Quote of the Week

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

This Year at Thanksgiving I'll Count all my Best Blessings Twice,
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, November 28, 2013

Originally Posted by:Sally -- Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sometimes life is difficult. We face many challenges and disappointments that we may find hard to accept. If your child is in placement and there is a chance that he or she will not be home for the holidays it is enough to make you cry.
Our son, Cisco, is in placement and even though I am a seasoned PSST mom; (I have been attending meetings for well over a year) there are times when I let our situation get the best of me. That is okay, sometimes I need to work through the lonely feelings and being sad sometimes allows me to do this.
Our family has a thirty-three year old tradition of gathering together to select and chop down our Christmas tree. Cisco has always enjoyed this romp in the woods. I have many happy memories of him trekking up a glistening hillside along side his older brother. The snow softly falling and both boys so young and healthy ...... it felt like we were in the middle of a Norman Rockwell Poster.
I especially remember one warm but wet Christmas season when he fell in the creek and was muddy from head to toe but still wanted to go straight to dinner at a restaurant afterwards, that one puts a smile on my face too.

Cisco will not be there this year. How do we fill that void?

Our kids each have their own personal box of Christmas ornaments. Cisco will not be there when we decorate the tree to put all his special hand-made ornaments on it.

He will be missed.

The toughest thing at any time of the year is opening the door to his empty, all too quiet bedroom. I cannot even describe how lonely that makes me feel.

If your family cannot be together because of addiction do not let it ruin your holiday. That would be like letting the addiction win another round. Instead count your blessings.

The top five things I am grateful for:

1. I am thankful for Cisco. He is alive. He ran away from an adult facility six weeks ago. He has been very sensible and respectful ever since his return.

2. I am thankful for Rocco. Thankful that Rocco and I are working together on this disease that affects the whole family.

3. I am thankful for the support we get from our other son, Frodo and our daughter-in-law, Feona and all our extended family.

4. We are very thankful of our PSST friends who are always there for us and understand our highs and lows.

5. We are very thankful for Val, Lloyd, Kathie and all the experts from Juvenile Probation, Wesley Spectrum and Gateway who empower us.

All of these wonderful people in my life help fill the loneliness that occurs when my son is in placement. I think I will count all of these blessings twice.


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Mirror Mirror on the wall..
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all PSST parents everywhere! We love our parents at the meetings and also those of you who follow us on this blog and on our Yahoo Groups email.

Just a note to say that we fixed our search window. If you find anything interesting in our archives please post a comment to let us know what you found. I just put "Thankful" in the window and found the above post by Sally and I re-posted. The other day I put "Parent Rights" in the window and found a post that I wrote for July 4th 2012. It had been such a long time that I felt like I was reading someone else's post.

I stand behind that "Parent Rights" post but I couldn't help but notice that it says nothing of parent responsibilities. For example, of course it's a parent's right to disagree with experts (#12) and of course parents are really expert on their own children but what if a parents disagrees with most of the experts most of the time? What if a parent's disagreements with professionals undermines the treatment that a teenager is receiving in an inpatient program? Isn't it also a parent-responsibility to support rather than undermine the treatment that the teenager is there to receive? Sometimes Parent Rights and Parent Responsibilities collide.

For example, inpatient challenges the teen to take responsibility. In the beginning the teenager blames everyone else for his predicament. After a time in treatment he begins to see that he has played a role and that he has done that by making poor decisions. This is the sort of turn around we are hoping for and when the teenager stands up and says, "You know that's something that I have to change in myself," we all applaud!

It could very well be that the thing he glimpses that he needs to change is whether or not to continue to go through life as a victim!

For each of us there is plenty of evidence that we are victimized. We are victimized by so many situations and people on a daily basis: from the person who misinformed us about our new mortgage to the person at the grocery store who never should have bagged the bananas with the bleach!

Where does our responsibility come into it? We signed the mortgage so should we have known what we were signing? Should we have asked more questions? Maybe not but I'm just saying do we take the time to examine our role or are we eager to find someone to blame for each of our predicaments? Should we have watched the grocery person throw those two things into our bag? Perhaps that's something we expect not to have to worry about and yet, we are also there are we not?

Here's why this is so important. If we decide to go through life operating from a victim's stance then it becomes very difficult to change ourselves. Instead, we go through life trying to change everyone else and boy is that a frustrating endeavor! Once we decide to abandon our victim's stance, we begin to examine our role in things and that allows the spark that can start a blaze of self growth. Without that spark there is small chance for change.

As we have often said in this blog, one of the gifts that we can offer to our teenagers is good role-modeling. We will be imitated by our children. So, if we choose to act primarily as victims, we do little to help our teenager to grow up and become a responsible person. Raising responsible people, that's our job as parents and when we have our teen inpatient it's an ideal time to begin to become more responsible ourselves.

So, let's go back to disagreeing with the experts. Sure, we can and should do that; however, if we find that a couple of these experts are saying the same thing it should raise a questioning flag. Even if our opinion is that "they" are all incompetent and "they" are all wrong and we begin to feel like we know more than the psychiatrist, more than the family therapist, more than the social worker, more than the probation officer and more than the judge, then maybe it's time to realize that while we have the right to disagree with the experts we also have a responsibility to support the treatment that our teen is getting. If our disagreements range so large as to undermine the very treatment that our teen is getting and especially if our intervention continually reinforces the fact that our teen is a victim, that he isn't competent, and that he really can't do any better, then at the end of the day let's be thankful there are mirrors and let's find one and take a good look.

I am thankful that parents who attend PSST usually don't undermine the treatment that their teenager is in inpatient to receive! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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PSST Tenth Anniversary / Holiday Celebration
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 24, 2013

The PSST Tenth Anniversary / Holiday Celebration will be held on Dec 7, 2013 at our Wilkinsburg meeting.  Invitees include all PSST parents (both current attendees and alumni), in addition to all Wesley Spectrum therapists and Juvenile Probation staff who have been part of the PSST family.  
Please put the date on your calendar, and plan to join us!  Feel free to bring a food item to share - in the past, attendees have brought holiday goodies, pastries, a hot breakfast/brunch item, fruit, crackers & cheese, chips & dips, chili, etc.

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Thanks to "our" Fabulous Interns!
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanks to “our” fantastic Wesley Spectrum interns, Abby & Elizabeth, for sharing valuable information at our special PSST meeting today.  The topics discussed were improving family communication (listening and dealing with conflict) and grief education/counseling. The parents who attended were in for a surprise, because we didn’t have to choose one of the two topics, instead we experienced both!

The information was helpful, and there was a lot of sharing within the group - even role-plays! 


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Mark Your Calendars for this Special Event on Sat, Nov 23!!
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning is . . . life's greatest adventure . . .  ~   Taylor Caldwell, American author

You are invited to attend your choice of two educational groups open to the community and PSST parents. The groups will feature the topics of how to improve family communication (listening and dealing with conflict) and grief education/counseling. The workshops are free, and will be informative and interactive in nature.

Wesley Spectrum interns Abby Temple and Elizabeth Bayley will host the groups. The groups will run from 9-11:30 at Saints Simon and Jude Church, 1607 Greentree Road, Scott Twp, PA 15220 (our usual 3rd week meeting location) on Saturday, November 23.   Please join us! 

Note:  The groups are in fulfillment of graduation requirements for a Masters in Counseling Education from Duquesne University.

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From Role Play to Real Life
Posted by:Brigitte--Sunday, November 10, 2013

At the Saturday Wexford meeting, Francois and I "volunteered" to have our specific situation depicted in a role play. As is so often the case, the role play and discussion that followed turned my thinking upside down. I came to the meeting convinced that I had arrived at a place of detachment and strength regarding my drug-abusing son. As I found out, there was much more bubbling below the surface.    

The situation involved letting our son, Pierre, know that we were not comfortable with him dropping by and hanging out at our house while he waited for his girlfriend to pick him up. We felt like prisoners in our home--following him around, having to remind him that he could not lock the door to his former bedroom, locking upstairs bedroom doors, hiding our money. Francois and I had already told him that he could not shower or sleep at our house and, although he hadn't handled that very well, he no longer asked to do those things. We now needed to let him know that we did not want him using our house as a temporary hangout.

As the role play unfolded, I realized that I was not coming from a place of love and detachment, but of anger, resentment and fear. As Francois and I continue to work on creating peace in our home and a better relationship with our other two sons, it hit me that I was trying to push Pierre away; I no longer wanted a weekly reminder that I have a son who continues to use drugs and may be involved in other, equally dangerous, activities. During the discussion, there was mention that, because of his lifestyle choices, each encounter with our son could be our last. It was difficult to hear, but also a jarring eye opener.

Pierre stopped by that afternoon. Francois and I know that a three-way conversation with Pierre is impossible, so I attempted my version of the role play when Pierre and I were sitting at the kitchen table. It went something like this:

Pierre: So what did you want to talk about?

Brigitte: Well, I just wanted to apologize for something.

Pierre: Oh yeah?

Brigitte: As you probably can tell, I am struggling with a few things lately. I have been feeling a lot of anger, fear, and disappointment in the choices you've been making and I don't think I've been handling it very well. (pause) I'm sure it hasn't been fun for you to stop by when Dad and I are following you around the house every second and acting so tense when you are here.

Pierre: I don't know why you do that anyway.

Brigitte: Well, as I said, it's my problem. I'm feeling a lot of distrust and worried that something might get stolen, and I am not able to get past it right now. I'm working on it, but in the meantime, I am really uncomfortable when you're here and roaming around the house.

Pierre: So?

Brigitte: Well, we love seeing you and you're welcome to come here as long as dad and I know in advance when you are coming and how long the visit will be. We just aren't comfortable with unannounced visits or having you hang out in other parts of the house. We can visit together when you are here.

Pierre: Okay, whatever. I don't really like coming here that much anyway. It's so boring here.

Brigitte: Yep, it's very boring here (resisting the temptation to add "Finally!"). By the way, are you coming for Thanksgiving?

Pierre: Only if it's here and not at Aunt _____'s house. I hate driving all the way there and staying all day.

Brigitte: Oh good, I was planning on having it here anyway so that works out well.

Pierre: Okay. Hey, I built bookshelves for my house and they look sweet.
(The visit continued with chit chat about his new place and who he is living with.)

It's amazing to me that, after three years of attending PSST, I can still be surprised by the depth of insight, compassion and strength that this group has to offer. I am so grateful for that, and also for the extra hugs and kind words!

Thank you so much--

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