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 our voice or Another Brick In the Wall
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is something that we don't talk about too often in group. The role-plays we do at PSST are good for assertiveness and there is power in a person when he simply and yet firmly, with resolution and when appropriate, with steel-in-the-eye, tells you something. Usually this is all about boundaries.

But what about the the other side of the coin? What if there is power in our voice that backfires or becomes counter-productive? This is spelled out in a blog where the blogger is speaking about empathy in his 13 month-old baby. I like what he says here because he becomes aware of the power of his voice.   I also recently I had something happen where I used my voice in a way that backfired and so after you follow this link, come back and I'll share some of my story with you.

OK so you're back. Here's the thing, because of anonymity I don't want to go into detail here about who was my target; however, recently, I flipped out on a family person. Almost immediately after this happened I started to play back the tape. This person already felt bad. This person knew they were wrong. I didn't need to go off like that. Just a quiet disapproval would have been as effective. So, it's not as though I had to prove to them that thy were wrong; this, they already knew. Therefore, the way I reacted was scary and completely unnecessary. Looking back, I made a mistake. It was as though I left the "teaching moment" and I just wanted to punish the person.

How forgiving can we be when we have the edge? I had the edge here. All I had to do was be a bit generous, and that would have been a nice "brick" in the relationship wall. Instead, it was a "Pink Floyd Brick" in the Wall. One more obstacle to a better relationship and one more reason to embitter youth towards us old guys. If we have constructed years and years of "Pink Floyd Bricks," the only way to take those bricks down is the way they went up: one brick at a time! Remember that line in the song, "Teacher! Leave them kids alone."

Babys become children. Children become teenagers and by then it's easier for a teenager to be angry, snide, cocky, unruly, disrespectful, or even scary in their own right. This is preferable to being afraid.

As far as taking the brick down I chose to simply apologize. I was wrong to flip out. I said I was wrong to the whole family. I didn't say it like, "I was wrong, but really it's not all my fault because so and so shouldn't have done what they did." In that case the "but" would have ruined everything. I was just wrong. My family knew why I flipped out. I don't have to mention that. That part was over. Now the last part was that I had to take responsibility for my behavior without any "buts." Maybe I didn't get as much of the brick down as I had put up. I think that's the way of it. Those bricks are much easier to put up than they are to take down.

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How to best motivate your teenager.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, February 21, 2015

Here's something I came across in a book I'm reading; it's not a parenting book or anything like that but this seems to me well done. This is a 12-year old boy talking with his mother:

"Who care's if a Modegan viscount outranks a Vintish sparathain?" I protested. "And who cares if one is 'your grace' and the other is 'my lord.'"

"They care," my mother said firmly. "If you perform for them, you need to conduct yourself with dignity and learn to keep your elbow out of the soup."

"Father doesn't worry about which fork to use and who outranks who," I groused.

My mother frowned, her eyes narrowing.

Who outranks whom," I said grudgingly.

"Your father knows more than he lets on," my mother said. "And what he doesn't know he breezes past due to his considerable charm. That's how he gets by."

She took my chin and turned my face toward her. Her eyes were green with a ring of gold around the pupil. "Do you just want to get by? Or do you want to make me proud?"

There was only one answer to that.

Excerpt from "The Name Of The Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

click here to be sent to graphic source.
The reason I like this so much is that it shows how a challenge is put on the table. There is no power struggle here. This 12 year-old is a performer in a traveling troupe and he has to learn a lot of things to be part of the performances; usually he is a very fast learner. But these lessons about elaborate manners he isn't interested in learning, and so he tries to use the father to 'split' with the mother. She more or less 'agrees' with him that his father doesn't value these particular lessons, but after agreeing with him about that she proceeds directly to the challenge: "Do you want to get by, or do you want to make me proud?" That's great stuff. We have said in group before that challenge is the best way to motivate people, whether they are teens or no. It works much better than reward and punishment.

There was very good parenting going on in this young man's life from both his parents and he was lucky to be raised by these two extraordinary people. I found it refreshing to read that about a character instead of the very popular fantasy hero who is a bastard, never knew his parents, or an orphan living with nasty relatives in a cupboard under the bed. (Although I've enjoyed those characters a lot too :-) )

Anyway, I look for stuff that highlights what we cover in group and this is my two-cents for today.

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Love is not enough.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, February 21, 2015

This is such a timeless post, that it deserves repeating at least
once each year!    Jenn

(originally published on 4/17/2011, then again on 1/18/14)

Teenagers try to guilt us by accusing us of not loving them. Sometimes we try to debate this one as though it's an exception to the Avoid Debating Rule because we know we love our teenagers and we love them so much it seems like it should be an easy debate to win. It also feels critical that we are able to "get through" to our teenager that, indeed, we do love him.

We are wrong on both counts. First, there is no debate that is easy to win with our teenagers. They either draw or win every debate. Usually we don't even tie. Secondly, it is not critical that we "get through" to them that we love them. The reason is simple. They already know that. They are just trying to make us feel guilty so that they can get more power. And we fall for it.

Teen: You don't love me- I don't think you ever loved me.

Mom: You're right, love is not enough is it?

Teen: What?

Mom: You're right, Honey, Love is Not Enough, is it?

Teen: [Glaring] I said you didn't love me.

Mom: And I agreed with you that Love is not enough. We need to do more than just love you- and you know I was really wrong about that.

Teen: [teens usually become a tad interested if parents admit they were wrong about something] What?

Mom: I thought love WAS enough. But it's not. There's so much more than just loving you we need to do.

Teen: You don't love me anyway, you just want to have me sent away. I wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for you!

Mom: Well yes.

Teen: You admit it? You put me here and you're keeping me here!

Mom: You're saying so many things. Yes, we arent' so worried about whether or not you think we love you- we used to be worried about that but we aren't that worried about it anymore.

Teen: [glaring.]

Mom: Love's not enough honey, we are trying to save your life and we know that love isnt' going to do that, so yes, you are also right that we preferred that you come here to Shuman and we didn't want you- don't want you- to get right back out. We want you here.

Teen: How can you do that to your own son?

Mom: It's tough.

Teen: It isn't tough. You're lying. You like it that I'm locked up- that's why you aren't trying to get me out, isn't it?

Mom: Well, you're right about that too- it's easier for us to see you at Shuman than it is for us to watch you hurt yourself with drugs outside of Shuman. You're right.

Teen: I hate they way you talk! Quit doing that psychology thing on me-you're f**** up my head!

Mom: We are saying somethings differently.

Teen: Yeah, a lot of things.

Mom: Yup. I guess it's good that you noticed. We're trying.

Teen: Well stop it! I want you to talk like you used to talk, this is messing me up!

Mom: Your right we used to try to say things the way you wanted us to say them. We were so worried about upsetting you or making you angry. I guess we're learning new ways to say things and you don't like the way we are changing.

Teen: Yeah! So stop it or else I'm going to get really pissed!

Mom: We are just making you mad now. We should stop.

Teen: That's what I'm saying.

Mom: OK, lets take a break- these meetings are hard for everyone. We'll be back when we can.

Teen: Don't come back to see me until you can talk regular.

Mom: You're right, we should take a break, we'll take a few days off and check on you next week. We love you even it doesn't look like it.

Teen: It doesn't!

Mom: Bye [hugs but he resists] Honey I'm trying to give a little LOVE here can you help me out?

Teen: No, don't bother I can't take no more of that kind of love. [glaring]

Mom: Yeah, I guess you can't [mom blows a little kiss and walks out of Shuman.

What's the point to learning new ways to talk to teenagers?

There's not just one answer to that. On the one hand it helps ease the oppositional defiant nature. On the other hand, it helps parents feel less worn out and tired when they are not debating. Ultimately, this helps parents to have firmer boundaries and not allow themselves to be manipulated, which of course translates into less enabling.

For me the largest part of changing the way we talk is that it helps us change the way we think. For example, the whole idea that we have just got to get through to our teen that we love him, and if we can be successful with that, then he will "feel loved" and stop with the drugs, bad judgement, and criminal behavior is just erroneous.  Lack of love or his lack of being able to see that he is loved is not the problem.  He may wish us to see it that way, but that does not make it so.

By seeing past that and by addressing things differently, we come to see how the magician does the trick. We are no longer in awe. We identify the real issue, one of which in this case is his manipulative tactic to make us feel guilty and put us into the I-will-make-it-up-to-you mode where we usually enable and spoil our children.

We could accomplish the same thing in terms of maintaining boundaries without all the agreeing.  It might not be as easy or as effective because not only are our children oppositional, but we are a little bit oppositional too. We love to win the debate. We love to to have the last word. By agreeing with something our teenager says, we surprise our teenager and ourselves. In this way we all start to see the real issues more clearly. Share

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Posted by:Rocco--Saturday, February 07, 2015

This posting was originally published on this blog on Nov 28, 2012.  Its topic seems especially appropriate in light of some of the current issues being faced by PSST parents.   (Re-posted by Jenn)

My son was on the streets, homeless due to his choice to use heroin. My son was under the control of a drug, that if left unchallenged, would kill him. I would awaken and try to calm myself by reciting the “Serenity Prayer”. I prayed to my Higher Power with all my soul to have “The courage to change the things I can...yet I could not change him. I had to begin to “Let go and let God”.

"Letting Go" is Not Neglect (from Addiction Journal - October 28, 2010)

It is often stated, as parents we must hand our children’s recovery back to our children.

That single concept is one that is discussed in every forum, book, or support group I have ever encountered. Yet “letting go”, for most parents, it is the hardest recovery concept to embrace.

Handing an actively using child such an important task can seem “parentally neglectful”. We love our children and want to cure their addiction with every fiber of our soul.

We are told by others that you “Can’t Cure It" yet as newcomers to the battle, we struggle to fix our child. The adages such as the “Three C’s of Addiction” and "Detach with Love" have been used for years for a reason. As a newcomer to addiction, these and other concepts will ask you to change your entire parenting style.

This can be frightening for a generation of parents that have been labeled as “helicopter parents”. For my son to return, I had to “let him go” and risk his death. To me he was “dying on the needle” and I wanted to take my best shot at helping him get healthy again. If he could not get healthy, he would not take my family down with him.

I learned “letting go” was one of the few chances I would have to help him save himself.

I had a cousin fall victim to the disease of addiction. She was taken hostage by drugs when we were young adults. At a time when very few people my age were dabbling in opiates my beautiful cousin struggled. I watched from the sidelines and saw my uncle try to love his daughter out of her issues. Every mistake he made I noted, as there were no internet blogs on what to do with an addicted child back then.

My loving uncle was sailing his ship blindly in a sea of addiction few had experienced at that time in middle class America. Tremendous amounts of money were thrown at my cousin’s problem to no avail. She eventually died from the wounds of her disease, just as my son began the battle with his addiction.

I vowed to learn from the mistakes of my Uncle.

This is not a condemnation of his parenting style. He loved his daughter very much and still mourns her loss every day well into his 80′s. However, from his experience, I learned you can not love your child clean or buy them out of the captivity.

It was the first lesson I learned about addiction before I ever entered the halls of any support group.

Parents often times think death to addiction can be avoided by keeping their “baby” safe at home. The number of children that die in their bedrooms with a heroin needle hanging from their arm is staggering. Allowing your child to use at home does not equate to safety. Home is often used to fuel the addiction as our children sell every item that is not nailed down to feed their demon. The other members of your family deserve a safe haven, one free of the drama and chaos that is always associated with addiction.

The following are a few concepts that I have embraced and truly help me as the parent of an addicted child:

* We must not put a Band-Aid on this life injury called drug abuse. Covering this issue up does not cure it. Deal in the reality of their addiction and learn how to fight back by using the experiences of others that have struggled before you.

* We must allow our children to find recovery on their terms, even though the journey may bring dire consequences to an addict’s life that is already lived in chaos.

* We must not work their recovery harder than they do. Dragging your child to either NA/ AA meetings is futile if they truly do not wish to attend. They have to “want it” and chase the sobriety as hard as they chased the drugging life.

* We must learn to break free of the drama that is symptomatic of addiction. It is a viable option not to take a cell phone call from your distraught child at 3 a.m. and let the child work out the drama at hand.

* We must learn not to love our addicted child to death. Again love alone did not cure my child. Enabling and codependency will deter potential recovery.

I often was told, “Where there is life there is hope” but for me, “There was no hope if I continued to enable my son.”

I remember a call I received on a fall Saturday morning. My son, age 20 at that time, was panicked after being arrested for shooting up in a local park with his friends. He blurted into the phone "Dad it was not my stuff and the cops have me in back of a cruiser. I am telling you it was not my shit…It was my friends! It is not my stuff."

Perhaps it was not my shining moment as a parent but I responded with sarcasm,“Who is this?" At that point I had already detached with love from my son.

He had been cautioned that death or jail would be the final outcome of this addiction. He was going to face the consequences brought to his life by his heroin addiction.

I had learned I would not save him...I could not save him!

I did not know the person in the back of the cruiser. His drug addiction had swallowed him completely. It was my son’s body yet his spirit and being had been swallowed by his addiction. There was, however, a way back.

Waiting for our children to find their way back is the single most difficult experience a parent will face when dealing with a child’s addiction.

Losing my soulmate to cancer did not inflict a pain close to the pain I felt when my son was in the throws of his addiction. Not knowing where your child “resides” after you have opted to remove them from your home in your effort to enforce tough love is an excruciating emotional pain.

I couldn’t breath, I was hyperventilating as I was suddenly awakened from a sleep that was “lousy” at best.

My son was on the streets, homeless due to his choice to use heroin. My son was under the control of a drug, that if left unchallenged, would kill him. I would awaken and try to calm myself by reciting the “Serenity Prayer”. I prayed to my Higher Power with all my soul to have “The courage to change the things I can...yet I could not change him. I had to begin to “Let go and let God”.

The need to detach with love from your child’s addiction is just one challenge parents will ever face in the parent-child interaction surrounding drug addiction.

At the start of my recovery I struggled with the thought had I done things differently my child would not become addicted.

Perhaps one more game of “21” in the backyard or one more Barbie dress up session and our children would not have become trapped into the addiction lifestyle.

There is nothing further from the truth.

Good kids from good families are being swept up in an epidemic of addiction that is gripping the entire country. With their underdeveloped decision-making teen brains they are “fair game” for the deluge of pharmaceuticals prescribed in this country every day. The beer drinking, pot smoking parties are now jumped up to the umpteenth degree as kids snort drugs through a straw. One dance with a crushed Oxycontin and their life will never be the same.

My son told me that like many kids, he began his teen drinking and pot smoking at seventeen years old. The day he snorted his first pharmaceutical he professed his “love” for being high.

I can not understand what it is like to be blind, and I can not understand what is is like to be addicted.

As a non-addict I would naively ask, “Why did you jump from the more mainstream choices such as pot up to heroin?” Without blinking an eye, he replied, “Why take the stairs when you can use the elevator?”

Pot and beers no longer would suffice; there was a new love in his life. Oxycontin, and then, its poor mans sister, Heroin, quickly became his masters. Beyond the drugs, nothing else mattered. Family, friends, education, girls, self-esteem, all fell by the wayside, as his entire life became enslaved to his new love.

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