Quote of the Week

Either you run the day, or the day runs you. ~ Jim Rohn

What Social Apps are your Kids Using?
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What apps are your children using and what do they do?

Texting and instant messaging aside, do you know what your child is doing on the computer and on his/her smart phone? You are probably seeing less of your children’s faces, and more of the tops of their heads as they hunch over the latest gadget, while communicating with friends - at least we assume that they are conversing with friends.  

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular apps being used by teens.

1. Ask.fm- (developer’s minimum age of 13). People can post questions and answer other’s posted questions. The poster may do so anonymously if s/he wishes. Anyone, including those without an ask.fm account can see what’s posted on a profile.

Concerns: Total strangers may interact with your child. Also, this has been an avenue for anonymous teasing and cyber bullying.

2. Facebook- (developer’s minimum age of 13). People are able to connect with family and friends online. Although this social networking site is falling behind newer sites in use, it is still popular.

Concerns: Although there are many settings that promote privacy, many users are not aware of exactly how much information that they are sharing with the public. Strangers may “request” to “friend” your child where they would be able to see all of your child’s information on their profile. People continue to use this site to bully, threaten, and intimidate others by creating fake profiles, posting mean messages, pretending to be someone else.

3. Instagram- (developer’s minimum age of 13). People are able to filter and post pictures and videos to upload on this social networking site.

Concerns: Posts may contain pictures or videos of children without their knowledge. Users can also share their location with others. This site can also be used to bully, threaten, and intimidate others. Users should realize that their posts can end up anywhere.

4. KiK- (developer’s minimum age 17; ages 13-18 must have parental consent).  This app is a texting service that lets texts and pictures be sent without being listed in the phone’s history.

Concerns: Children may use this app to hide their information from their parents.  Strangers can still contact your child by sending friend requests and kids sometimes text inappropriate images that are less likely to be found out by parents.

5. Omegle- (developer’s minimum age 17; ages 13-18 must have parental consent; however, it is unknown if verification is done). A free online chat room, for texting and also video chatting. Users are able to communicate with total strangers.

Concerns: Kids sometimes think that it is safer to share secrets with strangers.  With newer software, the person can make up a “fake stranger” for others to talk to. The bottom line is that you cannot be sure if the person that you are video chatting is real or not.

6. ooVoo- (developer’s minimum age of 13). Users can have video chats with up to 12 people at a time, send instant messages, and text each other.

Concerns: Users are able to talk to many people at the same time. This site can also be used to bully, threaten, and intimidate others. Users can “video” the screen and use the material in the future without the other person’s knowledge.

7. Poof- An app for your phone, you can use it to hide any apps that you do not want others to see.

Concerns: This app will hide other apps that you may not want them to use. If you see the Poof Icon- they are hiding something from you.

8. Snapchat- (the site reports that those who are 13-18 should get permission from a parent, and no one under the age of 13 should use the site; however, no age is requested upon sign-up). Users are able to send pictures to be viewed by others for up to 10 seconds and then they disappear. They are said to be “gone forever”.

Concerns: Children can be misled to believe that they are safe to post anything without repercussions. Users may also take a screenshot and be free to share it on other social networking sites. This site can also be used to for sexting and bullying. It was also discovered that Snapchat had saved thousands of these pictures when they were hacked in 2014. The bottom line is that those pictures are never truly deleted!

9. Snaphack- An app that goes along with Snapchat. This saves all pictures that have been shared on Snapchat without the other user’s knowledge.

Concerns: Users may believe that there are no remaining pictures out in cyberspace. When in reality; someone has saved them for possible future use.

10. Vine- This app allows users to upload 5 second videos that replay over and over again (looping). The videos are shared and reshared with others.

Concerns: This site can also be used to bully, threaten, and intimidate others.

11. Whisper- This app encourages users to anonymously post confessions of their secrets without consequences.

Concerns: This site can give children a misguided sense of safety. The app allows private messages to allow strangers to talk to your child. Anyone with the app in your geographic area can see your Whisper; therefore, it is a real possibility that someone may be able to identify the user.

12. YikYak- (developer’s minimum age requirement is 17). This app allows the user to remain anonymous and post comments that can be seen by the first
500 people within a 5 mile radius.

Concerns: Translation: “I can be mean, and no one will know it’s me.”

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Taking Care of Yourself
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, March 15, 2015

The following is an excerpt/paraphrase from an article by Cathy Taughinbaugh.  You can find her full text by clicking this link.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, guilty, angry, or ashamed because of your child’s drug or alcohol use?  Maybe you are feeling all of those emotions?  You know that your situation is unhealthy for you and your family, but you may feel helpless to do anything about it.
"While there are many things that a parent or family member can do, your child will make the final decision on whether s/he will seek a better life or continue on down his/her destructive path.  Of course, the hope is that one day your child will make better choices and create a more positive life for himself/herself."

But what can you do in the meantime to help yourself, and begin the essential process of healing? Here are nine ideas to get you started:

1. Take care of yourself.
2. Educate yourself on recovery strategies that will help you and your family member.  (Note:  Attend a PSST, NA, or AA meeting!  Read postings on the PSST blog!)
3. Positive reinforcement can make a difference
4. Allow for natural consequences to occur.
5. Create a social network
6. Start a physical exercise program
7. Pay attention to other family members
8. Live in The Now
9. Have Gratitude. 

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You are Invited to Share your Experiences
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You are invited to share your recovery-related experiences at either of two Listening Forums, sponsored by Allegheny County's Department of Human Services.  The forums will be held in March in McKeesport and on the North Side. These forums present an opportunity for individuals/families in the community to share experiences (both positive and negative) of wellness and recovery from addiction and/or mental illness.  All are welcome to attend!  

"We want to hear what you think can be done to strengthen and support Drug & Alchohol / Mental Health Recovery in your community."

The forums are scheduled as follows.  Click on the links for more details.

Date:  Thursday, March 12
Time:  6:30 - 8:00pm
Location:  Twin Rivers Primary School
           McKeesport, PA

Date:  Wednesday, March 25
Time:  6:00-8:00pm
Location:  2801 N. Charles St.
           Pittsburgh, PA  (North Side)

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How to role-play (originally posted 9-19-13)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, March 01, 2015

There has been some interest in what goes into putting together role-plays. Putting together a role-play at PSST might be easier than you thought. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are leading a parent group and you need to put together a role-play. Usually, role-plays are not planned in advance. The spontaneity of role-plays being planned and run on the spot adds to the excitement.

Remember, parents who attend PSST have the best scenarios. Secondly, our parents are expert at playing their teenager's role. The authenticity is compelling. It's as close to being right there when it happens. We are not just viewing what happens, we are inside it. If it was a hurricane we are the eye. With all this great material and great actors it might be just natural that the role-plays workout. How could it not? Nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this subject to share that can help.

I decided to publish this how to role-play essay on the blog because role-playing is a collaborative effort. Anyone can help direct. Anyone can play. Anyone can learn. Anyone can teach.

1. Trust the group. Listen to the parent’s issue or problems when they share in the first part of the meeting. You will get ideas of what people should do. Hold onto those. Those ideas will guide you in the second part of the meeting. Absent any strong ideas of what the role-play should be, throw it up to the parents to come up with something. Make sure to inject a silent pause and the group will deliver what the group needs. Trusting the group is a very good thing to do if you're at PSST because we simply have the best group of heroes you could assemble.

2. Formulate in your mind what advice you would give BUT DON'T ADVISE! to any parents after hearing them share. It is possible to do more than one role-play so just try to set up in your mind each scenario. Again, think of the advice you would give. Try to picture saying the advice to the parent. You need to do _____ or you need to say _____ to your teen. Of course, you don't say it out loud although before you start the role-play you can say what you're hoping to see happen, which is in a way stating your advice. Advice is cheap. Role-plays aren't. If a picture is worth a thousand words a role-play is a thousand words plus infinity. So, you are now ready to act out, or see other's act out something akin to your advice that you formulated. You are open minded that other's might have as good or even better advice and you want the stage that you set to be available for other's to act out their advice too.

3. Ask if you can use someone's scenario. No one ever refuses. Ask if they want to be in it. Mostly they do; sometimes not.

4. Choose players. The easiest to start one up is to get the parents to play their child. The therapist, or another parent volunteer plays the parent.

5.If it's not you playing the parent; however, you then have to huddle with the chosen one or even share out loud what you are looking to see happen in the role-play. This is optional.

6. Once the role-play starts be in the moment.  No matter what you thought would happen in the role-play, listen to the kid and respond, it does not matter that it was different than what we set up b/c kids always change it anyway; later in comments you can say “that was good even though you changed it a little from what we set up, because that's what kids will do too.”

Keep the following talking points in mind. They are positions or skills that come up repeatedly.

1. Listen carefully to what the teenager is saying. AGREE with part of what the teen says. This more important than active listening. Agreeing with part of what is being said is crucial and you can be CREATIVE here. Be daring, be different, be smart and look the teen in the eye. Really mean it when you agree with whatever PART of what's being said. Don't follow it too closely with the word “but,” which can ruin everything you just said. Really mean it. “I hate my Probation Officer. He’s horrible, mean, nasty and just I think he’s about the most evil person I know.” REPLY “Yes, I have heard things about Mr. Johnson too and most people think he’s one of the toughest if not the toughest PO out there! He’s no one to play with from what I understand.” You are demonstrating agreement skill and you are not going to waste any time arguing if he’s nasty because it’s a red herring. We want to demonstrate avoiding red herrings and joining with the teen for a “partial” agreement. We will usually not agree with the entire thing, e.g., “Yes, he is the worst PO – he really is just a problem for everyone and he should be fired!” At the same time you don't try to make it sound like a partial agreement you make it sound like a real agreement but you "twist" it as much as you need to so that you are comfortable saying it. Sometimes, in group we call that the PSSTwist.

2. I’m NOT comfortable with that! Indicate to parents that saying I'm NOT comfortable is much stronger than saying I'm uncomfortable with that. One is a power-phrase and the other is how you feel when you get sand in your underwear. Not comfortable is how you feel when you are ABOUT TO PUT DOWN A BOUNDARY. “Please don't tell Mr. Johnson that I missed treatment a couple of times; I know he is going to take me to Detention!” Reply: “Yes, you could be in big trouble with Mr. Johnson (agreeing) and I'm glad you brought this issue up (second agreeing) because I have to tell you that I'm Not Comfortable keeping secrets like that from Mr. Johnson. You could tell me other things that I would keep confidential, but your attendance here is not something I feel comfortable hiding from your PO." Notice that I'm glad you brought this up is an easy way to agree and it's help set the stage for the boundary that one is about to set.

3. Keep in mind that HOW you say things is possibly more important than what you say. Strong eye contact, move in closer to make your point, never farther away, use gestures, and to emphasize what you are saying LOWER your voice as though you are sharing a secret. It’s powerful and it models a good thing for parents who have a tendency to yell at teens. In fact, whenever the Parent acting as the teen in the role play raises a voice it's a good opportunity to move in and lower your voice. Like soup and sandwich, move in and lower voice.

4. In a role-play the above process keeps repeating. It’s not like you just partially agree once, you continually keep looking for things to partially agree with because that continually disarms the teen. Still, don't beat around the bush when it’s time to set the boundary..  The I’m not comfortable with that can be said fairly early on in the role-play.  It can be done with an “I’m sorry but I have to tell you" attitude. Kids are trying to manipulate so when they sense that they have hit a wall, they adjust and try from a different angle. The same thing we just did will work just as well on the new angle. First find something in the new angle with which you can partially agree.  Note:  when a partial agreement is not possible, ACTIVE LISTENING done well is sometimes just as good, and then set the boundary. One sure-fire partial agreement is, "You're right about one thing: you and I are not on the same page here. You're seeing elephants and I'm seeing tigers."  It's the "agree to disagree" which can be said as though you both certainly agree with THAT! It's important that you cease any efforts to convince them to see tigers as that leads to debating (see #7).

5. Every once in awhile the angle that the kid is coming from is a step-in-the-right-direction angle and a renegotiation is in order. You can give the kid a win if you maintain your basic boundary and that’s fine.

6. Kids try to wear you down with repetition so sometimes the kid is not coming at you from a different angle or you just feel that the kid is not going to take no for an answer no matter what- that is a time to demonstrate ‘Ask me again.’ It’s important not to jump into this one until it seems obvious that the teen is just going to keep asking until you go crazy, but it comes up a lot because that’s what teenagers do. Then say, “look, I’m starting to see that this is so important to you that you just have to keep on about it. You really need to keep asking and you can't let this one go. Tell you what. Why don’t we just get all the asking if you can ___ out of the way now, so we can relax the rest of the evening. Go ahead. Ask me if you can ___(might be going out somewhere) then the kid asks “Can I go.?” the response is Nevertheless, no you can't go but It’s OK to ask me again.” Soon the kid gets mad and he sees that we are not adjusting this particular boundary and he quits asking. This is very effective and parents love it but point out that you shouldn't jump into it unless you have exhausted other avenues and when you jump into it drop the SARCASM. It ruins it. WE have to sincerely mean it: THEY DO NEED TO KEEP ASKING, and we have to agree that it’s OK to ask. WE are in control because we are challenging them to keep asking now.  They are trying to bug us to death. It’s not fun for the teen if he can't bug us but we need to accept that they really do need to keep asking so that they can see the futility in doing that.

7. Nevertheless and regardless are power words that we want to use and encourage parents to use. It helps parents with the concept that kids want them to debate. Even if you think you have the better argument don't debate. That’s where we can help parents. Just refuse to debate the issues. As therapists and teachers we suffer from this one too. We still hold onto the idea that if we just explain it right to the kid, he will understand and he will agree. No. That doesn't happen. Teen’s already understand. It’s usually not rocket science. They just want their own way. It’s not about logic- it’s about power.

Therapists prefer that the client has an epiphany. "Epiphanies Are Us" would be a good name for outpatient. But really change is the other way around. If we help someone change his own behavior he will change his thinking. Conversely, if we help him change his thinking it really might not help him change his behavior at all. In role-plays we are more teachers than therapists.

In the same vein we want parents to quit trying to use logic with teens. Oh it’s fine when you are having a rare discussion to use logic, presuming that the teen really wants to understand what you are thinking but most of these role-plays happen not when kids are curious but when they want to have their own way.  Once again, it's about power- not logic. Nevertheless and regardless help parents especially when they are just learning these concepts to avoid debating. In a role-play when the players start debating, stop the action. Don't let it go on as if they will eventually see the problem. Stop the action and ask “Who sees what is going on?” Someone will say "They are debating." Give that parent who ways that a big recognition and then agree with the group that avoiding the debate is a very hard thing to do. Time is precious and if we let two players debate we are wasting it.

8. Sometimes after we agree with part of something that the kid says we aren't sure where to go next. It’s fine to say, “I’m not sure what to say.” This is genuine and it’s somewhat complementary to the speaker who just stumped you. Parents feel that they need to always know what to say, instantly, and they do not. Once you admit that you don't know what to say MAGIC happens. Suddenly, you will have an idea. Go with it.

9. Teens will say “Give me one good reason...” This comes up a lot so we can be ready for it and we can help parents be ready.  Ask the group, "The teen is doing what? Right. He is trying to start a debate. IT’s a trap!" Help parents see this as the trap it is and one possible response is:

Teen: Give me one good reason.

Parent: Good, that’s really good.

Teen: what is good?

Parent: It’s good that you are focused on the reasons. I think this is the right question. (We just disarmed him by agreeing that this is a good question!)

Teen: OK, give me one then.

Parent: Well I wish I had as good an answer but here’s the thing. I don't have even one reason that you would think is good. I got nothing.

(When discussion comes up later point out that rather than admitting weakness, this was a real power statement because it operates on a premise that the parent is so powerful he doesn't need a reason. Now we are ready to set up the paradoxical task for the kid. If he persists in pushing you for a reason after you have already told him that you don’t have any reasons that he will think are good ones, then you give him one, he finds it totally unacceptable (hoping you will begin to debate) and now you say:

Parent: See that’s what I mean?

Teen: What?

Parent: You don’t think the reason that I just gave (probably it was I'm not comfortable with that) was a good reason. And you see, no matter what reason I give you (it is now safe to rattle off a bunch of reasons quickly but only as examples of what he won't find acceptable not as an effort to convince him) you won't find any of my reasons very good. I’m sorry but I really have nothing that will help you except that I'm not comfortable with you going out tonight. Period. Stay home, read a book, do your homework, whatever.”

Teen: No I want a better reason than that!

Parent: You're right! You see that you and I could talk about this all night until daybreak, and when the sun finally came up and sunlight poured into this room you would still believe what you believe and I would still believe what I believe. Let’s just save ourselves all of that trouble what do you say? I mean geese we can talk these things to death sometimes but wouldn't you agree that all these long talks don’t help that much?

10. There is anxiety in role-plays. As the teachers we feel like we can't screw up. We will screw up. It’s ok and parents love it when we screw up. Just admit it, they will love you for it, and let them know that maybe you learned something today too, maybe a parent has an idea that that works better than your idea. That’s excellent.

11.It's good to play two parents facing a teen. Sometimes the therapist or teacher is one of the parents. Sometimes you switch seats and roles. If there are two parents demonstrate that talking to each other during the role play is an important power move. The teen is used to tuning out what parents say to directly to him, but he is usually very keep to listen or sometimes to overhear what parents say to each other.

12. It's inevitable that parents will say, "But what happens if he goes out anyway?" That's a good place to stop and ask the parent if they have any way to hold the teen accountable?  Does the teen have a cell phone? Does the teen drive? Does the parent give the teen money?  Often, the parent feels helpless but the teen in question has not been relieved of any of his privileges.  Is there a PO?  Has the parent been honest in keeping the PO up to speed?  This is the place to hit home how important it is before the role-play starts to know what consequence you are likely to use.

Sometimes, the parent has tried all the consequences and nothing has or one can assume will work.  Point out to the group that this teen is clearly out of parental control. A teen who is out of parental control is going to be handled differently than one who is still somewhat within a parent's control. Strategize what steps a parent who is out of control can take. Then the Out Of Control Teen role-play usually goes like this:Parent: I know you are very strong willed.

Teen: So?Parent: You are going to make your own decisions and you're not going to follow our rules here as far as I can see.

Teen: Right, so?

Parent: Well, I just want you to know that we realize that too, and that's why we've taken the steps that we have taken and we want you to hear it from us so that you're not surprised.

Then tell the teens that you have (1) contacted his peers parents to tell them about his drug problem, (2) contacted to ACT 53 to have treatment Court ordered (3) called the PO if there is one, (4) Called the police to press charges of Assault, Theft, or Drug Possession (5) arrange for a drug dog to come through the house regularly (6) taken the teen's door off (7) Put a club on his car (9) Shut off the cell phone or if the child is over 18 perhaps ask them to leave and find another place to live. Or taking other steps but the important first step is to admit that the teen is out of control.    Embrace that because it sets up the radical steps that one will take to try to save an out of control teens life, which are different than taking steps to save a teen who is still somewhat within control.

Also rules I lay down before we start.

1. Anyone either in the role-play or outside of the role-play can call time out and ask a question or have a comment. We can freeze the action. This gives people more confidence. As a teacher you can freeze the action and when you do you might like to say “what’s going on here?” and leave it out there for comments. Then point out if no one has what you wanted them to see.

2. Changing seats is a must. If you change seats not just the role-play characters. So this becomes the mother’s seat, that is the teens. If suddenly you want the one who was playing the mother to play the teen make them get up and change seats. Or if someone watching the role-play has a different idea, say "That sounds interesting can you show us how that would work?"  Then, get up off your chair and offer it to them. t really matters for some reason and also it puts the teacher be it therapist in control. The guy who can tell others where to sit, whether it’s in a role-play, a meeting, a dinner or whatever has the power and we need power if we are to influence them with our ideas.

3. Profanity: When parents what to show us what it’s like dealing with teens they may want to use colorful language. That’s actually good because it lends a air of authenticity; however, it’s not always necessary and if it offends someone in group we need to not do it so ask the group when it comes up or beforehand if anyone would find it offensive. Perhaps some words are OK and some are not. A hell or damn might OK but a you're a bitch or whore is just too much. By asking permission you sometimes find out who’s saying what to whom and that is valuable info as well.

This post is probably a work in progress.  We will add to this post from time to time. Your comments might be important to helping us further define what works for us in role-plays.

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The power of our voice or Another Brick In the Wall
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is something that we don't talk about too often in group. The role-plays we do at PSST are good for assertiveness and there is power in a person when he simply and yet firmly, with resolution and when appropriate, with steel-in-the-eye, tells you something. Usually this is all about boundaries.

But what about the the other side of the coin? What if there is power in our voice that backfires or becomes counter-productive? This is spelled out in a blog where the blogger is speaking about empathy in his 13 month-old baby. I like what he says here because he becomes aware of the power of his voice.   I also recently I had something happen where I used my voice in a way that backfired and so after you follow this link, come back and I'll share some of my story with you.

OK so you're back. Here's the thing, because of anonymity I don't want to go into detail here about who was my target; however, recently, I flipped out on a family person. Almost immediately after this happened I started to play back the tape. This person already felt bad. This person knew they were wrong. I didn't need to go off like that. Just a quiet disapproval would have been as effective. So, it's not as though I had to prove to them that thy were wrong; this, they already knew. Therefore, the way I reacted was scary and completely unnecessary. Looking back, I made a mistake. It was as though I left the "teaching moment" and I just wanted to punish the person.

How forgiving can we be when we have the edge? I had the edge here. All I had to do was be a bit generous, and that would have been a nice "brick" in the relationship wall. Instead, it was a "Pink Floyd Brick" in the Wall. One more obstacle to a better relationship and one more reason to embitter youth towards us old guys. If we have constructed years and years of "Pink Floyd Bricks," the only way to take those bricks down is the way they went up: one brick at a time! Remember that line in the song, "Teacher! Leave them kids alone."

Babys become children. Children become teenagers and by then it's easier for a teenager to be angry, snide, cocky, unruly, disrespectful, or even scary in their own right. This is preferable to being afraid.

As far as taking the brick down I chose to simply apologize. I was wrong to flip out. I said I was wrong to the whole family. I didn't say it like, "I was wrong, but really it's not all my fault because so and so shouldn't have done what they did." In that case the "but" would have ruined everything. I was just wrong. My family knew why I flipped out. I don't have to mention that. That part was over. Now the last part was that I had to take responsibility for my behavior without any "buts." Maybe I didn't get as much of the brick down as I had put up. I think that's the way of it. Those bricks are much easier to put up than they are to take down.

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How to best motivate your teenager.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, February 21, 2015

Here's something I came across in a book I'm reading; it's not a parenting book or anything like that but this seems to me well done. This is a 12-year old boy talking with his mother:

"Who care's if a Modegan viscount outranks a Vintish sparathain?" I protested. "And who cares if one is 'your grace' and the other is 'my lord.'"

"They care," my mother said firmly. "If you perform for them, you need to conduct yourself with dignity and learn to keep your elbow out of the soup."

"Father doesn't worry about which fork to use and who outranks who," I groused.

My mother frowned, her eyes narrowing.

Who outranks whom," I said grudgingly.

"Your father knows more than he lets on," my mother said. "And what he doesn't know he breezes past due to his considerable charm. That's how he gets by."

She took my chin and turned my face toward her. Her eyes were green with a ring of gold around the pupil. "Do you just want to get by? Or do you want to make me proud?"

There was only one answer to that.

Excerpt from "The Name Of The Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

click here to be sent to graphic source.
The reason I like this so much is that it shows how a challenge is put on the table. There is no power struggle here. This 12 year-old is a performer in a traveling troupe and he has to learn a lot of things to be part of the performances; usually he is a very fast learner. But these lessons about elaborate manners he isn't interested in learning, and so he tries to use the father to 'split' with the mother. She more or less 'agrees' with him that his father doesn't value these particular lessons, but after agreeing with him about that she proceeds directly to the challenge: "Do you want to get by, or do you want to make me proud?" That's great stuff. We have said in group before that challenge is the best way to motivate people, whether they are teens or no. It works much better than reward and punishment.

There was very good parenting going on in this young man's life from both his parents and he was lucky to be raised by these two extraordinary people. I found it refreshing to read that about a character instead of the very popular fantasy hero who is a bastard, never knew his parents, or an orphan living with nasty relatives in a cupboard under the bed. (Although I've enjoyed those characters a lot too :-) )

Anyway, I look for stuff that highlights what we cover in group and this is my two-cents for today.

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Love is not enough.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, February 21, 2015

This is such a timeless post, that it deserves repeating at least
once each year!    Jenn

(originally published on 4/17/2011, then again on 1/18/14)

Teenagers try to guilt us by accusing us of not loving them. Sometimes we try to debate this one as though it's an exception to the Avoid Debating Rule because we know we love our teenagers and we love them so much it seems like it should be an easy debate to win. It also feels critical that we are able to "get through" to our teenager that, indeed, we do love him.

We are wrong on both counts. First, there is no debate that is easy to win with our teenagers. They either draw or win every debate. Usually we don't even tie. Secondly, it is not critical that we "get through" to them that we love them. The reason is simple. They already know that. They are just trying to make us feel guilty so that they can get more power. And we fall for it.

Teen: You don't love me- I don't think you ever loved me.

Mom: You're right, love is not enough is it?

Teen: What?

Mom: You're right, Honey, Love is Not Enough, is it?

Teen: [Glaring] I said you didn't love me.

Mom: And I agreed with you that Love is not enough. We need to do more than just love you- and you know I was really wrong about that.

Teen: [teens usually become a tad interested if parents admit they were wrong about something] What?

Mom: I thought love WAS enough. But it's not. There's so much more than just loving you we need to do.

Teen: You don't love me anyway, you just want to have me sent away. I wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for you!

Mom: Well yes.

Teen: You admit it? You put me here and you're keeping me here!

Mom: You're saying so many things. Yes, we arent' so worried about whether or not you think we love you- we used to be worried about that but we aren't that worried about it anymore.

Teen: [glaring.]

Mom: Love's not enough honey, we are trying to save your life and we know that love isnt' going to do that, so yes, you are also right that we preferred that you come here to Shuman and we didn't want you- don't want you- to get right back out. We want you here.

Teen: How can you do that to your own son?

Mom: It's tough.

Teen: It isn't tough. You're lying. You like it that I'm locked up- that's why you aren't trying to get me out, isn't it?

Mom: Well, you're right about that too- it's easier for us to see you at Shuman than it is for us to watch you hurt yourself with drugs outside of Shuman. You're right.

Teen: I hate they way you talk! Quit doing that psychology thing on me-you're f**** up my head!

Mom: We are saying somethings differently.

Teen: Yeah, a lot of things.

Mom: Yup. I guess it's good that you noticed. We're trying.

Teen: Well stop it! I want you to talk like you used to talk, this is messing me up!

Mom: Your right we used to try to say things the way you wanted us to say them. We were so worried about upsetting you or making you angry. I guess we're learning new ways to say things and you don't like the way we are changing.

Teen: Yeah! So stop it or else I'm going to get really pissed!

Mom: We are just making you mad now. We should stop.

Teen: That's what I'm saying.

Mom: OK, lets take a break- these meetings are hard for everyone. We'll be back when we can.

Teen: Don't come back to see me until you can talk regular.

Mom: You're right, we should take a break, we'll take a few days off and check on you next week. We love you even it doesn't look like it.

Teen: It doesn't!

Mom: Bye [hugs but he resists] Honey I'm trying to give a little LOVE here can you help me out?

Teen: No, don't bother I can't take no more of that kind of love. [glaring]

Mom: Yeah, I guess you can't [mom blows a little kiss and walks out of Shuman.

What's the point to learning new ways to talk to teenagers?

There's not just one answer to that. On the one hand it helps ease the oppositional defiant nature. On the other hand, it helps parents feel less worn out and tired when they are not debating. Ultimately, this helps parents to have firmer boundaries and not allow themselves to be manipulated, which of course translates into less enabling.

For me the largest part of changing the way we talk is that it helps us change the way we think. For example, the whole idea that we have just got to get through to our teen that we love him, and if we can be successful with that, then he will "feel loved" and stop with the drugs, bad judgement, and criminal behavior is just erroneous.  Lack of love or his lack of being able to see that he is loved is not the problem.  He may wish us to see it that way, but that does not make it so.

By seeing past that and by addressing things differently, we come to see how the magician does the trick. We are no longer in awe. We identify the real issue, one of which in this case is his manipulative tactic to make us feel guilty and put us into the I-will-make-it-up-to-you mode where we usually enable and spoil our children.

We could accomplish the same thing in terms of maintaining boundaries without all the agreeing.  It might not be as easy or as effective because not only are our children oppositional, but we are a little bit oppositional too. We love to win the debate. We love to to have the last word. By agreeing with something our teenager says, we surprise our teenager and ourselves. In this way we all start to see the real issues more clearly. Share

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Posted by:Rocco--Saturday, February 07, 2015

This posting was originally published on this blog on Nov 28, 2012.  Its topic seems especially appropriate in light of some of the current issues being faced by PSST parents.   (Re-posted by Jenn)

My son was on the streets, homeless due to his choice to use heroin. My son was under the control of a drug, that if left unchallenged, would kill him. I would awaken and try to calm myself by reciting the “Serenity Prayer”. I prayed to my Higher Power with all my soul to have “The courage to change the things I can...yet I could not change him. I had to begin to “Let go and let God”.

"Letting Go" is Not Neglect (from Addiction Journal - October 28, 2010)

It is often stated, as parents we must hand our children’s recovery back to our children.

That single concept is one that is discussed in every forum, book, or support group I have ever encountered. Yet “letting go”, for most parents, it is the hardest recovery concept to embrace.

Handing an actively using child such an important task can seem “parentally neglectful”. We love our children and want to cure their addiction with every fiber of our soul.

We are told by others that you “Can’t Cure It" yet as newcomers to the battle, we struggle to fix our child. The adages such as the “Three C’s of Addiction” and "Detach with Love" have been used for years for a reason. As a newcomer to addiction, these and other concepts will ask you to change your entire parenting style.

This can be frightening for a generation of parents that have been labeled as “helicopter parents”. For my son to return, I had to “let him go” and risk his death. To me he was “dying on the needle” and I wanted to take my best shot at helping him get healthy again. If he could not get healthy, he would not take my family down with him.

I learned “letting go” was one of the few chances I would have to help him save himself.

I had a cousin fall victim to the disease of addiction. She was taken hostage by drugs when we were young adults. At a time when very few people my age were dabbling in opiates my beautiful cousin struggled. I watched from the sidelines and saw my uncle try to love his daughter out of her issues. Every mistake he made I noted, as there were no internet blogs on what to do with an addicted child back then.

My loving uncle was sailing his ship blindly in a sea of addiction few had experienced at that time in middle class America. Tremendous amounts of money were thrown at my cousin’s problem to no avail. She eventually died from the wounds of her disease, just as my son began the battle with his addiction.

I vowed to learn from the mistakes of my Uncle.

This is not a condemnation of his parenting style. He loved his daughter very much and still mourns her loss every day well into his 80′s. However, from his experience, I learned you can not love your child clean or buy them out of the captivity.

It was the first lesson I learned about addiction before I ever entered the halls of any support group.

Parents often times think death to addiction can be avoided by keeping their “baby” safe at home. The number of children that die in their bedrooms with a heroin needle hanging from their arm is staggering. Allowing your child to use at home does not equate to safety. Home is often used to fuel the addiction as our children sell every item that is not nailed down to feed their demon. The other members of your family deserve a safe haven, one free of the drama and chaos that is always associated with addiction.

The following are a few concepts that I have embraced and truly help me as the parent of an addicted child:

* We must not put a Band-Aid on this life injury called drug abuse. Covering this issue up does not cure it. Deal in the reality of their addiction and learn how to fight back by using the experiences of others that have struggled before you.

* We must allow our children to find recovery on their terms, even though the journey may bring dire consequences to an addict’s life that is already lived in chaos.

* We must not work their recovery harder than they do. Dragging your child to either NA/ AA meetings is futile if they truly do not wish to attend. They have to “want it” and chase the sobriety as hard as they chased the drugging life.

* We must learn to break free of the drama that is symptomatic of addiction. It is a viable option not to take a cell phone call from your distraught child at 3 a.m. and let the child work out the drama at hand.

* We must learn not to love our addicted child to death. Again love alone did not cure my child. Enabling and codependency will deter potential recovery.

I often was told, “Where there is life there is hope” but for me, “There was no hope if I continued to enable my son.”

I remember a call I received on a fall Saturday morning. My son, age 20 at that time, was panicked after being arrested for shooting up in a local park with his friends. He blurted into the phone "Dad it was not my stuff and the cops have me in back of a cruiser. I am telling you it was not my shit…It was my friends! It is not my stuff."

Perhaps it was not my shining moment as a parent but I responded with sarcasm,“Who is this?" At that point I had already detached with love from my son.

He had been cautioned that death or jail would be the final outcome of this addiction. He was going to face the consequences brought to his life by his heroin addiction.

I had learned I would not save him...I could not save him!

I did not know the person in the back of the cruiser. His drug addiction had swallowed him completely. It was my son’s body yet his spirit and being had been swallowed by his addiction. There was, however, a way back.

Waiting for our children to find their way back is the single most difficult experience a parent will face when dealing with a child’s addiction.

Losing my soulmate to cancer did not inflict a pain close to the pain I felt when my son was in the throws of his addiction. Not knowing where your child “resides” after you have opted to remove them from your home in your effort to enforce tough love is an excruciating emotional pain.

I couldn’t breath, I was hyperventilating as I was suddenly awakened from a sleep that was “lousy” at best.

My son was on the streets, homeless due to his choice to use heroin. My son was under the control of a drug, that if left unchallenged, would kill him. I would awaken and try to calm myself by reciting the “Serenity Prayer”. I prayed to my Higher Power with all my soul to have “The courage to change the things I can...yet I could not change him. I had to begin to “Let go and let God”.

The need to detach with love from your child’s addiction is just one challenge parents will ever face in the parent-child interaction surrounding drug addiction.

At the start of my recovery I struggled with the thought had I done things differently my child would not become addicted.

Perhaps one more game of “21” in the backyard or one more Barbie dress up session and our children would not have become trapped into the addiction lifestyle.

There is nothing further from the truth.

Good kids from good families are being swept up in an epidemic of addiction that is gripping the entire country. With their underdeveloped decision-making teen brains they are “fair game” for the deluge of pharmaceuticals prescribed in this country every day. The beer drinking, pot smoking parties are now jumped up to the umpteenth degree as kids snort drugs through a straw. One dance with a crushed Oxycontin and their life will never be the same.

My son told me that like many kids, he began his teen drinking and pot smoking at seventeen years old. The day he snorted his first pharmaceutical he professed his “love” for being high.

I can not understand what it is like to be blind, and I can not understand what is is like to be addicted.

As a non-addict I would naively ask, “Why did you jump from the more mainstream choices such as pot up to heroin?” Without blinking an eye, he replied, “Why take the stairs when you can use the elevator?”

Pot and beers no longer would suffice; there was a new love in his life. Oxycontin, and then, its poor mans sister, Heroin, quickly became his masters. Beyond the drugs, nothing else mattered. Family, friends, education, girls, self-esteem, all fell by the wayside, as his entire life became enslaved to his new love.

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The Detective & the Addiction
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, January 30, 2015

My husband and I enjoy watching crime-solving television shows, and the CBS series Elementary is at the top of our list for its interesting characters.  The detective Sherlock Holmes has been cast as a recovering drug addict, and the writers have used this to add some compelling insights to the program.

Click here if you want to read a Los Angeles Times article about the series and its addiction sub-themes.  Here is a particularly interesting section from the article:

. . . at one point [Sherlock’s partner Watson] sums up not just the truth of recovery, but also why it is so difficult to depict on television. "I'm sorry he's gone but his relapsing doesn't change a thing for you," she says. "You woke up today, you didn't use drugs, just like yesterday. You know what you have to do tomorrow? Wake up and not use drugs. That is just the way it is. That is just the way it's going to be."

And to take down a beloved myth of recovery. Many of us find strength in the days and months and years we have stacked between ourselves and self-destruction, as if they form a wall that, if tall enough or thick enough, cannot be breached. We look to others whose stacks are higher and seem stronger to assure us that this is so.

But there is no wall, no number that will magically hold true any more than there's a "cure." Recovery is a strong but slender thread spun daily. There is only this day without a drink, without a drug, and then, with work and luck, there is the next.

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In Remembrance: Martin Luther King Jr 1929-1968
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, January 18, 2015

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More Recovery Slogans
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, January 09, 2015

Slogans are wisdom written in shorthand.
  • Although we are not responsible for our disease, we are responsible for our recovery.
  • Don’t quit before the miracle happens.
  • Change is a process, not an event.
  • I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • You can only keep what you have by giving it away.
  • Recovery doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Nothing changes if nothing changes.
  • Learn to listen and listen to learn.
  • It is possible to change without improving, but it is impossible to improve without change.
  • An addict cannot be grateful and hateful at the same time.
  • If you expect respect, be the first to show some.
  • Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
  • Most things can be preserved in alcohol; dignity, however, is not one of them.
  • Progress, not perfection
  • Just for Today

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Meeting cancelled. Sorry for last minute notice. Roads are still treacherous and advisory is to stay home this morning
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 03, 2015

Type your summary here Type rest of the post here

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Meeting cancelled. Very sorry for late notice. Roads are treacherous
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 03, 2015

winter advisory icy roads Type rest of the post here

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Recovery Slogans for the New Year
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, January 01, 2015

Recovery slogans are deeply rooted in the real life experiences of millions of recovering people.   Although often overused and sometimes not fully appreciated, they do not lose their truth.  The following recovery slogans have been found useful in the personal recoveries of many people.  

A good way to start off the new year, by thinking uplifting thoughts!

  • First Things First
  • Live and Let Live
  • Let go and let God
  • Time takes time
  • One day at a time
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
  • Misery is optional
  • God never made no junk
  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less
  • Live life on life’s terms.
  • You can’t think your way into a new way of living . . . you have to live your way into a new way of thinking.
  • The key to freedom is in the Steps
  • If you don't want to slip, stay away from slippery places
  • If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got.
  • If you sit in the barber's chair long enough, you'll eventually get a haircut.
  • Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
  • HALT = don’t get to Hungry, Angry Lonely, Tired
  • Your worth should never depend on another person’s opinion

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