Quote of the Week

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

Meeting on the 17th well attended by 15 parents
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, January 19, 2009

Thanks to everyone for making this meeting work out. Regular members turned out to support the six new faces.

While are ability to hear updates from everyone was limited by the size of the meeting, we did allow for several role-plays and discussion about various techniques. Special thanks to Kathy from Wesley Spectrum who brought coffee and donuts and helped us set up the meeting. Also, nice to see Mary again who is terrific in and always willing to jump into a role-play. Several other parents also did a great job jumping into role-plays- you know who you are- keep coming back please because you enrich us all with your experience and wisdom.

We covered the top three most effective techniques to manipulate parents (see recent post for more information) and in our role-plays we demonstrated our verbal jujitsu of first finding something to agree with the teen about, and then putting our twist in it. Here is an example that is inspired by one that we did in group, although it is not the exact same role-play. In this example, the daughter has just been placed into inpatient long-term treatment and the father is visiting her for the first time.

Teen: What are you doing here? You f*&^ed me over by sending me here. You know I shouldn't be in a program like this. I'm not like these other girls; I'm no criminal.

Dad: You're right honey, I did have a lot to do with putting you in here.

Teen: If you hadn't stood up in court and asked the Judge to send me here, I would still be at home. I just hope you're happy now that your own daughter hates you!

Dad: Yes, I did take a big stand in Court.

Teen: Why did you send me to this hell? Do you know what it's like in here? Did you ever have to come to a place like this? No! You didn't, so you don't know shit about this place and yet you sent me here!

Dad: I have never been in a place like this and I asked the Court to send you here anyway.

Teen: That's f*&#d up. I can't believe you did this to me!

Dad: You know, I'm surprised by what I did too.

Teen: Then get me out of here if you sorry you put me here- get me home! I won't do drugs anymore- I learned my lesson now!

Dad: I'm glad you feel that you learned a good lesson from coming here. I'm glad you decided to quit using drugs. Good for you. I'm proud of you.

Teen: So, get me out of here!

Dad: Yeah, It would be nice to take you home; I wish it were that easy.

Teen: Why can't you? Call the Judge. Get a good attorney, not that lousy Public Defender you got for me in court.

Dad: Well, here's the thing. I don't feel like I made a mistake. And to keep you safe, I would ask the Judge the same thing- I'd put you here all over again if I had to.

Teen: [Glaring] How long am I going to have to stay here?

Dad: I'm not sure. As long as it takes I guess.

Teen: Will you tell them to let me come home at my first court review? I've learned my lesson and Dad, I'm done with drugs, you have to believe me. These girls could hurt me here.

Dad: Yes, it could be dangerous here- it looks like a tough place with some tough people in it.

Teen: So, i can come home at my first Court Review?

Dad: Well, we'll see. I want you to come home when your ready to stay away from drugs.

Teen: I am.

Dad: We'll see how you do here, and I'm going to want to know what Abraxas recommends too. It's not just going to be up to me but I'm sure they'll ask me what I think.

Teen: They don't let anybody go at the first review!

Dad: Well, I am looking for you to be ready- not for you to come home as quickly as possible, but for you to be ready. These people are experts here and I value their opinion and I value your Probation Officer's opinion.

Teen: I don't want that guy for my PO. I heard of him. I'm getting him changed!

Dad: Yes, I've heard he's a tough PO. I heard he's fair, but he is very tough. It's good you heard about him because I don't think it's very easy to get him switched. You'll have to deal with him I'm afraid. But your Mom and me- we like him.

Teen: You're a lousy father, you know that? You suck. You're just the worst father a girl could have, and you don't love me.!

Dad: Yeah, I've made some big mistakes, you're right about that.

Teen: You better believe you have!

Dad: For one thing, I should have acted sooner to see that you were safe from this Heroin problem. I waited longer than I should. I regret that. I wish I could have gotten you into a place like this sooner.

Teen: That's nice, thanks a lot! [rolling eyes].

Dad: And I know you can't hear me when I say I love you. And I know you don't believe me. But your Mom and I do love you and we will do whatever necessary to see that you are safe from this disease of addiction. This disease is trying to kill you.

Teen: [Glaring]Get out of here. Don't come see me anymore! [get's up and leaves visit area.]

Analysis: Dad tried to agree with everything he could agree with - without lying or misleading his daughter. Yet, he stood firm with his commitment to safety and with his willingness to own responsibility for his role in the Court placement. He didn't actually start Court proceedings but notice that he did not blame it all on the Police, the Judge, or the PO. It's like we say in group:

"If you want the power, take the blame. If you take the blame, you get the credit."

When kids blame us they are saying that we are powerful. We need to be more powerful in order to supervise these stubborn willful drug-involved teens. So, lets accept that we have some power when they blame us.

However, every time Dad agreed with his daughter, especially on the "You're a bad father thing," he took the wind out of her sails. She hoped to get an argument going. One that the father could not win because he had no way to convince her that what he was doing was right. Therefore, to agree with her kept the arguing down to a minimum and made it possible for her to pay more attention to his points, points that he was able to make after he agreed with her. Even when she said that she was going to get a new PO, he found some part of that in which he could agree. He said, "yes, I've heard that he's a tough PO." That was taking the part of what she said that he could agree with. Then, he put his twist in at the end, that he and her mother really liked the PO- she hated hearing that, but she was somewhat more able to listen because he already found some part of that in which he could agree.

For more information on talking points that we can use to make our points download the Talking points brochure here. (The one thing that needs corrected on this brochure is the Gateway Green tree meeting on Tuesday nights has been suspended until we can get more parents interested.) It will open up in Word and you can save it or print it out on your computer.

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