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Summary of 5-28-2005 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nine parents representing six families attended our last meeting on May 28th. It was a good turnout for a holiday weekend.

As usual, we took a break after going around the group for brief introductions and updates. Then, for the first time we a did a special type of role-play that we call The Three Minute Drill. We passed out the following real life scenario:

The 18 year-old boy has been home on Probation for about three weeks after successfully completing Ridgeview inpatient. He was released on Home Detention because on his last home-pass his parents let him leave the home unsupervised for a few hours and he failed to return home by the specified time.

He has only been off Home Detention for about a day when the mother allowed him to take the family car to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The mother got off work early and went to parking lot of the church where the meeting was being held. She did not see the car in the parking lot. She sat there long enough to convince herself that he did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting the son did not come straight home. He contacted his mother by phone and she told him to come straight home. He did not come straight home. He was about a half-hour late on his curfew. In addition, the son rarely calls his sponsor. He states to her that he gets nothing out of the 12-step meetings and will not go to them at all once he is off probation. In summary, he is violating his Probation Contract in several ways and he is not invested in his recovery program.

The young man does not want to be held accountable for his behavior. Even more importantly, he does not want the mother to report what happened to the Probation Officer. Also, he does not admit that he was not at the meeting; he says it got out early.

The Three Minute Drill is one continous role-play where different parents take the hot seat, changing every three minutes. Rather than start each segment of the role-play over, when a new parent takes the hot seat the role-play continues where the last segment left off. In this role-play, Lloyd played the 18 year-old and Valerie kept track of the three mintues intervals.

Point #1: As the 18 year-old son, one of Lloyd’s primary goals was to convince the parent not to tell the PO about these problems. In an effort to drive a wedge between the parent and the Probation Officer, Lloyd acused each parent of “wanting my PO to take me to Shuman.” Lloyd was not successful in getting any of these tough parents to agree not to tell the Probation Officer. Parent1 especially took a very strong approach. Instead of denying the accusation, she agreed with her son in what turned out to be a stunning reply.

Son: If you tell my PO, he’ll take me Shuman. MOM, you know what he’s like. That’s what you want isn’t it? That’s what you’ve wanted all along, to get me taken out of here.

Parent1: “Yes. If that’s what it takes to get you to straighten up, then that’s what I want.”

Point #2: All these tough parents had good body language and eye contact when talking to Lloyd. However, Parent1 chose to move her chair in closer to Lloyd so that when she confronted him it appeared more powerful in spite of the fact that she never raised her voice even one notch.

Point #3: Lloyd wanted to get a lot of credit from his parent that he had at least called home. As if the “call” made eveything all right. “You know I called you. Would I ever have called you before I went to Ridgeview?” The parents in the group did great at not letting that one call change the fact that during the call the Lloyd was told to come home immediately and he failed to do that. Then, he didn’t even make it home by curfew. Remember, when teenagers cry out for credit it is usually a good idea to give it to them. Tell them that you are glad they called. Let them know that you would have been even more worried about them if they didn’t call. However, it does not change the fact that you will hold them accountable.

Point #4: Do not confuse telling the PO with accountability. Yes, telling the PO is a type of accountability and parents should not agree to keep secrets from the Probation Officer (none of the parents in our group fell for that one.) However, the parent does not have to wait for the PO to hold the teenager accountable. Take the car keys immediately. Ground this teenager until further notice. If possible, start to drive him to his 12-step meetings and pick him up. Do this until you can start to feel like you can trust him again. As everyone in the group realized, this is not a situation where the PO would take a teenager to Shuman, and parents can often be more effective than the PO in holding their the tenager accountable.

Special thanks to the brave parents for participating in this drill and for granting permission to allow us to video tape the role-play for training purposes only. For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on June 11th.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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