Liar Liar Pants on Fire?

A week from today, Mrs. Uppington and I head out with Christian Cruises on our Love, Laugh and Learn Cruise!  I hope I will be meeting some of you there!  If you aren't joining us this year… consider joining us next year!

On this Friday, I thought I would discuss something we all deal with…. LYING.

It’s hard to trust again after a child has started habitually lying. How can you be sure he won’t lie again? How do you break him of the habit? Because once he starts, it’ll only get worse. If you’ve got a child who’s started lying, here are some things you may want to know.


Kids lie for two basic reasons.


One is for wish fulfillment. Some kids will come home and tell you they scored three goals in soccer…and then you find out they didn’t play at all.


The second is out of fear. “Did you break that vase?” you demand. “No, I didn’t do it! Little Joey did it!” your seven-year-old claims. Most children lie out of fear.  in order for there to be a relationship between two human beings, it must be based on trust otherwise the lying will become a mountain and get between them. So if your child lies to you, he needs to be caught in that lie and told that lying is not acceptable. There also needs to be a second consequence for lying.


Let’s say that, a couple days later, your child says something like, “Can I go next door and play with Ronnie?”


Your answer needs to be a matter-of-fact “No.”


“Buy why?” your child asks. “You always let me go.”


Now’s the teachable moment.


“Honey, I don’t have any assurance that you’re going to be where you said you’ll be. Remember Wednesday night, when you told me you were going to be at Susan’s—and you weren’t?”


Do you beat the kid over the head with the lie? No. Don’t drag it out long term. But saying something like that two or three times makes a memorable impression on a child that lying isn’t what you do. It doesn’t gain you anything, and it breaks down trust between the two of you. Children need to see and feel that immediate result.


Remember the age old admonition: “You won’t get in trouble if you tell me the truth.” That needs to be true of your family. If your child tells the truth she can know that you’re unhappy, but she should not be punished for telling the truth. In those situations, you’ll need to think carefully before you open your mouth. How you respond to such a situation directly relates to how comfortable your child is in telling you the truth. Kids can be as dumb as mud and will do stupid things, but if they own up to them and say they’re sorry, they need to know that life will go on and you won’t beat them over the head for years for their mistake.


Lastly, parents too have to be careful about their own lies; even those pesky little white lies are still lies. If you say to your child, “If someone from work calls, I’m not here,” and it’s not the truth, your child is smart enough to know it. And then your kid thinks, If it’s okay for you to lie, it’s okay for me to lie. Don’t forget, if you value honesty, you must also model it for your children. And that goes for any bit of character you’d like to see develop in your child!


For more on raising kids, Have a New Kid by Friday is a valuable resource!

Too far too fast—The cycle of stress

Sometimes stress simply can’t be avoided. There are those days when the car breaks down, you’re late to work, you’ve got nothing in the fridge for dinner, and both your son and daughter have sports practice. But there are times when parents also create unnecessary stress for themselves. One of those ways is by forcing your child or children to grow up too fast.


It’s a familiar story. The moment little Eric lets go with his first wail, his parents start fantasizing about his public-speaking abilities and dreaming of how he is going to be different from all the other kids. Their expectations for Eric tempt them to push the little guy too far too fast. Not only do his parents become overstressed but so does he. In fact, studies show little Eric and his mom, in particular, are prime candidates for overstress.

What I suggest to parents is to keep in mind that pushing your child to do too much can cause you and him undue stress, which can cause him and you physical and psychological damage. Little Eric doesn’t have to be good at everything. Many parents suffer from the “my kids the best syndrome,” but don’t fall into the trap!

Your child needs to have a sufficient amount of self-esteem that comes from his or her achievements, being part of something that counts, and so on. For some, it could mean being part of a team, or perhaps playing the flute in the orchestra. For others it could mean having a lot of friends, or a job that provides money for clothes and extras. But this does not mean your child has to DO IT ALL. In fact, one suggestion I enforced in my own household is the one activity per year rule. Each child can have one after school activity—a sport, band, theater—that they can do for that year. Letting them do more than that will leave your children feeling they have no free time and you feeling as if you’ve taken up an extra job as a taxi driver.

Your child doesn’t need to perform like a miniature adult. Sure he needs responsibilities and things which he can claim to be good at, but don’t force him into adulthood before his time. He’s got a whole life ahead of him. He’ll get to adulthood sooner than you realize. And as for you, you can’t be expected to cart around another little adult to all his activities. So cut your kid, and yourself, a break.

For more ways to break the stress cycle, check out Stopping Stress before it Stops You.

And a reminder that you can download my eBook “The Way of the Wise” is for only $5.99 through January 18th, 2014.

Kindle & Nook

Why you should never ask “why”

Women are always asking me how they can get their husbands to talk. “He just won’t talk to me, Dr. Leman. I just can’t seem to make out what he’s thinking and he won’t tell me.” Women love to talk. They’re wired to be verbal. In the average day woman use about three and a half times as many words as men. To put it another way, women could write novels with their conversations while men prefer the CliffsNotes version. That’s quite a difference.


However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your husband to communicate with you. But it may not happen in the way you think. And I can tell you this: getting your husband to talk isn’t going to start with interrogation. Let’s start with what not to say to your husband.


Never ask your husband “why.” Why you ask? Because it instantly puts your husband on the defensive. If your husband is trying to communicate with you and you ask him “why,” you’ve effectively killed the conversation. Asking him that is like saying, “Explain your reasoning to me because I think you’re pretty stupid and you obviously can’t figure this out without my help.” This may sound extreme but male egos are much more fragile than they appear. “Why” is a challenge to your husband, and the defensive walls that will rise from this question can make you feel as if you’re actually talking to no one.


So why not try statements instead? This may sound counter-relational, but your husband won’t hear it that way. When your husband is talking to you try saying, “Hey, that’s really interesting. Tell me more about that!” Take an interest in what your husband is talking about (even if the subject isn’t thrilling to you). If he’s into baseball he would love it if you asked him how his fantasy team was doing! Even if your husband is presenting an idea to you that you’re not crazy about, stick with the “tell me more about that” vein. Don’t ask him why he would want to do this or that. It will only clam him up.


Men and women are different creatures. But communication is possible! Let your husband know that you care about what he cares about and he’ll be more than happy to open up. Just remember—you don’t always need to know why.


To learn more about the way your husband communicates, purchase Have a New Husband by Friday. Available at all bookstores and online at Amazon, B&N and Christian Books.

How to give your son the confidence to say no!

The Wednesday Wars—

How to give your son the confidence to say no!

If you have a boy who’s entering the world of adolescence, there’s almost no doubt you’ve worried about him “running with the wrong crowd.” Moms are especially good worriers (you know you are!), but in this case, it’s hard to blame them. With drugs, sex, and guns running rampant, you may find yourself in a cold sweat just because your son is five minutes late for curfew.

There’s almost no way you can completely ensure your son’s safety. But what you can do is provide your son with the key components of a loving family: acceptance, belonging, and competence. These ingredients will give your child the confidence to say no to the temptations he will encounter.


Think back to those awkward adolescent years. I bet you wanted more than anything to be accepted by your peers and, most of all, your family. Your son needs to know that no matter how awkward those sprigs of first facial hair or odd mood swings, that you accept him. Kids will live up to your unwritten expectations. What are you saying with yours? Make sure your unwritten expectations are encouraging. Expect the best and you’ll often get it. Sprinkle in sincere compliments and accept your child even when he fails. Love him, but still hold him accountable.


We all need a place to belong. Ask yourself, where would you rather your son belong, to a an unhealthy group of friends or your family? (Your family of course!) So make sure everyone gets a say in household decisions and that everyone’s opinion is respected. Eat dinners together, and go to each other’s activities as a family. Kids need to know their family is a place where they will always “fit in.” Without a sense of belonging, there is no relationship between you and your son. And without a relationship, what you say and what you do mean nothing. But make your son feel like he belongs, and he’ll be primed for success!


No one wants to feel worthless. Make your son feel competent and he’ll have the confidence to tackle new projects and to say no to bad influences. So no matter his age, treat your son as if he’s competent. Give him tasks, and make him feel needed within your family. Don’t do anything for him that he can do himself. Instead, give him age appropriate responsibility, and watch him fly! The more tasks he does, the more competent he’ll become.

You can’t keep your son locked in a bubble. Eventually, he’ll squirm his way out, and he needs to be able to function in the real world. Giving him acceptance, belonging, and competence can keep him from going out in search of other more dangerous places to find these necessities. It can also give him the confidence he needs to say no to unsafe situations.

So make your home a place of connection—of deep relationships your boy can always count on. If you give your son acceptance, belonging, and competence, he won’t need to take a drag on a joint to “fit in.” He can say no, because he already has a place where he fits, just as he is.

For more information on raising your son, check out my book What a Difference a Mom Makes, a book for Mothers and the deep imprint they leave on their boys.


** My book, Way of the Wise was chosen for the Kindle Big Deal this month. It will be $3.49  for Kindle ebook only until Oct. 27th, 2013.  Get your copy here **

Running the Monday Marathon

Running the Monday Marathon…Who’s the powerful child in your family?


There’s always that one kid.


The kid who won’t stay in his seat at the restaurant. The girl who has to have the last word. And the boy who’s always screaming in the Target. That’s a powerful child at work.


And maybe he’s yours.


These powerful children are master manipulators and expert attention-getters! They love to be in control of the household power source—you.


So how can you tell if you’ve got a powerful master-manipulator on your hands? Here’s just a few ways you can spot the powerful child in your family. Every family’s got one and sometimes it’s not who you think.


1. Does your child love to battle with you? 


Is your kid stubborn beyond reason? Do they fight you at every turn? With powerful stubborn manipulators, every comment can turn into an argument. These kids have a need to be right!


2.  Is he or she overly sensitive?


Does your family feel like they have to walk on eggshells around that one son or daughter? We can often find ourselves sticking up for these children, saying “Oh, Fletcher is just so sensitive!” Don’t be fooled. These kids are workin’ ya!


3. Does it seem as if your child has developed a frightening new personality?


Was your child once an easy-going cooperative kid who you were proud to call your own? But now that she’s hit puberty, has she developed a personality close to that of a werewolf? These moody curveball kids can really throw you for a loop!


4. Do you feel like you’re always asking questions but never getting answers?


Powerful children aren’t always the loud obnoxious kid in the Target. Children can manipulate through silence too, and we can be suckers for the shy kid. We’ll ask him question after question, but he’ll only respond with a shrug or an “I dunno know.”


Next Steps? Check your reaction!


Chances are, if you have a powerful child, you’re having a powerful reaction. Your heart may pound, your stomach churn, and maybe you can picture more arguments than not with that child. Or perhaps you’ve gone out of your way to placate her.


Powerful manipulators come in a variety of packages. And they can leave us pulling our hair out at night! But having a powerful child isn’t all bad. It simply means that the power needs to be redirected, and you (yes, you!), dear parent, can be a circuit breaker on that power. All behavior is learned, and your child is looking to you to set the example. Don’t teach your powerful child to walk all over you with permissive parenting, and don’t fight power with power. It takes two to do battle, so disengage!


So next time Johnny says, “Hey, let me borrow the car so I can drive to the football game,” after he’s mouthed-off to you all night, don’t play the typical permissive or authoritarian parent. Don’t let him off the hook with a simple, “Well, alright. But don’t stay out too late!” And don’t give him the “Are you kidding me?! You’re not going anywhere for a month with a tone like that!”


Be authoritative. Stay calm. Control your power surges. Instead, calmly say something like, “Maybe I would consider letting you borrow the car, but I don’t like the way you’ve treated me tonight.” This puts the ball back in Johnny’s court and it’s up to him to decide whether he’ll abide by the rules. He may whine and complain at first, but he’ll come around if he wants those keys!


Parenting is never easy, but it is simple. Stay consistent, stay calm, and redirect those power surges! Your powerful child can become a powerful force for good. 


For more information on redirecting your powerful child, check out my new book Parenting Your Powerful Child. If you’ve got a powerful kid, it’s a book you can’t afford to miss!

Goodbyes are hard to do

One of my least favorite things to do is say goodbye.  I hate goodbyes… especially to my kids!  My friend Moonhead calls our family sappy goodbye family.

But…it's that time of year when parents will be saying good-byes to their children. College, kindergarten, or the military.  I guarantee you'll enjoy this interview below. Please have some Kleenex nearby as you listen to this broadcast with my friends at Focus on the Family. My particular story about saying goodbye to our 1st born, Holly, is a classic.  It can be found between the 16:30 and the 23:00 mark…Enjoy..sniff, sniff, sob, sob….

Oh! And if you missed Part I, here it is:

The Modern Day Prodigal

I continue to receive emails from parents asking about modern day prodigal children. Whether the prodigal is defying family rules, living an undesirable life style, or leaving to who-knows-where, it's a heart wrenching experience for any parent. Parents have poured so much energy, time and love into their son or daughters life. I was prompted to blog on this subject after receiving an email from a Mom who was complaining that her son was getting drunk, staying out late, waking up the family at all hours and smoking weed to boot! Now get this, she is planning on sending him away to a private University next fall. Let me get this straight, you are going to spend 40K to send this kid to a private school and he is drunk and smoking weed all the time? What is wrong with this picture?

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go” 

That does not mean train up a child in the way YOU think he should go. It speaks specifically to what way God would have your kid go (according to his bent). Let's face it. Some kids learn the hard-way. Just like the true prodigal son in the Bible, he went to a far away land. Where no one would recognize him. After being gone for sometime he realized that his father's farmhands were much better off than he.  He then returned to his home, and his father said,  “Oh, look what the cat dragged in, did you learn your lesson out there, big boy?”
No.That's not what it says.  It says,  “The Father saw him from a far.  And ran towards him and  embraced him. He put a ring on his finger, and put a robe on him. And feasted on the fatten calf.”

I realize that the prodigal son story is one of salvation. It's really not a study in family relationships. But it does prove a good point– and that is, some people have to hit bottom and be put on their own, to realize that a new direction or path must be taken.

Here are a few suggestions if you are dealing with a modern day prodigal:

  1. If he/she has left the family, make no attempt to contact them. No, not even a birthday card, and certainly not a birthday card with money  in it!  Let all contacts be initiated by your son or daughter.
  2. Exercise patience, you might have you wait a while!
  3. If you prodigal lives with you, you need to find of way of saying (if they are 18 or older) “This isn't working. We as parents are holding you back. We are too old fashioned for you. You need to go live life the way you think it oughta be lived.”
What you are doing here is showing him/her the door with a smile on your face. I know you are saying to yourself right now, “Leman, where is he/she going to get the money to live by himself?” Well, I don't have the foggiest idea, but it would be a great experience for him to get out, live with his buddy and try to make it financially. Would I continue to pay insurance on a car that he owns? No. I wouldn't give him/her a dime. There are two approaches here. The slow leak theory is when you watch your kid spiral down week after week. The blow out theory is when you bring things to a head. Some kids grow up easy, and some with great difficulty. But becoming the enabler, and allowing your son/daughter to live under your roof, eat your food, then disrespect you repeatedly, doesn't help your child and it certainly doesn't help you.

If you are going through this heartache right now, know that you are not alone. Other parents have dealt effectively with their prodigal. Yes, continue to pray for your son or daughter. Remember that God sometimes puts us through trials to make us stronger. Realize that this tough time on you might be a necessary step in your child's faith journey and coming to the truth of what life is all about.

As always your comments are welcome!  What say you?

Talk To Your Kids About Drugs.

The tragic death of Whitney Houston offers every parent the opportunity to talk to your kids about drugs. Her death is on every television, magazine, and Web site in the country. When something is this widespread, it creates a nice big opportunity for you to address the issue of drugs.

You might hear from your kid, as many parents do these days, this idea that smoking weed is no big deal. More and more cities and states are “decriminalizing” marijuana and so-called “medical marijuana” joints (pun intended) are popping up in communities around the country. So much so that the government has started to send letters to those that are too close to high schools.

When you talk to your kids about drugs, I would suggest a terse comment that includes the words “Whitney Houston.”  Houston's life ended at age 48. That's deeply tragic, but also avoidable.  The lesson here is that other people–not just the user–are affected by drug abuse.  In Whitney's case, her friends, her daughter, her family, and her fans are now hurting from her decisions. Whether you are a superstar or a regular one, you're self-destructive decisions in life take a toll on those you love, and those that love you!

What researchers have known for years is that if you expose a developing brian to drugs or alcohol, you run the risk of making that person more susceptible to addiction.  It's as though you are training the brain as it is growing–conditioning it for addictive behavior down the road. Researchers also tell us that kids are smoking pot and drinking alcohol earlier than ever. Putting those two together, we could have a generation of addicts in the making (not just drugs, but addiction of all flavors).

Another well known fact is that the part of the brain that is slowest to mature is the part that deals with judgment. Don't believe me?  Call your insurance agency today and insure your 16-year-old to drive your car. You'll quickly find that their extremely high insurance rates that are tied to facts that young people don't always use the best judgment.  Of course, you may have already experienced your own son or daughter's lack of common sense.

With Whitney Houston's death still in the news, I just don't understand people like Tony Bennett coming out and again stating their support for the legalization of drugs. Some of these guys think they are economists.  They are talking about all the money that could be gained by taxing the now illegal drug market. Well, we tax alcohol and cigarettes very heavily in our country today. And quite frankly, the revenues received through taxation don't come near the damage that cigarettes and alcohol take on the lives of our citizens. I always like Tony Bennett, in fact I met the man, believe it or not in San Francisco, while doing a TV show. But I think that Tony and others supporting his position have left their minds back in San Francisco.

So here are a few tips for those of us that want our kids to make good decisions in life.  Remember, you are your child's best teacher:

1. Make sure your kids have plenty of practice making decisions in your home. This is their safe place to learn good judgment, vs. bad.
2. Ask your what your kids' opinion is on everyday family issues!
3. Make sure you have POSITIVE expectations for your kids (Raise a child UP in the way they should go)
4. Find ways, like discussing Whitney Houston's death this week, to negatively imprint drug usage in your kids minds at a young age.
5. Get to know your child's friends and their families!
6. Your house should be the centerpiece of your kids social life! Yes, it might mean you have to spring for pizza. But I would rather have my kids hanging out at my home then someone else's. Your kids might be surprised that their friends like you!
7. Beware of your child's money supply. Kids should get allowances, but if your kid starts having money and you are unaware of its source, that is a red flag.
8. When a child's grades fall right off the table, that is a pretty good indication that your son or daughter has discovered the world of drugs. Smoking weed diminishes motivation.
9. Don't tell yourself “My kid would never do such a thing!” Because obviously kids that get hooked on drugs come from a variety of home situations.

If your child is already using drugs, you have to directly confront the issue. Get him or her to a group that deals with drug usage effectively.  Personally, I think Teen Challenge does a great job.  Do not become the enabler! Do not make excuses for your kids! And pray. Pray every day.

Now go talk with your kids. Not at your kids.  Use public events, like Whitney Houston's death, as a springboard to talk about the difficult issues surrounding drug use.

Valentines Day Ought To Be Every Day | FREE Have A New Husband By Friday (eBook only!)

Love makes the world go 'round. Or so they say. And “they” also tell us that once a year we're supposed to do something really nice for someone we love.

Who are “they?”  You know, Hershey's and Hallmark and every florist in the land. And that is one of the things I really dislike about Valentines Day. Out of 366 days you get this leap year, there's only one little day for love? Call me hopelessly romantic–you wouldn't be the first–but I think every day should be Valentine's Day.
Before I go on and semi-eloquently describe Valentines Day, let me show you I can be practical.

If I were to get my wife a heart-shaped candy box from Walgreens, she'd probably hit me over the head with it.  My wife's idea of Valentine's Day is a nice dinner out, just the two of us. As our children became adults I can recall double-dating for Valentine's Day dinner.  You are supposed to get smarter as you get older!

This year, I will take Mrs. Uppington out to one of those restaurants that I call, a 4 forker!  But I don't do it on Valentines Day, I will do it  tonight, on Feb 13th.  As for the flowers, once again she will get those sweetheart roses and, in all probability, they will be pretty pink. On Feb 14, prices aren't inflated, reservations are easy to make, and well, I just like to do things differently!

If you take up my offer to do dinner on the 13th then some of you are asking well what do I do on the 14th?

Why don't you do something you know your husband or wife would love.  Maybe it's hiring a babysitter to watch the kids so she can have a day to herself…a day without any demands upon her!

Or, think about what your husband would really like to do on Valentines Day.  Guys are SO much easier to shop for that way. We like it free, fun, and frequent…if you catch my meaning.

But back to my point, Valentines Day ought to be every day in marriage.  How could that be possible? Isn't that terribly unrealistic?

Listen up, it's the little things that count.  You keep a marriage alive by:

> Tucking a little card in your husband's luggage right before he leaves for a business trip.  

> Writing a note in soap on the mirror where your lovely gets dressed in the morning.  

> Being thoughtful and considerate everyday.  You are at the grocery store — You got a cell phone!  How much effort does it take to make a call “Honey, I am at the store, is there anything you need”.  

> Washing her car for her…complete the job by vacuuming it out

> Putting a little money in her purse with a note attached to it.  

> Making sure HE knows that you need him and want him.  

> Going away for a night together!  

> Sending a Valentine email that says, “Great news, the kids are at Grandmas house!  I am waiting for you to get home!”

If your marriage is rocky right now, you might dread Valentine's Day. As you look for that perfect card you are probably not going to find one that says “I am not sure we are going to make it, and I am fearful of what lies ahead.”  But maybe you could be strong enough to find a cute little card that has no words inside of it.  And maybe you could write a heartfelt handwritten message that says you wish things were different and you are willing and you to meet your spouse halfway, and that you want to try to make this week, month and year much different than last.

That would be a better than Godiva Chocolates, flowers, or boxer shorts with hearts on them!  A lot of people are counting on you to stay married!  As I have said many times, marriage isn't easy, but it is simple… The truth of the matter is, it's not a 50/50 relationship it's 100/100!

So, I know it's past Jan 1, but wouldn't a good resolution be to make an effort to affectionally love your wife? You could love her better just by to listening to her and honoring her by looking her in the eyes while she's talking (psst! No interruptions, eye-rolls, heavy sighs, etc.)

And wives, wouldn't it be an equally a good idea to make sure that he feels needed and wanted by YOU?

When was the last time you looked in your husband's eyes and told him how much you need him? Maybe you never have. But your husband needs to hear you tell him that you need him and don't want to live without him. It probably doesn't make as much sense to you, but guys need this stuff. It makes us feel respected and important in the eyes of our wives. Yes, that's part ego, but you're speaking to your man's deeper needs.  If you can't say that very easily, maybe you need to look inside of yourself and see what the hang up is.

So go have a nice dinner on the tonight!  Rekindle your marriage and focus on what is important… not only on Valentines Day, but every day.

Oh and one last thing…today, I have a little freebie for you that I think you will like!  

You can get the eBook Have a New Husband by Friday for free TODAY ONLY!  Download yours now for Nook and Kindle!

Click HERE for Nook

Click HERE for Kindle



It’s a House Not a Hotel | Living with Your Adult Child

After I was thrown out of North Park University in the middle of my sophomore year, I returned to Tucson to live with my Mom and Dad. My older brother Jack, who was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, also lived at home.  In all the years we lived together with good ole mom and Dad, we never had a ripple.  We got along great! We helped out our parents, painted the house, did yard work, took out the garbage, and all the rest.  It was a great experience and you sure couldn't beat the rent!

But someone once said, “Fish and company smell after three days.” And I've heard enough horror stories to know that my experience is NOT the norm.

Do you remember the milestone years in your life?  Remember turning 18 and thinking that you were on your own?  Remember turning 21 and telling yourself that you are legal? The problem is most of us, especially guys, are not grown up until we're 25 or older.

Now, if you are going to have your adult kids living in your home for any reason, you would be very smart to set up basic guidelines. Another old saying is that “good fences make good neighbors.” And when it comes to this issue, I guarantee you need a fence.

Although your home might be rent free, it is not duty free!   It's a home, not a hotel, and your child cannot just come and go as they please (no matter how grown up they think they are).

If you could walk the halls of the average college dorm at 2 in the morning, you'd see many kids are not home yet. And many of them are still awake!  While your son or daughter sees coming home at 3 in the morning at your house completely normal, you must set the expectation that this is not a dorm, but a home.

Your kid thinks,”Hey, I'm 21, you can't tell me when to be home!”

But the truth is, “You are right. You are 21 and I can't tell you when to come home. But if you come home at 3 in the morning and wake us up when you come through the door and the dog is barking… your seemingly innocent behavior now is impeding on the rights of us old folks that live in this home and pay the mortgage.”

Am I saying that on occasion a kid cannot stay out late?  Absolutely not. But it would need to be agreed on by both parent and child.

I know that college-aged kids living at home can easily turn into a nightmare. Before you agree to this, as a couple you should agree to the “fences” that you need to put in place. If you're not on the same page, forget it. It's doomed before you even start!

These agreements should be revisited every semester and during the summer. You might discover (or your son or daughter!) that living together at home is all it's cracked up to be. They might want to strike out on their own. That is a real good experience for young adults to understand that REAL landlords require cash up front, security deposits, and many other expectations that are part of the real world.

Here's some ideas for how you can build “good fences” with your young adult living at home.

1. Clean up after yourself

2  Help around the house

3. Every day ask, “What can I do to help?”

4. Respect your family members

These things mean different things to each family, so YOU have to color in that picture. Your son may think cleaning up means dropping the dirty dishes in the sink for someone else to clean. Be clearer than a kindergarten teacher on what your expectations are for living in YOUR home.

Now, many parents want to provide a free place to their children as a way of helping them get started or to help with their education.  That's all well and good, but I know other parents that say, “If my adult child is living here, especially if they working, they should be paying rent!”

If that is the case, the rent needs to be agreed to and it needs to be paid on a specific day of the month. Cash only, no checks please!  As I saw in the store the other day “No checks please, we have a good supply from last year!

If things go awry, it's time for reality discipline. You have to say, “Honey, things obviously aren't working out, as your Mom and Dad we are giving you 30 days notice to remove what you need from our home because this clear is not working.”

Realize that you child might be shocked that you are taking such action.  After all, they probably think its “their” home. But reiterate the many reasons why this is not working. Ideally these will be things you've already shared and given fair warning that they need to change in order for the arrangement to continue.

But if you've asked for improvement, and you are still getting woken up in the wee hours in the morning you have to act. If you are still cleaning dirty dishes and laundry, it's time for an intervention.

Be firm, and you will soon realize that you will probably get along better with your son or daughter once they are out on their own, living in an apartment, and and having the rights and responsibilities of young adulthood squarely on their shoulders.

Remember it's a house…not a hotel!  It's up to you to follow through if is not being treated like one.