Quote of the Week

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

Happy Mother's Day! And Enabling with Cell Phones, Computers, Cars and Money!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 10, 2009

We have posted this before and in honor of Mother's Day I wanted to post it again; although now we are sending you to another web page that still is able to feature this funny creative version of the William Tell Overture. Enjoy. Truly a Mother's Job is Never Done. Even when your kids are well grown into adulthood. But then again, I guess that's more by choice than anything. Mothers Everywhere- why not really take a day off? You deserve it! Also, for an update about our last Wexford meeting on 5-9-09, click "read more."

We had a nice turn-out: eight parents, three more experienced group members and five newer members. The three more experienced group members injected hope into the room as all three had gone through some very dark times and never expected to get to the "other side" of this teenager drug problem so successfully. The parents who are still struggling had much in common as they shared about defiant and sometimes violent teens still vying for power and in several cases, obviously still abusing drugs.

We talked about how defiant teens are trying to use fear to gain power. The reason for that is that they have no real power otherwise; they are not educated, not very well employed, and not financially able to provide for themselves. Also, they usually feel very little remorse for the terrorizing that they do to their families. In their minds, the parents deserve to be terrorized because they keep interfering in their lives and because they refuse to give them everything they want.

One situation that we talked about is the parent intent on showing their teen that they are not afraid. But we asked, why not be afraid? If your teen has threatened your life for example, who would not be afraid? Therefore, take precautions. Consider safety at all times, and yet, find a way to stand up to them.

It's not so important to not be afraid. In fact, sometimes it is precisely because you are afraid that you are taking the steps you are taking, e.g., having a Police Officer present when you explain to your teen that you are taking his cell phone, that you are filing a charge with the authorities, or that you have had it and you have decided not to allow him to terrorize you any longer. Or if not a Police Officer, a Counselor, a neighbor, a relative. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a Probation Officer for your teen, then he absolutely needs to be included, but often parents can accomplish much without having a Juvenile Probation Officer in the mix.

Remember, your defiant teen wants to do two things. First, he wants to make you afraid so that he can have the power that he wants. He wants what he wants and when he can get what he wants- that's power. Secondly, he wants to keep the fact that he is terrorizing you as much a secret as possible. The last person he wants to know about this is the police or his relatives, or family friends. He is counting on you to keep it a secret. So don't. Let him know in no uncertain terms that from now on you will broadcast to significant others his use of unacceptable and sometimes criminal tactics. As Ken often points out, sometimes the significant others includes the parents of your teenager's friends. Do they know what your are dealing with as far as aggressive behavior and drug abuse goes. What impact would it have to call each of your teenager's friends parents and tell them, "We just wanted you to know that we are having problems with our son; he is threatening us and we suspect strongly that he is abusing drugs!"

If you are allowing your teen to regularly threaten you without consequences then you may be passively helping to create a criminal. Even though you believe that he does not mean it, some kinds of threats are criminal. Other kinds of threats are not. If he is threatening to hurt or to kill you- bingo- that is a criminal act and in that case you may wish to have a local Police Officer explain to him the possible consequences of that behavior. You do not do your teen a favor by over looking it.

Of course, many will reply to this line of logic that it is different for them because their teen is "Dual Diagnosed." Consider that each teenager of the eight parents that attended our last meeting had a Dual Diagnosed teen (mental health problem plus a drug abuse problem.)

These are the tough teens; however, allowing the Dual Diagnosed teen to manipulate you with fear is not recommended. At some point, you have to stand up to your teen regardless of their psychiatric condition. Should you refer your teen to have a psychiatric evaluation? Of course. Should you follow recommendations of a psychiatrist and try to have your teen take prescribed medications? Of course. In the meantime, however, it is dangerous to let your teen see that he can manipulate you with fear because if he can attain that level of power in your family, it is likely that his substance abuse issues and his mental health issues will continue to grow. If you are trying to have your teens mental health issues addressed but he continues to abuse drugs, good luck. Probably that is not going to work. As long as their drug abuse continues the prognosis for effective mental health treatment is not good.

It's not easy to stand up to a Dual Diagnosed teenager; however, it is not really easy to over look defiant, aggressive and threatening behavior either. If you are going to have a bad day anyway why not have one because you choose to stand up to your defiant teen?

Anther thing that came up again in group is teen cell phone use. Cell phones are considered drug paraphernalia by many parents. The texting that goes on today is more considerable than the actual talking. The biggest reason for parents to allow an irresponsible teenager to continue to carry a cell phone is "so that we can reach him." If this is your stance, ask yourself how that is working for you? Most parents admit that when their teenager doesn't want to be reached by parents he just doesn't answer the cell phone. Or if he does answer he lies about what he is doing, who he is with, and what he is doing. Your teen's cell phone may contain his drug dealer's names.
Remember also that teens abuse cell phones in school. It is often not a good idea to allow your teen to carry a cell phone to school. If you think your teen is still doing drugs, pull the cell phone.

Likewise, the computer is a primary way to stay in touch with other kids that abuse drugs. Insist on having your teen register you as a "friend" so that you can view your teens My Space or Facebook page. Try to go to your teen's friends My Space or Face book. What do you see? Are they advertising drug or alcohol abuse by showing pictures of themselves drinking or other provocative things? If you think your teen is still doing drugs, pull the computer privileges.

And the hat trick of teen tools to continue a lifestyle of drug abuse is the car. Is it inconvenient for parents to take a car away from a teenager? Sure. How convenient is it for you to attend a funeral that didn't have to happen? Cars provide drugs in many differerent ways.
If you think your teen is still doing drugs, by all means, PULL THE CAR privileges.

So, if your teen is defiant, violent and/ or is still abusing drugs or alcohol, then make sure that you are not doing or giving him anything that can help to enable the lifestyle that he has choosen. Sometimes we only think of money as enabling if we are giving them large amounts of it. But consider that
teens tell us that they even save lunch money to buy drugs. If you believe that your teen is still abusing drugs then perhaps reconsider trusting them with any money at all. You might, for example, call the school and see if you can pay direct for lunches. Avoid actually placing any money in your teens hands if you believe that they still abuse drugs. See The Three Best Ways to Stop Enabling for more information.

Then after all these "drug paraphernalia" have been restricted, try to sit back and enjoy Mother's Day. You've really earned it now.

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