Quote of the Week

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

July 4th Meeting at Eastern cancelled due to holiday. Happy 4th!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sorry. We know that we only meet once per month at Eastern but the Fourth of July would probably not be well attended. See you at Eastern Next month and don't forget us the second Saturday of the month in Wexford (Alliance Office) and the Third Saturday in Mt. Lebanon (Outreach offices).

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There is parking around the back if you need it (Outreach June 20th Grand Opening)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, June 15, 2009

At our newest location for meetings (666 Washington Road Pittsburgh, PA 15228) there is a parking lot around the back. You will find a walkway from the back parking lot (Florida Av) that will take you to the front of the Outreach Building on Washington. The arrows on the picture show you where you come out. The other picture shows you the back of the building. You can take Washington Rd to Cedar To Florida for example. See New Meeting Schedule below.

New Meeting Schedule

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Meeting this Saturday will be only one this month at Alliance Office.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our new meeting schedule allows for one meeting each month at each of our three locations. We had a great turnout, eleven parents, at our last Wexford meeting. Thanks to all of you who have made the Wexford meeting a success. We have enjoyed a nice mix of veteran PSST parents and newer members.

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New Meeting Schedule
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, June 04, 2009

Starting this month in June we will be adding a Saturday Morning Meeting in Mt. Lebanon and altering the meeting schedule for our other meetings. Thanks to Outreach Teen and Family Services for sponsoring our new meeting location!

First Saturday Each Month: Eastern Probation office in Wilkinsburg.
Second Saturday: Alliance Office in Wexford.
Third Saturday: New location at Outreach Teen and Family Services in Mt. Lebanon 666 Washington Rd Mt Lebanon, PA 15228

The door to Outreach is right underneath the Stevenson Williams Co. sign, about the middle of the building. Click on the picture to the right to be connected to Google Maps. We have also added this location to our other two located on the left margin of this blog.

Outreach has a nice set of offices on the second floor. We have a very comfortable room to meet in and access to making coffee.

Our first meeting at our new location is scheduled for June 20th. Same time as our other meetings: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM. There is parking around the back of the building and a walk-way from the back to the front so that you can still enter through the front door.

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Should I try to get my teenager a Juvenile Probation Officer?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, May 25, 2009

Sometimes parents in group hear other parents talk about how helpful it was to have a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) for their teenager. This post will deal with the pros and cons to having a JPO and also cover the process of how Juvenile Court determines which teenagers to supervise. Also, if a parent decides that it would be a good idea to get a JPO to help supervise thier teenager, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.

First, we'll cover the process for getting a JPO and we will follow that with the downside and upside of having one for your teenager. Before you decide whether or not to go down this road make sure to read the downside part too.

What is the process to getting your teenager a JPO?
1. There has to be an allegation that your teenager has broken the law in Allegheny County and that this event occurred before your teenager turned 18. Sometimes a parent could file an allegation against a teenager such as Theft, Assault, Terroristic Threats, Possession of Drugs or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. This is why it is often smart for parents to keep any drugs that they find available so that they can be used to get their teenager a JPO. Keep in mind, your teenager could be charged with any criminal allegation, it's just that the charges just mentioned are the ones that are most often generated by parents.

2. Any criminal allegation can be filed with a Police Officer (if they will accept it) or by a concerned citizen, such as a parent, directly with the Intake Department of Juvenile Probation. For the former, you would call 911 and report the crime. For the latter, you would contact the Intake Department , Allegheny County Juvenile Court, 550 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15219.

Just because an allegation has been filed, that does not mean that Juvenile Court will schedule a hearing. Probation Intake Department can not file every allegation with the Court. Some allegations are "adjusted." That means that it never goes to Court for a hearing; however, even if your allegation against your teenager is adjusted, your teen might have a chance to speak with an Intake Officer from Juvenile Probation. Sometimes they are given a chance to "straighten up or else we'll send this case before the Judge."

Sometimes, there is no contact at all; the District Attorney might just decide that the case has no real merit. If and when this happens to you it is possible that your will feel that you are getting the run-around from the bureaucracy. Keep in mind, however, that Juvenile Court was not set up to address out-of-control teenagers, and while it might be helpful to have a JPO involved with your teenager, it is simply not always possible.

3. A parent of an out-of-control drug abusing teenager can request help from Juvenile Court because of several things happening at once. First, the teenager is breaking the law simply by abusing alcohol or drugs.

Secondly, many parents are actually the victims of crimes committed by their teenagers, such as Theft, Assault, or Terroristic Threats.

And finally, most out-of-control drug abusing teens are presenting some risk to the community at large and community safety is also a responsibility of Juvenile Probation.

Of course, none of these concerns mean very much unless some kind of delinquent (criminal) act can be either proven in a courtroom or at least be potentially proven in a courtroom. The word potential is used here is because it's really the allegation of wrongdoing that gets the ball rolling in Juvenile Court. Somtimes the Court makes a finding of Delinquency and sometimes it is not necessary to prove it and the Court can still offer supervision.

What's the downside of having a JPO?

1. First, we offer no guarantees. Many parents will tell you that having a JPO helped keep their child free from drug abuse until their teen finally pulled out of it. Other parents will tell you that not only did the Court offer little help but that the involvement of the court was counter-productive, e.g., the court placement of their teen only lead to him making further criminal contacts or because he became "institutionalized" by various court placements.

2. Secondly, it could be that your teenager will end up with a criminal record, albeit a Juvenile Criminal Record. Does this always happen? No. But it can happen. Even if your teenager's case is adjudicated, often times today a Judge will issue a Consent Decree. If this happens your teenager has from three months to a year to show that he can follow the rules, quit his abuse of drugs, and basically be a good citizen. If he is successful, he will not have a Juvenile Criminal Record. If he is not successful, he may end up being adjudicated delinquent and then have a Juvenile Criminal Record. How problematic can it be to have a Juvenile Criminal Record and can such a record ever be expunged? It depends on several factors and yes, cases can later be expunged, however, that usually involves hiring an attorney and having them file for Expungement.

There is no way to be assured how problematic it may be to have a Juvenile Court record. The records are not exactly open to the public, however, with a signed release these records can be opened up and examined. Therefore, it could affect your teenager's options later on in life although it would appear that this does not really happen very often. Sometimes, it depends on how serious the record is, e.g., is it a Felony Violation or a Misdemeanor? Keep in mind also that a Juvenile Record is not considered as much of a drawback in hiring as an adult Criminal Record. In fact, some people say that if your are asked by a prospective employer if you have ever been convicted of a crime, and all you have is a Juvenile Record, you can say "no," with the idea being that you have been Adjudicated Delinquent not convicted of a crime. Everyone does not agree with this stance; however it appears to be conventional wisdom.

The reason that some cases don't generate a Delinquent Record and some cases do is a bit confusing. First of all, there is always some kind of a record of what happened; however, there is not always a Court Finding that a teenager has broken the law. This is because some cases remain with the Intake Department for adjustments. In these cases an Intake Officer is acting as a Probation Officer but the case may never see the inside of a courtroom.

Also, even if a case does see the inside of a courtroom, a Consent Decree may be issued. The Judge offers a Consent Decree when he feels that there is proof of criminal behavior but he would like to give the juvenile a chance to complete a period of Court supervision successfully without making a Court Finding of Delinquency, therefore there is no record of Delinquency. Of course, if things don't go well the case comes back into Court and the Judge may issue a Finding of Delinquency the second time around. If things do go well the charges end up being dismissed.

3. Once you have some form of Court Supervision established you loose control over your teenager's case. But remember, this is exactly why ou want a JPO: you can't control your teenager and you need help to control him and keep him safe. Of course, the Court will usually be concerned with a parent's opinion. Parents do not make the final decision regarding Conditions of Supervision or make the decision about out-of-home placement or the use of a specific in-patient drug treatment program.

One parent in Allegheny County, Lori, has written this about placement of her teenage addict into the Abraxas drug treatment program: "There is help out there and The Juvenile Court of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western PA." The point being that while you loose some control you gain the possibility of placing your teenager in a safe place isolated from drugs when needed.

4. There are some feel-bad problems with having a Probation Officer for your teenager:

You have to go and get involved in the system to make it work. It's success is not automatic. it can be messy and you may at times be very uncomfortable. You have to go to the court hearings. If your teenager is placed at Shuman Center then he will be brought to court by the Sheriffs in a jump suit and shackles. In Court, you will have to tell the Judge all the bad things that your teen has done, including their drug abuse. And you may be cross-examined by your child's Public Defender or Court Appointed Attorney. You will do this so that you can convince the Judge to help you save your teenager's life; however, your teenager will hear this and he may indeed blame you for putting him in a teenager-jail.

5. If your teenager is placed outside of your home, e.g., in a drug rehab, there are costs involved that the Country will compel you to contribute towards based on your ability to pay. The County considers this child support because you would normally be paying for your child's food and clothing so you should not get a benefit because your child is ill. Sometimes the amount of child support is substantial. There is usually no way to know ahead of time exactly how much the whole cost will be. Based on the experience of some parents in the group, the County treats your portion of the payment as a no interest loan and allows you to pay it back at zero interest over a long period of time. Again, these payback policies can change at any time. It may help to think of it this way, someone has to pay for these expenses and if not you as a parent it will be you as a tax payer.

Addiction is a family disease and you may have to take these steps to help your whole family heal so your child can heal.

6. If your teenager is placed outside of your home he may be exposed and influenced by other criminals and other drug-abusing teenagers. This is unpredictable, but sometimes it may seem like your teenager is being sent to a school to learn how to commit crime or how to improve drug connections. This is one primary reason why Juvenile Probation often works to limit a child's penetration into the Court system; because the Court System itself can sometimes have a negative influence on a teenager.

Now, let's look at the upside of having a JPO.

1. Your teenager will be held accountable for his behavior. Often the consequences are administered quickly and often it is the parent who administers the consequences although things like continued drug abuse and criminal behavior is usually handled by the JPO.

2. Short and long-term inpatient drug treatment is available for your
teenager that would be difficult if not impossible for you to obtain with
your own insurance.
Although as mentioned above, the County may compel you to share in the costs of this treatment based on your income and the normal expenses you would have if your child was not ill.
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3. The possibility exists to place your teenager in a safe place isolated from drugs when needed. Shuman Center can be a scary place but when it is compared to having your teenager out on the streets doing drugs it looks pretty safe.

4. There is often support available for the whole family from other outside agencies once your have a JPO, e.g., Wesley Spectrum In-home Family Services is appreciated by many families and if your teenager has a JPO there is no charge.

5. A JPO can be an advocate that wants the best for your teenager and for your family. A JPO is someone who is on your side who will help you do the right thing for your teenager when you can't.

Now that we have covered the process of attempting to get a JPO and the various pros and cons of having one, here are a couple of final questions to ask yourself before you decide whether or not to pursue this:

1. How desperate are you? Is the issue with your teenager a life or death issue? Are you worried that you will have to attend your child's funeral? Do you worry that your child is going to be hurt? If the answer to that question is yes, then you may want to consider involving your teen in the Court. Better to deal with a possible juvenile court record and exposure to other delinquents than to attend your teenager's funeral and drug abuse is life-threatening.

2. Have you done everything possible without involving the Juvenile Court system? Have you tried Outpatient Counseling? Have you tried to arrange a drug/ alcohol evaluation for your teenager? Perhaps your teenager would cooperate with a therapist and participate in treatment where he would be drug tested regularly.

3. Have you tried ACT 53? Read what other parents have said about Act 53 . This offers a way for parents of teenagers with drug problems to force their teens to accept drug treatment without running the risk of having a Juvenile Criminal Court record. Of course, there are pros and cons of using ACT 53 but it is generally considered a good thing to try BEFORE you attempt to get a JPO for your teenager. Many parents that attend PSST have used Act 53. If you would like more information concerning the ACT 53 law, policies or procedures, please contact the Allegheny County Drug and Alcohol Services Unit at 412-350-3952.

4. Have you attended PSST or other Parent Support Group meetings? If you live in an area where there are PSST meetings (presently, they are all held in Allegheny County) it is good idea to come to one and meet and talk with other parents who have used the Court system. We are lucky to have a core-group of "veteran parents" in Allegheny County who are willing to offer advice and help to parents who are desperate to find some hope for their teenager. If you either can not attend or would like to speak with a parent or Probation Officer, then email us at kene@nauticom.net. There are other Parent Support Groups such as POTADA or parent groups run by All OF US CARE.

5. Are you willing to cooperate with a JPO? This means not keeping secrets and making a full disclosure of all actions by your teenager even when you know that this disclosure might result in immediate sanctions. If you are not willing to make this disclosure then you undermine the job that a JPO can do for your teenager. There are several reasons why this is really important but for now suffice it to say that usually Juvenile Probation does not fix what's wrong with your teenager so much as stand behind you while you provide the fix.

If the answer to any of these questions is "No," then perhaps you should think twice before going down this road. On the other hand, if you know that you have tried everything you can do to address your teenager's drug problem, and things just keep getting worse, then just waiting around for things to get better might be the most dangerous decision you could make.

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Stay Close: a mother's story of her son's addiction - Book Signing
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear friends,

As you know our book on was released on May 1, and my sons and I have done quite a bit of publicity during these two weeks. Our article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

has led to a book signing at the Robinson Township Barnes and Noble (Plaza at the Point, 100 Quinn Drive, Pittsburgh, Pa 15275, 412.494.4995) on May 28. I'll speak about the book at 7:00 and then sign books.

Please check our website: libbycataldi.com for a 2 1/2 minute video about the book and other information.

I am an alum of Bishop Canevin high school and the students are having a big event that night, so the store coordinated a joint effort. I'd love to for you to come. It would be nice to have the support of family and friends with me.

Please pass this information to others you know, especially those who might be suffering with the trauma of addiction. Addiction is a family illness and most of us suffer in silence. My sons and I are trying to bring addiction out of the shadows and into the light, where it can heal.

Love you.


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Memorial Weekend Day Meeting is ON!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 21, 2009

We usually cancel Memorial Day Weekend meeting but this year we decided to go ahead and have it. We had a nice turn out two weeks ago in Wexford and now we are just trying to keep the ball rolling!

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Free Tools! Need new tools to use on your teenager?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 21, 2009

We got em at our meetings. Come on in and pick up some new ones! Our goal is to give every parent something to take home and use the same day. Often, we have parents at our meetings that have been working at this longer and they may recommend certain tools that you can use right out of the box!

We cover things like
Active Listening,
"I feel messages" rather than "you messages."
Limit Setting,
Effective Use of Body Language,
How to reach out into the Community for Help (ACT 53, Juvenile Court, etc.)
Alternatives to Yelling,
How to approach the oppositional defiant (by first agreeing with something that they say),
Consistent application of rules,
Using discipline to send a message,
How to Best Stop Enabling.

We cover the primary ways that your teenager is manipulating you. Best of all, we do this with you. We want to know where you are and what tool will best help you today. That's why we sometimes ask you to show us in a role-play what your teenager is like. That helps us know what tool might best help you today. Of course, no one is pressured into "doing role-plays." Sometimes it's better just to watch one anyway; however, when you show us what your teenager is doing it helps us come up with the right tool for you.

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Pittsburgh native writes about her son's drug addiction in 'Stay Close'
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pittsburgh native writes about her son's drug addiction in 'Stay Close'
Monday, May 18, 2009

When Libby Cataldi noticed her oldest son frequently tromping around with untied shoelaces, she thought he was trying to fit in with his skateboarder friends.

She never guessed that it was because he was shooting heroin into his feet, causing them to swell.

In her new book, "Stay Close: A Mother's Story of Her Son's Addiction" (St. Martin's Press, $24.95), the 58-year-old native of Kennedychronicles her struggle with her son's addiction and the process that eventually helped her support him without enabling his addiction.

Click to Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09138/970871-51.stm#ixzz0Fx90AlHk&B

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Meeting at Eastern tommorrow not a combo meeting; hoping for a nice turnout.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, May 15, 2009

Our attendance at Eastern has been down lately. We are hoping for some new parents and/ or for the return of some parents that we don't see very often. If you have been thinking of coming in to one of our meetings, why not make it tomorrow?

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Nephew Part II. Punishment verses disclipine (and Homework.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, May 15, 2009

Once we got the morning thing straightened out we suddenly had a homework problem. After my nephew's ball game he came home with us and refused to do his homework. For one thing we told him we wanted it done before he got a night time snack. He started yelling and it was obvious that he was yelling to be noticed and in an attempt to intimidate us. We tried to ignore him. He got louder and louder and came into the kitchen and started slamming his hands on the table. That's when I reached my limit.

I took him by the shoulders and asked him if he would settle down or else would he like to go upstairs with me. He immediately got louder. So I took him upstairs. He is a big boy. I'm not sure my wife could do it this same way although I didn't so much carry him as I did just inch him up the steps to the bedroom.

Once in the bedroom he continued to scream and yell even louder. He also tried to get out of the bedroom but I was standing by the door. When he tried to squeeze past me I just hugged him. He was angry and told me to get away from him. I reminded him that he was coming to me- I wasn't coming to him- I thought he must want a hug.

He kept yelling that he was hungry. I reinterated our stance- no homework- no snack. He tried to turn the TV on. I reinterated our stance on that- no homework- no TV. I told him to go to bed and I would get him up at 5:00 AM to do his homework. I could see that he didn't like that.

His primary manipulative strategy was to yell me into submission. I kind of egged him on a little in that regard. I pretended that I couldn't hear him and I ask him to speak up because I know he is oppositinal defiant to the point where me telling him to yell louder is going to make him want to not yell. He yelled pretty loudly for about 20 minutes. Then he started to cry. Why so sad I asked him, after all, he got his way- he didn't do his homework. He said he wanted to do his homework now. I said, "Well, ya, but how do I know you won't come downstairs and start yelling again?" He assured me he was done with the yelling, he just wanted to do his homework. He appeared all yelled out and his whole demenor had changed. He was no longer trying to yell me into submission but he was wishing that he could have got that home work done.

This is the difference in my book from punishment and disclipline. I only want to use enough power to get his behavior within limits. That's all. If I was trying to punish him I would have sent him to bed or made him stay in his room a certain lenth of time "so that he could learn a lesson." I think he did learn the lesson. The lesson was that his yelling doesn't work. So, I told him he could come downstairs whenever he felt that he could controll himself and I went downstairs.

Five minutes later he came downstairs. My wife did homework with him. Only took 15 minutes. Then he had Chicken Nuggets, one of his favorites. I made small talk with him. He seemed to bear no resentment. He declined desert and said that he was very tired and could he go to sleep. We said sure brush teeth and go to bed but remember that you will get up and go to school on time in the morning. He said he would. And he did. The next morning was no problem at all.

Our nephew seems to have two different personalities. He is the sweetest most polite kid around or he is angry, defiant, and intimidating. He snaps between the two instantly. Our goal is to reward the first one and either ignore or restrict him on the other.

One of the things that I did not do was try to yell back at him. It was not necessary and the resentment that would creep into the relationship would be intense. If you find that you are yelling at your child to control him, read this article: Researchers Have Shown that Yelling at Kids Can Have Long Lasting and Detrimental Consequences.

Just wondering if any parents reading this blog can think back to when their child was 8 years old. Had the trouble already started? Was he demanding, pushy, and intimidating in order to get his own way? Leave us a comment about that please.

I see a connection between these kids at from 8 to 10 years old and the teens that they grow into. At some point they learn that they can get what they want by defiance and intimdation. By the time they are 12 and start to experiment with drugs they are already well on their way to being almost impossible to handle.

Note: the image is from licensed CreataCard Software.

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Nephew off to school on time (or When bribery wins the battle but looses the war!)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My nephew is in Second Grade. He has missed school enough times that his mother might receive a citation. Plus, he is often late to school. He is staying with us for a few days and we found out how hard it can be to get him out of bed and get him ready for school. His mother has had some health problems and certainly it is difficult for her to handle all of these issues with my nephew.

He throws a temper tantrum. He passively resists. He begins to scream and hyperventilate. He is big for a Second Grader and he just puts up a heck of a fight. Yesterday, I had left for work and my wife struggled with him and finally got him to school late.

We talked with his mother. She says the thing that works best is to tell him that if he gets ready for school, there will be some special treat after school, like going somewhere that he likes. Apparently, this often works with him; however, it does not always work or else he would not have attendance and tardiness issues.

Here's the problem with bribery. It reinforces bad behavior. If you are yelling, screaming, and generaly being a pain and I come up and promise you something nice, then you are going to learn that if you yell, scream, and be a pain that you will be rewarded. Remember: kids are smart. They can figure things out much better than we give them credit for. My nephew has figured out two important things.
(1) By carrying on like he does he can often miss school or at least go in late. This works for him because he hates school.
(2) That often he will get offered something special if he just stops being a pain and goes to school. This works for him also because otherwise he would not get the special activities. So, it's reasonable that he would act this way because on both counts it works for him.

Now he is in Second Grade. Imagine him with 50 more pounds and two extra feet. That's what we will have to deal with when he is a teenager. He will be much harder to get to school then.

We passed on the bribery. Not going to happen. He has to go to school because it's the law that he go to school every day and because we have to get to work. We aren't promising him anything special for doing what he is suppossed to do every day. We know he can get up and get ready and go to school and that's what we expect.

Here's what I did last night to prepare him for going to school on time. I picked him up at his Grandparents. In the car I told him that tomorrow he was going to go to school on time. He said he wasn't going to go to school on time. I replied that he would certainly go on time and that we would make sure of it. He wanted to know why we would do that and I told him that was a good question but sorry I don't have a real good answer- it's just the way it is. He got rather mouthy and informed me that he hated school and he didn't see why going in on time was important. I agreed that sometimes school sucks.

Before he got out of the car I asked him to help me check my Child Care Locks on the door (I sometimes call them Shuman Locks I explained to him because I often take Juveniles to Shuman Center in the my car and I put these locks on so that they can't escape.) By doing this he could see that once I put him my back seat, he was not going to open the door and jump out.

Once we got inside we had a talk. My wife and explained to him that she had to go to work early and that I was going to be the only one home in the morning with him. I told him we could wake him up very early so that he could have time to get ready for school and that, regardless, we would be leaving on time.
I then told him that I would not fight with him to get him out of bed. I showed him the target area of the face that I use to wake someone up. I drew an imaginary line above the eyebrows and down the cheek to under the chin. I told him I would apply only a little bit of water to that area of his face to help him wake up and that I would use only enough water that I thought was necessary.

He paid attention. His had a look of incredulousness on his face, as though he found the whole thing unbelievable. Then, my wife and I (we had already come to understanding between the two of us) asked him what did he think would happen if he refused to get dressed for school?
Nephew: You'll tell me the Easy Way or the Hard Way? [This is a saying that I have used with him before.]
US: Yes, but what do you think the hard way will be?
Nephew: "You're going to put me in the car anyway?" [he deduced from the Shuman Locks bit]
Us: You are very smart. Yes, you are exactly right! You will be in the car on time whether you are dressed or not and I'll put the clothes in the back seat with you and you can finish getting dressed at school. In fact, if you prefer you can go to school in your PJs and just get dressed at school. [The idea of this seemed to upset him a little bit.]

Later, when he was in the bathtub he began screaming and yelling. Nothing in particular, just screaming and yelling. We figured he wasn't drowning as long as he was making all that noise and we pretty much ignored it. I think he was attempting to intimidate us by showing us what he was capable of if we crossed him. Think of a gorrila beating his chest just to show the other apes that they better not mess with him. Also, at this point if we were to have insisted that he stop yelling he might not have quit it. It could have turned into a pointless powere struggle.

Morning came around. We woke him up early- no problem and no water necessary. My wife put his clothes on a chair by the front door and she left for work. I made breakfast- french toast- one of the few things I can make. I called him for breakfast and he yelled, "I'm coming I'm coming you don't have to keep calling me." I gave him a cheery "that's good, I'm glad to see you're up and coming downstairs." He asked for seconds and that was no problem.

After that everything was incredibly easy. I didn't expect it to be easy. I thought we were going to have a showdown, one that I was sure I would win, but it never happened. I promted him to brush his teeth when he was in the bathroom. He already had. I came downstairs to tell him it was time to get dressed but he already was dressed. In fact, he was standing by the door waiting for me. He was ready first! He had no more questions about why we had to go to school on time- he had accepted that that is just the way it is.

We had a nice early morning chat in the car on the way to school. Nice talk. No beligerance. Just nice talk. We were early for school arriving at 7:33 AM. I chatted with the School Social Worker who was standing outside when I dropped him off. I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him. He said he loved me too and that was it.

Will it be this easy every morning? I doubt it. Did we get lucky? Sure we did. But you know we were prepared to get him to school on time. We had a plan. We told him what the plan was and he believed that we were dead serious. I think having him help me check to make sure the Shuman Locks worked helped him to see how serious we were about it all.

If he needed to be put in the back seat of the car with his clothes handed to him, it probably wouldn't have happened twice. I would have also put the seat belt on him and while he could take it off again, I was planning on contining to put it back on so that we were driving legal. If at some point he agreed to get dressed I would have pulled the car over and allowed him to take off the seat belt and get dressed. And I would have been careful not to lecture him about it too, just to accept that he was now ready to get dressed; however, we would have already been out of the house and down the road a bit before that happened. Once out of the house we were not going back into the house but rather we would continue to school as best we could.

The other thing we told him was that if this turned out to be an ongoing problem we would get him up earlier and earlier each morning to allow the time necessary.

Maybe we just got lucky and dodged a bullit today. Maybe not. But think about how if left to his own devices, this young man might grow up to have serious problems. As long as he is able to decide if and what time he is going to show up at school he is going to have way too much power. Remember the Oil TV comercials? The one where "You can pay me now or you can pay me later?" That's the way it is with going to school on time problems. Take care of it now- or it's going to be harder to take care of it down the road. And by then you don't just have real dirty oil, but you got serious engine problems too.

Bribery: more reading.

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Happy Mother's Day! And Enabling with Cell Phones, Computers, Cars and Money!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 10, 2009

We have posted this before and in honor of Mother's Day I wanted to post it again; although now we are sending you to another web page that still is able to feature this funny creative version of the William Tell Overture. Enjoy. Truly a Mother's Job is Never Done. Even when your kids are well grown into adulthood. But then again, I guess that's more by choice than anything. Mothers Everywhere- why not really take a day off? You deserve it! Also, for an update about our last Wexford meeting on 5-9-09, click "read more."

We had a nice turn-out: eight parents, three more experienced group members and five newer members. The three more experienced group members injected hope into the room as all three had gone through some very dark times and never expected to get to the "other side" of this teenager drug problem so successfully. The parents who are still struggling had much in common as they shared about defiant and sometimes violent teens still vying for power and in several cases, obviously still abusing drugs.

We talked about how defiant teens are trying to use fear to gain power. The reason for that is that they have no real power otherwise; they are not educated, not very well employed, and not financially able to provide for themselves. Also, they usually feel very little remorse for the terrorizing that they do to their families. In their minds, the parents deserve to be terrorized because they keep interfering in their lives and because they refuse to give them everything they want.

One situation that we talked about is the parent intent on showing their teen that they are not afraid. But we asked, why not be afraid? If your teen has threatened your life for example, who would not be afraid? Therefore, take precautions. Consider safety at all times, and yet, find a way to stand up to them.

It's not so important to not be afraid. In fact, sometimes it is precisely because you are afraid that you are taking the steps you are taking, e.g., having a Police Officer present when you explain to your teen that you are taking his cell phone, that you are filing a charge with the authorities, or that you have had it and you have decided not to allow him to terrorize you any longer. Or if not a Police Officer, a Counselor, a neighbor, a relative. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a Probation Officer for your teen, then he absolutely needs to be included, but often parents can accomplish much without having a Juvenile Probation Officer in the mix.

Remember, your defiant teen wants to do two things. First, he wants to make you afraid so that he can have the power that he wants. He wants what he wants and when he can get what he wants- that's power. Secondly, he wants to keep the fact that he is terrorizing you as much a secret as possible. The last person he wants to know about this is the police or his relatives, or family friends. He is counting on you to keep it a secret. So don't. Let him know in no uncertain terms that from now on you will broadcast to significant others his use of unacceptable and sometimes criminal tactics. As Ken often points out, sometimes the significant others includes the parents of your teenager's friends. Do they know what your are dealing with as far as aggressive behavior and drug abuse goes. What impact would it have to call each of your teenager's friends parents and tell them, "We just wanted you to know that we are having problems with our son; he is threatening us and we suspect strongly that he is abusing drugs!"

If you are allowing your teen to regularly threaten you without consequences then you may be passively helping to create a criminal. Even though you believe that he does not mean it, some kinds of threats are criminal. Other kinds of threats are not. If he is threatening to hurt or to kill you- bingo- that is a criminal act and in that case you may wish to have a local Police Officer explain to him the possible consequences of that behavior. You do not do your teen a favor by over looking it.

Of course, many will reply to this line of logic that it is different for them because their teen is "Dual Diagnosed." Consider that each teenager of the eight parents that attended our last meeting had a Dual Diagnosed teen (mental health problem plus a drug abuse problem.)

These are the tough teens; however, allowing the Dual Diagnosed teen to manipulate you with fear is not recommended. At some point, you have to stand up to your teen regardless of their psychiatric condition. Should you refer your teen to have a psychiatric evaluation? Of course. Should you follow recommendations of a psychiatrist and try to have your teen take prescribed medications? Of course. In the meantime, however, it is dangerous to let your teen see that he can manipulate you with fear because if he can attain that level of power in your family, it is likely that his substance abuse issues and his mental health issues will continue to grow. If you are trying to have your teens mental health issues addressed but he continues to abuse drugs, good luck. Probably that is not going to work. As long as their drug abuse continues the prognosis for effective mental health treatment is not good.

It's not easy to stand up to a Dual Diagnosed teenager; however, it is not really easy to over look defiant, aggressive and threatening behavior either. If you are going to have a bad day anyway why not have one because you choose to stand up to your defiant teen?

Anther thing that came up again in group is teen cell phone use. Cell phones are considered drug paraphernalia by many parents. The texting that goes on today is more considerable than the actual talking. The biggest reason for parents to allow an irresponsible teenager to continue to carry a cell phone is "so that we can reach him." If this is your stance, ask yourself how that is working for you? Most parents admit that when their teenager doesn't want to be reached by parents he just doesn't answer the cell phone. Or if he does answer he lies about what he is doing, who he is with, and what he is doing. Your teen's cell phone may contain his drug dealer's names.
Remember also that teens abuse cell phones in school. It is often not a good idea to allow your teen to carry a cell phone to school. If you think your teen is still doing drugs, pull the cell phone.

Likewise, the computer is a primary way to stay in touch with other kids that abuse drugs. Insist on having your teen register you as a "friend" so that you can view your teens My Space or Facebook page. Try to go to your teen's friends My Space or Face book. What do you see? Are they advertising drug or alcohol abuse by showing pictures of themselves drinking or other provocative things? If you think your teen is still doing drugs, pull the computer privileges.

And the hat trick of teen tools to continue a lifestyle of drug abuse is the car. Is it inconvenient for parents to take a car away from a teenager? Sure. How convenient is it for you to attend a funeral that didn't have to happen? Cars provide drugs in many differerent ways.
If you think your teen is still doing drugs, by all means, PULL THE CAR privileges.

So, if your teen is defiant, violent and/ or is still abusing drugs or alcohol, then make sure that you are not doing or giving him anything that can help to enable the lifestyle that he has choosen. Sometimes we only think of money as enabling if we are giving them large amounts of it. But consider that
teens tell us that they even save lunch money to buy drugs. If you believe that your teen is still abusing drugs then perhaps reconsider trusting them with any money at all. You might, for example, call the school and see if you can pay direct for lunches. Avoid actually placing any money in your teens hands if you believe that they still abuse drugs. See The Three Best Ways to Stop Enabling for more information.

Then after all these "drug paraphernalia" have been restricted, try to sit back and enjoy Mother's Day. You've really earned it now.

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Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, May 08, 2009

ARC Manor is pleased to offer:


When:          Saturdays   from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: ARC Manor-200 Oak Avenue, Kittanning, PA

Contact: (724) 548-7607    or (800) 323-1333

Group Topics Include:                           
  • What is Addiction?
  • The Disease of Addiction
  • Addiction & The Family
  • The Recovery Process
  • Understanding Relapse
  • The Importance of Awareness
  • 12-step Support

Friends and family members of those addicted to substances often do not
understand the process of addiction and recovery.  ARC Manor seeks to educate
family and friends about the addiction process, while offering a supportive environment in which family
and friends can talk about their struggles and successes.

The Family Education Support Group is open to the public age 18 years or

No registration or Appointment is necessary to attend.

Pa Families Inc
431 Dever Hollow Road
Templeton Pa 16259

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This layout (edited by Ken) made by and copyright cmbs.