Dear Lola,

Now that school is reopening, I am having trouble getting my teen daughter to wake up and get to class on time. Since I need to leave for work before she goes to school, I am not able to do much about the problem. I’ve tried calling and texting her from work, but she won’t answer me – she is belligerent when I bring up the situation at home. I even went so far as to have a neighbor ring the doorbell but she gave up after a few rings. Last week my daughter’s school called me every single day and told me she hadn’t arrived for her first class. To make it worse, she’s started not showing up at all some days. The school acts like I can make her attend, but I don’t see how they expect me to deliver a petulant teen to school when she is the same height and weight that I am. Frankly, they would have better luck getting through to my daughter than I will, yet they seem to have no idea what to do to help the situation. What would you recommend I do?


Pissed Off Parent

Dear Pissed Off Parent,

Since I usually get right to the point, I’m going to follow through on my pattern and do it for you now.

Your job is to parent the teen you created.

Instead, you seem to be focusing on assigning blame to anyone other than yourself. Of course, you have a wonderful excuse that no parent on Earth can hope to ever overcome – you have to work. You called and you texted, you obviously can do no more. You then pass the problem onto a neighbor and blame her when she doesn’t try hard enough to parent your Miniature Human. How dare she give up after mere minutes spent pounding on your front door?!

Your neighbor should have broken into the home and dragged your teen out by her uncombed hair!

When that fails to deliver your offspring to school on time, you shift the blame onto the school. They should be the ones to talk to your teenager. They should come up with ideas on how to wake her. They should do more. I have a newsflash for you, their next step in doing more is to call in the truant officer who handles Miniature Humans that fail to attend school. Unless you enjoy sitting through endless meetings, you only have one option.

You need to do more!

Normally, I would start off by recommending you shift your hours at work so you can ensure your Mini Human is awake in the morning. However, it does not bode well that your teen blatantly ignores your parenting decrees when it comes to something as critical as attending school and I sense this is a pattern in your relationship that goes deeper than just this one issue. Obviously, you are not going to be able to physically push her into the building and lock the school door behind her, so just forget that idea. Your teen is absolutely diabolical for growing large enough to avoid you hauling her over your shoulder!

Instead, I advise you to take your last stand.

Turn off the electricity as you leave the home. A few swipes to the electric breaker box will do the trick. I’m guessing it will take her at least a day to figure out what you’ve done before she starts turning it back on. In the meantime, you need to remove all the electronics from the house. No phones, no tablets, no televisions, no video game consoles – give them to a friend or family member for safekeeping. If she loves books, take those as well! You need to remove anything that your Miniature Human can use to enjoy her day at home and leave her with nothing to do but stare out a window.

Teens are a tough species, but they really love to be entertained.

However, teens are also an extremely adaptable species, capable of going to great lengths to make the adults around them scream in frustration while tearing their hair out. Removing the electronics will most likely be an exercise in futility – but think about all the fun you’ll have thinking about your teen staring at a wall all day. Okay, stop giggling now. Let’s get back to the solution that I think holds the most promise for solving this conundrum.

You and your teen should start family therapy immediately.

The dynamic you are stuck in is unproductive at best, and destructive at worst. You are the parent, even if it is just a few more years until adulthood knocks on the door. Your Miniature Human may not realize the damage she is doing to her future, she may be suffering from depression, or she may be having problems with other students or teachers at her school. A skilled therapist can get to the root of the problem while giving you the tools to correct them.


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