How to Stop Enabling Your Child’s Bad Behavior Pt. 3 with Dr. Charles Fay

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

One of the most difficult tasks as a parent is to make decisions that cause them not to like you, even if it is in their own best interest. In the final installment of a series on parenting with Dr. Charles Fay from Love and Logic, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen go over these tough choices, and how to make it easier for them to be strong rather than weak.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest-quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are having so much fun with Dr. Charles Fay. This is so important-

Tana Amen: I love this topic.

Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in an age with so much anger and so much noise and distracted parents, really, that the easiest thing you can do, in the moment, is get into bad behavior, but you are going to pay for that long-term and, more importantly, your child is going to pay for that, that Love and Logic can really help develop internal responsibility and happiness long-term. Charles, this has just been so much fun.

Tana Amen: So helpful.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's go to some really hard things. What if you have a teenager that is starting to use drugs?

Tana Amen: Well, and I want to just throw in there one of the things that I've heard personally from ... because I'm a parent with a teenager is, "I can't discipline them now. They're too big. What am I supposed to do? They outsize me," right? Let's just preface it with that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Although we sort of never recommend beating them up.

Tana Amen: No, no, no, but they ... but often-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or taking a physical approach to children.

Tana Amen: But when they're ... Especially when there's drugs involved, I know some moms who feel really uncomfortable, right, and they say, "There's nothing I can do."

Dr. Charles Fay: Well, it does feel so out of control for parents. I want to preface this by saying that I'm always humbled by kids. There are so many times where I say to people, "I used to be a parenting expert until I had kids."

Tana Amen: Right, exactly. Right?

Dr. Charles Fay: It is very complex. There are many, many variables that are all interacting with each other that human beings haven't even gotten a grip on scientifically. It's not a blame game, but it's a game about, "How can I allow this kid to truly experience the full brunt of their life decisions right now?" because so many people will not get motivated. Most people will not get motivated to really make some very difficult changes in their life until they have lost pretty much everything, until it's gotten really hard, until they realize that, "This ain't working."

Tana Amen: Rock bottom, yep.

Dr. Charles Fay: This just, "The way I'm living my life is not working." What happens, because we love them so much, is we tend to put a safety net under those rock bottoms every time they happen, and then the rock bottoms get deeper. We're actually conditioning the kid to need more severe consequences. We're habituating them to the consequences of their poor decisions. In other words, we're getting them used to pain so they need more to be able to learn.

Tana Amen: Yeah. I really like one of the things you mention in the book about counting to three, because I used to do that when my daughter was little, and it made so much sense to me. It's like when in life ... Do police officers count to three before they give you a ticket? Do they give you three chances before ... No, so I stopped counting to three. I just started letting her-

Dr. Daniel Amen: That was actually a huge popular parenting book, 1-2-3 Magic.

Tana Amen: Right, but I stopped.

Dr. Charles Fay: Right, right. We don't believe in repeated warnings. We believe in helping kids understand that cause and effect can kick in after the first poor decision, so ... but let's talk to the parent right now who has this kid who's doing drugs. Here's some advice, and I'm going to come ... and more so as a friend, as a dad to another dad or to a mom. First of all, my advice is I'd say, boy, this is hard, and the less time you spend blaming yourself, even if you made some mistakes, the more time you're going to have, the more energy you're going to have to regroup and really do the hard work it's going to take to help this kid eventually pull themselves out. That's the first recognition.

The second recognition is to ask one self, "In what way am I rewarding this kid for their drug abuse? In what way am I allowing it to be really comfortable for them to continue making these really poor decisions or-"

Tana Amen: That's hard.

Dr. Charles Fay: "In what way am I allowing this kid to be addicted to video games or-"

Tana Amen: That's a hard one for parents to answer.

Dr. Charles Fay: That's a tough, tough question, but we often see a lot of parents who are running around making sure the kid's clothes are washed all the time, they're making sure that the kid has plenty of money, they're making sure the kid gets where they need to go all the time, and they're making sure that the kid is shielded from the legal consequences of their behavior.

The best thing that can happen for a kid is for them to realize that you are going to love them even though they are in a cell with some pretty unsavory characters, and you're going to stand right beside them as they explain this to the judge, and you're going to be their biggest fan while you are not rescuing them from the consequences.

Tana Amen: Can I add to that or ask would it be okay to add to that, "But it's not okay for you to engage in this behavior in my home"?

Dr. Charles Fay: Absolutely. "You put me at risk, and I won't want in any way ..." Here's how I'd talk to the kid, "I love you, and in no way do I ever want to feel like I am contributing to your poor decisions, and in no way do I ever want to feel like I am making it easier for you to be weak than to be strong-"

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr. Charles Fay: "... and I feel like I've been stealing from you."

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr. Charles Fay: "I've stolen your opportunity to realize that you can make good decisions and that you can live this life with honor, and that's going to stop."

"Well, you don't even care. You're just going to kick me out on the street."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, and what did I say?"

Tana Amen: I love that.

Dr. Charles Fay: Now here's the next piece, because we have a whole family system, don't we? We have all these other people that are involved, so who calls next? Your own mother, "How come you're just kicking him out of the house?" Then maybe your ex-husband or your ex-wife is calling, "What happened? He just talked to me." You're getting pushback from the whole system. See, the whole system, often, is involved in creating the problem, and the whole system will be out of whack and upset when you start putting ripples into it that are eventually going to heal that entire family.

They're not going to thank you for it, and so getting with a really good professional, and I'm talking about finding somebody you can visit with who can talk you through the process before you really have to do it, so a good therapist, good doctor who can sit down with you and get you strengthened up and prepared so that you can be the really strong person that this kid or this young adult really needs. I want to be clear that I do believe that the kid ... these people need help. I mean they need psychiatric help. They need mental health services. As a parent, I'm excited about the opportunity to provide or help with those types of services as long as the kid is working harder on their life than I am.

Tana Amen: Yes, I agree. I love something you said about the system pushing back, and that was something that I actually experienced. My daughter was two when I met Daniel, and so her biological father and I are now very good friends, but it wasn't always that way, and I think that's not an uncommon thing we hear in this day and age. It can be really challenging. We had very different ideas about parenting when I first started this program, and it was hard. What I had to deal with ... Maybe this will help some of the listeners because I don't think it's uncommon.

I had to be willing to go through this phase when ... Now, she wasn't ... I'm not dealing with this situation now that we're talking about with drugs. She was younger. I had to be willing to experience the part where she didn't like me very much, and it was all about, "I'm going to go to my daddy's," or whatever. That was painful, and I had to be willing to sort of go through that. The interesting thing is that she and I now are beyond close. It's just an incredible bond, but it was not ... it was painful. It was hard to do that and have trust and faith that it was going to heal and go the other direction, so just throwing that out there.

Dr. Charles Fay: We have seen that in so many families. It's painful. That's why we need to have support from a good professional, lots of good friends who can help us through the reality that we're going to have to be the bad guy for a while, maybe for a long time, and we're going to be the one that the kid doesn't want to spend time with for a while, or maybe the kid says, "Oh, I'm out of here. I'm going to go live with dad or mom," and we experience that tremendous pain and loss. The question, friends, really is, and let's get concise about this, what's love? I mean do I love this kid enough to sacrifice my own needs and desires so that they can go off and have a healthy and productive life?

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's about love.

Dr. Charles Fay: It really is.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I mean, ultimately, it's about love. The part that I really like a lot is this is about authentic empathy-

Tana Amen: Right. There's no sarcasm.

Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and authentic coaching, that there's no sarcasm. There's no belittling. There's none of the stuff that really damages relationships.

Tana Amen: This allows you to build that energy because you're not drained all the time. Seriously, I'm just ... In sincerity, you have that. There was one line that I learned from the program that helped me weather that storm early on when it was painful, entitled people can never be happy, and that helped me stick to it because I'm like, "No matter what, even if it makes her mad at me, I don't want to raise an entitled child, because she can't be happy." Something about that helped me so much.

Dr. Charles Fay: Right, because you shifted your focus to long-term, you realized that, as long as somebody believes that the world is there to bail them out of all their problems and make life comfortable for them all the time regardless of how nasty they're being, they can never be happy. It's a golden cage, I call it.

Tana Amen: I love it.

Dr. Charles Fay: Entitlement's a golden cage. Oh, you got all this stuff, but you're trapped. You're never really happy.

Tana Amen: Yeah. My daughter used to always say, "It's not fair." I said, "Honey, fair and life have nothing to do with each other. Fair is a place in Pomona with bad food and farm animals." She used to look at me-

Dr. Daniel Amen: That's where the California State Fair is.

Tana Amen: Yeah. She would look at me like, "What?" She had no idea what I was talking about, but she was like, "It's not fair." Fair is place with bad food and farm animals. It has nothing to do with life.

Dr. Charles Fay: Yeah. Honestly, sometimes I even say that to myself in the quiet times, "Oh, life isn't fair." We all struggle with that. It's a hard lesson to learn. It's a lifelong lesson to learn, but the more kids can learn it before they get older than ... the happier they're going to be, and the more resilient. Love and Logic is really all about raising kids who, when times get tough, and even as adults, they can get through it. They have that emotional resilience.

Tana Amen: One of the lines that I tell her a lot whenever she's like, "It's not fair. This is going wrong," it's like ... and we, together, have sort of planted this in our family, "What are you doing to make it better? Life isn't fair. The world isn't fair, and it doesn't owe you anything. What are you doing to make it better? What are you doing to make the world a better place?" Because it puts her in a place of empowerment, and it just ... This whole concept sort of shifted everything in our family, and it's just been so empowering.

Dr. Charles Fay: Right, right. Well, I-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, this has been wonderful.

Dr. Charles Fay: I have to say I first learned about you from a good friend of mine that I went to high school with. He calls me up, and he says, "Hey, let's go hang out," so I went and hung out with him and his wife, and he told me all about this little girl they'd adopted that had all these problems, and they learned about Love and Logic because he actually went to a elementary school that the naked kid went to and knew my dad, so ... but he said, "We're struggling, and then we put Love and Logic together. We asked what the Amen Clinic does, and it was just ... It was really the turning point." They came out and saw you and got tons of help and it was-

Tana Amen: Oh, I love that.

Dr. Charles Fay: It was just a life-changing thing. This was many years ago that this ... I was told about it. I know you guys are making some life-changing ... you're helping people change their own lives [crosstalk 00:16:07]-

Tana Amen: Well, and it's such a perfect fit., right, is where we can learn about you?

Dr. Charles Fay: Yeah, yeah, a little-

Dr. Daniel Amen: What's the best way people can begin this journey?

Dr. Charles Fay: Well, I think the best way now is we have a brand-new subscription program that people can get signed up for, and there's new videos every week, and audios with me, and hundreds of articles. It's a really good way of being able to learn in little chunks, because we find that that's the way learn best.

Tana Amen: Which is what I needed. I absolutely needed that. I don't endorse very many things. I'm either passionately for things or passionately against them. There's not a lot of middle ground with me. This is something that, honestly and sincerely, changed my life, and so it's why I've had your dad on this program. It's why I really wanted you on this program. I've attended the workshop that you have done. Because of what we do and what we see, I just think it's so invaluable. Parent training is just something that is a must if you've got a strong-willed child.

Dr. Charles Fay: And it's a must to stay married to. You know?

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr. Charles Fay: You got to have some skills so you can enjoy your marriage too.

Tana Amen: Yeah, absolutely. You do, you even have programs on relationships, which is just awesome.

Dr. Charles Fay: Yeah, yeah. We have programs for adults who act like kids and [inaudible 00:17:31].

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, that's why I'm a child psychiatrist, because I'm still a child. I'm a psychiatrist, and I'm also a child.

Dr. Charles Fay: It's really better than being a psychotherapist.

Tana Amen: Yes, that's true.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, they also ... For the therapists, because we have a lot of therapists who listen to us, you can actually become a Love and Logic trainer.

Tana Amen: We had one in our clinic, and she was amazing.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So many ways. Charles, thank you so much.

Tana Amen: So much fun.

Dr. Charles Fay: Pleasure to be here.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It was such a pleasure to spend this time with you, and we are grateful for you, and your dad, and your work, and-

Tana Amen: Please tell him I said hello.

Dr. Charles Fay: I will.

Tana Amen: He's one of my heroes.

Dr. Charles Fay: Thank you so much. We are thankful for what you do.

Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. Take care.

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