Quote of the Week

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

Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This is a comment on Sally's comment of Rocco's post On the Road Again. My comment was too long to be accepted by blogger so I turned it into a post. Her comment is reprinted in part below as it appears on "Oops, Problem With Blogger."

"I was sitting between Cisco and Rocco. Cisco was complaining and Rocco was nudging me and tapping my arm. This I know was Rocco's warning signal that I was getting sucked into Cisco's manipulation. I quickly came to my senses and when Cisco said, 'Maybe I'll walk away from here (this placement), I don't care what happens to me if I do.' I replied, 'That is your choice, you may want to think of the consequences.' I acted nonchalant. We left shortly after that and I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I don't want him to walk out of the program. I care."

It's so hard to do this detach-with-love thing. It would be helpful if we all had Rocco to nudge us when we are getting "sucked in." Yesterday, I did an assessment of a teen at Shuman who was very angry about the assessment. Still, she felt she had no choice but to "cooperate" so she responded with an attitude to every question I asked. I felt myself getting oppositional and that means that I was getting "sucked in."

It was only at the end of the interview that I started to agree with her that this assessment might be completely unnecessary, which had been her point that I had failed to appreciate all along. My failure to address that earlier in the interview kept the defiant wall up.

Of course, we still had to do the interview so my appreciation of that fact wouldn't have changed anything; however, had I jumped to that place with her earlier, it would might have lowered the wall that she had put up. Of course, it was a slippery slope. I had to be clear that if she did not participate that could look bad for her. Also, I didn't need her to tell people that she refused to cooperate in the assessment because even the guy doing the assessment thought that it was stupid. Traps to avoid here are obvious: if I don't acknowlege that it might be ridiculous to do the assessment then she remains defiant. On the otherhand, if I agree with that to heartily then I undermine the very assessment process. I struggled with it.

I know that it is not the same when you are parenting because it is your own teenager and therefore it is much much harder to detach. I offered this example only to emphasize the point that Sally made that we need to nudge each other when possible- because it's so hard to see it when when we are getting sucked in.

We can trust that life is such that when you wish that you would have used your "detach-with-love" skills to better effect, and you feel that you may have missed the opportunity, life will give you another crack at it soon enough.

With the nudging from Rocco, Sally was able to reply matter-of-factly and in a more business-like fashion. This sent Cisco the message that she would be OK if he decided to walk away from treatment. And that was the truth because she would be OK in the end. She choose to not highlight the fact that this would be a crushing blow. That's good because at that moment it didn't have to be all about Sally.

The way we respond also shapes the way we feel about situations so that we are not just hiding our feelings but we are in some measure shaping our feelings. Not 100 percent but still we are shaping to some degree the way we feel.

Consider this possible exchange:

Cisco: "Maybe I'll walk away from here (this placement) I don't care what happens to me if I do."

Sally: Sometimes we don't care what happens- you've been down that road before Cisco.

Cisco: That's the way I feel about it - I just don't care anymore.

Sally: Maybe you need to walk away. You know, I think you learned something when you walked away from your last program. Consequences can help us learn and consequences help us learn to care.

Sally: Have you thought that maybe you should just call Lloyd and ask him to move you to Shuman?

Cisco: Are you mental? I don't want to go to Shuman.

Sally: Oh, I'm sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you said the consequences didn't bother you.

Cisco: See, that's so messed up- I didn't say I wanted to go to Shuman- you're twisting what I'm saying- now I'm getting mad.

Sally: I know I can make you angry sometimes. I don't phrase things well.

Cisco: You can say that again.

Sally: Oops. Well, I'm happy that you do care about consequences. I think that shows how you've changed, you know, for the better. That is very adult when we think before we act. Good for you.

This helps to shape the way we feel: that something good can come out of both decisions: walk away or stay- both have lessons. I am reminded of the "Good News" post that Rocco put up after Cisco's relapse. Writing something like that helps shape the way we feel and, point-in-fact, Cisco would not today be in the great program that he is in if he were not to have relapsed.

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On the road again - Summary of Sally and Rocco's Personal PSST Meeting.
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, September 26, 2010

There was no regular PSST Meeting last weekend so Sally and Rocco took the PSST Meeting on the road. Actually we had our own meeting in our car on the way home from visiting Cisco.

Our 18 year old son, Cisco, has been a wannabe gangsta rapper since he was about 14. That is, coincidently, around the same time that he tried his first joint.

Who is to say that if he had continued to hang out with the “Preppie” kids, stayed in sports, been more spiritual and studied harder he would, or would not, be a teenage addict?

Well what if he was into to alternative rock, hip-hop, jazz or maybe even country music? Could Cisco have avoided alcohol? Should we have insisted that he could never play “Grand Theft Auto”, listen to rap music or log onto Facebook/My Space? Would he have never popped a pill? How about if we would have kept him in the smaller private school? Would he have never overdosed?

What was it that we could have done to make sure that Cisco did not become an addict?

We have beat ourselves up, from time to time, with all of these “what if’s”, “should of’s”, “would of’s” and “why didn’t we’s” for the last few years. To be honest I don’t think that there will ever be a time that these thoughts will ever go away completely.

What we have done is “detached with love”.

We are learning to accept that:

- We did not CAUSE his addiction
- We cannot CONTROL his addiction
- We cannot CURE his addiction

We did regain our SANITY when we stopped focusing on our son and began to focus on changing our own attitudes and behaviors.

So what we have today is an 18 year old son recovering from his addiction and his behavior problems and we, ourselves are in recovery from his addiction and behavior consequences and our own co-dependency issues.

We had a pretty good week with some ups and downs. We finally received word that Cisco earned his G.E.D. diploma. We made it to a couple of Gateway meetings, Sally had two new girls join her knitting class at Ridgeview and at the end of the week we received the word that Cisco was okay but he “needed” money and was letting everybody know that he would be using as soon as he was out of his program. Time to detach we need to remind ourselves.

On Sunday we had a visit with Cisco. We talked, had a few laughs and even got in a couple of games. It appears to be a good program for him; he seems to be accepting it and his anger and language are under control but he has only been there for 17 days.

Then towards the end of the visit he showed off some of his best manipulation skills (he is really good.)

He started with frustration and then tossed in a good helping of self pity (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger. Detach, detach.”)

We know a lot of Cisco’s frustration comes from being in yet another program but Sally noticed something else worth mentioning. Cisco had told us early on in the visit that he had also invited some friends to come and visit. It turned out that one friend was working; one said they didn’t know how to get there and three others didn’t respond. And these are his “good” friends. It seems that the only ones he can count on to come and visit are mom and dad.

We did pretty well ourselves during the visit. We praised him for doing as well as he has, in a really tough program. We gave him a bit more for passing his G.E.D. Exams and earning his diploma. We attempted to talk a little about his future but agreed with him to concentrate on “one day at a time.”

When we finally got to the manipulation portion of the visit we were able to handle it well. We were able to find those little bits to agree with him. Yes, this is a tough program. Yes, you may not make it. Yes, you may relapse someday. Yes, you can return home someday (of course only if you are clean and sober and able to follow our rules.) Yes, we are here to help you with your recovery. Never the less you are the one who needs to accept and finish the program. You are the only one who can recover from your addiction.

As parents of addicts we tend to enable teens because we care. Out of our parental instincts to protect our child we think we are helping them. But enabling them is the worst thing that we can do for them. Remember that “Detaching” from our addicted teen is not the same thing as abandoning them. The idea is to still care for them while “Detaching Emotionally”.

Because you care for them does not mean that you are responsible for their addictive behavior and consequences. In other words: do not get all wrapped up emotionally by an addicts destructive behaviors.

This is difficult.

Practicing detachment should make it easier over time.

Only when addicted teens are faced with real consequences can they start to make a change.

At Parents Survival Skills Training (PSST) there is help for parents available in the form of free meetings with other families who are dealing with family addiction. The purpose of these meetings is to learn from one another how to stop being codependent and how to end enabling behavior.

PSST can assist you in the following ways to stop enabling behavior:

- Hold regular meetings for you and other parents of addicts.
- Direct you to professional help for yourself.
- Help you establish “Tough Love” consequences in your home.
- Show you how to stop providing money, privileges and excuses for your substance abuser.
- Provide a support system for you with other parents of addicts.

You must be cautioned, however, that there is a possibility of a long-term side effect in attending PSST Meetings: In time you will begin to regain your SANITY, and will begin to feel a sense of self-respect and peace despite any crisis you face.

If you have the same hopeless feeling that Sally and Rocco felt just about one year ago please give PSST a try.

There is no cost and no commitment. You have nothing to lose but sleepless nights, a lot of anxiety and headaches and that feeling of being all alone.

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Ooops- problem with blogger
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 26, 2010

Please leave any comments to On the Road Again - Summary of Sally and Rocco's Personal PSST Meeting below. I made an error and I can't find any way to fix it other than just start comments here and close them on the original post. Sorry... These posts by Sally, Rocco and about Cisco have become the mainstay of our blog. Thanks for keeping us all updated.

Type rest of the post here

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Things That You Find When Looking for Something Else - Why you should Never ask "WHY?"
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why you should Never ask "WHY?"

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?
Why is there an expiration date on SOUR cream?
Why is the word "abbreviate" so long?
Why isn't there another word for "thesaurus?"

I was looking up something else the other day and came across an article called "Training Lions & Tigers: Discipline and Children with Disabilities" by Pete Wright.

Mr. Wright has raised two sons with ADHD and learning disabilities and shares his experience and ideas at: http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/ltrs/ltr_to_Bobbie.html

He lists his Four Rules for Raising Children as:

#1. The child had to work

#2. No Telephone or Television in the Child's Room, Ever!

#3. The Child Had to Learn to Touch-Type at Home

#4. Never ask "WHY?"

Rule #4 that caught my eye. It is a good rule for parents in general but especially for parents like me, parents of teenage addicts.

Never ask "WHY?" by Pete Wright

When my children misbehaved or messed up, I never asked them "WHY did you . . . ?"

Why did you come home an hour late?

Why did you come home with alcohol on your breath?

Why didn't you clean up your room?

Why did you leave a mess in the kitchen?

Why didn't you finish your homework?

Why did you finger-paint on the walls?

When the parent asks a child Why, the child learns to create good excuses, shifts blame onto others, views himself or herself as a "victim of circumstances" -- and not does not learn to take responsibility for his or her behavior.

Talking about "Why?" the child misbehaved will not teach the child that he has control over himself, his environment and his future. This will not teach him to take responsibility for his actions.

When you ask Why, it's easy to slip in some guilt - "Why did you do this? You upset me so much. You made me feel terrible."

Stay away from guilt.

Before my first child was born, I worked in juvenile training schools. I read a book called "Reality Therapy" by psychologist William Glasser. This book changed the way I dealt with the kids I worked with and it changed how I viewed my job as a parent.

Dr. Glasser wrote:

"Eliminate the word 'why' from your vocabulary in dealing with child behavior.

So often, children don't know 'why.'

They acted because 'I felt like doing it' and they don't really know why.

Never ask 'Why?' Instead, ask 'What did you do?'"

Have the child explain what he or she did. Have him describe his behaviors, starting at the beginning, through the sobs, the tears, and the temper when sobs and tears don't work. Break the incident down into small steps.

Do not focus on "why."

As a parent, you want to know why. Don't give into your curiosity.

Go over the incident until it is very clear what happened, when, etc.

Your next question is "What are you going to do about it?"

What are you going to do about your misbehavior, or your impulses, or your anger so this does not happen again?

The third question is: How can we make sure this will not happen again?

What checks and balances will you put in place to ensure that it will not happen again?

What punishment should we use now?

What should we do if this happens again?

Will we have a battle about it? If we do, what additional punishment shall we initiate if we have to fight with you about doing this again, and not following through as you said you would?

When the child misbehaves, you can ask questions - but never ask WHY?

Ask these questions instead:

• What did you do?

• What are you going to do about it?

• To ensure that this does not happen again, what should we do to you now?

• If this does happen again, despite your good intentions now, how much more severe shall the punishment be next time?

I hope we can discuss this at our next PSST Meeting but in the mean time please leave a comment at the bottome of this post or send one into sallyservives@gmail.com

Pete Wright is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the William and Mary Law School where he teaches a course about special education law and advocacy and assists with the Law School's Special Education Law Clinic.

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Thank You PSST - Summary of the Sept. 18 Meeting
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thanks PSST!

We had a nice turnout for this week’s PSST Meeting at OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES in Mt Lebanon.

There was a nice mix of regular PSST parents a couple of veteran PSST Parents.
Our PSST Pros, Lloyd, Val, Kathie and Jocelyn led the meeting. We had 7 parents representing 6 families ~ On the blog they are known to us, as Lori, June, Alice, Hyacinth, Ruth and Rocco & Sally.

We were glad that they all could make it to our meeting and to our

First Annual PSST Appreciation Day.

This week we wanted to take a little time out to say how much we appreciate all those involved with Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST).

First we want to say a special thanks to our PSST Pro’s; Val and Lloyd from The Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Office and to our counselors from Wesley Spectrum, Kathie T, Jocelyn and Cathy C. They continue to make the effort to advise, understand, support and to guide parents of troubled teens in the right direction.

We would also like to extend our appreciation to all of the PSST Parents, Past and Present, who over the years have reached out, listened, empathized, encouraged and passed on some of their wisdom, as well as a few hugs as needed.

PSST is here to counsel parents on how to strengthen themselves mentally, spiritually and physically in order to enable them to take back the power and control in their homes and their families. They provide the tools we parents need to help our teens save their lives.


We tried something a little different this week.

We opened up the meeting with an exercise designed to break the ice and let us have a little fun we referred to as a Round Robin. We circled the room and gave each person a chance to be The Robin and The Bluebird.

The Robin sang (or acted out a teenager's manipulation) to the parent on his/ her left, whom we referred to as The Bluebird. The manipulation could be anything The Robin knew that teenagers actually use on parents (we have much expertise in this department at our meetings.)

The Bluebird’s role was to pick out a morsel of something that they could agree with that The Robin had said. The Bluebird was encouraged to really agree by using strong body language, good eye contact and by not throwing in a "but" right away to ruin it.

The Robin continued singing to attempt another variation of the same manipulation at least two more times.

The Bluebird then attempted to find at least two more crumbs of something to agree with.

Once The Bluebird had collected two or three nuggets of agreement, and had The Robin’s attention, they were then free to explain to The Robin why they did not agree with their attempt to manipulate.

The Bluebird was encouraged to use our PSST Power words, "Nevertheless, I'm NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT".

The Bluebird then became The Robin and turned to the next willing participant who became The Bluebird.

We continued around the room and we all had the chance to contribute and talk over our opinions and ideas. We had a few laughs and a few eye opening moments.

We not only had the chance to use "Nevertheless, I'm NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT” but we also used “We will talk about that later” and “Ask me again.” One of our moms pointed out how she likes to inject a little humor into their discussions by using a wee bit of exaggeration.

“You would like me to loan you money to buy a dump truck? Why stop there? Why don’t we buy the whole construction company?”

Humor can be a great tool (from our PSST Tool Box) in the right situation. If we can show our teen the hollowness of their attempted manipulation and get a genuine laugh out of them then we have made some real progress. Be careful not to cross over into sarcasm.

We also had an interesting case where The Robin realizing that The Bluebird was not allowing herself to be manipulated resorted to turning to rudeness (another common manipulation tactic). The Bluebird, at first, was caught off guard and started to respond in a similar way. After some discussion we tried the same tactic but this time The Bluebird responded in a firm and clear manner and was able to get the message across that she would not be manipulated.

Following our break for some coffee, tea, cake and some other goodies each of us had a chance to talk over our own issues with our children in various stages of recovery.

We talked about our teens that are currently in an inpatient recovery program, how they are doing and where they can go when they complete the program. Some teens in recovery cannot return home directly. The people and places may be too strong of a trigger for them to relapse.

We had some thoughts on our teens’ recovery and their goal to complete high school. A School will frequently turn into a strong trigger for an addicted teen and is a serious issue that has to be carefully thought out. There are alternatives out there and this is often a subject of discussion at our meetings.

Our Thanks again to all at PSST, and of course our thanks to OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES for the use of their space.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is

Saturday October 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the

Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg.

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Living with Beaver: Part 7: What I Learned in School - By June, --A PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, September 18, 2010

I suppose Beaver and Gilbert just didn’t think that was enough adventure for one day, so back to his dad's house they went again.

This time, they took some weed from Dick’s hiding spot, and got on skateboards [remember I told you that everything June bought ended up at Dick’s house?] and went off to get high. Adjacent to the road Dick lives on is another road that leads to the Elementary School. Those two scamps went down this road and stopped at a home that was unoccupied. From the story June was told, this is where they smoked the marijuana. Gilbert supposedly ‘rested’ his feet on the front door and ‘stretched his legs’ to see if the door might open. It thankfully did not. Some alert neighbors saw the boys on the vacant home’s porch and called the police. Beaver and Gilbert saw the police coming, so Gilbert ditched Beaver’s skateboard in the weeds [why? —I have no idea] and went into the woods. Beaver and Gilbert were heading back towards Dick’s house, but along the way they came across another vacant home. This home wasn’t as lucky as the first one. Beaver and Gilbert used their BB guns to shoot out a sliding glass door. Boy, I bet that made some noise! The boys entered the vacant home, and began to shoot out all the windows. According to their story told to the State Police, they both did this. Beaver, on the other hand, chose to – all by himself - shoot the thermostat off the wall. Why? -- Because “he wanted to see what mercury was really like”. Where’s a science teacher when you need one? There was mention that some sort of tampering with the gas or water meter occurred, but that was not verified as done by either Beaver or Gilbert.

Those poor boys were tired! They wanted to go home! Beaver and Gilbert headed back to Dick’s house. This time they didn’t have so far to walk, because the police were driving down the road, saw who they were, and were kind enough to give them a ride home to Dick’s house, along with the skateboard that was previously ditched in the weeds. The police officer talked to Dick, who was visibly intoxicated [according to the police report], and told him that he must keep Beaver and Gilbert at the home and they were not to leave.

Dick supposedly yelled at the boys about the incident. Beaver was afraid and Gilbert didn’t want to stay there anymore.

Here is where a turn in the right direction would’ve made all the difference in the world.

The next morning was Saturday, Beaver and Gilbert left Dick’s house because he was still yelling. They took off across the street and back to the elementary school. Hey, what a great place to smoke some more weed!

Beaver said that when they got to the school, Gilbert took a large rock and threw it through a ground level window of the school. This rock was so big that it broke some of the fixtures –sink or lavatory [June’s memory is fuzzy] – in the room. Beaver and Gilbert entered the school, and wandered around getting ‘educated’. They started by seeing if a sharp knife would cut through rafts. Wow-experiment a success! You sure do learn a lot at school! No reason to remain any longer here.

Beaver and Gilbert went back outside and decided to make a campfire on the playground. June is so proud of the boys! They remembered everything she taught them in scouts about making a campfire! What good scouts they both are! EXCEPT the part about making a fire where it won’t cause any damage. The campfire was started on a playground that has a rubber matting, as a base so falling did not hurt so much. Having a campfire burning on it is a whole other story. Wow, another learning experience! School really is great! Gilbert wondered what would happen if they made the fire bigger by throwing some of the trash from the dumpster on it and Beaver wondered too. This experiment proved to be a success too. If you add combustible materials to a fire, it turns into a true bonfire! And, once that really hot fire gets going on rubber, there’s no stopping it! Beaver realized that they had a true problem, and pleaded with Gilbert to help him try to stamp it out. Gilbert said “no way” and ran, very quickly

Side note: It took June 2 ½ years to realize that Beaver was telling the truth about trying to stamp it out. The epiphany actually occurred at a PSST meeting, when the light bulb came on and she remembered Beaver picking at the scabs on his legs that occurred when the hot rubber had splashed up when he was trying to stamp out the fire. It’s funny how when the story is so outrageous you want so desperately to believe that your child couldn’t possibly be involved in such a horrific thing, that you just accept the whole ball of wax as being a lie.
This little thing made the Grinch’s heart a little warmer.

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Living with Beaver: Part 6: Let the Games Begin - By June, -------A PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, September 18, 2010

It once again is Beaver’s visitation weekend with his dad, Dick. The month is July, and some of the kids are finding it hard to know what to do with all the free time they have after the regimented schedule of a school day. Beaver's friend Gilbert rode over on his bicycle to hang out and ‘see what’s happening at the Cleaver household’. [I believe I owe it to you to say that Gilbert is a nice boy, but needs ‘watching’. He’s always the one in school whose name is yelled out to ‘stop’ before they even know who is doing something, because more times than not—he’s right there in the thick of it.] Much to Gilbert’s dismay he finds out that Beaver is going to his dad's house for the weekend.
And much to June’s dismay, Dick has asked Beaver to meet him at the corner gas station where he will pick him up. [I say this was to June’s dismay because she did not know about the pick up location.] The pick-up usually occurred at the house.

Beaver is very clever, because by meeting his Dad somewhere other than the house, he would be able to take his bicycle over to his Dad’s home. June did not permit this because everything she bought for Beaver ended up at his Dad’s home, never to return. When June would ask Dick to please return the items the response given was always “oh, I will” [sarcastically] or “I give you child support to buy this stuff so technically I bought it anyway” and it still was never to be seen again, at least at our home.

Gilbert followed Beaver to the gas station, asked Dick if he could come over for the weekend, and hopped into Dick’s truck when given the okay. When they arrived at Dick’s house, Gilbert called his Mom to get permission to stay for the weekend. Aren’t those little darlings cute when they think they’ve out-maneuvered us? Gilbert’s Mom said yes, just because she had no way at that moment to get Gilbert, because Dick’s house is about 30 minutes away by car.

Well, the games began—Olympic in magnitude. First, from what I’ve been told, Dick began his weekend [and every evening for that matter] with a beer-or 5 or 10, who’s counting? Beaver took Gilbert out to ride his dirt bike. Gilbert rode his bike along rather than walking. While Beaver was riding Gilbert on the back of his dirt bike up and down the trails, Gilbert’s bicycle was stolen. Not a good thing. Gilbert was not happy, since he had earned the money to buy the bike himself. Beaver needed to appease him, so back to Dick’s house they went.

Although Beaver was not athletically inclined, he [unfortunately] was very good at rifle. Beaver actually made the rifle team at high school. As a result he had a few BB guns, and air soft rifles at Dick’s house. Beaver and Gilbert decided to shoot the BB guns at the guard rail that ran along the road leading up to Dick’s house. At least that was the story June was handed. Turns out they were actually shooting at cars. Subsequently, they nicked someone'’ windshield, and hit someone in their arm in a passing car.

Can I refresh your memory here with the fact that Beaver was never a leader from early childhood to present day?

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Opening exercise for Mt. Lebanon Meeting: Round Robin
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, September 17, 2010

Since we didn't have time for role-plays at our last meeting we are going to open up tomorrow's meeting with an exercise designed to break the ice and let us have a little fun. No one will be pressured to participate and it is fine to just say "pass" when it is your turn. The Robin can also pass when it feels stumped.

1. Each parent who chooses to participate will have a turn as the Robin. Each parent who chooses to participate will have a turn as the Blue Bird.

2. The Robin sings (or in our case acts out a teenager's manipulation) to the parent on his/ her left, whom we will refer to as the Bluebird. The manipulation can be anything the Robin knows that teenagers actually use on parents (we know that we have much expertise in this department at our meetings.)

3. The Bluebird will attempt to agree with something or part of something that the Robin said. The statement might start out with these words, "I agree that..." but it need not necessarily start out that way. The Bluebird is encouraged to really agree by using strong body language, good eye contact and not throwing in a "but" right away to ruin it.

4. The Robin will attempt another variation of the first manipulation and do this at least two more times.

5. The Bluebird attempts two more agreements.

6. The Bluebird may now disagree with anything that the Robin has said. His disagreement may start out with, "Nevertheless, I'm NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT" but it need not be worded exactly that way."

7. The Bluebird now becomes the Robin and turns to his/ her left and the next willing participant becomes the Bluebird. The process continues around the table.

8. If the Bluebird is stumped he has several choices.

A. Bluebird can ask for help and any parent can offer suggestions.

B. Bluebird can pass and if so the Bluebird position moves to the next willing participant on the left.

C. Any Bluebird that passes can still be the Robin if they choose to be once the Robinship passes.

In preparation please read Deposits and Withdrawals.

No one is expected to be a pro. This is training for fun. No matter what happens at the meeting all participants will receive 10,000 PSST bonus points! :-)

Next PSST meeting is Saturday September 18th. Click below for more details.


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A Time to Hold On, A Time to Let Go
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Time to Hold On, A Time to Let Go
Co-Dependence and Detaching with Love

Do you feel so drawn into your teenager’s addiction drama that you are not sure where you stop and their addiction begins?

Co-dependency is a problem that many parents of addicted children face. You feel that your teen cannot “get better” unless you are there for them every step of the way. This can be tiring and destructive to you. You may actually be part of the problem.

When you make the decision to detach, it does not mean that you don’t love your child. It just means that you are not qualified to help your child in whatever way they need. It means that you can no longer “fix” their problems or handle the constant struggles that come with it.

To “Detach With Love” means that you choose to live a healthy life and that your addicted child might see that they have a problem, they need to change and they might ask for help.

Few things in life can make you feel crazier than reaching out to help someone (expecting attention, acceptance or appreciation from them) and finding that they have no desire to be reached or helped.

Do you feel so drawn into your teenager’s addiction drama that you are not sure where you stop and their addiction begins?

This feeling can be toxic. It is known as Co-Dependence. It involves worry, guilt, fear, anger, and adrenalin. It’s about waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have experienced it and I now know that it’s very unhealthy and rarely helps the addict.

You, the co-addict, are swept up in a tidal wave of unhealthy behavior and consequences that are not your own. Your heart races, your stomach aches, your head pounds, you can’t sleep, your nerves are shattered. Yet, you have NO control over the outcomes because you are not the person involved in the addiction.

One of the most difficult things for parents of addicts and alcoholics to do is to let go of constantly hovering over them. Hovering is one of the unfortunate results of loving someone with a life threatening illness.

When the illness is cancer or heart disease, the hovering is sometimes seen as annoying, though often appreciated and sometimes necessary.

But when the illness is addiction, the hovering is not only annoying; it’s rarely appreciated and can drive your teenager to resent and resist your intervention. If your child is in recovery this hovering behavior isn’t seen as nurturing or loving. In fact, recovering addicts tend to use the behaviors of others as excuses to use and/or excuses to relapse.

No parent is born with the knowledge of how to deal effectively with addiction. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced daily, and can be helped tremendously by mentoring.

So, what is the answer?

Recognize Your Own Co-Dependent Behaviors

Identify the problem and what causes it. Remember, you cannot “make” a person do anything they do not want to or are not ready to do on their own.

Think about what is so important that you don’t want to let go and why you cannot detach.

Recognize Your Teen’s Behavior is Beyond Your Control

Admit that there is a problem and your addicted teen is harming themselves, you and others.

Acknowledge that your child has a real problem and refuses to accept help or even admit there is a problem.

Stop thinking that they will change if you keep nagging enough. If you are enabling them then it definitely won’t change.

Take Responsibility

Let go of the emotional hooks that are keeping you there. In order for your teen to recognize that there is something "wrong" with them that needs to change; they need to be able to see what is “right” about you.

Take responsibility over yourself, your life and everything within you. You only have control over your feelings, emotions and actions. You need to be healthy in order to become a "role model".

Make a Commitment

Affirm that you are a person too, that you are not getting what you need out of the parent/child relationship and that you have needs that should not be ignored either.

Make a commitment to your self-health and care. Admit to yourself (and your Higher Power) that there is only one person you can change and that is yourself.

Start to heal yourself from the relationship.

Trust Your Higher Power

Hand over to your child and their disease that you cannot heal on your own.

Trust that everything will work itself out in the way in which it is supposed to.

Accept those things you cannot change and free yourself from its’ burden.

Practice Joy

Weave gratitude into your daily life.

Indifference, thoughtlessness and unfairness will always be lurking nearby waiting for your permission to come in and darken your day and dampen your spirits.

Instead, choose to allow light and wellness into your day. And when you put your head on the pillow tonight, say, “It was a good day. I did what I could do.”

Repeat as Necessary

Detachment is not something we do once. It is a daily behavior in recovery.

No parent is born with the knowledge of how to deal effectively with addiction. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced daily, and can be helped tremendously by mentoring and counseling.

Join an education or support group like PSST.

Participate in family counseling.

Practice Patience – Recovery is a Family Process

Remember that families that have been impacted by addiction can take a few years to recover. You rebuild and stabilize as your child goes through their own recovery.

It can seem like a very long haul. It helps to keep in mind that commitment to the addiction recovery process is a family process.

It is a commitment to the overall well being of the family. Noticeable gains will be made along the way that can help everyone.

“Detaching with Love” is a difficult but very necessary step in regaining emotional health. It is a lifelong commitment to one's recovery and is something that needs to be practiced daily. You can still love your child, but you need to recognize when your relationship has become too entangled, co-dependent and unhealthy.

“Detaching with Love” is one of the most loving steps you can do for yourself, your family and your child.

Read more:

How to Detach With Love eHow.com

Family Recovery From Addiction - 10 Crucial Steps

Confront Your Addict!

Read More......

Meet the Parents II - Sept 11, 2010 PSST Meeting Summary
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meet the Parents II - Sept 11, 2010 PSST Wexford Meeting Summary

We had another encouraging turn-out at this week’s PSST Meeting in Wexford with a nice mix of new and regular PSST parents. We also had a couple of veteran PSST Parents join us. Our PSST Pros, Lloyd, Val, Kathie and Jocelyn led the meeting.

12 parents representing 10 families, known to us, as Max, Daisy, Posey, Lori, Millie, Jasmine, Violet, Lucy, Ralph & Alice and Rocco & Sally made the effort to attend.

Each of us had a chance to talk over our own situations and issues with our children in various stages of recovery.

Max has two sons, David and Michael, in recovery and a supportive husband we all know as Mel. David, their younger son is doing well at an out of state boarding school and is beginning to get it.

Their older son Michael has recently completed his outpatient program and is doing well.

Max and Mel, like a lot of us, are still dealing with what are “normal” teenage behavior issues and what are addictive behaviors.

After dealing with addictive behaviors we parents find that we also have our own set of triggers. These triggers tend to set off our defensive behaviors. This can quickly bring us back to a bad place. We parents need to learn to “detach” to avoid becoming co-dependent.

Our children didn’t become addicts overnight and unfortunately it will take a while (probably years) in recovery before we will be able to fully trust them.

As we have noted before: “Recovery is a Family Process.”

Daisy is a single mom. Her dilemma continues. As noted last week her son, Ozzie, has relapsed and is having trouble handling school. Daisy has tried to help him with his recovery without resorting to court and probation. Ozzie has now been discharged from his Outpatient Program. He and Daisy will be going to court for this week to get him into an inpatient program under Act 53 (asking the Court to declare your child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services).

As with all of our children this story is to be continued. Stay tuned.

Posey is also a PSST Single Mom with a son who has been doing well in his recovery. He is attending an alternative high school and recently tested positive for weed at the school. His mom, his Probation Officer and his WS Family Counselor are all convinced that the school mixed up the test results with another boy. The school, of course, denies it and did not want to listen even though the P.O. did his own tests and found him clean (twice). Because of this he cannot attend school activities (i.e. football games and dances). Unfortunately this is a life lesson that once you have built a bad reputation it is difficult to soften people’s perceptions or to convince them to give you a break. He can at least take comfort in knowing that his mom and two other very important people believe him.

Lori has been a Veteran PSST Parent for a few years. Her son, Richie, is in his mid twenties and has graduated from the University of Miami this year. Richie is now living in Miami on his own. He has some legal hearings pending but has a job and he is enrolling in night classes to further his education and career. She mentioned that fortunately the Miami Area has a lot of recovery facilities and that if he is having any problems that he will use them as needed.

As tough as it is to have him so far away, Lori thinks it is good for him to be away from home for now. Thanks for returning Lori, it was good to see you again.

Millie (Lori’s friend) is also an experienced parent of an son in recovery but she is new to PSST. Her son enjoys traveling the world with a friend and has mostly staying clean. Following a recent injury he was prescribed pain medication and has relapsed. Never the less he and his friend have left for Spain. Millie at this time was waiting to hear from either one of them to be sure that they arrived okay. This was Millie’s first visit to a PSST Meeting and we hope she will be back again soon.

Jasmine has been a Veteran PSST Parent for the last few years. Her son enlisted in the military. He has been to Iraq and is about to be deployed to Afghanistan. He came home on a two week leave and spent most of the time with his friend. He and Jasmine still have a bit of trouble dealing with each other in person. A lot of old feelings and triggers come up for both of them. We discussed how in some cases it may be best if your child does not return home immediatlely. They may need to be in recovery for a while before they can face people, places and things again. Thanks for returning Jasmine, it was good to see you again also.

Rocco and Sally have a son, Cisco, in recovery. He has relapsed and has just entered his third inpatient program in 16 months. The upside is that he has gone into these programs willingly (mostly) and they have bought him over 300 days of clean time over these months. He is definitely showing positive signs but as we said it will take a while (probably years) in recovery before we will be able to fully trust him again.

Please Note: New PSST Parents and Parents thinking about coming to PSST Meetings: We, Rocco & Sally made a big mistake back in 2007. We came to our first PSST meeting in the fall and felt that it was a way too much for us and Cisco. We tried a few other programs and methods that did not work for Cisco and really did not help us at all. After two overdoses and a lot of distress, despondency and despair we returned to PSST in May 2009. There are of course no guarantees that PSST will work for you and there are other good programs in the area. But please give PSST a try and even if you are overwhelmed as we were; give it a few weeks to see if you can reach your comfort zone. If you have any apprehension or concerns please feel free to talk to Val or Lloyd or to us PSST Parents.

Violet’s son recently relapsed and was immediately accepted back into his inpatient program. She is concerned about where he can go following the program. Home may not be the right place immediately. They are looking into going to halfway house. Violet was also concerned with his continued education. He has graduated high school and was accepted at a college.

There are two items here.

The first is how important is it that he attends college at this time? This sometimes falls more into a parent’s need, or desire, to see their child in a “normal” life.

It is okay if your child takes a year or two off from school if they are concentrating on their recovery. After working their recovery program they will probably be in better state of mind to face the challenges of college. College can be a dangerous, and even deadly, place for an adolescent that has not accepted his/her recovery program.

The second issue is that the half-way house will allow and encourage your child to attend community college or vocational school part time while working on their recovery. This of course depends on the child's acceptance of the program.

Lucy (Violet’s friend) has a son in recovery. His probation is scheduled to end soon and this has Lucy concerned. She told us that her son’s Probation Officer has been a big help and is hoping to get his probation extended. As we have discussed before it is very important for parents to stand up and voice their concerns to the probation authorities and in court to make sure that their teenagers get the best care that they can get. Of course our teens will not immediately appreciate us doing this. That is okay!

We are here to learn how to do as much as we can to help our children to make a difference in their life and to possibly save their life.

Lucy was also attending her first visit to a PSST Meeting and we hope that we will see her again soon.

Alice and Ralph have two sons, Norton and Ed, who have drug and alcohol problems. The boys have gone two different directions.

Norton, 19, has made a choice to leave home and to live life on his own terms. Ralph and Alice may not see him for a while but have made it clear that if he wants to return home he must be clean and sober and must follow their rules.

Ed, 15, is currently in an inpatient program. He has been attempting to use some of his best manipulation tactics concerning the terms of his Contract to Return Home.

Alice and Ralph have been standing strong with PSST's “Agree With Something”, “Ask Me Again”, and “Never-The-LessTactics which is giving Ed the clear message that “There is a New Sheriff in Town!” and it is us.

While your child is still in an Inpatient Recovery Program it is a great opportunity for you to let them know that you have taken back the power. If they are going to act up this is the best time for it and place for them to be. They can get help managing their behavior and you can let them know that you “are not comfortable” with it.

We also touched on the subject of suicide at the meeting.

Suicide threats and suicide attempts should ALWAYS be taken very seriously.

The threat of suicide can be frightening enough to cause some parents to “walk on eggshells” and to give their child whatever they want.

Lloyd discussed several points.

~ Do not argue with a person threatening suicide. This can lead them to become aggravated and want to show you just how serious they are.

~ Do not totally agree with them – this can have the same results.

~ Find a small point or two to agree with and try to turn the subject around to the fact that they do need some help and that you will work with them to get it.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you feel that a suicide threat is nothing more than a manipulative tactic you need to IMMEDIATELY get that person to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation.

If they are truly suicidal they will get the help they need.

If they were merely using this threat as a manipulative tactic to get their way, the trip to the E.R. will tend to discourage them from using this tactic in the future.

Never ignore or minimize a suicide threat or a suicide attempt.

We had no time for role-plays this week and may start off the next PSST Meeting with role plays depending on the turn out. If anyone has an idea for role play please forward it to sallyservives@gmail.com or add it to the comment section below.

We all would like to sincerely thank Trinity Lutheran Church for the use of their first class facilities to allow PSST to empower parents of out-of-control teenagers.

This is another great example of how Trinity Lutheran has been reaching out and serving Wexford and the northern suburbs since 1845.

We look forward to seeing more concerned parents at the next PSST Meeting ~ Saturday, Sept 18 ~ at the at the Outreach Teen and Family Services located at 666 Washington Road Mt. Lebanon

There is FREE PARKING in the lot behind the building

– Take Cedar Blvd to Florida Av to the first lot on the left.

If you suspect, or know, that your child is using drugs or alcohol and need to talk with other parents that “know where you are at” please give PSST a try.

There is no cost and no commitment.

There is a lot of coffee, tea, support and understanding here.

"By helping others succeed, we help ourselves succeed. Whatever good we give will complete the circle and will come back to us."

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Deposits and withdrawals
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ralph Kramden (pen-name for PSST parent) described it at our Wexford PSST on 9-11-10; "It's focusing on similarities instead of differences."

It's the similarities that bind us together. Hopefully, we have enough similarities to help us to withstand the differences.

What do I mean by that? Think of a bank account. You make deposits. You make payments and withdrawals. You hope that you have enough deposits to cover all the withdrawals. If you don't you're in the red.

I think relationships are like that too. We make deposits on the relationships when we bond by agreeing with each other. We make withdrawals when we focus on the disagreements. In banking we have to make withdrawals because we need to use our money, which does us no good just sitting in the bank. Likewise, we need to have differences in our relationships because our "relationship-tender" does us no good if it just sits in the bank; however, we want to be sure to have enough deposits to cover the withdrawals. Otherwise, our relationship might be in the red.

We are highly committed to what we believe is the truth. Once we believe that we know what that is, we become sort of a slave to it. We have to sell it to everyone we know whether or not they are at a place which would allow them to benefit from our version of the truth. It is as though our version of the truth takes on a life of it's own and rather than serving us- it makes us serve it. We become obsessed with letting others know that we know the "real deal."

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves this question: who cares? If the answer to that question is nobody really, then why do we continue to push our version of the truth on people?

Let's assume for a moment that we really do know the truth. If we use that truth to drive our loved ones away from us, how have we gained anything? (Think Victor Newman on the Young and the Restless.) On the other hand, if we at times tolerate each other's versions of the truth then we have a lot to gain. First, we might gain a stronger relationship by creating more relationship-tender with someone. Secondly, we might come to understand that there is a partial-truth to what the other person is saying.

This speaks to another related issue. RESPECT. When I have polled teens on what they want most from their parents respect always comes up at the top. Finding something that we can agree with that the teen is saying is one of the best ways to give them respect. It's not the only way but it is powerful. Giving your teen respect is putting relationship-tender in the bank.

Usually, we want to make every moment a teachable moment. We have a drive to impart our hard-earned wisdom to our teenager in hopes that that very wisdom might make them more competent, wiser, and more fulfilled. Consider this: the parent who teaches the child something may indeed be wise; however, the parent who allows his child to teach him may be a genius. The first imparts knowledge. The second builds self worth. The first gives the child helpful information. The second gives the child confidence.

In the bank accounts of relationships we have to make withdrawals, because we will have differences. We forget that the only way those withdrawals are covered is if we have already made deposits.

Read more on this subject and find a role-play that demonstrates the point at "Are we as oppositional as our teenagers seem to be."

Read More......

Meet the Parents - Summary Sept. 4 PSST Meeting
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Meet the Parents - PSST Meeting Saturday Sept 4, 2010 Summary

We had another terrific turnout for our PARENT SURVIVAL SKILLS TRAINING (PSST) Meeting at the Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg on Saturday.

PSST meetings are open to all parents who are experiencing the distress and difficulties caused by their teenager’s addictions. We are here to help empower PARENTS with support, information, advice, skills and techniques a parent needs to SUCCEED in helping their teenager save their own life.

The meeting was lead by Lloyd and Val from Allegheny County Probation and Family Therapists Kathie T. and Jocelyn from Wesley Spectrum Services. Speaking for all of the parents who attend these meetings we would like to sincerely thank them for giving up their Saturday morning to support and coach us, with their experience, understanding and some much appreciated humor.

Dustin from UPMC attended as an observer.

The meeting was attended by eight parents: alias' Candy, Daisy, Max, Violet, Alice and Ralph and Sally and Rocco.

We parents each had a chance to talk over our own situations and issues.

Candy and her husband were strong enough to stand up in court several times this summer. They did everything they could to see that their daughter Tori was placed back into an inpatient recovery program. They were afraid because of her relapse and her rapid descent into the desolation and devastation of drug abuse. This was made more difficult because Tori turned 18 in May and moved out of their home. The court finally understood the situation, Candy’s and Aaron’s intentions and agreed with them and ordered Tori into a program.

Remember our teen’s will probably not have an instant awakening or miracle recovery (as much as we wish they would) and will more than likely relapse. If we can keep our emotions in check and work with our counselors and P.O.’s we can get them the help they need to save their own life.

Tori has not reached the point where she understands that this is a good thing, and Candy is not getting any “thanks you’s” yet, but that is okay. Candy and her husband are now relieved because they know that she is now safe, clean and alive. Great job you two.

Daisy’s son, Ozzie, has been on the right path and was attending an outpatient recovery program over the summer and had been staying clean. Then Ozzie took a detour and decided to use alcohol in place of drugs. Alcohol is usually substituted because it is more difficult to test for and detect. Daisy alertly confronted the situation and made it clear to Ozzie that alcohol was totally unacceptable but that she was always there to support him in his recovery.

Things were then going well until the start of the high school year. She sensed that Ozzie was a bit too nervous about going back to school. When she came home she found all of the indications that he had been smoking marijuana. At first he denied it but then Daisy asked him why his face and neck were so red? That’s when he finally admitted that he had used and was taking niacin pills to flush the THC out of his system (which by the way doesn’t really work). Daisy did not have a problem letting the outpatient program know about this.

Daisy’s Dilemma now is what to do about school. Ozzie really wanted to stay in his public school and even worked up a contract with Daisy. Obviously he cannot make it there. We discussed how private schools don’t always make a difference. The troubled teen usually has no problem finding the same type of troubled teens to hang out with. Daisy will work with their family counselor to find an alternative school.

As with all of our children this story is to be continued. Daisy, a single mom, has done a great job this year of learning to face her son’s addiction problems head on and not to deny it or enable him or to blame herself.

Max currently has two sons in recovery (see Max and Mel’s Terrible Adventure I, II & III” as well as “The Prequel” and “One Down and One to GO” on the blog). David, their younger son is doing well at an out of state boarding school and is just now beginning to get it. Their older son Michael has recently completed his outpatient program and is doing well.

Max and Mel have worked hard this year to get their boys to a good point. They have learned to convey to their sons that they are a team and that they cannot be manipulated or seperated. We all appreciate Max’s continued sharing of her family’s recovery process on the blog and her and Mel’s participation in PSST. You have helped us more than you know.

Violet returned to tell us about her son following his inpatient program. She had explained in a previous meeting about how nervous she was about his return home and her instincts unfortunately were correct. It did not take long for him to relapse. Fortunately, she was able to get him back into his inpatient program quickly. Like a lot of caring and determined parents of addicts she has done everything she can to help her son. Thank you for coming to our meetings and sharing with us. We are here for you and all parents that are striving to make a difference in their troubled teen’s life.

Alice and Ralph also have two sons, Norton and Ed, who have drug and alcohol problems and have gone two different directions (See Ralph's Blog entries "Flying Above the Storm", "Summer Vacation and Old Faithful" and "Home Visits for Newbies"). Ed the younger son has been a handful and is currently in an inpatient program. He has been attempting to use some of his best manipulation tactics on Ralph and Alice (as all addicts do). To their credit they have been firing back with our “Ask Me Again”, “Agree With Something” followed with the dreaded “Never-The-Less” tactics which is causing Ed to finally “get it”. He now knows that his mom and dad adopted a new attitude.

Unfortunately their older son Norton is not getting it. He does get that Alice and Ralph have their new attitude and will not bend to his manipulations. Regrettably Norton does not get they are willing and able to do whatever they can to help him with his recovery. His addiction is strong enough that it is telling him that they are the problem and everything would be better without them. Norton, 19, has made the decision to cut himself off from the family and has, in fact left the state. Ralph took a trip to visit him to give him one more chance to come home. He even brought a ticket for Norton’s return.

Once more Norton’s addiction will not allow him to make the “logical” decision and come home and accept help. Ralph was strong enough to not be manipulated and gave his son the clear message that “You are welcome to come home whenever you are able to stay clean and sober and to follow the rules.” This message will also apply to and is sure to resonate with Ed.

Alice and Ralph have consistently showed their teens the consequences of their actions, have applied the PSST techniques effectively and have always tried to get them the help that they need. Thanks for being part of PSST. Your perception, determination and ability to keep a sense of humor are beneficial to us all.

Sally and Rocco were not certain they would make it to this week’s meeting.

“What else can they say”? Their son, Cisco had relapsed and they had a busy week as they awaited Cisco’s placement. Maybe it would be better to stay home and have a quiet Saturday morning with coffee on the patio.

Cisco had been home from his recovery program since mid-July. He had a lot of signs of reaching the next step. He had his anger problem under control. He was talking about staying clean, starting Community College and trying to find a steady job. He was attending an outpatient program and NA meetings.

Unfortunately as the weeks past, red flags began popping up. Sally has great women’s intuition (it’s a blessing and a curse). Cisco had some unexplained disappearances; he had lost interest in pursuing college, getting a driver’s permit and looking for a steady job. Worst of all he was returning to the people, places and things he got into trouble with in the first place.

Fortunately we have a great support team assisting us and we were able to stop Cisco before he was totally out of control; see the post “Good News – Cisco Has Relapsed Again” for the details.

Rocco and Sally are thankful that they decided to attend the PSST meeting after all. The outpouring of support that they received is exactly what they needed.

If you take a quick glance around the room at the PSST Meetings you will see everyone listening intently. As we have noted before you will notice a lot of nodding in agreement between parents on their teens and their issues. We all gain strength from the hard-earned wisdom of each other and hopefully we are able to give some comfort and reinforcement in return.

We still had time after our coffee break (and some great snacks) to do two role plays.

The first role play concerned a teen that is currently in an inpatient facility. He wants to persuade his Mom that the best approach for him is to “come straight home” when his program is complete. He has a well thought out strategy on how he plans to do this. He actually is very good at putting these plans together quickly. Never-the-less Mom wants to make it crystal clear to him that he is not going to come directly home. He must go to a halfway house prior to coming home.

Mom, first off, finds elements of what her teen is saying to agree with, then tosses in the magic words “never the less” and finishes up with an “I am not comfortable”.

“That is a very well thought out plan Little Johnny. I can see you have been really thinking this out clearly…



While Little Johnny is trying to figure out a way to challenge her with “Yes you are comfortable” Mom gets to explain her plan about him going to the halfway house.

Lloyd reminded us to use strong body language. If Mom can lean towards Little Johnny as she delivers her message this adds a lot of strength to her position and Little Johnny will probably not understand why (unless Little Johnny regularly reads this blog - which is highly unlikely).

The second role play concerned Mom explaining to Little Johnny that she would not keep any secrets for him and that one of them needs to immediately tell his counselor that he has relapsed.

As before, Mom, first off, finds elements of what her teen is saying to agree with, then tosses in the magic words “never the less” and finishes up with an “I am not comfortable”.

You’re right Little Johnny; the pressures at school must be really tough for you. I understand that you would rather wait before telling your counselor that you have been using…


I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT. So either you call her or I will call her.”

At this point Little Johnny may, for lack of an answer threaten to walk out. Once again, keeping your emotions in check, tell him that you are not comfortable with that and that there will be further consequences if he leaves.

Remember you are not obligated to spell out what the consequences are upon Little Johnny’s request (you may need time to think about it).

Once again using strong body language; either leaning towards Little Johnny or taking a step towards him.

Please note: If Little Johnny has a history of reaching out to strike you or an anger problem do not lean in too close (this was not the case with these two role plays).

The emphasis of both role plays was to make it crystal clear to your teen that you have taken back and you hold the power. You do this with your words and your body language.

Another Please Note: As we have all said, and experienced, this is sometimes easier said than done. Sometimes you are just not up to it (teens, especially addicted teens, can be relentless – see the “ask me again” method), sometimes you are caught off guard, sometimes you just plain forget and sometimes you are just plain P.O.’ed and need to let it all out. Regardless don’t beat yourself up with “I should haves” or “I wish I would haves”. Come back to the next PSST Meeting and we will pump you up!

Thanks again to all who attended this meeting. As noted when you look around the room you see a lot nodding in agreement and understanding of where you are coming from. We are always looking for a few more parents to join us so we can offer them some help and some hope.

"By helping others succeed, we help ourselves succeed. Whatever good we give will complete the circle and will come back to us."

Our goal at PSST is to EMPOWER THE PARENTS of teenage substance abusers and/or Juvenile Court Youth with the support, information, skills and techniques a parent needs to help their teenager to save their life.

Our thanks to the Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office for the use of their space.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is Saturday September 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church 2500 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090

C'mon in and join us.

PSST Meetings are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life. If you are having problems with your teenager and suspect drug abuse please come to our next meeting.

Read More......

Rocco and Sally Take a Road Trip
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, September 07, 2010

At 2:30 today, Rocco and I were just settling in to a quiet Labor Day. Rocco had some yard work he wanted to finish and I had six hard questions to answer for a business class I am taking.
We did not expect the phone call we received. Our son, Cisco was just sent four hours away this Friday to a placement facility because of his relapse. He has not yet earned phone privileges so Rocco looked surprised when he heard our son's voice at the other end of the line. Cisco said he was kicked out of the facility and walked eight miles to the next town. Can we pick him up at the Sunoco station? Later we found out he did not get kicked out but signed himself out because he found the program impossibly difficult; the facility did not want him to leave.

Well, we called Lloyd and Kathie, and both of them answered immediately
They both show such dedication.

The two men I admire the most; Rocco and Lloyd put a plan into action. Rocco said he and I were going to head toward the Sunoco station to save time since it is a four hour trip - one way. Lloyd would call the people who run the placement facility to get the full story, then fax info to the local police to ask their help. There was a possibility that we would get Cisco back into the facility and not have to make the complete trip but we headed in that general direction.

The proactive Kathie was already looking into other possible placements for Cisco and making sure we were fairing okay.

Lloyd somehow located the local P.O. in the town where Cisco was and he became involved (this by the way was above and beyond his call of duty). He offered to head to the Sunoco and sit with Cisco until we arrived.I was scared when this local P.O. called to say that there was no sign of Cisco at the Sunoco and the clerk there thought she saw someone who fit the description of our son heading toward the next town and possibly the bus station. As it turns out the P.O. found Cisco asleep in the very nearby wooded area!

Cisco got in our car and we had dinner and headed toward home with the next stop being Shuman. We need to find a good fit for Cisco. Kathie wants to go over his profile and wants me to provide her with his educational IEP to see what placement will help Cisco have the best chance at success. Rocco will go to the hearing this Wednesday. I did fine all the way there and back and certainly made sure I softly but firmly explained to Cisco that some day in the future he will be welcomed back into our home as long as he is clean and sober.

Rocco and I hugged Cisco at Shuman and asked him to do well. When it was all over I broke down and cried. Why is he having such a hard time doing what he should do? Many flashbacks of our younger and most precious Cisco came flooding into my memory. I had to remind myself that those days are gone. He is who he is today.Rocco is not having any trouble detaching. He said maybe if I remind myself of some of the things he has done to get himself in trouble it may help me feel better. Actually that does help a little.

I thought about some very admirable PSST mom's who are doing this alone. Mom's who do not presently have a strong and helpful 'Rocco' in their lives. I am in awe by these mom's because I can be strong for a while when I really need to and hopefully I can be strong when most needed to be. I just cannot keep that up consistently, it is not natural for me. These mom's are learning the PSST lessons well and they are having many successes. They work full time and draw from an inner strength. I admire them and learn from them. When I was a young feminist, taking engineering classes, I felt strongly that women could do anything that men could do. I still feel that I would be just as good as any male mechanical engineer since I am good at math and good at logic but I don't think like a man in other ways. My nurturing side makes it impossible to detach enough. I sense that I cannot let my needs or wants get in the way of Cisco's need for a program to recover in. I am so thankful that Rocco will go to the hearing and be there for both of us. It is better that way.

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As Probation Officers people expect a lot from us...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, September 04, 2010

Rightly so. People trust us. We have their loved ones in our hands. We are important to people. But sometimes we screw up. We forget to call people back and there is no good excuse- except that we just screw up sometimes.

I'm not saying it happens because I am too busy. I'm not saying it happens because I get burned out on people's issues. I think if I'm honest with myself know that I am sometimes lazy. I think someone else has that base covered. I tell myself that the representative from the treatment program or the family therapist has already had that conversation with my client anyways.

Sometimes at PSST it can look like I'm the coolest PO on the planet. Trust me here when I say, I'm not always. Sometimes I'm far from it. It's a long distance race and I have been known to pace myself at the wrong time. If you're the person waiting for a call back and you have serious issues, that doesn't mean much to you.

If you are the recipient of a phone call that was not returned promptly, especially at a critical time, please try not to take it personal and yet even as I write the words I know that you will take it personal because this is ALL PERSONAL. My point is that it was not intentional. No excuses intended.

When it happens let me know. Tell me I should do better. Tell me you are not comfortable with the response time or if it's the quality of the work- please tell me that too. Hopefully, I can make amends.

If you are someone that I have not called back in a timely way, or perhaps I neglected to return your call, please know that I am sorry.

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