Are you and your family stressed?

Have you tried to solve your family’s problems with little success?

Do you feel hopeless?

With PLL there is hope! Families that enroll in PLL…

  • Report that they can easily notice a difference in their child’s improved behavior after PLL.
  • Report greater satisfaction with how their family communicates with one another after PLL.
  • Report stronger connections with one another after PLL.
  • Report improved ability to adapt to life’s stressors after PLL
  • Report healing of past traumas after PLL

You too can experience improvement in your child’s behavior and your family’s overall functioning by completing the PLL program.

The PLL Program has successfully helped families whose youth were experiencing the following problems:

  • Disrespect
  • Unhealed Wounds or Trauma
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse
  • School Truancy or Failing Grades
  • Aggression
  • Refusal to Follow House Rules
  • Leaving Home Without Permission
  • Running Away
  • Sexual Promiscuity
  • Depression
  • Attention Problems (ADHD, ADD, etc.)
  • Threats of Suicide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PLL and how will it work with my family?

PLL is a program that has proven to be effective with families whose youth are acting out. PLL includes 6 weeks of group therapy where multiple families come together to support one another and learn new skills. PLL also includes individual family sessions to customize new skills learned and address unhealed wounds. For youth returning from an out-of-home placement, PLL works with the family and community to ensure a smooth transition back into the community and home. For more specific information click here.

How do I know that PLL will help me and my family?

There is no guarantee that any program will be successful with your family, however, our current outcomes indicate that 84% of families enrolled in PLL successfully complete the program and find the help they are seeking.

“This program is for all parents of teenagers. It works and brings the whole family together while not focusing on the past but moving forward to having good relationships with your children.

It is hard to change behavior but this program takes an approach that involves your teen and finds the humor and joy of parenting again.

I have two teens and have been a teacher for twenty years. I would recommend the PLL approach to everyone with children. It is concrete and has a step-by-step approach that makes it easy to apply to any situation.” Cheryl J. – PLL Parent

Click here to see more testimonials.

Is there a PLL program in my area?

Click here for a listing of PLL programs.

There isn’t a PLL program in my area, what now?

Step 1: Do a search in your area for agencies who have clinicians who specialize in Structural and Strategic Family therapy. Do not be afraid to ask specifically about their experience in working with families with youth experiencing behavioral problems. After all, your family deserves the best help available!

Step 2: Make sure to find a Structural and Strategic Family Therapist that will include the whole family in the treatment process. We often hear from families that when their children's behavior becomes unmanageable, they send their child to an individual therapist but the parents are basically ignored and left to find their own solutions as to how they will interact with their child in their home. Remember, you (the parents) are the ones who know your child and family best and a good family therapist will listen to you and be able to help you to reclaim your family.

Step 3: Once you find the right therapist, take the Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager book into your first meeting and ask the therapist if he or she is willing to read it with you. Having someone to work with you as you develop strategies and contracts is invaluable to be able to troubleshoot with you to ensure you have not overlooked a possible loophole to your plan.

PLL Mailbag

When your child leaves a pile of ... Mulch

Dear Parenting with Love and Limits,

I have been reading your book "Parenting Your Out-Of-Control Teenager." Recently my step-son and I signed a contract in which he agreed to mulch the front yard for $60. I gave him a week to complete the task, which expires tomorrow night at midnight. During the past week, he has spent only an hour spreading mulch. Before I ordered the mulch, I asked him if was willing to spread it to make some money. He agreed. I made up a service agreement that includes the type of service, time of completion, payment, and general provisions that we both signed. He is now complaining that he doesn't have enough time to complete the task. By the way, he spends most of his awake time skateboarding. Other than not paying him the money if he doesn't complete the task, should there be any other consequences since I now have six yards of mulch that I will have to spread myself.


Hello Jan (mom of the excess mulch),

I received your email that you sent to Dr. Scott Sells. I am the Clinical Director for Parenting with Love and Limits (Dr. Sells' Organization) and I would like to respond to your question.

First of all, I must say, I appreciate your creativity and attention to details in your contract with your son to mulch the front yard. It appears that you are teaching him a valuable lesson of "the real world" that you don't get something for free! Including the type of service, time of completion, payment, and provisions is awesome.

So, you are definitely covered in not owing your son the payment if he does not meet the above criteria. Unfortunately, it sounds as if your agreement with your son was presented as an "opportunity" and not as something that he was "obligated to do" with pre-written consequences if he failed to comply. Remember, as chapter 2 (pp. 29-66) states, if it is not written down, your teen will "drive a Mack truck through it"!

The best thing you can do at this point, to continue the "life lessons" for your son would be to hire someone else to do the mulching and give them the $60! Perhaps one of your son's friends would be looking to earn some spending money!

I hope my words have been helpful ... you are definitely on the right track with recognizing that agreements need to be in writing.

Warm regards,

It's time to shape up or ship out

Hello! I just got the book, Parenting Your Out-or-Control Teenager, from the library. My daughter is nineteen, soon to be twenty. She graduated high school two years ago and is doing nothing. Three months ago she finally passed her written exam to be a hair stylist after 3 tries. In order to try to motivate her to study for the test, I told her that I would buy her a car. She does not have her driver's license, only a permit. It took her about 7 times to pass the written driver's test. I paid for one driving lesson for her and offered to pay for more but she claims that she knows how to drive. About two years ago, we bought her a small truck, but it was stick shift and she refused to have anything to do with it, so we finally sold it

My husband, her dad, does not believe we should give her a car. She sleeps all day and goes out with her friends to parties, etc. at night. She has no job now (she quit her last one 6 months ago because they won't give her a weekend off) She claims that if we buy her a car, she can move on with her life: get her license, get a job, and enroll in college.

We went to a counselor briefly, but she doesn't feel she needs it. We have a contract with her that states she is to be home at 11 during the week. She pretty much ignores it and claims that she can't because she has to depend on people to take her home. We have kicked her out at least three or four times now telling her to get a job and follow the rules or live elsewhere. Each time she returns, she says she will and then it goes back to the way things were.

We are at the end of our rope. She keeps saying that she is an adult. The counselor said that she was being a rebellious fourteen year old. Also, we cannot even go away for the weekend because while we are gone, she has friends over partying. Her boyfriend is 21 and not working either. He lost his license for drunk driving.

I want to get her a car on one hand because hopefully then she will get a job etc, but my husband says that she's going to kill herself or someone else and that she's not ready yet. Please help us!!!!

P.S. She doesn't want any old car either She wants a "newer" car with power windows and doors, cd player, 4 doors, automatic, etc. My husband and I are both driving 13 year old cars with roll-up windows and no cd players.

Hello Mom of Difficult Daughter,

I received your email concerning your daughter. I am the Clinical Director of Parenting with Love and Limits and would like to respond to your concerns.

First, let me commend you and your husband for recognizing that your daughter is in need of help. Forgive me for saying this, but your daughter sounds like an incredibly smart individual who knows a "cushy" setup when she sees one.

While I appreciate the past efforts you have put in toward attempting to break her of her self-centered lifestyle, I fear that each time you have given in, she has only gained strength, until now she is like the "alien" who has drunk so much of her parents energy that she has grown to mammoth proportions with incredible strength!

In order to break this truly destructive cycle that she is on, you will have to take extreme measures.

For example, a written contract that clearly states your (I emphasize the word "YOUR") household rules that she must abide by in order to benefit from your roof over her head is needed ASAP. Additionally, you must be prepared to administer tough love in the form of helping pack her up to go stay for a few days at a homeless shelter while she ponders her choices. A critical point is that in order for her to be allowed to return back to your home, she must have taken care of certain requirements (i.e. apply for several jobs with written verification, etc.) You will want to insure that your daughter does NOT have any keys to your home!

Some of your requirements for living "under your roof" that I would recommend you put in a contract would be -

  • Getting a job within 2 months, and as long as she is out of work, she needs to be volunteering her services in the many different agencies in town. I always like having youth volunteer at homeless shelters, animal shelters, Nursing Homes, etc. You can call the Police Department for more ideas.
  • She needs to give up her house key and if she comes home after your requirement, she will have to stay at the local homeless shelter. You must be prepared to call the police if she begins to be disruptive enough to wake the neighbors. Your daughter will learn after only one episode that you mean business this time!
  • She needs to also be "earning her keep" by doing chores around the house.

One other thing, it is imperative, in order for you to "save her life", that you do not give in to her selfish demand of "needing a car so that she can be home on time"!!!! Whew, she is a wily one! Your husband is most definitely correct in his assessment of the car issue.

One other recommendation I might make would be that you and your husband ought to go away for the weekend. You need to require that your daughter stay elsewhere and you take the only keys to the house with you! It sounds as if you would benefit from a much needed break.

These recommendations may seem harsh, but remember, if you do nothing, you will soon have a 20-year-old, 21-year-old, 22-year-old ....who has no job. How long are you willing to maintain this?

I hope these thoughts have been helpful.

Warm regards,

If you are interested in submitting your questions to the PLL Mailbag column, please e-mail PLL at We will answer as many letters as possible.

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