Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who is accountable?

I stand so often in a room full of young ones looking at me with tired eyes. They look weary and much older than they really are – drug use ages you folks and not in a good way. Assessing the room is always emotionally difficult for me; the range of emotions emulating from these young folks makes me feel as if I am part of some concoction swirling around inside of a blender. There always seems to be one that stands out in the group that is doing his/her best to double up on the “hardened shell” persona. This breaks my heart. On the inside they are full of so much pain, pain they won’t show with their words or outward appearance yet it hauntingly radiates from under their downcast eyes.

Others are far too quick to tell me how much they have learned through the sessions and how they will never again touch drugs or alcohol. So eager to say the right things that it scares me. I know how difficult it is for them to stay clean. In my heart I am hopeful that they are sincere. For some in the moment they are totally sincere, they just don’t realize that it might be easier said than done. For others it’s just a game they play with me, thing is I’m not playing. During our discussion time they will often unknowingly reveal to me just how sincere they really are about their commitment to sobriety. If they are in truth only playing a game, it’s a deadly one to play. They hurt themselves the most. I tell them upfront to only speak their truth… if they can’t speak the truth then don’t respond. But teens will be teens and their immaturity surfaces easily.

Posing to them the question “how did your parents react to you getting in trouble with drug?” is never easy for me. Mainly because I am almost always astonished to hear that they really didn’t react or seem upset. From the level of apathy in the parent groups, I believe them. Hearing those responses inevitability get’s my feather’s ruffled. I just don’t understand it – parental apathy. I’m not sure if parents realize that their apathy is often passed on through the generations. Not the best gift to give your child(ren).

Let me tell you folks, believe it or not these young ones are yearning for someone to give them direction. They may scream and complain about consequences, but they are old enough to understand that being held accountable by their parent’s means their parents care about the choices they make in life. Too often they are filled with feelings of abandonment and confusion. They lack structure in their lives and they have not been taught how to regain their footing. There are painful situations that they have been through in the short lives and no one is showing them how to deal with their emotions; how to process their experiences so that they can move on to a healthy adult life. How are they to find their way without the help from the parents that brought them into this world?

Who is to be held accountable in these situations? I ask you to consider this question.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stay the course

When I was a teenager I pushed the envelope that's for sure. My parents set clear boundaries for me, but I was in truth a tad bit rebellious. I was an only child but believe me I wasn't as spoiled as one might believe. But I was head strong and determined to experience life. That said, when I was defiant and disobeyed the rules I was more than willing to take whatever consequences came my way. I missed many a school dance or sporting event because of my groundings. My parents never left me off early; though I did do some begging and pleading they stuck to their guns.

As a parent I was not very good at that - sticking to my guns. As a child my daughter was so well behaved. It wasn't very often that she needed a time out, or punishment of any kind. Of course the teenage years proved to be a very different story and I for one was not very well prepared. Looking back - one of my worst parental offense was the inability to stay the course with the consequences set forth from her "defiance". I strongly urge all parents, regardless of the age of your child to take this to heart. It is one of the most important lessons you can learn. The earlier you learn it, the better of everyone in your family will be.

In our particular situation I always began to feel sorry for Ang when she was in trouble. I know that I spent most of my life trying to make up for the pain of her young life and the voids that were left in the wake of others dirty deeds. That was my rationale. As good as my intentions may have been, the back lash was devastating. She did not learn to respect my authority and I often let her run rough shot over me. I urge you to consider your specific situation and rectify where necessary.

When consequences are rendered they need to be followed to the letter. Clearly define the consequence and course of action so that everyone has a true understanding of what is expected and stay the course. No matter what. No time off for good behavior. No giving in when you see they are bored or sad or angry. Guess what they are going to be bored, sad and angry. Punishment is not supposed to be fun. It is suppose to be a deterrent from repeating the unacceptable behavior. I guarantee, if you lose your backbone your child will use it to their advantage in the future. The media is constantly showing our youth how to scheme. While we are trying to teach responsibility, respect and good values our youth are hearing vulgarity, disrespect for authority and seeing violence as entertainment.

Drug and alcohol use in teens continues to climb. Our youth are experimenting earlier than ever with drugs, alcohol and sex. They are spending their time texting, instead of learning how to truly communicate with each other. Without strong boundaries, clear expectation and the willingness of parents to stay the course with the consequences of improper behavior it only further solidifies to our youth that more and more we live in a society where "anything goes". Is that what you want for your children?

Stay the course folks... take back your family...your children will respect you for lessons you teach them... after they get through the "I hate you for ruining my life" stage.

God Bless

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Missing Piece

It is so very frustrating when a young one is stuck in an impossible living situation when they are trying to stay sober. Our system is not set up to deal with the in between situations that arise when a young addict does not deserve a lock-down environment and their current home life is not conducive to a positive recovery outcome. Many young people find themselves between a rock and a hard place when those that love them the most are entangled in issues that create torment and drama on a continual basis. This is not to say that the family doesn't love or support the addict themselves... the majority of the time they do... love them and want success for them. However, what happens to this struggling young one when they find themselves in this an atmosphere of adult issues that leave them urning for their drug of choice... simply to escape what they can not change and can not reconcile for themselves?

In order for an addict of any age to succeed in their recovery, they need to be in a positive, nurturing environment. One with clear boundaries of acceptable behavior, consequences and compassion. If they are constantly swept up, even on the peripheral in the drama and pain of others they are not free to work on the very reasons they turn to drugs in the first place. Where does that leave them? Hopelessly lost I am afraid. We are not set up to foster this lost group... it's either rehab or detention. If home isn't working... it's lock down... or yet another stint in rehab. Are either one truly appropriate for one that has been through the rehab program and desires recovery but finds themselves continually seeking refuge from the reality of their current situation. It seems to me that there should be something in between... a half way house of sorts where they are free to work on themselves... visit with their loved ones away from the eye of the storm. Able to love and be loved with out the drama...sadly... there is no such an animal available for those under the age of 18.

Perhaps we are missing a very important piece of the recovery process from our young ones. I will seek the Lord in prayer and hope that we find a way to stand in the gap for the struggling teen addict perhaps BrokenButLoved can be part of the solution.