn’t been loving prior to learning how to be a parent, but things change. HE did, and she needed to believe it.

This is what is possible. Many kids refuse to listen—even with loving and teaching, especially if they’re older—and I could go on and on with how that turns out:

  • Homelessness
  • Addictions to substances
  • Crime
  • Jail
  • Depression
  • Suicide

As parents we have to try loving and teaching, and we have to be willing to withhold EVERYTHING from a child in order to teach them with consequences, because it sometimes takes all that before they’ll listen and feel.

We’re not here to control them NOR to enable them. Were here to love and teach, and in the process we greatly increase their chances of happiness and reaching the goals they have, using the gifts they all have.

Parenting is not for the timid, but with love and help, you can do it.




  • What a powerful and inspiring example of loving and teaching. This kind of parental commitment and application would require a parent to feel loved, loving and responsible first. As a parent of grown children, I see how my children are struggling emotionally in their personal relationships. I know I am partially to blame for this and until very recently, I would beat myself up about that. Yeah, I really messed up as a parent. However, I can only go from now. As I continue to feel loved, practice being loving and become more responsible in all ways, I am growing into the kind of parent I’ve always wanted to be. My grandchildren are benefiting the most from this. I pray that it not be too late for my own children. Time will tell…

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