Quote of the Week

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

The Power of Affirmation
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Most people appreciate positive feedback.  They want to know that they are special in some way, that someone recognizes their strengths, and that they are appreciated for who they are and what they do.  But as parents of difficult teens, we may struggle with how to compliment our kids.  Why is that?  Several reasons come to mind:

  • We can’t find anything positive in what they say or do.
  • We are afraid of falsely encouraging them.
  • We are concerned that we will give them too much power.
  • We think they won’t believe us anyway.

With some creative thinking, you CAN give your teen positive, honest affirmation without losing any personal power.  Try some of Lloyd's Best Affirmations on for size, and see if they work for you.  Your teen may not be willing to show his/her appreciation for what you’ve said, but you might be surprised to find out that he/she is secretly pleased.  (By the way, these ideas can work when interacting with adults too.)

  • “What you did took a lot of guts.  You are really brave!”
  • “You are really loyal to your friends.”
  • “You have always been so good at reading me.”  Which might be followed by a comment such as “You’re right, I would never let you drive the family car if you are still smoking weed.”
  • “You are SO creative.  I can always count on you to have a lot of ideas on just about any topic.”  If your teen is adopted, you can add, “You probably get that from your birth mom/dad, because I/we (the adoptive parents) just aren’t that creative.”
  • “I am impressed!  You really handled your disappointment in an adult way.”
  • “You never mince words.  I always know where I stand with you.”
  •  “Good question!  You always have such great questions.  I wish I had such great answers.”
  • “You know, you really surprised me!”
  • "You’re not a wishy washy person.  You mostly know exactly what you think you should do, and boy, once your mind is made up, you stick to it no matter what ANYbody says!”
  • “You stick to your principles!  Even though there might sometimes be serious consequences, if you think you’re right, you follow through.”
  • “And then I notice that when you get consequences for your decisions, you accept it like a man.  You don't complain and blame other people.”
  • “You have a good heart.  If someone needs help, or even if someone needs protecting, you're there for them!”
  • “Basically, people who don't know you might not notice, but underneath your hard exterior, you’re a really good dude!”
  • “You know me so well.  I think you know what I'm going to say before I even say it (kid will agree 99% immediately).  That's why I don't need to keep repeating myself as much as I do (another big agreement), so if you catch me being redundant, let me know, OK?”
o   When your teen stops you and calls you on your redundancy, ask him to finish what you were going to say. 
o   If he/she is at all close, affirm again with "That's excellent!  You are so right.  That's the main point, and I think my other point about (blah blah) wasn't as important as what you got out of that!” 
 o   Alternatively, “You cut right to the heart if what I was saying, but I like the way you said it better!”
  • “You have a great sense of fair play!  If you feel something’s not fair, it really bothers you.  I've noticed not only when you think you’re not being treated fairly, but when you think someone else is getting a raw deal, you try to fix it if you can!"
o   Used when your teen is stuck on the "it ain't fair" game.
o   When he/she persists, it opens up talking points about "You're right, life isn't fair" or "You're right, I'm not trying to be fair.  I'm trying to keep you safe, and I'll do just about anything to keep you safe!" 
  • “You hide it sometimes, but you have a very sensitive side and things people say can bother you.  I think it’s the creative artist in you, because I've read that artistic people are sometimes very sensitive.” 
o   This might lead your teen into saying, "Yeah, that's why when dad said I was lazy, it really bothered me.  I mean yeah, I didn't clean up my room for three weeks, but I was doing other stuff.  It wasn't 'cause I was lazy!"
o   In this case, you can agree that name-calling hurts.

If you want to explore the use of affirmations further, and read some sample conversations that you might have with your teen, see Lloyd's November 2012 post at  http://nevertheless-psst.blogspot.com/2012/11/so-your-bike-is-bit-rusty-you-think-it.html

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Letting Go
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Letting Lenny Go - by Roxie
For several years now, I have prayed and yearned for this concluding chapter in Lenny’s brand-new life. The idea of Lenny being out of placement, off probation, graduating from high school, and being clean and sober is like a fairy tale that came true. My fairy tales are comprised of make believe hopes and dreams, and unusual imaginations interjected with inner optimisms. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to let Lenny go. Roxie holds steadfast to the fairy tale of a successful life for Lenny consisting of no drugs, no alcohol, and a great relationship with his mom.

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities describes our current circumstances exactly: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” As a parent who wants the best for my son, I find myself in the age of foolishness daily. Although I’ve learned the steps, know the rules, and could give advice to other parents, it is hard to heal myself.

On a positive note, Lenny has been officially off probation since July 22nd. It was a few days later than expected due to a judge dragging his feet. It was the first time I enjoyed the judicial system slowing down to a snail’s crawl; hoping that Lenny’s probation papers would get lost like they do on TV crime dramas. This is reality, and I expect Lenny and Roxie to relapse. He will use while I look away, cry, and attempt not to enable. With knowledge of my reaction ahead of time, I hope to handle the situation with knowledge garnered in parent groups. It may not work out that way, though.

Lenny has verbally declared his new-found independence with a smirk, and boldly stated the following:

1.      He will smoke weed for a long-overdue celebration of being free.

2.      Occasionally he will go to a Christian teen group (not AA or NA) to acknowledge the girls, not to acknowledge his clean and sober time.

3.      In addition to being employed with the number one person on his “no contact” list, he plans on obtaining another job set-up by one of a myriad of girls whose names I do not know.

4.      Save money for a vehicle to help with his independence in growing into an adult; making sure that the designated driver “only drinks a beer or two, and no weed.”

Although the above statements are Lenny’s, of course I have beat myself up as his mom. I realized after three years that the system has poured information into my son like sand in an hour-glass vase, with a hole on the bottom left side. I imagine his coping skills oozing out while I’m watching how beautiful he is on the outside. I know I am not alone in this experience. These rules are written for me to follow, and I pray that they will help us as parents.

1.      Let go of your teen’s co-dependent hand. It was great when Lenny would hold my hand tightly while in Noah’s Ark at Kennywood Park. He’s rocking his own boat now, so I’ve had to let him go but remain the life preserver only when asked or prompted by an emergency. If you remain in the water with your resilient teen, you may be the one who drowns.

2.      Love from afar. Part of letting your teen grow up and make mistakes is loving them from afar. Of course hugs and encouragement are necessary to nurture and mature, but do not smother them for fear of their unknown future. Each time I hug Lenny I don’t want to let go. Yes, it is scary. God (or whoever you deem as your Higher Power) has taken care of you while your child was in placement or a juvenile facility. He is still there to help you love them in a non-codependent way.

3.      Don’t take a remorseful guilt trip. I pre-packed my luggage before Lenny was off probation, ready to go on a non-productive joy ride to unhappiness. Do not allow hurtful words from your teen to sear your already fragmented heart. Ignore them. The words can become part of your subconscious and you eventually begin to believe their hurtful lies. I have been called a bad mother so many times that I accepted it, but eventually removed it from my thought patterns. Remember that your teen is acting out and trying to hurt you because they are still hurting. Take your rightful place of authority in the family and acknowledge that you are the driver. You will designate what trip to take, while your manipulative teen is just along for the ride.

4.      Affirm Yourself.  Look in the mirror daily and say, “I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I can do all things through Christ (or my Higher Power), who strengthens me. There is nothing that I cannot handle today. I will make all negatives – positives. “ You actually have to learn to re-love yourself, because so much of who you are has been given away to raise your teen. Sometimes, I feel like I have nothing left that even resembles Roxie. Yet, I know I am deep inside there ….. somewhere.

Those above statements are so easy to write, but so difficult to incorporate into my own life. I have snapped at Lenny saying, “I cannot wait until you leave,” and “don’t expect mama to visit the County Jail.” Those words can become self-fulfilling prophecies and I need to turn it around ….. quick. Yes, I am scared of ‘our’ future. If I was not afraid of him leaving, I wouldn’t be saying hurtful things to him. It is all bravado, no bravery, and timid love shown by demonstratively opening the front door; with my right hand leading the way like Vanna White indicating the letter ‘Y’.

Although A Tale of Two Cities ends in such chaotic utter tragedy, Roxie and Lenny will be OK. Putting a spin on the Dickens tale for our success is the best times are yet to come, things are never as bad as they seem, we will learn from our mistakes and share our knowledge, and don’t beat yourself up for being human”.  A Tale of Two Lives, Lenny’s and Roxie’s, I hope will have a happy ending when he finally decides to leave home.

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September First
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"I'm going to stop using drugs and seriously work a recovery program starting in September. I just want to have one summer where I don't spend any time in placement. September First" These are the words we heard from Cisco last summer. I'll start September first, I'll start September first; these words became his mantra. September first came, Cisco died that day, and September first went.

 Rocco and I are grieving, reminiscing, memorializing and picking up the pieces. We lost someone that we will never be able to replace. Our dreams and hopes for him have been dashed, however, he will live forever in our hearts.

 I often think back on PSST and how that group became such an important part of our life. I recognize how important and special the help was that our family received from PSST and Lloyd and Jerry and Kathie and Val and many other special professionals. I recognize how very, very lucky we were to have had the expertise of these caring and ultra-dedicated individuals. The struggle was painful and our loss was great, however, our PSST guidance gave us strength and wisdom for this journey.  I am certain that our lives would be in a worse condition now if we had not met and learned from these dedicated individuals. The lessons we learned from PSST are still in our minds and hearts and are still helping us today.

We have memories of Jerry mentoring Cisco. I can see Jerry intently listening as Cisco talked about his life and his plans for the future then when Cisco was through talking Jerry quietly and wisely guided him. He helped Cisco see a clearer picture of reality. We appreciate Jerry's wisdom.

Lloyd answered emails and phone calls about our concerns at all times of the day and night. He was always there for us. Rocco and Lloyd tirelessly searched for Cisco several times when he ran. They did not give up until they found him each time. Whenever there was a serious problem Lloyd would show up in record time. We appreciate Lloyd's dedication and his wonderful sense of humor.

Kathie was the idea person and the planner. She gave us hope and valuable insight. Her kind manner is blended with a no-nonsense approach in dealing with drug abuse. She has always been available for all of us. We appreciate her so much that we wish we could clone her! Wouldn't it be nice to have at least 10 more Kathie's?

 Val's strong leadership was quite evident as she diligently planned what would be best for Cisco and family. We appreciate her quiet determination and strong, sincere guidance.

If he would have survived the night, we do not know what Cisco would have done on September First.We want to imagine that he would have gone into recovery. We even have some evidence that points him in that direction. We recently ran into a good friend of his that does not use drugs and supported Cisco the times that he was in recovery. She told us she had not seen Cisco for a long time but that Cisco contacted her the day before he died and wanted to meet with her on September first. Maybe he had a plan. Just maybe he was seeking out non-drug using friends so that he could be in their circle and begin anew.

When I go to sleep at night - I rarely dream. However, the week after Cisco died I saw Cisco ever so clearly in my dream. He was looking at me with a huge, beautiful and most important of all - peaceful smile. He had on a very clean, white T-shirt; his head tilted ever so slightly and he radiated happiness and freedom. He said not a word but his presence told it all. The shackles of his addiction were cut loose.      

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