The Dependency Cycle--

Here is the dependency cycle that we, as well-intentioned, loving
caring parents, accidentally set-up goes like this:

We want to bond with our children, and we want them
to be happy because we love them.  We want them to have it
better - or at least as good - as we had it.  

2. As a result, we
give our children too much stuff (e.g.,
toys, games, junk food/snacks, televisions, designer clothes,
computers, CDs, DVDs, money, cell phones, iPods, bicycles,
mopeds, cars, etc.)...

 too much freedom (e.g., freedom for activities,
from rules, freedom from chores, freedom from
discipline, freedom
from meeting a few reasonable parental
expectations, etc.).

In other words, we

3. Over time, our children
become dependent on us for free
hand-outs of stuff and freedom, because we are not teaching
them to EARN these things for themselves.

4. Because they are not “learning to earn,” our children are
emotionally under-developed (e.g., we have a child who
is 16-years-old chronologically, but more like 9-years-old

Also, they
become resentful because of their dependence on
us for stuff and freedom.  But at the same time, they come to
expect a lot of stuff and freedom ...they take it for granted ...
feel entitled to it ...and they want more, more, and more
of it.  

5. Consequently, we as parents end up
feeling detached from
our children -- not bonded.  And our children seem so damn
unhappy! And they are experiencing problems in other areas as
well (e.g., school).  

Click below for a
Power Point Presentation (turn your speaks up)

==> The Progression Towards Dependency
The Dependency Cycle--
Ask The Parent Coach—


You talk about over indulgence in your ebook. You
basically described exactly how my husband and I have
been trying to parent our
out-of-control, 17-year-old son.
My question is, now that he is almost an adult and has
been spoiled for 17 years, what will be the impact of this
on him as an adult? Is it too late to help him?




Hi J.,

First of all, if you implement the strategies outlined in the
eBook, you will no longer be over-indulging your son. But
for the sake of discussion, let’s look at what happens
when parents do NOT adopt a more assertive parenting

Indulgent parents behave in an accepting, benign, and
somewhat more passive way in matters of discipline.
They place relatively few demands on the child's
behavior, giving the child a high degree of freedom to
act as he or she wishes.

Indulgent parents are more likely to believe that control is
an infringement on the child's freedom that may interfere
with the child's healthy development. Instead of actively
shaping their child's behavior, indulgent parents are
more likely to view themselves as resources that the
child may or may not use.

As a result, the child grows up to be
self-indulgent. He
also tends to be bored, apathetic, and restless with little
or no initiative.

The spoiled adult passively expects others to take
responsibility for him (e.g., “I should not have to work for
anything – you owe me!”).

He expects others to anticipate his wishes (e.g., “I should
not have to tell you what I want, you’re supposed to

He hates to work (assuming he can even hold a job).
He usually has no career decisions, no preparation, or

And he often attaches to a partner who will over-indulge
him, either by using attractiveness or pretending

(Do you know any wives who have husbands who don’t
have a job and seem unwilling to find one? I know a few.
The over-indulgent wife pays all the bills and takes
responsibility for everything – including parenting the

But again, it’s not too late for your son. You’ve probably
got at least another year to influence him. You’re on the
right track now. Keep up the tough love.

Over-Indulgent or Passive Parenting--

Overindulgent parenting is associated with children who:

  • are verbally and/or physically aggressive
  • are overly dependent on the parent
  • have less concern for others
  • are self-centered
  • are obnoxious and temperamental
  • lack motivation
  • are manipulative

The reasons parents indulge their children:

  • they don’t have much money, so they compensate by
    giving their child too much freedom
  • they feel guilty (e.g., because of having to work all the  
    time; not being able to spend enough time with the child)
  • a response to a major life event (e.g., death or illness of   
    a parent or loved one)
  • they feel sorry for their child (e.g., because of divorce or
    an abandoning father/mother)
  • they are afraid of their child, or they fear confrontation

The results of overindulgence:

  • the kid is in charge rather than the parent (the tail is
    wagging the dog)
  • the child feels entitled to privileges, but not responsible for
    his actions
  • the child does not get along well with authority figures
  • the child believes the rules do not apply to him/her
  • the child depends on the parent to give him what he
    wants, but at the same time, resents being dependent
    …and this resentment comes out as anger and
  • the child develops a strong appetite for MORE stuff and
  • the child becomes accustomed to not being responsible for
  • the child thinks that school is boring
  • he/she performs poorly in school
  • the child gets labeled ADHD by school officials and mental
    health professionals
  • he/she has little - or no - motivation to do chores at home

Parents who overindulge have trouble:

  • knowing when to be the kid’s buddy and when to be
    his/her parent
  • saying - and sticking with - “no”
  • enforcing discipline and setting limits
  • believing they are overindulging their children
An email from a member of Online Parent Support:

"I realized I was very good at allowing my children to be
independent, but I was not very good at setting clear and
firm limits for behavior. My children easily discovered
rules that could be broken if their protests were long and
loud enough.

Often times, I just want to avoid the hassle of a conflict.
It was easier for me to let the rules slide than to deal
with the fuss. Also, it was sometimes hard to refuse my
children anything, because I did not want them to be
unhappy. I thought unhappy children equals bad parents.
And I guess at some level I was afraid my children would
become angry and hate me if I set some boundaries.

Now I know that children want to know that their parents
are in charge; they need structure and limits."
Instructional Video #10
Instructional Video #11
No More Free Handouts!

When parents “save” their child from investing any of his own
time, energy or money in his privileges, the privileges have little
or no value to the child. Kids only value that which they have an
investment in.

When a privilege is unearned, there is no investment – and
without investment, there is no appreciation. And children who
don’t appreciate their privileges tend to abuse them. They also
have little respect for the “giver” (i.e., the loving, caring, well-
intention parent).

A child tends
not to appreciate the things his parents do for
him, but he does appreciate the things
he does for himself.

Privileges can come in many forms. For example, having the
freedom to:

  • go to fun places
  • do fun activities
  • associate with peers
  • have “cool” material items (e.g., cell phones, video games,
    computers, iPods)
  • avoid doing chores
  • avoid following rules
  • avoid accepting appropriate disciple
  • avoid meeting a few reasonable parental expectations

Each time a parent
gives away any of the above for free, she can
expect her child to:

  • become dependent on the free handouts
  • resent the dependency (no one wants to be dependent on
    someone else)
  • express her resentment in the form of disrespect and
  • develop an addictive appetite for addition privileges
  • foster a huge sense of entitlement (“you owe me…”)
  • fail to grow emotionally because she is not learning how to
    do things and get things for herself

Parents tend to believe that
the more they give their child (i.e.,
stuff and freedom)
the more they will be appreciated...

the more they do for their child (i.e., make him/her
the more the child will bond with - and
respect - them

Unfortunately, it works the opposite way.

The more you give, the more you are unappreciated. And the
more you do, the more you feel detached from your child - and
the more disrespect you receive.

Examples of free handouts of “freedom” (i.e., unearned
privileges) include:

  • Child rarely has to ask parent for permission to go
    somewhere or do some activity.
  • Child has to ask parent, but is usually given
    permission to go somewhere or do some activity.
  • Child has to ask parent and is told “no” – but child
    goes somewhere or engages in some activity without
    permission, and receives no consequence after the
  • Child has to ask parent and is told “no” – but child
    goes somewhere or engages in some activity without
    permission. Parent issues a consequence, but child
    refuses to accept the consequence.

  • Child does not have to home by a certain time.
  • Child is supposed to be home by a certain time, but
    can usually argue her way out of coming home at the
    designated time.
  • Child violates curfew, but receives no consequence.
  • Child violates curfew. Parent issues a consequence,
    but child refuses to accept the consequence.

  • Child does not have to do any chores.
  • Child is suppose to do chores, but can argue her way
    out of doing them.
  • Child refuses to do chores, but receives no
  • Child refuses to do chores. Parent issues a
    consequence, but child refuses to accept the
Failure to Launch--

The latest parenting challenge is dealing with emerging
adults who have no intention of leaving the nest. Many 18
to 25-year-olds either return home after college or they've
never even left home. The media refers to them as
"Boomerang Kids." Parents are worried that their kids
won't leave home.

This new phenomenon is highlighted in the movie
Failure to Launch. Matthew McConaughey plays Tripp,
30-something bachelor whose parents want him out of
the house. They've hired Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker),
an interventionist, to help him move out. Paula has a
track record of successfully boosting men's self-
confidence to cause them to want to be independent.

Interestingly, this story line is not as far-fetched as it may
seem. Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult
to coax out of their comfy childhood homes.

Since the '70s, the number of 24-year-olds still living at
home has nearly doubled! Here are the top 4 factors
contributing to this change:

They Are Unprepared

They are overwhelmed or unmotivated to live
independently. They would rather play it safe by
occupying the family home, playing computer games
and delivering pizza.

These kids often grow up living the life of the privileged.
Here, well-meaning parents provide their children with
all the amenities congruent with an affluent lifestyle. The
parents are focused on doing more for their children
than what their parents did for them – at the expense of
keeping them dependent. Kids don't move out because
they've got it made!

When your financial generosity isn't combined with
teaching kids how to become self-sufficient at an early
age, we cannot expect them to automatically possess
adequate life-skills when they reach legal adulthood.
How will they gain the skills to confidently live their own
life when they haven't had the opportunity to do things for

They Are Cautious or Clueless

They are committed, but unsure how to discover their
ideal career path. They approach college with the same
trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out
that it no longer prepares them for today's competitive

Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they
are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions.
In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this
is much too late! It's best to start young, at age 13. This
stage of development is the perfect time to begin
connecting the dots between what they love to do and
possible career options. It can take years to prepare for
the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens
maximize their opportunities in high school and make
college a much better investment.

They Have Personal Problems

They don't have effective life coping-skills, have failed
relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling
with a challenging life event.

In Failure to Launch, we learn that Tripp's parents
indulged him largely because the woman he loved died,
and he hasn't gotten over his loss. When Tripp falls in
love with Paula – the new girl of his dreams – his self-
sabotaging habit of dumping a girl before she can get too
close gets reactivated. Finally, his friends intervene and
Tripp eventually faces his demons, to everyone's delight.

If your teen is struggling emotionally, don't make the
mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better
without an intervention.
Tough love requires that you
insist your adolescent begin to display an element of
responsibility so that he or she can move forward. If you
don't know how to have that kind of conversation,
consider getting help from your
parent coach.

They Have Mounting Debt

They've accumulated significant credit card debt and
moving back in with their parents is a way to pay it off.
According to the National Credit Card Research
Foundation, 55 percent of students ages 16 to 22 have
at least one credit card. If your teen falls into this group,
make sure you monitor spending together online.
Helping your teen understand how to budget and
manage credit cards will be important for handling a
household budget in the future.

Kids can't learn to manage money if they don't have any
or if parents always pay for everything. If your offspring
moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal
amount for room and board. As an adult member of your
household, it's important for your young adult to
contribute to household chores and expenses.

If the purpose of your child's return home is to pay off bills
or a college loan, have a realistic plan and stick to the
plan to make sure your young adult moves out of the

Determine Goals and Stick to Them—

Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will
consider offering some short-term help. However,
indulging an adult child's inaction does not help that son
or daughter begin his/her own life. If your child defaults
on your agreement, be willing to enforce consequences
to help him launch into responsible adulthood.
CLICK HERE for the handout on Dependency
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