Modern Family Matters

Supporting a Child Through Addiction: How Divorced Parents Can Create Helpful Structures & Solutions for the Struggling Child

November 23, 2021 with Aaron Huey Season 1 Episode 38
Modern Family Matters
Supporting a Child Through Addiction: How Divorced Parents Can Create Helpful Structures & Solutions for the Struggling Child
Show Notes Transcript

Join us as we sit down with parenting coach and interventionist, Aaron Huey, to discuss how separated parents can work together to provide support for a child who is struggling with addiction.

If you would like to speak with one of our family law attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at

To further connect with Aaron, you can contact him at [email protected],  visit his Facebook page: Parenting Teens that Struggle, or check out his website You can download his free parenting contract here:

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.


Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.


Steve Altishin  0:31  

Hi, everyone. I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships here at Pacific Cascade Family Law. Today, we're with parenting coaching and interventionist, Aaron Huey, to discuss how separated parents can work together to provide support for a child who's struggling with addiction. So before we get started in, Aaron, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


Aaron Huey  0:54  

Sure, thanks for the opportunity to holler at your crowd, Steve. I really appreciate it. My name is Aaron Huey, I was one of these teenagers. My background is as follows: I grew up without a biological father, I was diagnosed with ADHD in the 70s and was put on Ritalin at a very early age. Was bullied mercilessly, and sexually assaulted at 18; my drug addiction began to really take root there. I remained an addict until the age of 28, where I had my moment of grace. And not soon after that really began taking my 12th step, my work to take the message of hope to teenagers and their families, I really just found that I had a connection to trying to rescue any innocence that had been lost. And ultimately, that led to opening a residential treatment center. And in 2019, we were awarded top 50 health care provider in the US. In 2020, we were awarded top 100 innovators of health care in the US. And in 2021, because of the fires in Colorado, my property insurance went from $20,000 to $470,000 a year, and I had to close down the treatment center 40 days ago today. My work with teenagers, while I do believe we did amazing work, I know for a fact that our success came from the work we were doing with families. And so as we've shut down our residential program, I've decided to continue my work doing interventions and interruptions on the family dynamic, not just coaching teens. Although I do have a lot of teen clients, I do insist on working with the parents of these teens as well. So I've been in the mental health, addiction, adolescent development and behavioral health industry for about 20 years now.


Steve Altishin  2:51  

Wow. Well, you absolutely sound like the person to talk to today about this, so let's start in. One of my questions I had, I watched a couple of your videos, and it was, you know, how can this happen? How can a kid come to a point where they struggle with addiction? And I heard you speak about why kids make bad choices. Can you talk a little bit about that? 


Aaron Huey  3:18  

Yeah, and I think the first and most important thing for parents to understand about these bad choices that these kids are making is that they're not bad choices. As a adolescent who began to develop this maladaptive coping strategy to deal with the pain that was taking place in my life from trauma, abandonment, abuse, I need parents to really understand and hear the words that I'm about to speak. When I was high, I was happy. When I was sober, I was suicidal. Now I had a lot of important and very knowledgeable people in my life telling me I should stop using cannabis, LSD, alcohol, to get through every day of my life. But what I could not communicate to them was that this behavior was keeping me safe; safe from, well, safe from killing myself. The depression, the anxiety, the pain of what I had experienced, was that bad. So it wasn't a bad choice, was it? It was a survival choice. And we can all agree without a shadow of a doubt that it was an extremely risky choice. What we miss when we're dealing with our teenagers risky decisions, when the consequences stop mattering, when their decisions get worse and worse, is that these decisions are actually pretty resourceful when and only when, as parents, we discover what need is being fulfilled by the behavior. There are five basic human needs. There is safety, power, connection, freedom and worth. And those are developed mentally in order. Safety is something that a child, an infant, develops in utero, right? If they're not safe in utero, if they're not born into a safe environment, then they don't feel safe in this world and immediately development gets interrupted. Then we have power, which you can see begin to express itself in the terrible twos at that 18 month time period, and how that's handled, will designate the child's path on how they search for power. When we hit about seven years old, connection begins to develop as a need, where mom and dad and teachers voice suddenly isn't the most important voice in the room. And especially when we get into junior high and high school, our peer set developmentally becomes a more important voice of concept, the 'Who am I?' Right? So that's safety, power, connection, and then freedom, which is 18 and on into our late 20s, early 30s. You know, 'What can I do? Who can I see? Where can I go? What can I accomplish?' The freedom to experience life. And then for the rest of our lives, that need of worth. So safety, power, connection, freedom and worth, we have all the needs at all times. But every decision we make is an expression of need. Everything we do as human beings is an expression of need. We don't get to rule out bad decisions, because when I was high, I was happy. When I was happy, I wasn't suicidal. There's my safety. When I was high, I had a group of friends that came up to my house every weekend, there's my connection. I became the drug dealer, there's my worth. Right? So every decision-- why do we self harm? Well, when you look at what happens to brain chemistry when a child cuts, you start to understand what that action is actually providing. This is a basic tool for parents to stop reacting to these risky decisions and start to say, 'Okay, now wait a second, which need is not being met by life, but is being met by this behavior?' Does that mean they can suddenly address it and change it? Well, absolutely not. What it means is very simply this Steve, and this is the most important aspect of parenting: the moment you are doing the work to understand why your child is making this decision, you are out of survival parenting. And you cannot parent well from a fearful, fatigued or furious place. Your best parenting decisions from fury, fatigue, or fear are bad parenting decisions. Your worst parenting decisions from a place of compassion, understanding, connection, and alignment, are going to be better than your best at your worst. Your worst at your best is better than your best at your worst. I hope that makes sense.


Steve Altishin  8:01  

That totally makes sense. You know, you're talking about the risk versus the reward. And it's just tha,t as parents, sometimes we don't get that what they are thinking is the risk versus the reward. We don't try to figure out the 'why' necessarily. We just say, 'stop'. So we all make bad choices, obviously, and not all of them lead to addiction. What happens in a kid that kind of flips that from just making dumb choices to an addiction? 


Aaron Huey  8:43  

Yeah, so the maladaptive coping strategy, alright. Let's redefine addiction for a minute because this could confuse people who say, 'Well, my kids, not an addict, they're cutting.' Or, 'My kid, not an addict, they're just dealing with promiscuity.' Or, 'My kids not an addict because they're not using A, B or C,  they're playing video games that have missed school for six months, and when I try to take away the controller, they call me names I didn't know they knew and kick a hole in the wall.' Well, that's addict behavior. If you weren't taking away the video games or the cell phone, but you were taking away pills, would you be concerned about their reaction? Maladaptive coping strategies--the strategy that we are employing so that we don't feel pain, which is every human beings basic purpose. I don't want to be in pain. When a child sits down and starts playing video games, the brain stimulation is off the chart. The feeling of success and completion and mission, vision, passion, purpose, and connection with teammates and having powers, and having equipment--you see, all of a sudden, this video game is much more. Especially now that we know that video games, stimulating the brain in the way that they do, is literally showing us that the brain doesn't know the difference between the real life activity-- let's say the creativity required to build a community versus the creativity required to play Minecraft-- both of them stimulate the exact same part of the brain. This is essentially saying the brain doesn't know the difference between reality and a video game. So when you're angry that they won't shut off the video game, what is it about that reality that is more inviting than this reality? So now video games become a substance. And people can argue and point fingers about, well, video games aren't addictive. And parts of them are and are actually being outlawed in other countries, but the other parts aren't. And I know razor blades aren't addictive, but I've seen children act like junkies around self harm. We can have the arguments about whether cannabis is addictive or not, but I stole money from my two year old daughter to buy it. I acted like an addict. So let's say it's not the thing, it's the person. And when that person begins to habitually use a maladaptive coping strategy, we've moved into addiction. So parents come home, you've worked hard, you're trying to pay the rent, pay the mortgage, you're now working on creating a new life for yourself and your child, creating a new relationship between you and now what is your ex spouse, and you're pooped, you're exhausted. So you flopped down on the couch, and two beers or two glasses of wine later, and six Netflix episodes into whatever you're binge watching, now Netflix goes, 'Are you still there? Are you still watching?' And you do that every night, instead of what? Instead of feeling what you feel, instead of dealing with the discomfort of your divorce, and your lack of time with your child, and your discomfort and your new life. This is a maladaptive coping strategy that is now habituated. And that's what happens. It's the repetitive nature of avoiding pain, and the hard work of therapeutic processing of pain, that puts us into addiction.


Steve Altishin  12:23  

Wow. And it's like you said, it's not a one sided problem at all. So, I guess that leads to, you know, what can parents do? They're divorced, or they're separated, so how do they assist their kids who are struggling? And I know that a lot of people who deal with parents and deal with divorce, say, 'Well, you've got to get on the same page'. Is that right? 


Aaron Huey  12:53  

They do say that. In fact, in the therapeutic world with family counseling, unity, or unification of divorced parents, has been a battle long fought. In the same vein that the concept of codependency and enabling has been kind of the old school go-to, right? 'You've got to stop being enabling', or 'You've got to stop being codependent'. And you got to start being unified with this person, who you've just ended a very painful experience with. I disagree with all three of those concepts. So let me let me talk about enabling and codependency. First of all, as a therapeutic term, what a divisive, crap thing to say to some parent whose child is suffering and struggling, and then you immediately come in as a healthcare professional and be like, 'Well, you got to stop enabling''. I'm like, shut up. Everything I have done as a parent--I'm a parent as well, my kids are 25 and 26--everything I have done, for better or for worse, with all my knowledge, or in complete survival, lashing out, crap parenting mode, has been to try to keep my kids alive. That's it. That's all I have ever wanted, is for my children to be happy, healthy and successful. And when those things are threatened, we get desperate, and we will try anything. Steve, I have worked with parents who have bought their children heroin so that their children don't leave the house and go buy it on the street. Now when you're a parent who knows that your child's going to get heroin one way or the other, what would you choose? These codependent, enabling accusations need to go. What we do as parents we have done to try to keep our kid alive, and I can work with it. I don't care how dark it's gotten. I can work with that.


Steve Altishin  14:50  

This so makes sense. And not to make less the dangers that you're talking about, but on another area of that, I remember my daughter went to college, and my wife and I were worried about what she's gonna do. And she's been a Disney freak forever. And so when she wanted to go to Disneyland and have an annual pass we were like, 'Oh, are we enabling her? That's not good'. And that we kind of thought, well, there's worse things you could be doing.


Aaron Huey  15:30  

There certainly are, you could not love her. You could abandon her, you could abuse her. You could do all these things, but in survival mode as parents, and the reason why I'm bringing this up when we talk about parents being unified, is that as parents, we possess different concepts of what pro-dependency is. Pro-dependency is, this person is dependent on me for the promotion of their life and their existence. So when parents disagree, when you've gotten a divorce, you don't like the way it's happening over at mom's house, or you don't like the way it's happening over a dad's house, or you don't like the new addition to their family. You don't have to follow their rules anymore. Isn't that one of the reasons why they split up? Their value system was no longer aligned. And in the mental health world, the idea that everybody had to just continue to sacrifice and compromise their value systems, so that everybody could work together, does not reflect society and reality. The reality is, if I rent an apartment in this complex, I have this set of rules. But if I move to another complex, there's a different set of rules, and part of what we make a mistake. If parents are going to do things similar, then do this: when your child goes past the age of 12, it's time for you to protect them less, and prepare them more. And that equation started at 20/80 and then slide it towards prepping your kid for the real world, month by month, with a little bit extra until they are 100% prepared for the real world. And that means different rules, different value systems that you have to learn as a child, how to honor different sets of boundaries, why because people are unique and different. So with if going over to mom's house and smoking cigarettes, and I know this is a tough one, but smoking cigarettes or vaping at mom's house is okay, or doing that at dad's house, he's not going to die on that hill. He's got other battles to fight with the kid. But vaping at the other parents house is not against the rules, but it's against the rules at your house, then a model your value system, stop talking about modeling. If exercise is important, if nutrition is important, if drinking water is important, healthy sleep is important, meditative breathing on purpose is important, then model it. Stop yappin about, and show it. And they get to go to dad's house and vape? Well dad probably has some other values, or mom has some other value,s that you don't agree with and don't like. What you can't do is bad mouth the other parent. That never works. That always blows up in your face. And it sets the child against you, not them. So that's the part you've got to go to your adult support group with. That's the part that you've got to go to your therapist, your counselor, your parenting coach with. But the moment you are trying to develop a relationship, and I say this with all the love in my heart parents, I am a divorced parent. I was a single dad with 50% custody after I got sober. And I coached divorce families. The moment you begin to build a relationship with your child off of venting about the other parent, you are now sacrificing your relationship with your child. Do not do it. It will blow up in your face. If your child comes to you and says, 'Well when I'm over at Mom or Dad's house, it sucks and it's not fair, and he doesn't...", you say, 'Then we need to have a talk. We need to have a talk with dad'. Transparency is the new tough love, folks. Tough love as an experiment failed years ago. Nowadays, the moment that kid brings something to you, it goes to committee, because the kid knows how to keep power with you. Let's be clear: that kid knows how to triangulate, and manipulation and crisis always go together, parents. Never forget that, always remember, manipulation is crisis. So the moment a kid is trying to negotiate, navigate, or manipulate a situation with you using the other parent as a scapegoat, your relationship with your child is in danger. And you need to strengthen it based on connection and alliances with who they are and their value system. But when it comes to venting about the other parent, it goes to committee. If the other parents not doing that, that's too bad for them. You keep your relationship with your child based on a value system and you modeling, not what you say, always what you do. 


Steve Altishin  20:33  

That is really, really good advice. So I know one of the hot buttons of the discussion today with kids is social media, technology, that entire thing. And I know I kind of heard you talk about, you know, it's either people hate it and everything is bad, or it's the future of the world, the metaverse. But there could be some good and bad. So obviously, the kid has that third thing he or she can go to, which is social media. How does all this fit in? 


Aaron Huey  21:20  

Social media and video games, what a love hate relationship. First of all, I want every parent to understand that 90% of my individual family clients right now, where I do three weeks with the kid and one week with the parents, are video game dependent. Social media, video game dependent: 90%. The families that I'm working with where the kids are struggling with drugs: 10%. Cutting, that's part of that 10%. Running away, promiscuity, suicidality, depression, anxiety: 10%. The rest of my clients, video games and social media. It's that powerful. And what's amazing, what's very demonstrative of what we're going through as a society, is that just in this past week, research has been released that says, violent video games do not make kids violent...yet. The military has known that while-- they've known this for almost 20 years, because the man who did a lot of the research, David Grossman, wrote a book called On Combat. He also wrote a book called Stop Teaching Your Kids to Kill, but he went on a crusade about violent video games, because the military discovered that when you set these special force men and women out into combat, and measured which part of the brains were being stimulated and then brought them back and set them in front of video games, the exact same parts of the brains were being stimulated. These violent video games are traumatizing the brain. Does that make them violent? No. Does it make it traumatized? Yes. The military has known this for 20 years. So we have an experience here where we're saying, 'Okay, it doesn't make them violent, and it can become an addictive process, but is it connection?' The answer is yes. Because I sit with my clients while they play video games, and I listen to them talk to the other people. 'I don't like this sweatshirt at all my mom bought me', 'Dude, it looks great on you', 'Oh, thanks, alright, well, maybe we'll give it another shot. Hey, there's a dude around the corner, shoot him.' And they are talking like they're sitting in the room together. They're talking about school, they're talking about girls and boys, they're talking about their families. They're talking, so they are connected, especially since we take our kids to all schools half hour away, and they don't hang out with their friends at home. We've given them an option to hang out with their friends online. Second, this COVID pandemic thing blew it. Everybody having to isolate at home and connect only through technology, we are all dependent on it now. 'Is it connection' is the question, and the answer is yes. It's stimulating the connection centers of the brain, and it's stimulating creativity. It's releasing dopamine, it's releasing serotonin, it is releasing all the chemicals that make the person feel like they are having an adventure, that they are living an exciting life. And all of these skills can be translated into real life. The problem is, is that these things are happening to the brain and not the body. One of my clients who was really into a game called Rust, which is a fascinating concept for a game and I love watching him play it, and it's very, very clever and well written. Ah, clever and well written, designed by adults, created by adults, marketed by adults, bought by adults and given to children. So I'm not sure why we're blaming the kids here, because it's the adults who are making the money and spending the money on this product, not the kids. You don't like your kid being online? Learn how to shut off your internet and control the password, change it daily and say, 'Hey, kid, totally willing to let you online, as long as the bathroom gets done. Send me a picture with you holding a box of Cheerios in front of a clean bathroom and I'll give you the internet password. Love you, love Dad', and change which cereal box you want them to see each day so they can't reuse pictures, right? But we have to understand what is taking place with video game dependency, what is being replaced with video game dependency, and then employ the work and time it takes. Like what I did with this kid, I watched him navigate this game, Rust, which is a post-apocalyptic, run around and build everything you want, and then set up your base. And I said, 'Let's do what you've been doing so well in the video game'. And we went to a resource center in Boulder, Colorado, and we built a vehicle with recycled parts. And our only rule is none of these parts can come from a vehicle, and we build a go kart. And the kid did it. And it was the skills he learned in Rust. Wow. So you've got to translate the skills. Do you expect your child to figure this out, your child to navigate this world? They're so busy being stimulated, you might as well leave the liquor cabinet open or put cocaine on the table and say don't use it, but when you use it, it's really awesome. We cannot expect the children to navigate this in a healthy way. Because technology is advancing so fast. But folks, human development, we're still the same beings we were 200 years ago. So that's where we are out of balance. The info is moving faster than human development.


Steve Altishin  26:50  

You've got to have an awfully good impulse control to fight against that. 


Aaron Huey  26:58  

Well, and put on top of that, you're a 14 year old boy who girls won't pay attention to. You've been bullied, and you go home. And while at school, you're pining and wondering if people can see the zit, and you're afraid to stand up and the girls are there and you're interested in them but don't know if they're interested in you. And if they were, you wouldn't know what to do about it. And then you go home and you've got power. You've got friends, you've got a clear mission, you've got a controlled access map with clear boundaries. You can fail all the way to success. Everything a video game does; listen, quite frankly, my TED Talk, which I have not done yet, let me be clear, but my TED talk is about how to parent your child like a video game, because video games figured out how to keep your kids' attention. And you wonder why we're losing it? It's because we're still parenting with our emotions.


Steve Altishin  27:53  

So you talked once, also, which I want to get into this: digital etiquette. Which I looked at that and I went well, this is some stuff that parents could, you know, actually take as a solid thing. What sort of digital etiquette should we teach our kids? 


Aaron Huey  28:13  

Well, first of all, let's understand what we have to have etiquette around, digitally. Steve, based on our age, you and I were allowed as kids to go to the library, correct? 


Steve Altishin  28:27  

Oh yeah. 


Aaron Huey  28:28  

That was a major part of my life. It was Saturday, me and my friend Neil took the bus to the library. Steve, would your parents have handled the library differently if out of every 10 books on every shelf, three of them were hardcore pornography? 


Steve Altishin  28:47  



Aaron Huey  28:49  

If 30% of the library was pornographic material, and there was only one librarian hanging out there, would you have been allowed to go?


Steve Altishin  28:59  

Oh, well, my mom would be with me.


Aaron Huey  29:03  

Making sure the books you're looking at, right? 30% of the internet is pornography, 30%. The sum total of human knowledge has to share the other 70% of the internet. And we let kids on it without supervision. We're trying to catch up to their access to the Library of Alexandria, that 30% of is adult bookstore, right? So this is what it's already working against us. So the etiquette looks like Hey, kid. Let's roleplay some scenarios that you may hopefully never do, but experience on the internet. What would you do if you saw a kid being racist in a video game? Well, I tell them to stop. That sounds easy. But now if you heard a kid online drop the N word and you're on their team, what would telling them to stop sound like? What would you actually say? And actually have that conversation. Actually have the conversation like I did with my daughter, because I was traveling and lecturing all over the world, I got her a Skype account. She had it for five minutes, Steve, before she got her first dick pic. And she brought it to me. And I said, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna say, I've taken your IP address, and I'm contacting the police department, Crimes Against Children internet division. And the guy begged and pleaded and said, I'm so sorry, I didn't know you're underage, I won't do it again and logged off. But that empowered my daughter to come to me and to say and do whatever she wanted to make them leave her alone. And if they didn't, we knew our next course of action. But we had to go through that process, we had to set her up in such a way that she knew she could come to me, and that I would respond, not react, but respond with her. Etiquette means our value system as adults translate to our behavior. Question: would you let your child, and this is for every parent out there, would you hand your child your phone? Show them how to unlock it, and let them look through it? I would, I can. I can let my children, who are now 25 and 26, have full access to my passcodes and everything. Both of them helped me manage my podcast. They are administrators on every website that I am an administrator. How transparent can you be about your morals and value systems? Because I don't care what you say to your child, it's what you do that's going to guide them to be who they are. We are what our parents did, or did not do, not what they said. Think of one lecture, one conversation that your parents stood towering over you while you were in your bedroom, as a sulking teenager. Tell me one thing that your parents told you that changed your life that you woke up the next morning with, 'Gosh, golly, G=gee, my mom is right, I'm changing my ways.' Never happened. We are what our parents did or did not do.


Steve Altishin  32:23  

Behavior, it's about behavior. And we are running out of time, which I hate, because this has been really good. But for a couple minutes, can we talk about, because you have what you call a 'behavior contract; that you've talked about having with your kids. Can you talk about that? But also, is this a contract that has to be between a single parent, between both co-parents and the kid, or could there be one for each co-parent? 


Aaron Huey  32:53  

Yeah, so let me first talk about what behavior contracts are. They're very popular in psychology and therapy process to create a new set of rules for kids, and a new set of consequences if they break those rules. Those don't work. The first time I used a behavior contract was with an eight year old boy who was on his third suicide attempt. And what I knew about behavior contracts was I had to be very clear and upfront and leave no holes in the legalese. And as an attorney, you understand that, your job is to find the holes in my contracts, right, and either plug them or exploit them. Guess which one your kids are going to do? Right. So the first thing I knew is that I had to write it well. And I had to be very clear about the parameters of success of the contract. And the focus was on his rewards, not on his consequences. Because the consequences to the misbehaviors was this eight year old would die. So the goal, the focus of the contract, the behavior became, here's what life will look like in the future if you do well. We set it up for a year and a day. I know now, that was way too long. But I am happy to report that not only did this child earn a viking sword, a year and a day later, but he is coming over to my house right now, after coming back from Iceland, where he is working on his degree in Norse mythology. So they're potent when they work. But here's what else I did in that very first contract. I looked at this contract and I said, this is one sided. That's not a contract. That's a list of rules. What's my side? If I'm the person who's signing this contract with them, what's my role? Because your landlord has to sign the contract and provide things to you. So child behavior contracts don't work. Family behavior contracts do. So this is not a contract of rules for your kids to follow. This is a contract of behavior changes that the parents are going to make which is going to alter the household. Parents are no longer going to say, 'Well, you should do your homework by seven o'clock.' What you need to say now is, 'I am willing to provide internet after dinner to children who get their homework done before dinner.' See, now I'm not saying what this child should or shouldn't do, because everyone has free will and free choice. What I am saying is what I'm willing to do or not willing to do based on my value system. And it's going to start with parent changes. There is no change a child will make that will change the home life until the parents provide a home that can handle a child's change. So the parents are the ones in charge of the happiness of the home, not the child's risky behavior. Ah, strongest nervous system wins, though, doesn't it? So to reestablish control, and the parental guidance of the household, A) you lock back onto your value system, and B) you make the changes that you need to make, the behavior changes. You need to come to the kids and say, 'I'm not doing this anymore. I'm not living life like this anymore. I've made some huge changes. I'm working with a parenting coach, listen to his podcast, he's calling me out on my crap. And I'm gonna make some changes. Unfortunately, kid, my changes are gonna affect you. But that's life. And so I love you. And I'll get back to you later, we will be signing a behavior contract. I've expectations of you, you'll have expectation of me, we both have consequences. We both have rewards.' I work with a mom who said, 'If I yell at you, because I don't like yelling, it's not in my value system, but I get out of control and I yell, I can't drive to work for two weeks, I have to find alternative method.' And the daughter says it should be your bike since you made me ride my bike to school. And the mom goes, you're right. Mom, daughter, next time they got into a fight, mom hollered, daughter goes, you broke the contract. She goes, you're right. And for two weeks, she rode her bike to work. Here's what she learned: A) she lost eight pounds, and B) she spent her morning breathing hard, and exercising, which meant that she couldn't just rely on coffee, she actually had to eat food. When she woke up, she was more tired, which meant her sleep patterns changed. And see, she thought about the fact that she was riding her bike pretty consistently. And instead of focusing on her daughter's emotional response to mom breaking the rules, she focused on her strategy as a mother. So that consequence work. See, consequences are designed to focus our children on their strategies. If you use emotions to consequence your children, they will focus on your emotions, and you'll just be in a-hole. So this is why I wrote the workbook which, as we talked about, Steve, I want to be able to provide free to anybody who's listening at any time, because it's time for parents to make their agreements, get their consequences and rewards in order, before they set up their kids consequences and rewards. Model the behavior we want to see, create a strong nervous system to take our homes back, and create a family contract where the family goes into recovery, not just this child, who if they change their behavior, we'd all be happy. And to answer your question, of course it can be different for different households.


Steve Altishin  38:23  

I love that. And I do want to reiterate that we have the link to that on our site. Anyone can use it free. Unfortunately, we have to stop. I could be here forever. And we've got to wrap up, so thank you so much for providing your expertise and incredible insight on this. Just before we go, if someone wants to get a hold of you, how do they get ahold of you? 


Aaron Huey  38:53  

Well, I want to give two free, and then one really low cost. Number one is Parenting Teens that Struggle. It is a free parenting group on Facebook. I have over 1800 parents who are going through it with their teens. Parenting Teens that Struggle on Facebook, come join the group, answer the questions, I'll let you in. I moderate the group and so does my daughter. Second thing is my podcast Beyond Risk and Back. It is for parents of teenagers and teenagers who are really struggling. This is where I interview the experts to give the parents their tips directly. Third, I have a parenting masterclass online at It is 57 classes of everything I have ever taught parents in the last 20 years. And it's $37 bucks because I want every parent to have access and recourse to support, because as parents we all deserve support. 


Steve Altishin  39:54  

All I can say to that is that's the cost of a nice Pinot Noir! I live in Oregon. 


Aaron Huey  40:00  

Haha, it's the cost of a nice maladaptive coping strategy.


Steve Altishin  40:06  

Again, thank you so much. And again, I want to thank everyone who tuned in today. This was really fascinating. Again, anyone with questions on today's topic, you know how to get in touch with us. You just post it. We can send some of those questions if they're to Aaron to him. And until next time, everyone, stay safe. Stay happy. Have a great day.



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