When Parenting Styles Clash: Working through the Total Transformation Program

Posted December 10, 2009 by

I began using the Total Transformation Program by James Lehman the minute it landed in my mailbox. I even opened it up in the car before driving home so that I could inspect the contents. I could not wait to begin! I perused and panned through everything. I scanned the upcoming lessons and wanted to jump through more than one lesson a night (despite the warning not to in the introduction).

My husband, upon seeing the program folder in my hand and the smile upon my face, grimaced and said Oh, it’s here, huh

Not quite the same approach. That is fitting because we have butted heads since the day we met over parenting styles. We are a blended family and he is stepfather to my two boys who have special needs. My oldest boy, Thomas, in addition to having autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder, also has been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. We have successfully found treatment for all of his other problems except this one. He seems to have a compulsive need to argue and talk back. (And that’s the least of it, too!)

When Jerry, my husband, first joined our family, Thomas was used to getting his way because I had given up on arguing with him. If I tried to stand my ground, Thomas would rage, destroying whatever got into his hands first. I had already begun working with a therapist to try and determine the actual causes of these rages so that we could apply corrective action to them and get them to stop. I am happy to report that the work I did with that therapist helped a great deal in calming Thomas down. The only difficult behavior that remained was his lack of respect, his back talk and argumentativeness.

My husband Jerry had already raised two kids who were not special needs. They turned out okay. He, like many people, spanked his kids on the bottom, smacked their hands when they were toddlers and touched things they ought not touch, yelled at them to get them to comply, and so on. All of those techniques just seem to not work with Thomas and instead seem to make the behaviors worse. Oh sure, yelling works great in the short term, but then you just have to yell more loudly next time and somehow intensify the moment to get the same result the next time. And it didn’t actually solve the behavior, i.e. get him to listen to me the first time I told him to pick up his dirty laundry.

What was the answer, then Jerry didn’t want to participate in this new program and I did because I could see (based upon basic common sense and my previous education in this field) that The Total Transformation Program had the potential to really save my son from himself. So, Jerry didn’t participate at first.

I have gone on using the lessons (yes, they are working!) and being the disciplinarian in the family. Jerry agreed that for two weeks, we’d do things my way (according to the TT program) and he would stand back and let me do it without any usurping from him. He’d support my efforts, but not be the actual disciplining parent. This would give him time to see that I could get more results out of Thomas using the TT program than he could with his yelling. Well, I’m happy to say that after going through this little experiment, this week Jerry is going to complete the lessons with me.

He’s busy right now playing catch-up and we’ll go on from there.

Be sure to check in with Heather as she blogs about her family’s experiences using the Total Transformation Program. And if you’re working through the program, please feel free to post any advice, comments or questions here!


Heather is a mom of two special needs children and has spent over a decade working with them and other children who present challenging behaviors. She has been writing for over 20 years.

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