How To Deal With An Angry 15 Year Old Boy The "Art of Schmoozing"

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The "Art of Schmoozing"

QUESTION:

I need help. My daughter lives with my ex-husband. He and I disagree, and we most certainly do NOT see eye to eye on how to parent our daughter. He will often do the opposite of what I ask of him – just to spite me! Any suggestions?

““““““““““““““““““““““

answer:

So your ex-husband isn’t just on a different page from you – he’s actively working AGAINST you. Therefore, it will be in YOUR best interest to ‘schmooze’ him. Let me explain (and this is all ‘con work’ on your part):

* The goal of the ruse: Get your ex on your team as much as possible.

* The goal of the ruse: To diffuse your daughter’s ability to play one parent against the other.

* Method: Use some ‘parenting strategies’ ON THE EX-HUSBAND.

So, catch your husband ‘doing things right’ — and catch him ‘not doing things wrong’. Give the right amount (not too much) of recognition and praise (although you’ll often get the impression that you’re just feeding him ‘crap’). And be authentic; convey that you really mean it.

For example:

“I noticed you didn’t let me [daughter] to manipulate you when she told you ‘________________________’. I appreciate you working with me on this.”

“Thanks for inviting me back into the relationship [daughter problems]. what is your suggestion? I really need your help with this.”

Let me share an example of my recent embarrassment. The following conversation was recorded and transcribed (I do this occasionally to train other therapists). This is a one-on-one session with a 15-year-old client. She was very angry about many things (including being forced to attend a short counseling session with me).

==========

Interview [23 minutes] Transcription–

Therapist: What’s up?

Youth: -silence- [no eye contact; melancholic affect]

“““““`

therapist: [therapist begins quietly playing with his cell phone]

Youth: -silence-

“““““`

Therapist: You look angry. Who is bothering you?

youth: [pause] Everyone.

“““““`

therapist: [pause] who is the worst?

Youth: My mom.

“““““`

Therapist: She’s boring?

Young: Uh.

“““““`

therapist: [pause] She thinks you need some advice.

Young: Yes, exactly!

“““““`

therapist: [long pause] I don’t think you need counseling. [pause] I just think you’re under a lot of stress.

Youth: -silence-

“““““`

Therapist: How do you deal with all the stress you’re going through?

Young man: I don’t know.

“““““`

Therapist: I don’t know how you get through life, but apparently you do.

youth: [nods her head ‘yes’]

“““““`

Therapist: Do you have any advice for me? I’m having a stressful day myself.

Young: Not really.

“““““`

therapist: [pause] Do you only turn people off when they get on your nerves?

Young: Yes.

“““““`

Therapist: Me too…but sometimes when I turn people off, they think I’m ignoring them and then feel hurt.

Youth: -silence-

“““““`

therapist: [pause] Have you ever gotten mad at people only to be left alone?

youth: [nods her head ‘yes’]

“““““`

Therapist: What is the most boring piece of crap you have to deal with?

Youth: Mom tells me what to do. She doesn’t understand me, and she doesn’t know my friends either. He breaks my friends, but he doesn’t even know them. It’s none of her business. She doesn’t care who I hang out with.

“““““`

therapist: [pause] It’s one of those boring things?

Youth: Uh!

“““““`

therapist: [pause] You know…you could have come in here today with an attitude…but you didn’t. You could have come in here and told me to ‘kiss’ …but you didn’t. You could have refused to talk to me …but you talked anyway. You are responsible for that. So it’s not a question of whether or not you can be responsible – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. So what can YOU do to take care of YOU? What can you do FOR YOU – not for the judge, the prosecution, your mom, or anyone else?

Youth: Finish school … take care of my dogs.

“““““`

Therapist: Do you have dogs?

Young: Yes…Max and Casey.

“““““`

Therapist: What kind are they?

Youth: Chihuahua puppies.

“““““`

Therapist: Cool … so you take good care of your dogs?

youth: [nods head ‘yes’]

“““““`

therapist: [therapist asks a lot of questions about client’s dogs; client is very informative]

“““““`

therapist: [pause] Thanks for the tips on how to deal with annoying people. I need all the help I can get!

youth: [nods head ‘yes’]

“““““`

therapist: [pause] Is there anything else we need to talk about?

youth: [nods head ‘no’]

“““““`

Therapist: I appreciate you making time for me today.

Young: You’re welcome.

“““““`

Therapist: Tell your mom she can call me if she needs to, OK?

Youth: OK

“““““`

-END-

==========

By all means, cultivate the “art of the smooch” – not because your ex deserves it, but because your job will be much easier if he’s working with you instead of against you – even if it’s only 49% of the time. And it’s quite possible that you’ll get a significant level of cooperation if you get really crazy.

Note: One mother told me that the following thought would come to her mind right before she would ‘cut’ her ex-husband: “I’m going to compliment the hell out of this bastard.”

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