“How can I teach my son to be respectful and caring and to love himself?”

"R E S P E C T" by Mimi Stuart ©  Live the Life you Desire

“R E S P E C T” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“When my son was two, his dad went to prison due to his strong drug addiction. Because I felt so sorry for my son, I over-spent on material things and became his best friend. I was in denial that my actions would hurt my son, and myself.

Now my son is very selfish, rude, and angry at the world, and he is non-sociable. His world is restricted to video games on the internet. He has a very high IQ, but he is overweight, and while in school, he was bullied, which drove him almost to suicide. So I took him out of school, and decided to home school him. He didn’t learn any social skills.

I am disabled, and I am overweight as well. I am trying to save enough of money to get us an elliptic stepper exerciser, but they are expensive.

Now I have a selfish, angered, lazy son who is rude to me; he wants things and does not want to give. How can I teach my son to be respectful, show he cares and to love himself?”

Hi Tina,

You have plenty of challenges in your life without beating yourself up about the past. At this point, you need to focus on each day and look to the future.

Let’s look at four reasons teenagers and children at any age tend to be rude, disrespectful and uncaring, and what to do about each one:

1. The parent lacks self-respect. A parent who demonstrates little self–respect receives little respect.

Self-respect involves valuing yourself and not allowing others to treat you poorly. You need to value what’s best for your long-term fulfillment and work each day toward improving your own life. You also need to expect respectful treatment, and have appropriate consequences each time your child is rude to you.

For instance, when he demands things, say something like “If you want something you need to be respectful and contribute to this household.” Then make sure you give him what he wants only if it is necessary, he is polite, and he contributes to the family (chores, etc.) It’s important that you as the parent make such demands respectfully so as to set a good example.

2. The child knows no boundaries.
The second cause of rudeness in children is parents’ over-indulging them and neglecting to set boundaries. The parent needs to be able to say “no” and mean it, but without a condescending attitude.

Parents who need to be liked or become their child’s friend find it difficult to have reasonable expectations and set boundaries. Indulgence and lack of boundaries intended to prop up a child’s self-esteem do the opposite—they cause increased distress and anxiety in the child.

In contrast, parents who set reasonable boundaries and give reasonable consequences are teaching their child self-discipline in the face of instant gratification and temptation. Self-discipline is what enables children to persevere in the world despite set backs. Self-esteem is built on a foundation of perseverance.

3. The child needs more autonomy. All children strive for independence and separation from their parents and need to push the parent away if the parent does not encourage the development of independence.

If you give too much advice and keep them too close, they will not feel good about themselves and they will lose respect for you, often becoming rude, surly and more demanding. Over-protection angers children because implies that they are incapable and it restricts their ability to grow. Ironically, over-protection makes the child more vulnerable and incapable of taking care of themselves. As a result, over-protected children end up craving independence while fearing it at the same time.

In extreme cases when a child is at risk of suicide, there needs to be intervention and counseling. But continuous over-protection will only increase their vulnerability when they do have to venture out into the world.

In general, when we allow our children to deal with the normal difficulties of life, they develop their abilities to deal with the risks, dangers, and bullies that life has to offer. The parent has to realize that the child will get hurt, but will develop ways of dealing with painful incidents if given appropriate amounts autonomy. Ideally, autonomy, good decision-making, and self-preservation develop gradually as a result of the parent gradually giving the child more independence along with more responsibility and accountability.

4. The child seeks power. The fourth cause of rudeness is a need to lash out as a way to experience power because the child does not feel self-empowered in any other way.

A healthy way for a child to become self-empowered is to develop the ability to set goals and achieve them, which again requires perseverance in the face of difficulties. Parents need to have reasonable expectations that their children become more responsible and face reasonable difficulties on their own, while they also hold them accountable for their actions.

In summary, a parent sets the stage for a child to develop self-respect, a precursor to being caring and respectful, by doing the following:

1. developing their own self-respect,
2. setting reasonable boundaries and issuing consequences,
3. giving the child gradually-increasing amounts of autonomy along with responsibility, and
4. expecting the child to work hard, challenge him- or herself, and treat others well.


At this point, I would focus on improving your life, expecting more from your son, and not being afraid to say “no” to him. Avoid argument while focusing on daily improvement of your life.

Rather than buying an elliptic stepper exerciser, you may want to consider going for regular walks. Walking is free and it gets you outdoors in fresh air and among other people, which encourages healthy interaction with the world. You may want to download books from the library onto an mp3 player, which will make it easier and more enjoyable to take longer walks. By demonstrating to your son that your are learning, improving your life, and that you can leave the house frequently despite the discomfort you feel in doing so, you will role model your ability to pursue challenges on your own. I would also encourage or require your son to go back to school and/or work, or some other social environment where he challenges himself to grow and engage with other people.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Watch “How to Respond to Rudeness: ‘I TOLD you to get it for me!!!’”

Read “Angry Adult Child:
‘The years of terror from my mother has made me make sure that my son knows I love him. I fear, more than anything, his total rejection. HOWEVER, he often seems angry at me.’”

Read “My teenager is selfish and rude! How did I raise a child like this?”

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Pursuing Connection with a Distancer?
“We never spend time together.”

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

To sustain a passionate, fulfilling relationship, a couple has to balance two primary drives — togethernesss and separateness. Often however individuals often end up polarizing into the Pursuer and the Distancer.

When pursuers pursue connection they tend to push the distancer away. Pursuers feel rejected when their partner needs space and they’ll often try to get any emotional reaction just to make some sort of connection. The distancer may finally respond with anger or with resentful accommodation. But neither is very satisfying for the couple.

Pursuers tend to come across as needy. Distancers feel smothered by the pursuer’s craving for more connection and often lose desire for the pursuer. Pursuers need to reduce the burden they are putting on to their partner to satisfy their needs. Instead of attacking and overwhelming your partner, start by appreciating your partner and appeal to him or her by expressing desires in a positive way.

Complaining, generalizing, and attacking put others on the defensive and does not make you desirable to be with. You want your partner to want to be with you not to feel obligated to be with you. Entice your partner with one specific positive request at a time. If there’s an entrenched problem, discuss it in a self-empowered and compassionate way, by expressing your needs and values, without complaining and attacking.

If your partner is always busy or doesn’t take you seriously, set an appointment to talk. Keep your conversation concise rather than long and draining.

Pursuers often look for others to satisfy their deepest needs to be heard, to feel validated and accepted, and to avoid feeling alone. Yet no one can truly fill that emptiness. Psychological duress only leads to coerced togetherness not passionate togetherness. Avoid being the victim and using guilt to manipulate someone to spend time with you.

Distancers have all the power in the relationship. Pursuers need to take back that power, not over the other person, not even over the relationship, but over their own lives, by becoming accountable for their own fulfillment rather than making their partner responsible.

Love means having the self-discipline to respect other people’s wishes and needs despite your own desires. Appreciate the other person’s autonomy. Give the other person the space and time apart necessary to desire being with you. Also enjoy your time without your partner. It makes you a more interesting and desirable person to be with.

In summary, allow there to be some space and even mystery between you and your partner. Be responsible for your own fulfillment. If you develop your ability to be independent and to accept yourself, you won’t need to coerce validation and support from someone else.

Strive for love out of fullness rather than out of need and emptiness. Fullness comes from leading a more full, balanced life with ongoing growth, as well as self-validation and self-acceptance. Give yourself and your partner the gift of having the space to desire you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


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Lying: “I am a coward and I am dishonest. I have been hiding my true feelings from my boyfriend. I wanted my doubts, fears and insecurities to disappear. I felt no love from my overbearing father who just liked to tell me what to do.”

"Power of Pink" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Power of Pink” by Mimi Stuart ©

Learning to lie

Often children of overbearing, controlling or critical parents learn to hide their true feelings and intentions. They put on an obedient mask, keep secrets and tell lies. They hide their real feelings as a survival technique to avoid being bullied, rejected, or verbally and physically abused. This defense mechanism serves a child to survive a difficult environment.

When children must focus on putting on an obedient mask to hide their vulnerabilities and anger toward their parents, they often lose touch with their own feelings and needs. Moreover, feelings represent a real threat to the child because if they are exposed they may trigger a dangerous reaction from the parent. The child subconsciously thinks something as follows:

“If I show my anger, fear, disgust, sadness, or need for love, affection, or acceptance, my parent will reject me or yell at me. So those feelings are bad. I must repress them.”

Hence, such feelings go underground and become tainted with excessive anxiety. An ongoing sense of anxiety grows within them as they grow into adulthood, particularly when it comes to close relationships.


Later, as an adult, it is difficult to talk about feelings, let alone understand the nuances of them because they are stigmatized with extreme anxiety. Hiding feelings has become a habit ingrained in the neural pathways of the brain. Repressing feelings has become second nature. Lying to avoid revealing any “dangerous” feelings has become second nature as well. Such deception is rarely intentional and not meant to hurt others.

These defense mechanisms developed as a child no longer serve an adult well. In fact hiding feelings and lying will destroy most relationships.

Time to change

Now is the time to start paying attention to your feelings and desires and expressing them when appropriate. As your ability to understand your own feelings improves and becomes more nuanced, you will gain the following benefits:

• You will take responsibility for your feelings and needs, rather than blaming others and making them responsible for your fulfillment,
• You will feel greater peace because you will lose excessive anxiety,
• You will become more self-aware and less confused,
• You will become more empowered,
• You will become more empathetic of others,
• You will communicate better with others and enjoy better relationships.

When you learn to identify your feelings and vulnerabilities and understand them, you’ll be able to express them appropriately in an empowered way. Confrontations, which are based on miscommunication and blame, will be mitigated. As you become more conscious of your feelings and the meaning they convey, the anxiety you experience around them will gradually disappear and you will learn to accept yourself.

You have demonstrated that you are not a “coward” by putting this question out there. The first step to dealing with your “dishonesty” is to acknowledge it and to understand why that worked for you a child. The next step is to avoid reacting as usual with hiding or lying. Instead clarify or write down the ambivalent feelings and desires you have and then try to express them if appropriate.

You might get the book or CDs “Nonviolent Communication” by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. In them you will find effective ways of expressing your feelings and needs, as well as lists of numerous distinct feelings and needs, which will help you develop self-awareness and an appreciation of other people’s feelings.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen



Read “Lying: ‘I get so mad that my family lies to me all the time.’”

Read “Manipulation: ‘I value honesty and can’t stand dealing with manipulative people.’”

Read “Keys to Improving Relationships”

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“I want to save my relationship with a pathological liar.”

"Perception" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Perception” by Mimi Stuart ©

“I’m in a very desperate situation. I have been with my man for 5 years.
He is a pathological liar. I control the accounts because he accumulated a lot of debts, but I gave him his credit card back and he went away and got very drunk and spent money we needed! He acts as though he hates me and has no more desire for me, while ignoring me for three weeks. He says he doesn’t know what he wants. Meanwhile, I am depressed and feel desperate, but I love him and want to save our relationship.”


I wish I could tell you how to save your relationship, but it really can’t be done and shouldn’t be hoped for. This is the reason for your depression and desperation. Desperation occurs when a person feels hopeless. Part of you wants something that is impossible — a loving, trusting relationship with a pathological liar who spends recklessly and treats you with contempt.

I do not recommend that you try to save your relationship. It can’t be done. The only way you will truly feel better is if you regain your sense of self and get your life back by becoming independent and free of this man.

There are several reasons why you should not depend on this man in any way. Any one of these give you enough reason to terminate the relationship.

He is a pathological liar

First and foremost, you cannot have a real relationship with a pathological liar. Trust and clear, honest communication are the bases for an intimate relationship. You can never trust a deceitful person. Nor can you depend on someone who lacks a sense of values and ethics. You cannot even get to know who he is because he is always putting on a façade in order to manipulate you and those around him.

He is financially reckless

No matter how much you love someone, when that person is financially reckless, there is no basis for security. Romance with someone so reckless is very fleeting. If he is a grown man and cannot control his spending, that is enough reason to become completely independent of him — financially and emotionally. Do not live with him and do not share any expenses with him.

When you try to monitor his spending to stop his recklessness, you become a surrogate parent. This will destroy his desire for you, and make you feel resentful. He would also lose respect for you for being so desperate as to tolerate his recklessness.

He treats you with contempt

It’s very difficult to have a relationship with someone who is sullen and withdrawn. Some people withdraw for an hour or perhaps a day, but if this happens frequently or lasts much longer, the relationship will deteriorate into misery. It sounds as though you are already there. Hating you and ignoring you for weeks shows a serious contempt for you and a lack of maturity and compassion for your suffering.

At this point in your relationship the key question to ask yourself is what steps you need to take to achieve what is in your best interest and the best interest of your children.

In order to regain your self-respect and well-being, you need to resist the short-term gratification of hoping for happiness with this man. Your desperation will diminish if you find your inner strength and take control of your life without a man who is a pathological liar, reckless spender, and full of contempt toward you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Contempt: ‘Don’t look at me that way!’”

Read “’How could he leave me? I did everything for him.’ Being needed versus being wanted.”

Read “My life feels out of control.”

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GUEST AUTHOR Sam Vaknin: The Situational Codependent: Codependence as Reaction to Life Crises

"Percussion" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Percussion” by Mimi Stuart ©

Guest Author Sam Vaknin Writes:

Some patients develop codependent behaviors and traits in the wake of a life crisis, especially if it involves an abandonment and resulting solitude (e.g. divorce, or an empty nest: when one’s children embark on their own, autonomous lives, or leave home altogether.)

Such late-onset codependence fosters a complex emotional and behavioral chain reaction whose role is to resolve the inner conflict by ridding oneself of the emergent, undesirable codependent conduct.

Consciously, such a patient may, at first, feel liberated. But, unconsciously, being abruptly “dumped” and lonesome has a disorienting and disconcerting effect (akin to intoxication). Many patients rush headlong and indiscriminately into new relationships. Deep inside, this kind of patient has always dreaded being lonely (lonely, not alone!). Following a divorce, the death of a significant other or intimate partner, the passing away of parents or other loved ones, children relocating to college, and similar episodes of dislocation, she suppresses this dread because she possesses no real, effective solutions and antidotes to her sudden solitude and has developed no meaningful ways to cope with it.

We are taught that denied and repressed emotions often re-emerge in camouflage, as it were. The dread of ending up all alone is such that the patient becomes codependent in order to make sure that she never finds herself in a similar situation. Her codependence is a series of dysfunctional behaviors that are intended to fend off abandonment.

Still, patients who develop situational codependence (unlike classic, lifelong codependents) are fundamentally balanced and strong personalities who cherish their self-control. So, they always keep all their options open, including the vital option of going it alone yet again. They make sure to choose the wrong partner and then they spectacularly “expose” his egregious misconduct so that they can get rid of him and of the newly-acquired codependence in good conscience and at the same time.

To reiterate:

– The situational codependent is characterized by a deep-set fear of being lonely (abandonment anxiety, a form of attachment disorder) as an underlying, dormant inner landscape;

– This lurking abandonment anxiety is awakened by life’s tribulations: divorce, an empty nest, death of one’s nearest and dearest.

– At first, the newly-found freedom is exhilarating and intoxicating. But this “feel-good” factor actually serves to enhance the anxiety! The inner dialog goes something like this: “What if it feels so good that I will opt to remain by myself for the rest of my days? This prospect is terrifying!”

– Thus, a conflict erupts between conscious emotions and behaviors (liberation, joy, pleasure-seeking, etc.) and a nagging unconscious anxiety (“I am not getting any younger”, “This can’t go on for ever”, “I’ve got to settle down, to find an appropriate mate, not to be left alone”, etc.)

– To allay this internal tension, the patient comes up with situational codependence as a coping strategy: to attract and bond with a mate, so as to forestall abandonment.

– Yet, the situational codependent is ego-dystonic. She is very unhappy with her codependence (though, at this stage, she is utterly unaware of all these dynamics.) It runs contrary to her primary nature as accomplished, assertive, self-confident person with a well-regulated sense of self-worth. She feels the need to frustrate this new set of compulsive addictions (codependence) and to get rid of it because it threatens who she is and who she thinks she is (her self-perception.) Surely, she is not the clinging, maudlin, weak, out of control type! All her life, she has known herself to be a strong, good judge of character, intelligent, and in control. Codependence doesn’t become her!

But how could she get rid of it? In three easy steps:

– She chooses the wrong partner (unconsciously);

– She proves to her satisfaction that he is the wrong partner for her;

– She gets rid of him, thus re-establishing her autonomy, resilience, self-control and demonstrating credibly that she is codependent no more!

by Guest Author Sam Vaknin — the author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam’s Web site.

Read Alison Poulsen’s “I can’t live with her and I can’t live without her.”

Read Sam Vaknin’s: “Inner Voices, False Narratives, Narcissism, and Codependence.”

Read Sam Vaknin’s “I Keep Choosing the Wrong Intimate Partner/I Keep Having Failed Relationships.”

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How to resist getting back together with a narcissist

"Song of Everest" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Song of Everest” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire


I don’t seem to be able to break the habit of contacting my ex fiancé even though he had several online affairs, alternated affection with contempt, lost his temper with me, lectured me constantly to try to force me to change myself in pretty much every way, sabotaged my friendships and acted obnoxiously when my family member died and I had a massive cancer scare. What on earth do I do?



Everything you said about your ex fits the description of a narcissist:

• making accusations
• showing contempt
• sabotaging your friendships
• lacking empathy
• having online affairs that feed his need for validation and praise

Most people enjoy admiration, but for narcissists, the craving for validation is never-ending, as they need it in order to feel empowered and worthwhile. Thus, the primary drive in their lives is to seek praise and conquest, whether through seduction, power, or status.

Narcissists unconsciously target well-meaning, vulnerable people as their intimates. Yet ironically, narcissists end up holding in contempt those who admire or love them. While they seek admiration, they have disdain for people foolish enough to be deceived by their grandiosity. Moreover, they fear that intimates may discover the extreme emptiness and vulnerability underlying their grandiosity.

Thus, in intimate relationships, they protect themselves from criticism, humiliation, and rejection by over-reacting with contempt or outrage whenever they are challenged on any level. Contempt becomes a tool to keep their partner and other intimates insecure and dependent, thus, ensuring their continued validation. Contempt erodes the partner’s self-respect, which will make it harder for that person to stand up and leave the abusive relationship.

Breaking emotional ties

Narcissists will drain the life out of you. It is critical that you stay away from someone who is demeaning toward you, has online affairs, and sabotages your friendships.

Leaving a narcissist can be difficult because your self-confidence is diminished, and narcissists tend to excel at manipulation and seduction. They may threaten and berate you and alternatively use their skills of charm and seduction. It is up to you to avoid becoming weak to such maneuvering.

To quit a relationship with a narcissist, you have to make a conscious decision to avoid the narcissist. You’ve got to be strong and decide flatly that you will end the relationship.

You can make it a bit easier by keeping busy with friends and family. If you can afford it, travel is a great way to free yourself of your old habits. Initially it will take willpower for you to resist the urge of contacting him and to avoid being seduced by his charms. It is natural to miss a person you have been emotionally involved with for so long, even when that person is often unkind and contemptuous. But you will miss him less after the first three months of no contact. After a year, things will become much easier.

Keep in mind that relationships should be loving and supportive. If your return to him, his negative behavior is likely to get much worse.

Remember that in a good relationship, each partner wants the other person’s happiness. Look for someone who embraces your friends, who cares for you, appreciates your desires, and who feels empathy for what you are going through — your disappointments, successes, and losses. Look for someone who never (or hardly ever!!) shows contempt toward you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Ending an Abusive Relationship: ‘I feel guilty leaving my abusive partner, because I have compassion for him.’”

Read “Narcissism.”

Read “Emotionally Volatile People: ‘He can be so charming and then so defiant.’”

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