Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Summary of 12-2-06 Meeting
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, December 03, 2006

We had a small intimate meeting with six parents. We started the meeting off with role-plays. The subject was getting your teen out of bed in the morning. Especially, if your teenager is actively questioning your parental authority, it is very important to establish yourself as Parent-in-charge by making sure that he is out of bed at the prearranged time.

We had fun with a different kind of role-play that featured God talking to two parents. No offense was meant towards any one's spiritual beliefs. The following is not an exact representation of the role-play, in fact, I added some extra stuff. Anyway, something similar actually happened in Group.

God: Well, you guys called this meeting. What is up?
First Mom: Well, why did you make this parenting job so hard?
God: Ahhh, it is almost impossible sometimes, isn't it? I mean, supervising kids who are doing drugs is sooooo hard. How do you make sure they aren't out getting high, or associating with the wrong people? You aren't with them all the time, are you? That seems to be the problem.
Second Mom: Yeah, you made this job really hard.
First Mom: Why the hell did you even make me a parent?
God: Now, now now [wagging finger] let's watch that language.
First Mom: [smiling] Oooh, OK, why the heck, did you even make me a parent?
God: Well, I designed it as a volunteer position.
First Mom: Well, things happen that you don't really plan for.
God: Yes, that is true.
Second Mom: Well, why did you make it so impossible to supervise our kids, especially when they have a drug problem?
God: Yes, well that is a good question. I'm not sure this answer will make sense to you, but sometimes things are hard. That is pretty much the way I designed this whole "free choice" thing.
God: But one thing I will say, is I knew when i designed this job, that it would be tremendously difficult for some. So, I programmed in some special features that can make the job easier.
Second mom: Yeah? Pray tell?
God: Well, since you put it that way! You see, the problem with a lot of it, is that you are not with your teenagers all the time. You can't be. So, since you are not there with them, and they have the "free-choice" thing too, it is very difficult to guide them. So, to help you assume your rightful place as Parent-in-charge, I designed a few quick methods. The idea is that once your teenager accepts that you are "in-charge," then they will not question you so much on a lot of these other hard-to-supervise issues.
God: For example, while you can not be with your teenager all the time, you ARE there when they get out of bed. And getting someone out of bed is the easiest of all the parent responsibilities.
First mom: How is that easy? I have a really hard time getting mine out of bed.
God: Oh, well I designed it to be easy. You see, they are ASLEEP, and when i designed "sleep" I made sure to make the person who is sleeping HELPLESS. So, if they are asleep, then you are only limited by your own willpower and your own imagination as to when they will get out of bed.
First mom: But they wake up mad!
God: Exactly! An angry person cannot sleep! Therefore, you have gotten them out of the bed and established your parental authority. Now, if you do that consistently, then you will have established yourself as Parent-in-charge, and your teenager, angry as he/she is, will "tend" to follow your other parental expectations.
God: If, on the other hand, you can't get them out of bed, or if you struggle with taking an hour to "coax" them out of bed, then your teenager has established himself as "Teenager-in-charge." Quite naturally, if your teenager sees that you can't even get him out of bed, then he will assume that you can't manage them in the trickier areas.
God: Also, there are other "easy ways" that I have programmed into this job, just so that you can establish your position as Parent-in-charge. For example, you have the magic word "No." It works in many situations, and you should get a lot of mileage out of that word. Watch out for that one though- if you feel you have to give a good reason for each time you use it- it gets weaker.
God: "Nevertheless" and "regardless" are other magic words that can really pay off. Part of the magic that i built into these words is that the more you use them, the more power they tend to assume. If you take advantage of these simple "quick methods," you will find that you have more power than you had before.
Second mom: Just how are we to get them out of bed?
God: Different approaches will work, as long as you are clear and consist. For example, let them know what time you will give the first warning call. Let them know that there will only be one warning, or you insist, only two warnings. Tell them what time you will make it impossible for them to sleep. You do not have to tell them the exact method that you will use, e.g., water, or just stripping the bed of bedclothes, loud music playing or whatever. But you can tell them if you want. It is pretty much impossible to sleep through a cup of water on the face.
God: Then, the hard part, is FOLLOW THROUGH. Of course you teenager will be angry. So? That is the price you pay to be the Parent-in-charge. Let them know, however, that any assault will be reported to Probation Officer and/or the police. In fact, if you have a Probation Officer, make sure to include him/her in on this plan. Working closely with the Probation Officer always makes your position stronger. Come to think of it, I had the idea for making Probation Officers right after I realized how difficult this parent job could be. I said to myself, "you know this is going to be really hard for some parents, and I'm going to have to send in back-up." So, that's how it all came about.

Well, I hope everyone had fun with this ice-breaker role-play. Next, we did a role-play where the mom was setting the stage to get her teenager out of bed. She was clear with him about what time he would "find it impossible to sleep." She also told her teenager that he would get up on Saturdays, for a while, as well as Monday through Friday. Of course, the teenager was incensed by this idea and pointed out that he did not go to school on Saturdays. The mother pointed out that he would get up NEVERTHELESS, simply because she wanted him to get up. Chores for example, needed done.

Well, lets go back to the whole point of getting your teenager out of bed at a particular time. If the main goal is to establish that you are "Parent-in-charge" then seizing Saturday is a coup d’√Čtat for the parent. It's clear that he is getting out of bed at the predetermined time, because the parent says so. Also, if the teenager is already out of bed when the parent goes into grant the first warning call, a special reward may be in order, because this demonstrates that they can get themselves up now, quite an accomplishment for a teenager.

It's always important when we talk about the Power thing to remember that power can also be corrupting. Keep the relationship healthy by giving lots of positive encouragement and accepting that your teenagers have their own feelings and while they may make wrong choices, they don't have wrong feelings. This is the double edge of parenting- once you establish a little power, show some generosity in other areas. Be supportive. Be fun to be around. Be creative with compliments, make a favorite breakfast for the teenager, and let him "win" in some other areas. But darn it, get those young men and women out of bed and on schedule in the morning.

One parent shared this story. Her son is in a half way house for men. He planned a trip home, one in which the mom had to pick him up and transport, so that he could hang out with a peer with whom he used to shoot heroin. This mother questioned him as to why he thought that it was ok to hang out with this old recovering peer. This interaction went something like this:

Mom: Why would you think that its ok to hang with John?
Son: Hes in recovery now.
Mom: But you used with him.
Son: That doesn't matter.
Mom: You said it mattered when you said it would be bad to hang with Frank. What makes John different?
Son: I said it would be bad to live with Frank, not to hang with him. All i want to do is hang with John:
Mom: No I don't think that is right. You are both triggers for each other.
Son: You put me in this house and its full of heroin addicts!
Mom: But you didn't use with those addicts.
Son: I don't see the differnece. You know, if you wont' let me do anything I want, then why am I even workin so hard to stay clean?
Mom: It sounds like your recovery is hangin by a thread today, son.
Son: You just make me mad is all, and that makes it hard for me to stay clean.
Mom: I'll come out there and visit you if you want.
Son: No, if I can't come home and hang with John, just forget it!
Mom: OK

Then, mom follows up by calling the house manager and sharing the above. The manager confronts the son and the other people in the house confront him. In fact, hangin with people that you used with early in recovery is not recommended, even if both of you are in recovery now. This young man has ten months clean, but the "Mom-count" is less than a month, because he has been in placement for nine months.) Later in recovery, it may be acceptable to hang with people with whom you used.

The son calls the mother and admits that he was wrong. He asks that she still come down for a visit. Hats off to this astute mother. She used the "no" word as discussed above with good results. She also identified this as NOT ENABLING her son. Further, she called the house manager so that this issue could be aired out. Remember, our secrets keep us sick. If we keep the secrets for our teenagers then we enable them to remain sick. Put some light on these issues by disclosing to someone.

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