Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jezebel's Rebellion: A Behavioral Assessment Interview with The Father of a High School Lesbian Coming Out of His Closet

For Discussion 4, you will role-play the role of a behavior analyst interviewing a parent whose child is demonstrating behavior problems.
Create 10 questions to include in your interview, and ask a classmate, friend, or family member to role-play the parent. Ask your role-playing partner to create a situation in their mind about their child displaying behavior problems (they get to be creative). Then, ask your 10 questions.

Question 1: I interviewed my father about my teenage self

Question 2: See interview below

Jess: Now that we've talked about some of Jezebel's behaviors, favorable and unfavorable, on the whole, I will just get down to business and begin the behavioral assessment to determine and address the target behavior.

Bill: Ooookaaaay.

Jess: What unfavorable or problematic behaviors is your daughter demonstrating?

Bill: Jezebel is extremely rebellious. You wouldn't believe what we have to put up with. The kid is out of control. She's sixteen and she wants to be thirty.

Jess: Mr. Bill, I ask that you try to focus on specific problematic behaviors that Jezebel is demonstrating rather than making global statements in assessment of her behavior.

Bill: No problem, Ms. Jess. She blasts angry rocker chick music at all hours of the night, jumps on her bed, opens her window and sings half-naked for all the neighbors to see, and worst of all - the other day she took apart her whole room and drew all over her walls with permanent marker. Oh, and she carved into the door once. Outrageous, weird stuff.

Jess: How did you respond to the incident involving the writing on the walls?

Bill: Oh, I don't know, I only went in to look once. She's in there all the time so I avoid going in. We're talking about my teenage daughter. It's a little awkward. For a father to go into his teenage daughter's bedroom.

Jess: But you did go in, at least once.

Bill: Yes, after her mother told me to go see what she had done. When I went in, I saw poetry all over the wall. That, and faces of women. Women wearing glasses and crying tears of blood. Something like that. She wrote words like, "Dyke" and "Queer" and "Lesbian" and "Homo" all over one wall and then the women on the other. She covered her entire face with red and black marker.

Jess: When did the incident occur?

Bill: I'm not sure exactly. Let's see. I'm pretty sure it happened after she had a fight with her mother.

Jess: What were they fighting about?

Bill: Probably her sexuality. Yeah, that's right. Jezebel recently came out as a lesbian and her mother isn't handling it well.

Jess: Do you remember anything specific about what events might have precipitated the event?

Bill: They started fighting downstairs about the fact that Jezebel didn't want to do a summer internship with a local theater. Somehow that turned into a nasty fight about her sexuality. Her mother got very angry, which she has been doing lately, and began calling her names, saying awful things to her and threatening to send Jezebel away to a religious summer camp. But I was in the other room and wasn't paying much attention. I just heard the general gist of what was happening. And then I heard my wife scream at Jezebel to get out of her sight. Jezebel ran upstairs crying, and then the music started blasting. That was the last I heard. I went to work and left her with her mother, and when I came home she was walking down the street with a book bag and stuff all over her face and legs and arms. She was creating a spectacle. When I walked in the house Sue, my wife, was crying and told me she made Jezebel leave the house. She told me to go look in her room, and that's when I saw what she had done. I mean, the room was trashed. There were words everywhere. Even along the baseboards. She ruined my windows with her love poetry!

Jess: Was anyone present when Jezebel drew all over her walls?

Bill: Her mother was home, but Jezebel was alone. I'm sure she was escaping. It was an act of rebellion.

Jess: Has she committed any similar acts of rebellion in the past?

Bill: Yes. Not this bad. Except for the carving in the door. Mostly she just wears weird clothes to school. I know it's just to get attention. She's an attention-seeker.

Jess: Sir, can you name any specific behaviors similar to the incident of drawing on the walls that have occurred in the past?

Bill: Once she had a piano teacher that she thought treated her unfairly. During her brother's piano lesson, she put on a tutu and pretended to row herself in a boat through the room. I think it was to make the piano teacher feel uncomfortable. She's always wanting to make people uncomfortable. I don't know. Maybe it was to make light of the situation. She was an uptight woman.

Jess: Anything else?

Bill: I guess it's hard to say. Sometimes it seems like it's just her art. Like when she wears costumes to school. She is theatrical. She performs in plays. But then, when things are bad with her mother at home, she seems to respond to the turmoil by doing some kind of theatrical stunt. Mostly just singing aloud in her room. In front of her windows. I can only imagine what our neighbors see. After she fights with her mother, she dances on the lawn. She sings and dances down our street. It's bizarre.

Jess: So you would say it's the fighting with your wife that triggers the singing and dancing, just like the fighting triggered the wall-incident?

Bill: Well, no. I don't know. She sings and dances regardless of whether or not there is a fight. She's been singing and dancing since she was four years old. I don't think there is a connection, actually.

Jess: Do you find the theatrical acts problematic?

Bill: No, only when she destroys my property!

Jess: Has she ever destroyed your property before?

Bill: Not like that.

Jess: Was there something about the fight she had with your wife on the day off the wall-writing that was unusual or distinct from other fights?

Bill: It was a pretty bad fight. Her mother was doing a lot of threatening. Threatening to take away this and that. Threatening to send her here or there.

Jess: What was Jezebel doing during the altercation?

Bill: Crying and screaming about how horrible her mother is. I wasn't paying enough attention, I was paying bills.

Jess: Any other events that might have led to it?

Bill: Well, Jezebel went on summer break just a couple of weeks earlier. I figure having them be home with one another all the time made things worse. Jezebel usually stays pretty busy when she is in school with clubs and plays and things. Her mother likes her to be busy. It's good for all of us when she's busy. When they are not alone together.

Jess: So she stopped being busy at the start of summer?

Bill: Yeah. They have been spending too much time in the same house. Jezebel doesn't see her friends too often. She spends a lot of time on the computer doing who-knows-what.

Jess: Do you recall if she was on the computer when the fight began?

Bill: Actually I think she was. That annoys her mother.

Jess: What else was she doing in the days that preceded the event?

Bill: Staying up really late, I mean 'til two or three am - on the computer and doing whatever she does in her room. Sleeping in until eleven or twelve. Working for us, packaging nuts and bolts. Sitting out on the porch, writing in her journals.

Jess: On the day of the event, what was your wife doing?

Bill: She was in an angry mood. She was just about to start her period. As a matter of fact, she tends to target Jezebel more around that time of the month.

Jess: What were you doing prior to the event?

Bill: Just working. Working a lot. A shipment had come in. Her mother and I had a fight the night before. About what to do with Jezebel.

Jess: Where were your other children?

Bill: They were all out with their friends.

Jess: Who was at home right before the event?

Bill: Just Jezebel and her mother, and me. But I wasn't involved, I was just an observer. Remember, I left right after they fought.

Jess: Do you know if Jezebel was taking any kind of illegal substance at the time of the event?

Bill: No, she doesn't drink or do drugs. She doesn't do any of that normal teenage stuff, she is just weird - stays home alone, dances, sings, performs little obsessive experimental acts.

Jess: Can you describe Jezebel's behavior after the event?

Bill: She seemed to be in another zone, when I saw her dancing down the street. She waved to me and made a funny face when I passed.

Jess: How did you react?

Bill: Well at the time, I laughed. It was funny. Until I saw what she had done to her room.

Jess: What did you do when you saw her room? Did you punish her? If so, how?

Bill: When she got home, I yelled at her. I screamed and told her how she destroyed MY walls, that she was a guest living in MY house and that she was going to have to fix it immediately. I was enraged at first.

Jess: How about your wife?

Bill: She came into the room and screamed at Jezebel, too. At that point, I walked out and went downstairs.

Jess: What did Jezebel do when you both screamed at her?

Bill: She started singing "I am living on an insane planet / Are you the alien or am I the alien / I do not care to live like an alien and I do not care to cohabitate with aliens on an insane planet" over our voices and plugging her ears.

Jess: What events followed all the screaming and singing?

Bill: We left her alone for a while. She listened to music, that's all I know because I could hear it all over the house whenever I was home. She came to me the next day and asked if I would take her to Home Depot to buy some paint. Oh, I forgot to mention that she had been asking me for weeks to paint her room before this happened. Actually, now that I think about it, we had had a fight a day or two prior to the event - she was insisting on painting her room. I said we would get to it, but she wanted to do it RIGHT then and I didn't have time. She wanted to paint her walls purple, but her mother would not let her. Sue thought Jezebel was trying to paint her room a gay color. She thought everything Jezebel was doing was all aimed at being a lesbian. Sue told Jezebel that she wasn't allowed to paint it purple - that she had to pick another color. Jezebel was very angry about it. Resentful. Probably plotting some way to dye her face or her hair purple or get some kind of purple tattoo.

Jess: What happened in the days that followed the event?

Bill: She slept through the days and stayed awake through the nights. Jezebel, I mean. A few days later, I took her to Home Depot and we picked out some paint for her room. She chose a berry-color, kind of a purplish shade of burgundy. I thought it was okay. I helped her paint the room, and she was very happy and pleased that it finally happened. Her mother hated the color at first, and freaked out a little bit, but then she got over it. Jezebel decorated the room with all of her theatrical stuff. It looked good for the most part. Her mother hated it, still, but mostly because Jezebel was hanging pictures of her English teachers and posters of the Indigo Girls on her walls. Sue hung up a few crosses and framed psalms around the room, and Jezebel let them stay so that eased things up between them. For the moment. But Jezebel still wrote on the window trim and put sticker stars on the window in the shape of a moon and did all sorts of crazy things with her room. Putting posters and pictures up all over her walls with tacks and tape. Ruining the walls. I am not happy about all the repair I am going to have to do someday, but I will be glad when she moves out so I can make that room inhabitable again.
Jess: Did she ever repeat the behavior of drawing on the walls again, after the main incident?

Bill: Well, she carved into the door. I don't know if that counts. But she never drew on her walls like that again.

Jess: Have you ever tried to stop this type of behavior in the past?

Bill: Not really. Usually it's not that unacceptable. Not so far-fetched. I also kind of expect the arts stuff from her. And I did feel a little conflicted about punishing her for the walls, because I figured her mom was putting her through a hard time. I mostly reacted that way because I was more mad about the walls and annoyed that I had to do something to fix them than I was about the act itself. I don't really care that much that she writes all over herself. Do whatever you want to your body, Jezebel, but leave my walls alone. And don't walk around the house in your bra. I tell her all the time, but that makes her walk around in her bra more it seems. I just don't get that girl. I worry about her mental state.
Jess: Okay, Mr. Bill, with that I conclude the functional assessment portion of our interaction. Thank you, I will review what I have collected and be in touch.

Bill: Ms. Jess, you enjoy this too much, don't you.

Question 3: See Follow-up Questions below

Jess: Just to verify, do the rebellious behaviors occur often?

Bill: Rebellious behaviors, I don't know. Odd behaviors occur perpetually. Rebellious behaviors occur rarely, once or twice a month during fights with her mother. The wall incident only occurred once.

Jess: Where do the behaviors occur typically?

Bill: In her room, mostly, I suppose. Hmm. No, The odd behaviors occur everywhere. She dances around at restaurants and talks in different accents. The theatrical stuff is constant, at school and at home. Anywhere, really. Doesn't matter where we are. The rebellious behaviors occur at home, in response to her mother and the fighting. The wall incident occurred at home, and as I said: she was alone in her room when she did that.
Jess: What does Jezebel enjoy doing?

Bill: Uhhh. Writing, singing, dancing, acting, reading, being with and thinking about English teachers. She loves music. Female rockers, right now.

Jess: English teachers, eh?

Bill: I know. I've never heard of anything like that. When I was her age, I was getting ready to drop out of school. I hated most of my teachers.
Jess: Mr. Bill, if I may ask, how do you involve yourself in her world, or her interests, if at all?

Bill: I like Melissa Etheridge. I don't mind listening to that. I like some of her music. I go to see her performances and plays at school. Now I don't know about the English teachers, that's not my territory.

Jess: How is Jezebel's general behavior in school?

Bill: She's very committed to school. She's not a straight A student. Ha, ha. Straight -A student. Get it? She's mostly a low A or high B student, but she works really hard and she always has. She spends a lot of time, more time than any of her siblings, on her homework. She's very responsible. She is involved in a lot of service activities at church and at school, and she is in a lot of clubs at school. As far as I know, there aren't any problems at school. Her English teachers love her. She loves them. That's all she thinks about - English teachers. A little odd, but I don't see any harm in it.

Jess: Since school ended, have you noticed any changes in Jezebel's behavior?

Bill: She seems a little more depressed and more defiant. Maybe she misses school. Or her English teachers...

Jess: Are there times when Jezebel behaves in ways that you find acceptable?

Bill: Ah, I don't know. I guess I accept most of her eccentricities. I just don't like it when she's fighting with her mother.

Jess: What do you not like about those moments?

Bill: Mostly I don't like how it affects my relationship with her mother. But Jezebel does rebel more during those times. She won't back down. She has to have her way. She is a fighter, and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She can be a real monster when she's not getting what she wants.

Jess: What do you mean when you say 'when she's not getting what she wants'?

Bill: She thinks she knows better than we do. When we say no, she argues to no end.

Jess: How do you respond to her arguing?

Bill: We argue back with her.

Jess: And how does she respond?

Bill: She keeps arguing.

Jess: And how do you respond?

Bill: Either we tell her to go to her room or leave the house, or we leave the house. We just can't shut her up - either she has to go away or we have to go away.
Jess: Then what happens?

Bill: Sometimes she gets her way, sometimes she doesn't.

Jess: What happens if she gets her way?

Bill: She's happy.

Jess: What happens if she doesn't get her way?

Bill: She writes about us and stays in her room and sings angry songs and hangs out of her window.
Jess: Have you ever tried to talk to her about her feelings?

Bill: No, we don't need to. She never stops talking about her feelings.

Jess: When she talks about her feelings, how do you respond?

Bill: I argue. Usually I don't listen because I am sick of it. I tune it out.

Jess: When she talks about her feelings, how does your wife respond?

Bill: I don't think she listens either. She just wants Jezebel to stop being a lesbian. That's all she cares about right now. Sometimes she feels sorry for Jezebel though. She thinks Jezebel is a different person now.

Jess: What makes her think that Jezebel is a different person now?

Bill: The way she acts. Being a lesbian. Thinking about English teachers all day. Listening to Melissa Etheridge all night.

Jess: Well, Mrs. Bill. I mean, Mr. Bill. Do you think Jezebel is a different person now than she once was?

Bill: No, she's always been singing in her room. And, come to think of it, she's always been loving older women. I think she's changed very little. It's just a little too weird for me at this point. Angela Lansbury at age five was one thing. English teachers at sixteen is another.

Jess: I think that concludes the follow up questions that I have. Is there anything you would like to ask me, Mr. Bill?

Bill: No, I don't have any questions.

Jess: About Jezebel?

Bill: No, I've seen it all with Jezebel. I think I know enough.

Jess: Okay, Mr. Bill. Good day, then.

Bill: (Mutters:) My daughter's crazy...

Question 4:

Jezebel's response to a stressful fight with her mother (drawing on the walls) is problematic. The situation is very complicated because it is likely that Jezebel is responding to great extent to the aggressive behaviors of her mother and the disengaged behavior of her father. Many of Jezebel's behaviors are actually acceptable. The way in which she is responding to stress is not inherently bad - it's just misdirected. Jezebel seems to be  successfully, productively and healthily, dealing with the stresses in her life through creative art and expression. In the case of the wall-art, she took it too far and broke her parents rules as a form of (civil?) disobedience and rebellion against her parents. If Jezebel had access to more acceptable palates for her artistic and emotional rebellion, then both Jezebel and her parents might be able to all feel satisfied and in agreement.

That being said, there are several problematic behaviors in this situation: the mother's instigation and fighting behavior (with threats), the father's behavior of wavering between engagement and disengagement, the daughter's behaviors in response to stress (the destructive behaviors - such as carving into or drawing on walls), and the parents' response to the daughters response behaviors. For the sake of simplicity, I will define the problem behavior as: breaking the rules of the house by drawing on the walls and altering others' property in such a way that is unacceptable to the owners of the property.

Question 5:

Antecedent: Jezebel's mother is angry and hears loud rock music coming from Jezebel's room. Jezebel's mother cannot stand to listen to "lesbian music." She tells Jezebel that she will no longer be able to listen to Melissa Etheridge and hides all of Jezebel's albums.

Behavior: Jezebel refuses to leave her room until the CDs are returned, and stays in her room for days.

Consequence: Jezebel's mother returns the albums to Jezebel when she is no longer feeling angry, and Jezebel comes out of her room.

Hypothesis: If Jezebel and her mother can come to an agreement that Jezebel wear headphones when her mother is feeling angry and annoyed with the music, then Jezebel's mother will not have to listen to "lesbian music" when she is angry and Jezebel will not lose all of her music albums and will be able to listen to Melissa Etheridge at times when her mother is angry.


Antecedent: Jezebel and her mother are fighting in the kitchen while Jezebel's father reads the paper. Jezebel is being berated by her mother for being a lesbian. Jezebel's father leaves the house without becoming involved in the fight.

Behavior: Jezebel's mother becomes overwhelmed and orders Jezebel to leave the house immediately. Jezebel runs upstairs, packs a bag and leaves the house. She walks for miles and hitchhikes a ride to the house of a woman she chats with on the Internet but whom she has never before met.

Consequence: Jezebel's parents cannot find her. They call the police. Jezebel comes home later in the evening and has to be questioned by the police as to her whereabouts. She lies and says she slept in the park all afternoon. Jezebel's parents punish her by making her stay at home for a week. Jezebel has no problem staying home for a week.

Hypothesis: If Jezebel's father had taken an active role in the fight and made efforts to calm the situation instead of leaving the house to escape the situation, it is likely that the fight would not have escalated to the point in which Jezebel's mother would have ordered her to leave. If he had been present, he would have been aware that Jezebel left because she was told to get out - and he could have followed Jezebel out of the house and given her a ride to a safe place (avoiding Jezebel placing herself in a dangerous situation and avoiding having the police involved and avoiding the useless grounding punishment).


Antecedent: Jezebel walks out of the house in the morning wearing her father's boxer shorts and one of her brother's ties over one of her mother's nightshirts. Jezebel's mother begins screaming at the top of her lungs about the outfit. She rips the tie off of Jezebel's neck and tells Jezebel to stop trying to be a dyke.

Behavior: Jezebel runs upstairs, singing a Melissa Etheridge song, "Momma I'm Strange" at the top of her lungs. She smears lipstick all over her face, grabs five of her brother's ties and ties them around her neck and forehead and arms, and writes "Momma I'm Strange" in lipstick on each of her calves. Jezebel runs out of the house before her mother can get a hold of her and goes to school.

Consequence: Jezebel's mother calls the guidance counselor and social worker at school, and demands that Jezebel be publicly reprimanded in class and asked to remove her "obscene" outfit. She drops off a dress at school, and asks that it be delivered to Jezebel in the middle of English class. Jezebel receives the public reprimand and is delivered the dress. She hangs it up on her English teacher's chalkboard and draws the face of a lion coming from the neck of the dress. Jezebel's favorite English teacher smiles and laughs. Jezebel feels victorious, better than ever, ready to spear the dress and carry the flag dress-on-a-stick home to her mother!

Hypothesis: If Jezebel's mother had calmly talked about Jezebel's appearance or asked questions about it or had just let it be as it was, then the revolutionary circus that ensued would not have occurred. Perhaps in the future, Jezebel's mother could show appreciation for Jezebel's appearance or just ignore it altogether so as to avoid fanning the flame (if her wish is for it to stop...).

No comments: