Category Archives: Parenting

“I miss being close to my adult son.”

"Lady Liberty" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Lady Liberty” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“My very close relationship with my son who is now 22 changed when he changed schools in 9th grade when he dramatically distanced himself from me. When he is with us during Christmas or summer breaks he is nice and family oriented but somehow always avoids spending quality time with me, never talks about private matters, and sometimes reveals that he blames me for things in his life that never occurred to me, like changing the school for him which put him through hard times or not taking his problems seriously enough. I feel his rejection of me and it hurts. We are slipping apart and I think I am not very able to deal with this. It sometimes makes my life feel worthless. Do you have any advice for me??”

Young adults separating from their parents

I’m so sorry for your pain. Younger children will generally idealize their parents, and when they become old enough to recognize their flaws, they can become disappointed, annoyed, and openly critical.

It is also very common for children to distance themselves from their parents when they are teenagers and young adults – this is natural and to be expected in a healthy child. They can become hyper-critical of their parents, blaming them for any struggles they face. They also can become hyper-sensitive to being judged or controlled by their parents.

It is a positive sign that your son is visiting you during Christmas and summer, and that he is polite. It is important to keep that connection even if it feels superficial to you. You may desire deeper connection and to talk about private matters with him, but you must resist pressing him in any way. When he is ready he will come to you.

If and when he does say anything about his life, try hard not to be reactive; do not judge or give advice unless he asks for it. Simply listen and try to be supportive. Do otherwise, and he will clam up and further distance himself from you.

Sudden change in child

It is possible that something bad happened to your son in 9th grade, either an event or simply unhappiness in being in a new school where he did not feel comfortable. As this was not your intention, it was not your fault. These transitions and minor traumas are part of life, and often prepare the teen for difficulties that are bound to occur in life. On the other hand if you do suspect that something horrible happened to him, you should ask him about it in a letter or in person. Otherwise let it pass.

Not a perfect parent?

No parent is perfect. As long as a parent provides love, consistency, and has reasonable expectations and consequences, the parent is doing a good job. No parent can satisfy a child’s every need, nor would it be the healthiest way to prepare a child for life. It is through one’s parents’ small failures and mistakes that a child learns to survive challenges.

A theory developed by Winnecott and called “good-enough mothering” (or good-enough parenting) shows that it’s better to be a pretty good parent with flaws than a “perfect parent” who anticipates every need of the child. It is the omissions and small mistakes of the parent that enable a child to gradually develop resiliency. Of course, abuse and great neglect do not fit into this category of “good-enough.”

Children criticize where it hurts – beware of your vulnerabilities

Ironically, children often criticize their parents for having the very qualities that the parents try hardest to avoid having. Better than anyone, children know their parents’ vulnerabilities. For example, if a child senses that a parent would hate to be seen as “rude”, then the child is likely to say to the parent that he or she is rude, even though the parent is indeed the otherwise. The child unconsciously knows the parent’s vulnerabilities and triggers and will exploit them in certain situations.

Thus, your son’s criticism of you for not taking his problems seriously enough may simply be his way of getting your attention because he unconsciously knows it will hurt you. Or he may simply be projecting his own inability to deal with his problems onto you.

On the other hand, if his criticism is apt, it’s not too late to take his problems more seriously.

Suggestions

When your son visits,

1. Be polite,

2. Show you’re happy to see him, but don’t idolize him or make him the center of all your attention,

3. Let him approach you,

3. Don’t ask too many questions if he’s sensitive to intrusive questioning,

4. Try not to make any judgments,

5. Try not to give advice,

6. Try not to be reactive when he discusses anything about his life,

7. Don’t lay any guilt trips “you’re seeing your friends again instead of having dinner with us!”

8. When he criticizes you, don’t get defensive; simply say, “I’m sorry you’re hurt, but unfortunately I’m not perfect. But you know I’m on your side and want what’s best for you.”

9. When he leaves, tell him how much his visit has meant to you ,

10. Try to do something interesting or fun together. You could say, “it would mean a lot to me if you go (skiing/on a hike/to a museum) with me while you visit, perhaps on Thursday.” “I’d love to go …. with you during your visit, perhaps ….”

I predict that as he matures and becomes more self-confident, he will become more appreciative of and comfortable around you and desire a deeper connection with you. However, you have to accept the natural loss of the close connection you once had when he was young. It is a fact of life that our children will grow up and will have their own lives independent of us – and that is a good thing.

Thus, I suggest that you let go of the hope to be as connected as you once were. I suggest enjoying his visits as much as possible, and letting him live his life while you focus on finding some things that you truly enjoy and are passionate about. Pursue your interests, enhance your relationships with your wife or partner if you have one, enhance your relationships with friends and the community. This will make you happier, and make you more appealing to your son, and a better role-model for him.

Write a letter to him

If it feels appropriate, you could write a letter, though not too long and detailed. Make sure you’re not judgmental, pleading, needy, demanding—anything that would cause him to feel guilty. For example,

“Dear ___________,

I want you to know how much joy you’ve brought into my life and how much our relationship means to me. It’s probably healthy and normal for a you to live your own life and in so doing to distance yourself from us a bit. However, I feel quite saddened by the distance between us since you went into the 9th grade. It may be simply a healthy distance for a young adult, but it seems as if there is something else causing the distance, some hurt or disappointment on your part. Of course I am not a perfect parent, but I have always been on your side and tried my best.

I dearly hope that you can forgive any hurt I have inadvertently caused you, and that over time we can become closer, as you mean the world to me.”

Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

Best,

Alison

Read “Good-enough Parenting: ‘I feel so bad when I let my children down.’”

Read “I worry a lot over my adult children and I often call them to give advice.”

When is it time for an adult child to move out.

"Limitless" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Limitless” by Mimi Stuart ©

“My son is 20 and we are having a great deal of trouble with his selfish behavior. He stays at home and commutes to school, and this summer he is basically just doing what he wants and getting angry and impatient if we ask for help around the house. He swears often as is critical of me even though he knows I don’t like it. He blames other people when confronted about his own attitude. He definitely has a good side and can be very funny and entertaining. Lately though, I feel depressed, as though I had failed as a parent.”


This is a very common situation, although a painful one. Unless your son has always been rude and selfish he will probably turn out fine in the end. I believe your son resents you because he is an adult yet he is dependent on you. He doesn’t feel good about himself because he is functioning as a child. Yet he’s too comfortable and afraid to change the situation. Fear is what is driving his resentment and his lashing out at you.

Behavior and the Brain

The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until we’re about 25 years. Typically it develops more slowly in males. It develops through experiencing the repeated consequences to our actions, both positive and negative. A person develops the ability to resist immediate gratification or impulsive behavior such as being rude and critical when there are repeated negative consequences to such behavior.

If a young man experiences no consequences when he swears, is rude, and does not contribute in a supportive way, then he will be unlikely to develop the ability to resist those impulses later in life with people close to him. Now is the time when you can influence him so that his prefrontal cortex does not remain underdeveloped.

Consequences

You need to keep two things in mind. One, your home is your sanctuary and two, he is an adult.

You should not tolerate an entitled, rude, critical person living in YOUR home. Enabling bad behavior doesn’t do anyone any good. It merely strengthens neural pathways of negative behavior. There need to be consequences and firm boundaries to his conduct in YOUR home.

There is no need to be angry or mean when discussing a problem. It’s much more effective to be kind but resolute when expressing your own boundaries, specifically that it is time for your son to move out of your home. I suggest being very honest with him, but start with something positive and retain a firm but compassionate tone of voice.

For example, “You’re often funny and enjoyable to be with. We love you. However, perhaps because you’re 20 and an adult who needs his independence, you seem to resent us. We understand that young adults who are not adequately separated from their parents may become critical of and annoyed with their parents. However, your criticism, swearing, and hostile attitude toward us in our home are unacceptable to us. We know you’re better than that and don’t want to enable you further.”

“While you are in our home we expect appreciation, support and consideration and we expect you to live by our rules. Since you haven’t been doing that, we think that for our own sakes as well as yours, it is time that you should live elsewhere. This is not a punishment, but what’s best for everyone.”

“We all have to be creative in figuring out how this can be done. Perhaps you can get a loan for your tuition and use the money we’re spending on tuition on your room and board. You can get another part-time job, or get a full-time job and take fewer classes. Whatever you decide is up to you, and we would be glad to help in any way we reasonably can.”

Facing challenges

This is the time when young people should be meeting the daily challenges in life. Facing such challenges is how he will build self-confidence, and as a result have more positive interactions with others including you, as long as you don’t mollycoddle him.

College

You may worry that it will be harder for your son to complete college if he has to get another job. Yet the gift of gaining self-respect, respect for others, and the skills to deal with life challenges will balance out the fact that it may take longer for him to complete college. Moreover, it is probable that he will appreciate the gift of a college education more than he currently does when he sees what it takes to get by on his own. In the meantime, I would also ask him to do more chores, let him cook his own meals, and do less for him.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Setting Boundaries”

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 “I worry a lot over my adult children and I often call them to give advice.”

“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.

Recommendations

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
@alisonpoulsen

https://www.facebook.com/dralisonpoulsen

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?”

“I better comfort her because she can’t handle this.”

"Under Water" detail by Mimi Stuart ©

“Under Water” detail by Mimi Stuart ©

Validating others can backfire

Ironically, those who depend on another person’s validation to feel secure about themselves are causing their insecurity to intensify. If they depend on their partner, friend, or parent to validate them in order to appease their anxiety, they are allowing others to re-enforce their limitations. This will prevent them from growing and from developing a stronger sense of themselves when faced with difficulty, discomfort and anxiety.

Who is really the anxious one?

When somebody is upset, scared, or uncomfortable, are you the one that intervenes and tries to make it right? You may not think that you are the anxious one but generally what spurs somebody into quick action in an effort to validate others who are upset is their own anxiety.

People who find themselves frequently validating their partner, friend, or child think that it’s the other person who needs to be protected from falling apart or freaking out. Yet often they themselves are the ones who cannot tolerate their own anxiety in face of another person’s fear or problems. They focus so much on the other person that they are not even aware that their attempts to soothe the other person and to fix their problems results from their own discomfort with their own anxiety.

Dr. James Hollis holds that “the quality of all of our relationships is a direct function of our relationship to ourselves.” Thus, “the best thing we can do for our relationships with others… is to render our relationship to ourselves more conscious.”

How to handle another person’s anxiety

Avoid responding to other people’s anxiety with increased anxiety, which may express itself as validating them or fixing things for them. When you rush to soothe another person, you treat that person as a child, which prevents them from developing their own ability to stand on their own two feet.

Rather than soothing others who are facing some difficulty, it is more respectful to be with them or check in on them while allowing them to take care of themselves. Rather than validating them with efforts to appease, praise, and agree with them, tell them the truth, but do it with kindness. Rather than fixing the problem for them, be available for a conversation, and start by listening.

When someone’s emotions are running hot, the most effective way to be of help is to remain calm, and not allow your own emotions to be triggered. Allowing others to be responsible for soothing themselves and facing their own anxiety without propping them up allows them to grow, to develop self-respect, and to become a more whole and capable person.

Exceptions

Of course you must remain flexible. Babies and young children, for example, need to be soothed. But as children grow, we should gradually allow them more time to soothe themselves before we step in. In order for adults to handle big problems without falling apart they need to learn to handle small ones as they grow. If parents allow their children increasingly more responsibility to take care of themselves and fix their own problems as they grow, they will be able to handle increasingly more anxiety without falling down too hard. The key is allowing autonomy and responsibility to develop gradually.

Also, people experiencing real trauma may need soothing and help handling their problems.

The more we can be a calm presence for a person rather than a band-aid, the more we encourage them to become responsible for themselves, which is the only real way we can give them the gift of becoming more confident and secure.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen
@alisonpoulsen
https://www.facebook.com/dralisonpoulsen

Recommended: Dr. James Hollis’ Creating a life: Finding your individual path and The Eden project: In search of the magical other. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.

Read “Intimacy vs. Agreement: ‘I better not disagree with his point of view, or he’ll get upset.’”

Read “I worry a lot over my adult children and I often call them to give advice.”

Adult with an abusive parent: “I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80-year old father.”

"Forlorn Heart" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Forlorn Heart” by Mimi Stuart ©


I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80 year old father. I keep telling myself I’m being silly but every time I have any contact it upsets me so much I get very anxious and can’t sleep. Ever since I can remember he has always criticized me and upset me. As a child he would single me out and rage at me and hit me. I wondered “why me?”

Now his health is deteriorating but he plays mind games where he sounds like he’s dying on the phone. My sister gets angry when I try to say that he was less than perfect. Other people who haven’t seen this side of him think I’m hard and uncaring and he plays on this. I feel very guilty writing this down as I keep thinking maybe I’m being too dramatic.

Anne

Dear Anne,

In essence, your father was abusive and he is continuing in that vein by trying to draw you in using guilt as a hook. You need to set a boundary, not only with him but with the others in your life as well.

Vicious cycle of abuse

Being raised with constant criticism and hostility often leads a person to grow up doubting his or her own value and need to be respected. That is why it is so hard to leave an abuser. Raised in an atmosphere of abuse, you wonder whether you deserve the mistreatment or whether you are simply “sensitive” and over-reacting if you cut the perpetrator out of your life. That self-doubt makes you a target for further abuse—by your father, your sister, other people, and even yourself.

Your father continues to be manipulative, selfish, demanding and demeaning, and does not consider what is best for you. Unfortunately, when you have such a parent, it is more difficult to learn to value your own health and wellbeing. Now is the time to do so.

Misplaced guilt

The root of your guilty feelings appears to have little to do with what is best for your emotional and physical welfare. You probably learned to be accommodating as a way to handle the abuse targeted at you. Standing up for yourself probably would have incurred increased hostility. So you learned to become compliant as a defense against further abuse. You may also be subconsciously still seeking the love, acceptance, and protection you did not receive in your childhood.

It is this misplaced guilt and a subconscious desire for parental love that is hurting you now. I think it’s time to set aside your guilt and listen to your inner voice that wants to protect you. You must not allow that inner voice to be drowned out by the voices of your father, your sister and others who have not witnessed your very personal abuse at the hands of your father.

Setting boundaries guilt-free

It is clear from what you say that you need to set boundaries in your life. Where you set those boundaries is up to you. Just don’t let guilt be your guide.

You may want to avoid all contact with your father. Or you may want to send an occasional card. Or you could make a phone call and be direct: “Don’t suggest my taking care of you. As a young girl, I felt scared and anxious around you because you criticized me, shouted at me and hit me. As a result, I can’t be with you. I am simply not available.”

Whether you ever talk to your father again, have limited contact, or confront him openly, the most important step for you is to own the fact that you will not subject yourself to any more abuse from him or from others. You do not need the approval or understanding of your sister or others. Ironically, not until you stop hoping that those who disagree will support you, will they probably stop giving you hard time, and with time they may come to respect you for it.

If your sister or others ask you why you don’t visit your father, simply say, “My experience with him was very different from yours,” and leave it at that. Avoid arguing about the facts and getting into the weeds. Do not let them put you on the defensive.

Eventually, you may learn to understand that your father was incapable of being loving and that his abuse was an unconscious response to his own failures, fears and complexes – not yours. You may even forgive him.Yet understanding and forgiveness do not entail subjecting yourself to further abuse.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Rebuilding your Life: ‘How do I silence their abusive voices in my head, stop being hard on myself and start living?’”

Read “Abusive emails from an ex: ‘I keep defending myself against never-ending false, accusatory emails from my ex-husband, because I want to stay on good terms.’”

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

Guest Sam Vaknin: “Is My Child a Budding Psychopath?” Don’t Let Them Pathologize Your Child! Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

"Roar" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Roar” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Guest Author Sam Vaknin writes:

If you are a rebellious child or teenager and you have not been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, you are still at risk of being labelled and pathologized. The DSM informs us that “The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior towards authority figures that persists for at least 6 months.”

Unbelievable as this Orwellian, Big Brother text is – it gets worse. If you are under 18 years old and you lose your temper, argue with adults, actively “defy or refuse to comply with the requests or rules of adults”, deliberately do things that annoy said adults, blame others for your mistakes or misbehavior – then unquestionably you are a sick little puppy. And who is to make these value judgements? An adult psychologist or psychiatrist or social worker or therapist. And what if you disagree with these authorities? They get annoyed and this is proof positive that you are afflicted with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Did anyone mention catch-22?

And the charade continues, masquerading as “science”. If you are touchy or get easily annoyed (for instance by the half-baked diagnoses rendered by certain mental health practitioners), you are ODD (i.e., you suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder).You are allowed to be touchy when you are an adult – it is then called assertiveness. You are allowed to get pissed off when you are above the crucial (though utterly arbitrary) age limit. Then it is called “expressing your emotions”, which is by and large a good thing. So tell us the charlatans that call themselves mental health ‘professionals’ (as though psychology is an exact science, not merely an elaborate literary exercise).

The DSM, this manual of the Potemkin science known as clinical psychology, continues to enlighten us:

If you are habitually angry and resentful, spiteful or vindictive and these traits impair your “normal” social, academic, or occupational functioning (whatever “normal” means in today’s pluralistic and anomic culture), beware: you may be harbouring Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is not clear what the DSM means by ‘occupational’ when Oppositional Defiant Disorder typically applies to primary school age children. Perhaps we will find out in the DSM V.

“The behaviors must occur more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.” – the DSM helpfully elaborates. If the child is psychotic or suffers from a mood disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder should not be diagnosed.

Why am I bothering you with this tripe? Because the DSM is ominously clear:

“The diagnosis is not made if … criteria are met for Conduct Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (in an individual above the age of 18).”

Get this straight: if you are above the age of 18 and you are stubborn, resistant to directions, “unwilling to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults and peers”, ignore orders, argue, fail to accept blame for misdeeds, and deliberately annoy others – you stand a good chance of being “diagnosed” as a psychopath.

Let us hope that the “scholars” of the DSM VI Committee have the good sense to remove this blatant tool of social control from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. But don’t count on it and don’t argue with them if they don’t. They may diagnose you with something.

Children and adolescents with conduct disorder are budding psychopaths. They repeatedly and deliberately (and joyfully) violate the rights of others and breach age-appropriate social norms and rules. Some of them gleefully hurt and torture people or, more frequently, animals. Others damage property. Yet others habitually deceive, lie, and steal. These behaviors inevitably render them socially, occupationally, and academically dysfunctional. They are poor performers at home, in school, and in the community. As such adolescents grow up, and beyond the age of 18, the diagnosis automatically changes from Conduct Disorder to the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Children with Conduct Disorder are in denial. They tend to minimize their problems and blame others for their misbehavior and failures. This shifting of guilt justifies, as far as they are concerned, their invariably and pervasively aggressive, bullying, intimidating, and menacing gestures and tantrums. Adolescents with Conduct Disorder are often embroiled in fights, both verbal and physical. They frequently use weapons, purchased or improvised (e.g., broken glass) and they are cruel. Many underage muggers, extortionists, purse-snatchers, rapists, robbers, shoplifters, burglars, arsonists, vandals, and animal torturers are diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.

Conduct Disorder comes in many shapes and forms. Some adolescents are “cerebral” rather than physical. These are likely to act as con-artists, lie their way out of awkward situations, swindle everyone, their parents and teachers included, and forge documents to erase debts or obtain material benefits.

Conduct-disordered children and adolescent find it difficult to abide by any rules and to honor agreements. They regard societal norms as onerous impositions. They stay late at night, run from home, are truant from school, or absent from work without good cause. Some adolescents with Conduct Disorder have been also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and at least one personality disorder.
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Sam Vaknin is 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.