Quote of the Week

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

2016 Parent of the Year Speech
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, October 14, 2016

Below are Brad and Jenn's comments given at Allegheny County's Juvenile Justice Week awards ceremony:

To quote comedian Jim Gaffigan, “Most of the time I feel entirely unqualified to be a parent.  I call these times being awake.”  Although his statements are meant as a joke, it certainly was not a joke to my husband & me when we found ourselves totally unprepared to be the parents of a defiant, substance abusing child.  And so, 7 years ago, we began our journey into the unknown.

From our perspective, our son’s teenage years were chaotic and challenging, with numerous out-of-home placements, ¾ houses, and rehab facilities.  We know that all of us are works-in-progress, but clearly some of us just take more work than others.  For our son, there have been many successes and many failures along the way.  As one of Dylan's counselors always told him, Dylan just seems to need to learn everything the hard way. 

I’d like to focus on the more recent successes: Dylan graduated from high school, has been clean for the past 6 months (and nearly 9 months before that), recently earned his driver’s license at age 20, and has aspirations of becoming a D&A counselor.  In addition, our previously dysfunctional relationship with him has become much healthier. 

Is our son “cured”?  We don’t know.  One of the many valuable lessons we learned over the years is that we cannot control our son’s actions; the only behavior we can change is our own.  What we do know is that Dylan is on a better path, and just for today, we can accept that and feel good about it.  Our motto, one day at a time.

We have worked with a dream-team of truly amazing people along the way, who have helped give us the strength and guidance to move forward in our journey with Dylan.    

·       Judge Hens-Greco was fair, firm, and encouraging in all of her interactions with our son.

·       Val Ketter’s Juvenile Probation staff, including Lloyd Woodward & Justin Innocent, gave us meaningful support and guidance on a regular basis – even when we didn’t know we needed it.

·       Alleg Co Juvenile Probation also sponsors a truly innovative support group for parents called Parent Survival Skills Training, which became our lifeline over the years.  The Probation staff who guided the group, along with all the other parents who attended the meetings, gave us invaluable, non-judgmental advice.  That group helped us to keep our sanity.  They also challenged us to become better parents.

·       There have been so many other dedicated individuals along the way who helped our family, many therapists and counselors – like Kathie Tagmyer! – from various agencies, ¾ houses, & drug rehab facilities.  Some of these counselors are even addicts in recovery themselves.

We have learned so much from these individuals, and have been blessed by their involvement in our lives.  We are grateful for each and every one of them. 

We accept this award on behalf of all the parents who love their troubled kids, who don’t give up on them, who make their own share of mistakes but bounce back, who refuse to enable their children when they are making poor choices, and who provide loving help and encouragement when they are making good choices.

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When a parent gives the teenager the Silent Treatment.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, October 08, 2016

[This is a reprint of a 2009 post.  One of our readers recently asked a question about this topic, and the response is included in the comments at the end of the post.]

When you ask parents why they give the silent treatment they usually do not admit that they want to cause pain in order to control the teenager's behavior. Instead, they report things like:

"I just needed some time alone to think."
"I thought we both needed a cooling off period."
"I felt hurt by what you did and I just needed to stop communicating."
"I thought you needed some space."
"I didn't want to fight."
"I didn't want to say things that I might regret."

OK, some of these sound good but when you realize that the parent went three days without talking or even acknowledging the teenager's presence, then you can see that this goes way past a cooling off period. A cooling off period is often a good idea but it's going to last an hour not a day. Or at the worst it's going to last the night but not the week.

The bottom line is that the silent treatment is very painful and anytime we heap pain on our loved ones that is disproportionate to the behavior that we are trying to address it causes extreme resentment. Actually, to a parent using this technique it may appear as though it works because the child or teenager may try to do something, anything to try to reopen channels of communication; however, sooner or later this is going to backfire.

In fact, some teens report that they eventually come to like the silent treatment because they become so used to the pain that they just don't care anymore. Once your teenager doesn't care anymore you are in for a whole lot of trouble.

Also, it may be that teenagers who become verbally and physically abusive to their parents are reacting to years of getting the silent treatment. Anecdotal evidence seems to point to the fact that many teens with substance abuse issues have been on the receiving end of the silent treatment. The natural thing that can happen to parents who have regularly treated their children to the silent treatment is that the teenager can start dishing the silent treatment back at the parents. Now we've got a sticky wicket. You could call that bad karma. It is said that children will often fail to do what parents tell them to do, but they will never fail to imitate them. (I don't know who first said that or else I would credit them.)

The silent treatment is a power move. It can work on spouses as well as children but it will backfire on both eventually. Imagine the parent who uses the silent treament regularly and who precieves that it is a ligitimate way to control children. Then, it seems like overnight the parent has a teenager with issues. At that point a frustrated parent may state, "I just wish my teen had more self-confidence." Hello! Everytime this same parent gave the silent treatment the teenager went through feelings of extreme worthlessness. The child or teenager is racked by self doubt. What was it that they did that caused their parent to treat them as though they were dead? In fact, the silent treatment is sort of like a psychological death. The parent might as well have said, "You are dead to me!"

At Parent Survival Skills meetings we are all about parents asserting power; however, we only recomend that the parent use the amount of power necessary to get the behavior of the child back on track and we never approve of phyiscal or psychological abuse. It is never appropriate and it causes extreme resentment that will always cause the resentful chickens to come home to roost. Like yelling, it is counterproductive and seems to produce some of the same problems, e.g. it helps the child or teen to become an angry person who has low self esteem. An angry person with low self esteem is going to be much harder to deal with than someone who is not angry all the time and who feels good about themselves.

Most parents who use this technique learned it from their parents. They also use it on their spouses. Read what some others have said about the silent treatment:

The Silent Treatment - What You Are Saying By Not Saying Anything At All

Parents Are Using the Silent Treatment to Discipline Their Children

The Silent Treatment - A Form of Abuse
- Patricia Jones, M.A.

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Congratulations to Brad and Jenn the Allegheny County Parents of the Year 2016!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Due to their hard work and commitment to helping their son Brad and Jenn have been named 2016 Parent's of the Year! Both parents have demonstrated a strong commitment to PSST and have volunteered for many PSST speaking engagements. They have both studied and demonstrated mastery of the PSST parenting skills and have also helped share that knowledge with other parents. Also, Jenn has tirelessly worked as editor of this blog.

Please join us as Brad and Jenn are recognized at Awards Night at Juvenile Court on Thursday, October 6th at 6:00 PM!!!

Valerie Ketter, Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Unit Juvenile Court. Type rest of the post here

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