It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “What do you do when your grown children still blame you for their issues?” In this episode, Dr. Leman provides a no-nonsense solution for parents struggling with their adult kids.
Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Andrea: Who do you blame for your problems in life and who blames you for the problems they have in life? This episode we’re going to hear from a grandmother or a mother whose daughter blames her for all of her problems in life.
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today. If this happens to be your first time with us, we’re going to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If this subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, we are so glad to be doing this podcast with you. Quick reminder that you can always go to birthorderguy.com, birthorderguy.com to get more resources, and as well you can leave your question there by going to Podcast Questions. Birthorderguy.com/podcastquestions. Well, I say we jump into today’s questions. Here we go.
Speaker 3: What do you do when you’re grown up daughter once in a while to spur heat up the past when she was a child and blaming you?
Dr. Leman: So the question is, this is from grandma?
Speaker 3: Or a grown mother? Yes.
Dr. Leman: Talking about her grown daughter. Her grown daughter is blaming her mom for all of her problems?
Dr. Leman: Okay. Well, this has been around since time began. It was you, Lord, that gave me that woman. You didn’t think that was even funny, did you? Let’s go back to Adam and Eve. It was you, God, that gave me that woman. It’s her fault. This has literally been around forever and it’s a scapegoat. It’s a psychological defense mechanism. It’s not my fault. It’s your fault. Life’s been unfair to me. I would bet you a nickel and a few pesos that that woman that’s complaining about her mother is always asking her mother for help in some way, shape or form, either financially or otherwise. Of course, if you don’t like yourself, you need to find a way of deferring that to someone else.
Dr. Leman: You have to lay blame on it, like it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that she, now these are just guesses in the dark because I don’t know, chose not to go to school onto post high school, that she was the one that decided to take off extra time from work and ended up getting fired. What you see is a trail of non-responsible behavior from day one, and so rather than face myself and look myself in the mirror and say, “You know what? This is on me,” as the old song says, you strike out, you only hurt the ones you what? Love. So who’s ever convenient. In this case grandma is probably too convenient to daughter. My suggestion would be the next time she throws a barb at you, just say simply, “Honey, I’m sorry you feel that badly about yourself.
Dr. Leman: My prayer for you someday is that you’ll look honestly at yourself and take responsibility for the things you say and do and won’t have the need to blame others, including me, for your inaction and your failure. Failure isn’t fatal in life, honey, but realize that you failed and then not doing anything to try to get yourself into a positive track is quite frankly just a shame because quite frankly, I believe you could do better. But if you want to continue to play this dog and pony show where I am the source of your problems, you go right ahead. You just have to understand that I’m not buying it.” So that’s the conversation it has to take place.
Andrea: That’s kind of scary for that mom to say that. I would be afraid that that daughter’s going to pull away or you know.
Dr. Leman: I hope so.
Andrea: Yeah. It sounds like you said she’s probably …
Doug: Why do you hope she’ll pull away?
Dr. Leman: Because they’re too close. Grandma is probably way, way, way too involved in daughter’s life. Okay? So I’m guessing that daughter is asking mom, “Hey mom, what do you think about this? What do you think about that?” And Mom tried to help gives her 3 cents worth. Daughter does partly what Grandma suggests. It doesn’t work and then now whose fault it is? It’s Grandma’s fault. So what I’m saying is the quicker they separate, the better.
Dr. Leman: Next time she’d get asked a question from her daughter, say, “Honey, I don’t have the foggiest idea what to tell you. That’s completely up to you. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision,” and then psychologically turn her back and walk away. I mean, this doesn’t work without Grandma doing some changing of her own. She has to see, just like fighting is a act of cooperation, this nonsense that’s going on between her and her grown daughter continues to go because she plays a role in that. So all of a sudden Grandma, just become dumb and stupid. You don’t know a thing. Whatever she sends your way. Then when she asked for help, especially financial, which I bet you a nickel she’s doing, I would just say, “Honey, I’m unable to help you right now for a lot of different reasons. Let it go.”
Doug: So playing the victim and what did you use, scapegoat or a psychological defense? This is commonplace now in our culture. How as parents do we not let our kids gain this stance or this opinion?
Andrea: Starting with the young kids?
Doug: Young kids, younger kids. Thank you.
Dr. Leman: The general principle is don’t do for kids what they can do for themselves. Now, if you take that too, literally, I mean, if a kid says, “Mommy, what’d you get me a glass of milk,” am I saying don’t get the kid a glass milk? No, I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is the kids will work you and you have to have a built in antennae that says, wait a minute, this is a little too much. They can do this work. I sat down with my granddaughter once and my wife assigned me, “Hey you, help Adeline with her homework.” So I sat down and I looked at the homework and I said, “Okay, what are we doing here Adeline?” “We’re doing these six questions.” Okay. It took me a minute to figure out what’s going on. Adeline wanted me to figure out her six problems for her, and I said, “Honey, I don’t know.
Dr. Leman: This is your homework. This isn’t Grandpa’s homework. This is something you have to do.” “Yeah, but I don’t understand it.” “Well, I mean, I don’t know how I can help you understand it. You can read it once you read it out loud, see how it goes.” I said stuff like that, but just keep the ball on her side of the court. Kids will work you. You just have to understand that. It’s human nature for a lot of kids, particularly later borns or overly-dependent firstborns to use the ones that they’re supposed to be loving. People aren’t for using. They’re for loving. So you draw those lines early. You have expectations. Your yes is yes. Your no is no. you’re in authority without being an authoritarian. You’re not being a pushover and it’s that balanced life that you present before your children that gives them a solid foundation to grow from. That’s the important thing.
Doug: So as the resident mother here, that’s you, that’s takes some psychological hoof dah by you to be able to say to your child, “But Andrea, it’s just so hard. I can’t do this. please help me. right?
Doug: You’re just going to say
Andrea: I’m sure you can figure it out, honey.
Doug: Can you say that for real?
Andrea: I have but probably only 10 out of 100 times have I chosen to say, “I’m sure you can figure this out yourself.”
Dr. Leman: Whoever was whelping there … Who was that that was whelping there? They ought to put him out in the backyard or something. Who was that? Was that you Dougie?
Andrea: That was Dougie.
Doug: I might have talked like that to Andrea too. Andrea, help me. I can’t do it by myself.
Andrea: Don’t make me go by myself.
Dr. Leman: Oh my goodness. What am outside and locked the door.
Doug: Oh, don’t. Don’t Dr Lehman. Hey, you’re messing with my life now.
Dr. Leman: Don’t give her ideas
Doug: Don’t give her ideas, buddy. Well look, Ed, it’s the end of the podcast. Goodbye. No. So Andrea, what would it take as a mom to be able to have the confidence that this is actually going to bless that child, not irreparably destroy your relationship?
Andrea: I think it’s, I don’t know if I’m going to answer your question directly, but if I had heard this when I had little toddlers and learn to do this from the start, there’s so much hope in that thinking, okay, when I have adolescents, when I have young adult children, that they’re not going to be blaming me. They’re not going to come whining to me for an answer. They’re not going to be dependent on me. They’re going to be able to make their own choices. I don’t know if that’s exactly answering your question, but in the moment, probably if I’m exhausted and I’m tired of that whining, I actually think it’s motivating.
Doug: So what about now? Now hypothetically you have teenagers that are kind of doing this to you. What would it take for you to be able to let them do what only they can do, what they can do for themselves?
Andrea: Just knowing that it’ll help them grow up. Yeah. That they can make a decision for themselves.
Dr. Leman: Yeah, that’s a two-way street, you know. As you know, moms get a lot of pleasure from feeling what? Needed. So a lot of moms get paid off by doing just the opposite of what their kids really need. They tell themselves they’re doing it out of love. Actually, they’re doing it out of selfishness.
Andrea: Why selfishness?
Dr. Leman: Because you’re not letting the kid do what he ought to be doing for himself. You’re hogging it all. You’re doing it all. Remember we talked about warnings or disrespectful acts. Well, why are warnings disrespectful acts. Leman? Because you’re actually saying, I think you’re so stupid I got to tell you three times. That’s why you’ll see a theme and all the Leman books, if you’re communicating with a kid, you tell them once you turn your back, so to speak and walk away.
Dr. Leman: Then when they don’t do what you’ve asked them to do or whatever, there’s a consequence but it’s tied directly to this statement. Let the reality of the situation become the teacher to the child. So when a child doesn’t do something you’ve asked them to do and you do hire a sibling to clean his room or do his work for them, but pay for it out of his allowance, you have built in accountability. The kid figures out early in life, you know what? I better suck it up and do my fair share. I’m the loser here. Kids will figure it out. Just be a good parent. Be a responsible parent. Work at holding your kids accountable for the things they say and do in life and you’re going to be fine.
Doug: So this kind of rolls into today’s Ebook special. Today’s Ebook special is When Your Kid Is Hurting. August 6th through 12th of 2019 for $1.99 in Ebook form. Dr Lehman, what is this book about?
Dr. Leman: Well, this was probably one of the more difficult books I ever had to do. It was one they asked me to do. It wasn’t one that I said, “I have a burning desire to do this book”, but so many of the parents are dealing with, hey, you know, my kid’s hurting and I don’t know what to do about it. Can you write a book on that subject? So I agreed to do that. When you think of what you would say to a kid when they’re hurting, you’ll issue all kinds of statements like, “Oh honey, I’m sure it will be okay.” Really, how do you know what’s going to be okay? “Hey, don’t worry about it.” Really. Does that take worry away, just say don’t worry about it? You know, again, you’re not the one that’s being called names at school, pizza face or four eyes or you name it.
Dr. Leman: Kids are mean, nasty, snarky today, and so the book is designed to try to help you get behind the eyes of your son or daughter in such a way as that you are able to listen to them without judgment, and that’s difficult to do. That’s why that book at a buck 99, oh my goodness, I would download that puppy and tell your friends about it as well. You can’t miss on that book. That’s a book by the way that you read and you put it on the shelf and you pull it out at those times when you are facing a crisis or your son or daughter’s facing a crisis and you sort of review it. It’s sorta hard to keep some of this stuff in your head. So anyway, $1.99, When Your Kid Is Hurting, if I remember right, that’s a $20 book, so wow, that’s a bargain.
Doug: Go get it now. August 6th through 12th of 2019 for only $1.99 wherever you get your Ebooks. Now, our segment of a no nonsense parenting advice with Dr Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Parents love the old a timeout. They love you’re grounded and they love taking away privileges. Well, I won’t go into the feared of time out and I’ll tell you this about grounding, if you’re going to ground a kid, ground them. Ground from everything. He goes no place for two days. Give them a 48 hour grounding. What do you mean? He goes no place? He goes, no place. He stays in the home without privileges. It’s a school day, Lehman. He doesn’t go to school either. He makes it up. It’s Sunday. He doesn’t go to church either. He stays home if you’re going to do that. If you’re going to do grounding, do a 48 hour ground. They won’t like it, trust me. You may not like it either, but that’s a whole nother question, but taking away privileges, I want to talk to you about taking away privileges.
Dr. Leman: It is a privilege to live in a home, to live in a country as ours where we still have some freedoms left seems like, but taking away privileges many times is done in anger. Whenever you do things in anger that’s not good. The problem is it builds a mindset in a child, depending upon how you do it, okay, if you have the right to put me down, then I have the right to put you down and you get in that proverbial power struggle. Rather than take privileges away. and again, kids always want to do things. They always want to be driven to the mall. They always want money, they want to go to a movie, they want to go down to GameStop and hang out with their buddies, whatever that is, you can take away the privilege without getting into the dog and pony show of all right, no more privileges.
Dr. Leman: This gets back to how do you handle things? Your son says to you, “Mom, would you run me down the mall? We’re gonna meet a bunch of guys down there at the video place. We’re going to shoot some video games today.” “No, honey, I, I really don’t feel like driving you today,” and walk away. He’ll come after you, okay? “Mom, what do you mean? Everybody’s going to be there. I need to leave right now.” “Honey, I just told you. Mom is not very happy today. I don’t feel like driving anywhere.” Now, what have you done? You’ve taken away the privilege. You haven’t said, “Hey, I’m not driving you anywhere, young man,” but you put in action a plan, a plan that says things are not well in River City, and what I want that young son to understand at age 14 or whatever, that his mouth, his actions has a direct result on the privileges.
Dr. Leman: There’s that word that he has in his home. The privileges of being driven by a mom who’s kind enough to drive six miles one way so you could have some fun. Do you see what I’m saying? So it gets back rather than just be rule-dominated, be relationship-dominated where hey, you’re saying the message relationship between you and me is a strained right now. So what has to happen for that relationship to get back on top? It might take at least the next day, because I’ve said many times that kid might be very perceptive and figure out that his mouthiness in the morning just earned him the non-trip to the mall to see his buddies and he might cuddle up to mom and say, “Oh mom, I’m sorry about what I said,” because right then and there he thinks I’m at the mall.
Dr. Leman: I said, I’m sorry, mom’s going to forgive me. I’m at the mall. No parents, always give it a day. When a kid does something, he apologizes, you accept that apology, you move on, but he gets vitamin N for the rest of the day. No matter what he wants to do, it’s, “N honey. I really don’t feel like doing that right now. I’m having a bad day.” Say whatever you want to say, but he’ll be able to connect the dots. Let him see that his behavior influences your behavior and you want to work toward getting that on a healthy line and not an unhealthy one.
Doug: So Dr Leman, one final question. We have hypothetically fostered this when they were younger and now they’re teenagers. What is the right response without creating more crisis when our kids turn and say, “But dad, but mom, you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” How do we deal with it then as teenagers?
Dr. Leman: I think you’d tell the kids, “Honey, listen, I know you’re frustrated. I can see it in your face, and I know this is a huge thing, and like most huge things that face you …” Now notice I’m not minimizing whatever the kid’s saying, “You’re going to have to gather your wits about you, figure out what’s the best way of handling this. And if it’ll help, I have the full confidence in you that you’re going to pull this off and you’re going to do the right thing. I wish him nothing but the best checking on me. Let me know how you’re doing from time to time. I’d love to know.” So you’re taking the proverbial tennis ball that I love to talk about and you’re putting it back on that teenager’s court, but you’re also expressing belief in them, confidence in them, and you’re telling them, quite frankly, hey, I’m not solving this. This is something you need to solve.
Doug: for the skeptical parent that hears you say that, if you treat your child that way, what will your child gain by that kind of response?
Dr. Leman: Well, they’ll develop a growth spurt. We talk about growth spirts as kids hit the adolescent years, but this is a psychological growth spurt. It’s a maturity growth spurt. It’s a time where kids start telling themselves, you know, maybe I am a little bit more capable than I’m giving myself credit for did. They’re coming to you out of weakness and you need to inject some strength in them and the belief in your child that they can handle it is a great medicine for your teenage son or daughter.
Doug: Awesome. Well, I hope that helps grandma out there and I hope it helps moms and Andrew, I appreciate you bringing that in about even as a toddler, if they were little and I started this way back when, it would be easier now when they’re adolescents and I haven’t trained him to be that way. Not that we have any personal experience, both of us with this now, ha ha, but this was great advice.
Doug: Again, we love doing this with you. Again, you can go to birthorderguide.com, get resources there. If you go /podcastquestions you can leave a question. If anything ever piques your interest, you’re like, I think I should pass this on, feel free to pass this on on Facebook, on Instagram or wherever you want to go, and you only got a couple of days to get When Your Kid Is Hurting, which nowadays is a beautiful resource with all that children are having to deal with. Well, it was great to be with you and Ed, your parenting toolbox and we look forward to the next thing we get to be with you.
Andrea: Have a great week.
Doug: Bye, bye.